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MLB Draft Preview: California

Draft : : State Preview
Todd Gold        
Published: Friday, April 26, 2013

In the weeks leading up to the draft, Perfect Game will be providing a detailed overview of each state in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico. These overviews will list the state's strengths, weaknesses and the players with the best tools, as well as providing scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players as ranked in Perfect Game's state-by-state scouting lists.  Please visit this page for all of the links to Perfect Game's 2013 Draft Preview content.



California State-by-State List

Not that the talent rich state needed it, but the return of Stanford ace Mark Appel gives California another elite draft prospect. He joins Kris Bryant of San Diego and high school first basemen Dominic Smith as three likely top ten picks. High school shortstop JP Crawford gives California an outside shot at an impressive four top ten picks, though that may be a bit of a stretch. A little over a month away from the draft, there are ten players from the state of California that have the potential to come off the board in the first round.

College baseball's leading home run hitter, San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant has been obliterating baseballs at a rampant pace and a strong case can be made that he is the best prospect in this draft. Yet, with the continued presence of Appel, Bryant falls to the No. 2 spot in the state-by-state rankings list. The quality of left handed pitching in the state is also quite evident, as high schoolers Matt Krook, Ian Clarkin, Blake Taylor and Jonah Wesely all have a shot at going in the top 50 picks. Further down the list there is still plenty more left handed pitching talent to be found, even when you exclude first baseman and left handed pitcher Dominic Smith, whose future is clearly at first base, despite owning a 92 mph fastball.

The biggest hole in California's class is the same as it is across the nation: the lack of legitimate shortstop prospects. In fact, the presence of JP Crawford gives California the only sure-fire first round shortstop prospect at this juncture. The catching crop is extremely strong throughout the nation, and California is no different, with several high quality backstops, though none has taken a step forward toward elite status. And as usual, the scouting adage that "kids from California can't run" holds especially true this year as there are very few plus runner in this class.


STRENGTH:
High end impact, left handed pitching, catching
WEAKNESS: Up the middle of the diamond position prospects, speed
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 5

BEST COLLEGE TEAM:
Cal State Fullerton
BEST JUNIOR-COLLEGE TEAM: Santa Rosa
BEST HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Mater Dei HS, Santa Ana

PROSPECT ON THE RISE: Phil Bickford, rhp, Oaks Christian High School.
A virtual unknown outside of Southern California this time a year ago, Bickford topped out at 92 mph at the 2012 Area Code Games in August. While he made a solid impression in Long Beach, it's the velocity spike this spring that has allowed him to make a big move up draft boards. He has touched 97 mph at times this spring, typically working in the 92-94 range with plus life. He has started to fill out his lean and angular 6-foot-4 frame, and his pre-game long toss program is an impressive sight.

WILD CARD: Austin Wilson, of, Stanford University.
In terms of raw tools and upside, Wilson has top 10 pick potential. But three years into his college career he has still yet to realize that potential. He's won't likely come off the board that high this June, not after missing a lot of cross-checking opportunities while out of the lineup for the first two months of the season, but he's a very talented player who will represent a high risk/high reward gamble somewhere in the top two rounds.


BEST OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, California Connection:
Trevor Williams, rhp, Arizona State University
Top 2014 Prospect: Michael Cederoth, rhp, San Diego State
Top 2015 Prospect: Kyle Molnar, rhp/of, Aliso Niguel HS

HIGHEST DRAFT PICKS

Draft History (all 1st round/1st pick):Steve Chilcott, c, Antelope Valley HS, Lancaster (Mets, 1966); Tim Foli, ss, Notre Dame HS, Canoga Park (Mets, 1968); Jeff Burroughs, of, Woodrow Wilson HS, Long Beach (Senators, 1969); Darryl Strawberry, of, Crenshaw HS, Los Angeles (Mets, 1980); Phil Nevin, 3b, Cal State Fullerton (Astros, 1992); Adrian Gonzalez, 1b, Eastlake HS, Chula Vista (Marlins, 2000); Delmon Young, of, Camarillo HS (Devil Rays, 2003); Matt Bush, ss/rhp, Mission Bay HS, San Diego (Padres, 2004); Stephen Strasburg, rhp, San Diego State University (Nationals, 2009); Gerrit Cole, rhp, UCLA (Pirates, 2011).
2008 Draft: Brian Matusz, lhp, University of San Diego (Orioles/1st round, 4th pick).
2009 Draft: Stephen Strasburg, rhp, San Diego State University (Nationals/1st round, 1st pick).
2010 Draft: Christian Colon, ss, Cal State Fullerton (Royals/1st round, 4th pick).
2011 Draft: Gerrit Cole, rhp, UCLA (Pirates/1st round, 1st pick).

2012 Draft: Kyle Zimmer, rhp, University of San Francisco (Royals/1st round, 5th pick)

2012 DRAFT OVERVIEW

College Players Drafted/Signed:
89/84
Junior College Players Drafted/Signed: 31/24
High School Players Drafted/Signed: 82/39

BEST TOOLS

Best Athlete:
Michael Lorenzen, of/rhp, Cal State Fullerton
Best Hitter: Dominic Smith, 1b, Gardena Serra High School
Best Power: Kris Bryant, 3b, University of San Diego
Best Speed: Brian Carroll, of, UCLA
Best Defender: JP Crawford, ss, Lakewood High School
Best Velocity: Mark Appel, rhp, Stanford University
Best Breaking Stuff: Mark Appel, rhp, Stanford University
Best Command: Andrew Thurman, rhp, UC Irvine


TOP PROSPECTS - GROUPS 1 and 2

GROUP 1 (rounds 1-3)


1. MARK APPEL, rhp, Stanford University (Sr.)
After turning down the Pittsburgh Pirates, who made Appel the eighth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Appel returned to Stanford for his senior season. It's no secret that while Appel had the physical gifts to potential become the No. 1 overall pick last year, his signing bonus demands proved detrimental in the enviornment of the new CBA.  A Boras Corp. client, signability is still going to be a major factor in where Appel actually comes off the board this year as well. While the perception is that he'll have less leverage this time around as a college senior, Appel has the kind of talent that should get him serious consideration to be a top two overall pick. Appel has the stuff, size and track record to justify spending a major portion of a team's bonus pool to acquire his services, and appears to be as close to big league ready as any prospect in this draft. The 6-foot-5 righty consistently works in the mid-90s and can run his fastball into the upper-90s on occasion. He combines that with a changeup that frequently flashes plus in the mid-80s, and he has a vicious knockout slider that has allowed him to continue to pile up the strikeouts this spring (84 through first 70-1/3 IP). Click here to read Appel's detailed Draft Focus report.


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