High-SchoolWashington: Keegan Thompson

Hollon is nation’s top junior right-hander

March, 23, 2012
3/23/12
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Clinton HollonCourtesy of Perfect GameWoodford County (Versailles, Ky.) star Clinton Hollon is the nation's top right-handed pitcher in the Class of 2013.
Each week from now until the end of April, we’ll take a look at the elite Class of 2013 baseball prospects by ranking the Top 5 players at each position. This week, we get things started with the Top 5 right-handed pitchers led by Clinton Hollon of Woodford County (Versailles, Ky.), a 6-foot-1, 195-pounder who can throw in the high-90s.
1. Clinton Hollon, Woodford County High School (Versailles, Ky.)
Hollon, a Kentucky commit, has bumped 97 mph on the radar gun. And despite some red flags with his delivery, he has the best arm in the prep class of 2013. He's just 6-foot-1, but he's well built at 195 pounds and offers an upper-80s curveball, a mid-80s slider and a changeup. His slider may be his best shot at an out pitch at the next level.

2. Jordan Sheffield, Tullahoma High School (Tenn.)
Sheffield is a two-sport star and is headed to Vanderbilt, a school that usually keeps its commits rather than losing them to the baseball draft. Sheffield has hit 94 mph with his fastball thanks to terrific arm speed and the pitch has late life. He also employs a power curveball and a slider. Like Hollon, Sheffield is a bit undersized at 6-foot-1 and is just 175 pounds -- great size for a slot receiver on the gridiron, but not ideal for a starting pitcher.

3. Trevor Clifton, Heritage High School (Maryville, Tenn.)
Clifton offers projection from his 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame and a fastball that is in the 89-92 mph range entering his junior year. He complements the four-seamer with a mid-70s slurvy breaking ball and an upper-80s changeup. He’s started this season 2-0 and tossed his first career no-hitter this week.

4. Thomas Hatch, Jenks High School (Okla.)
Hatch has grazed 93 mph with his fastball, pitching mostly in the 89-90 range, and pitches downhill with arm-side ride and a cutter-like slider. His release point is consistent and he repeats his delivery. He's considered a mature arm with a good feel for pitching and above-average command.

5. Matt Vogel, Patchogue-Medford High School (Medford, N.Y.)
Vogel, committed to South Carolina, possesses good arm speed and a fastball up to 92 miles per hour. His secondary stuff includes a curveball and slider -- of which he will likely have to choose one as a pro -- and works both sides of the plate well. Despite the average velocity upon which to build, the pitch is true, which means his lack of ideal height -- he's 6-foot-1 -- makes it difficult to create downward plane. He may need college to work on his delivery.

Others to Watch
Cheyne Bickel, Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.)
Trey Cobb, Broken Arrow (Okla.)
Dustin Driver, Wenatchee (Wash.)
Steve Farinaro, Head-Royce (Oakland, Calif.)
Sheldon Neuse, Fossil Ridge (Fort Worth, Texas)
Keegan Thompson, Cullman (Ala.)
Andrew Zapata, Poly Prep (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Jason A. Churchill covers scouting, player development and the MLB draft for ESPN Insider, as well as Prospect Insider, where he's the founder and executive editor. You can follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider and email him at churchill@prospectinsider.com.

The Starting Nine: Preseason look

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
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The Starting NineMike Janes/Four Seam Images via AP Images, Scott Kurtz/ESPNHS(From left to right) Byron Buxton, Lucas Giolito and Joey Gallo are the three top preseason candidates for The Diamond Gem, the title bestowed upon the nation's most outstanding baseball player based on on-field performance.

With spring right around the corner, ESPNHS has begun its search for the nation’s top high school baseball player, regardless of school year and based solely on on-field performance.

Every two weeks, we’ll rank the nine players in order in The Starting Nine. And at the end of the season, whoever is in the top spot will be crowned The Diamond Gem, our award given to the nation’s most outstanding player.

So to kick it off, we give you our preseason Starting Nine. Leading the way is Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.) senior Lucas Giolito, the nation’s top right-handed pitcher who dominated opposing hitters last season and has looked very much like an early first-round pick in the early going this year.

The Starting Nine: Preseason

1. Lucas Giolito, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
RHP, Senior
Why he’s here: The nation’s top right-hander, Giolito went 9-0 last year with a 1.00 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 70.1 innings. He also pitched four complete games, three of which were shutouts.

2. Joey Gallo, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
1B/3B/RHP, Senior
Why he’s here: The top player on the top team in the POWERADE FAB 50, Gallo hit .471 last year with 25 homers and 78 RBIs while leading Gorman to its sixth straight state title. He also was 3-1 on the bump with a 1.12 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 18.2 innings.

3. Byron Buxton, Appling County (Baxley, Ga.)
OF, Senior
Why he’s here: The nation’s top outfielder and potential top 10 pick in June’s MLB draft flirted with the .600 mark last season (he finished hitting .594) and clubbed 10 homers while driving in 48 runs.

4. Lance McCullers Jr., Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.)
RHP/SS, Senior
Why he’s here: The hard-throwing right-hander (he’s hit 100 mph on the radar gun) went 5-2 with a 1.71 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 45 innings last season for the Class 4A state runner-up. He also hit .422 with seven homers and 24 RBIs.

5. Kayden Porter, Spanish Fork (Utah)
RHP/OF, Senior
Why he’s here: Porter picked up ESPNHS National Junior of the Year honors last year after leading Spanish Fork to its third straight state title. He went 9-1 with 85 strikeouts in 59 innings and hit .570 with 14 homers and 50 RBIs.

6. Gavin Cecchini, Barbe (Lake Charles, La.)
SS, Senior
Why he’s here: Leader of Louisiana powerhouse picked up Gatorade State Player of the Year honors last season after hitting .548 with 10 homers, 41 RBIs and 32 stolen bases.

7. Max Fried, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
LHP, Senior
Why he’s here: The nation’s top lefty, Fried went 7-3 with a 1.31 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 69.2 innings at Montclair Prep (Van Nuys, Calif.). He transferred to Harvard-Westlake after Montclair Prep cut its athletics program.

8. Kyle Carter, Columbus (Ga.)
OF/LHP, Senior
Why he’s here: Carter, who starred on the Columbus team that won the 2006 Little League World Series, set a single-season school record with 22 homers last season to help Columbus earn its second straight state title and 11th overall. He also hit .467 with 47 RBIs and went 9-4 on the mound with a 2.33 ERA.

9. Courtney Hawkins, Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas)
RHP/OF, Senior
Why he’s here: The leader of the No. 4 team in the POWERADE FAB 50, Hawkins led Carroll to a state title as a sophomore and the state semifinals last season. As a junior, he hit .410 with 15 homers, 49 RBIs and 22 stolen bases and was 10-2 with a 2.35 ERA and 81 strikeouts.

ON DECK
Another 25 players we’re tracking to begin the 2012 season

OF Albert Almora, Mater Academy (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.), Sr.
RHP Freddy Avis, Menlo School (Atherton, Calif.), Sr.
1B Keon Barnum, King (Tampa, Fla.), Sr.
RHP Ryan Burr, Highlands Ranch (Colo.), Sr.
C Zach Collins, American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.), Jr.
C Clint Coulter, Union (Camas, Wash.), Sr.
OF David Dahl, Oak Mountain (Birmingham, Ala.), Sr.
RHP Ty Hensley, Santa Fe (Edmond, Okla.), Sr.
3B/RHP Carson Kelly, Westview (Portland, Ore.), Sr.
LHP Nathan Kirby, James River (Midlothian, Va.), Sr.
C Jeremy Martinez, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), Jr.
C/SS/RHP Wyatt Mathisen, Calallen (Corpus Christi, Texas), Sr.
OF/RHP Ty Moore, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), Sr.
3B/OF Mitch Nay, Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.), Sr.
1B/RHP Matt Olson, Parkview (Lilburn, Ga.), Sr.
3B Rio Ruiz, Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.), Sr.
SS Addison Russell, Pace (Fla.), Sr.
RHP Lucas Sims, Brookwood (Snellville, Ga.), Sr.
LHP Matt Smoral, Solon (Ohio), Sr.
1B/RHP Jake Thompson, Rockwall-Heath (Heath, Texas), Sr.
RHP/OF Keegan Thompson, Cullman (Ala.), Jr.
C Stryker Trahan, Acadiana (Lafayette, La.), Sr.
LHP Hunter Virant, Camarillo (Calif.), Sr.
RHP Walker Weickel, Olympia (Orlando, Fla.), Sr.
OF/LHP Jesse Winker, Olympia (Orlando, Fla.), Sr.

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