This time we're looking at the high school hitters. Since there are so many more highly rated high school position prospects than college, and since they all seem to play the same spots, I'm going to group them by position. First off, the remarkable 3B position:
Josh Vitters, 3B, CA
While Vitters is considered a 3B, chances are pretty good that he'll follow the Burrell/Teixeira track and move to another position where his bat can be his focus. He possesses all of the scouting buzz words, like great hand-eye coordination, great bat speed and pitch recognition, great power to all fields. BA mentions that he has an unusually pretty swing for a right handed hitter, and looking at his video, they're right. He does seem to have it all from a talent standpoint, but in terms of production, he's been able to stand out more in showcases and all star games than for his actual HS team where he has been a sub-.400 hitter. He is likely going to be picked in the two/three/four range and is one of the players we can safely ignore in Rangers discussion.
Mike Moustakas, 3B, CA
First off, Moustakas is a Boras client, so there is a little immediate intrigue involved. As a player, he doesn't have the body that Vitters has but he does have some serious tools in his 6-0/190 frame, with a great arm and an exciting left handed bat. He's hit about 200 points higher than Vitters and for almost three times as many HR (BA had him at 20 as of about a week ago). He has shown huge power in that several of his HRs have traveled very far, and most every scouting report talks about both his pretty swing and willingness to hit to all fields. His position is pretty uncertain, as he plays SS now but could wind up just about anywhere but there in the pros. He's an easy top ten pick unless Boras and USC get in the way.
Matt Dominguez, 3B, CA
If you think that this is getting a little repetitive, with all the 3B prospects from California high schools, who about two from the same school? Dominguez and Moustakas are teammates, and while Dominguez' bat is much more of a question than Moustakas', it is rarely mentioned that he is almost a full year younger. He is much more of a pure defensive 3B than the other two and does have great defensive tools. But the bat is causing him to slide, maybe right past a couple of the Rangers' picks. He has a really interesting profile with power, bat speed, and a nice defensive game, and as I mentioned is young for his class (and by the way was born one day after Vitters), but I have to wonder if you can risk a really high pick (and I'm talking about 17 and 24) on a kid how has already had problems with his swing and approach in HS.
Kevin Ahrens, 3B, TX
Ahrens is a switch hitter from the Houston area who has reportedly been a bit of a riser of late. He's got a good all-around game, and while he's a SS now, all projections seem to keephim safely at 3B. His power has come over the last year from both sides. He hasn't been Sulentic-like this season, but he is regarded as probably the best HS bat in Texas at this point. He's an A&M signee and there seems to be at least a little bit of a question of whether he'll sign, especially if he slides out of the first round. I suspect that he'll be a part of the discussion for the Rangers pick anywhere from 17 to however long he stays on the board.
Will Middlebrooks, 3B, TX
Adding to all the symmetry here, Middlebrooks is the fifth high school 3B from California or Texas who could go in the first round, and like Ahrens, he's got a scholarship from A&M that could get in the way if he starts to slide a bit. He's a really good all around athlete at 6-4 and over 200 lbs who played multiple sports. He will probably fill out into a large frame but looks at this point able to hang in at 3B and has good defensive tools. As a RH hitter, he hit well over .500 this season, but to this point hasn't shown the power that his body would suggest that he'd have or that scouts project for him. I have to think that the upside is high here, and I think that you could probably make an argument either way with Ahrens/Middlebrooks.
Nick Noonan, 2B, CA
Noonan will lead the group of middle infielders here. While there could be four or five 3B who belong in the first round, there might be one shortstop, tops, who does. I list Noonan ahead of the SSs because I really like him. He's that pure left-handed hitting 2B that we see come along every so often, and his bat is so good that I think that he's the type that could have people baffled as to why they downgraded him so much for just being a 2B. He has hit well over .500 this year and around 80% of those hits have been for extra bases. He steals lots of bases as much on savvy as anything and isn't a clod or anything defensively, just doesn't quite have the tools necessary to play SS. Gimme this guy with any of the supplemental picks and I'll be a happy guy.
Pete Kozma, SS, OK
The first guy on here who isn't from TX or CA, he's not too far away, as he is from the Tulsa area. Kozma is just a baseball player and does everything pretty well. He's performed well as a right handed hitter and looks like he can stick at SS. He doesn't have huge upside offensively, but seems like one of those guys who has a good shot at making the majors in some capacity, especially for a high school player. BA recently projected him at 21, presumably just because he's a SS and people need that, and I'd be a little disappointed if Texas took him with either of their top two picks or took him over Noonan.
Drew Cumberland, SS, FL
Cumberland is more of a pure, traditional SS with really good speed and range and not much power in his game. BA ranks him highest of the middle infielders in their rankings but doesn't project him in the first round, and I really don't think that I want any part of him. He seems to be one of these flashy defenders, like Joaquin Arias, that gets scouts all excited, then leaves you disappointed when it doesn't add up to great performance. Every scouting report I've seen questions his bat in some way, and given his limited upside, I see no reason to take a risk on a guy like that.
Jason Heyward, OF, GA
Compared with the last handful of high school OF classes, this one disappoints. But that's not because of Heyward, the lone stud prospect at this position. He's got it all offensively as the prototype COF, with decent but not outstanding defensive ability. He's an advanced left-handed bat with power, patience and pitch recognition. The biggest question is whether he will bother to hit for huge power, since his smooth, relaxed approach lends itself more to line drives. Some reports suggest that he could be more of an asset at first base. He is consistently ranked in the top ten, but Callis' recent projection did have him slipping to 14, allowing for maybe a little daydreaming by Rangers fans.
Michael Burgess, OF, FL
I might be as interested in staying away from Burgess as any highly rated player. His performance is terrible for a high school OF, and there are questions about virtually every aspect of his game. Of course for him to be rated as a possible first rounder despite all of that, you would figure that he's talented, and he definitely is. Gigantic power potential, elite bat speed and arm strength, and solid speed are all there, and he garners comparisons with HOF players in those areas because of the tools but also because he goes to the infamous Hillsborough High in Tampa. Like Vitters, Burgess has built his stock at least partially on excellent showcase performances. I'm guessing that he stays out of the first round, and I really don't want any part of him with the supplemental picks either, maybe other than the last one.
Wendell Fairley, OF, MS
Fairley is intriguing, as one of those guys who didn't dedicate himself to baseball until just recently, but has terrific ability. He's the only HS player who figures as a CF among top players, and as a senior added performance to his list of positive traits. He reportedly does have a nice left-handed swing, and he hit over .500 with pretty good power this season. He has a couple of character questions, but nothing like drug problems or felonies on his record. BA ranks and projects him outside of the first round, as do most lists, and I'd be very interested in taking a shot at him with one of the supp picks, particularly given how much this organization could use a quality CF.
Travis d'Arnoud, C, CA
Catcher - and especially high school catcher - is a controversial position in the draft, particularly in the first round, but there are a few nice HS catchers to consider this year (if you're willing to consider the position at all). Two could figure there this year, and d'Arnoud is one of them, despite only being ranked around 50 by BA. He's a pure catcher with all of the defensive skills and tools you'd need, but he's the kind of hitter and athlete that warrants consideration for the first round. His right-handed bat isn't spectacular, but it is polished and does have promise. He's more likely to figure into the supplemental round, but he wouldn't be a bad add to what is probably still the organization's deepest position.
Devin Mesoraco, C, PA
Mesoraco most likely will be in the first round, and could very well figure in those first two Rangers picks. He's a premium athlete, a five-tool catcher, who is universally compared to Jeff Mathis because of that. He might actually be a better hitter than Mathis, which he'd need to be if he is to become a quality major league catcher, but his right-handed bat still doesn't stand out like you'd see from other positional first rounders. But everything else is there, including a big arm and great quickness defensively. I can't say that I'd be that juiced with him in the first round, given some of the alternatives, but if picked he would go in with Teagarden and Santana to form probably the best trio of catching prospects of any organization.
Yasmani Grandal, C, FL
Grandal is a Cuban born switch hitting catcher who does everything well but nothing spectacularly. He's another pure catcher, but not nearly as athletic as the other two, and reports on his bat say "STAY AWAY" to me. He has performed well enough in his Miami high school, with a solid batting average and double-digit home runs, but when a fair portion of a guy's scouting reports mention questions about bat speed, I really don't want to be picking him in the first round or so, regardless of how polished he is. Give me d'Arnoud or a college catcher like Oregon State's Mitch Canham if the Rangers are intent on getting a catcher with one of the supplemental picks.
Up next we'll look at the unusual crop of college pitchers.
Part one can be found: here