2013 Perfect Game High School Baseball Preview Index
Underclassmen Dominate Conversation in Florida
shaping up to be the year of the catcher in high school baseball
around the country, as it could be one of the deepest classes of
backstops in recent memory. The state of Florida has quite a bit to
do with all that depth, as they can boast elite draft talents like
Zack Collins, Brian Navarreto, Chris Okey, and Ronnie Healy. Each of
those catchers are featured in Perfect Game’s 2013 top 100 high
school prospects’ list.
these catchers around, coupled with the presence of some elite
pitchers in the 2014 graduating class, should make for some
outstanding high school matchups throughout the spring. Many of those
matchups will center around American Heritage, Perfect Game’s
preseason No. 1 high school team in the nation.
eyes will be American Heritage’s star catcher and Perfect Game
All-American, Zack Collins, but when you look up and down their
roster, it’s no surprise how highly they are thought of. They have
five players featured in the top 500 high prospects list for the 2013
class, and they will have some high profile matchups against
similarly loaded teams throughout the spring.
matchup to watch particularly close will be when American Heritage
locks horns with the No. 25 ranked player in the 2013 class, Brian
Navaretto and Arlington Country Day. That matchup will happen on
April 16th. This could arguably be a battle between two catchers who
will be vying for first round draft status all spring. Bernardo
Bonifacio and his blazing speed will also be something to keep a
close eye on for Arlington Country Day.
should also be noted that American Heritage recently scored a major
early season victory against Archbishop McCarthy, which obviously
makes a highly significant early season statement against one of the
state’s perennial powerhouse teams.
very clear theme as we head into the spring in Florida is the
presence of advanced and dynamic underclassmen. Florida is of course
a seemingly never ending pipeline of baseball talent, but the 2014
graduating class is shaping up to be particularly fantastic, and many
of these players are already making their presence known on some of
the state’s best teams.
are three names that come to mind immediately: Touki Toussaint, Nick
Gordon, and Thomas Szapucki. All three have performed admirably on a
national stage and have become well known commodities at very young
ages. All three are also centerpiece players for potent high school
programs. So, not only are we seeing younger players make
contributions, but they are contributing in enormous ways for
immensely talented teams.
course, Florida being what it is, it will still be a haven for scouts
looking for high profile prospect showdowns concerning this year’s
draft. Perhaps most notable will be when Oscar Mercado’s Gaither
High School takes on Brett Morales’ King High School on February
15th. It will give evaluators something they are constantly seeking -
seeing how two elite prospects fair against elite competition. It
will answer questions about Mercado’s offensive ability more than
into late February, also worth keeping a close eye on is a showdown
between arguably the two best pure hitters in the state. Cord
Sandberg and Manatee High School will be hosted by Nick Longhi and
Venice High School on February 26th. This will be yet another
scouting bonanza. This game will not just be about these two high
profile stars though. This will be a major matchup between the two
schools who finished first and second in the 7A District 11 standings
last spring. And, it certainly doesn’t hurt that Venice enters the
season as the No. 6 team in Perfect Game’s preseason top 50
High School Dream Team
on present tools and position played for high school team
- Zack Collins, Sr. American Heritage
an outstanding year around the nation for high school catchers,
particularly in the state of Florida. Collins’ easy left-handed
power edges out Brian Navarreto and Chris Okey, who are equally
deserving on defensive and offensive abilities. All three will be
candidates to go as high as the first round of the June draft.
Navaretto and Okey are better long term bets to stick and thrive at
the position, but on present ability Collins’ offensive talent puts
him over the top.
- Nick Longhi, Sr. Venice Senior
athleticism and arm strength make him a fantastic defender at first
base, and he could find himself elsewhere on the diamond as a
professional given his vast array of skills. His consistent hitting
ability should allow him to make steady rise up many draft boards
- Oscar Mercado, Sr. Gaither
is no stranger to this list and has been on the scene in Florida for
quite some time now. His smooth infield actions and quick bat have
put him high on the follow lists of every scout in the region, and
another strong spring could put him squarely in the first round
picture in June.
- John Sternagel, Sr. Rockledge
hitters have been as impressive from an offensive standpoint in the
state of Florida over the last year than John Sternagel. He may be
slowly outgrowing the middle infield at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, but his
speed has still been impressive, as has his overall athleticism. It’s
a solid year for middle infielders in Florida, but you’d be hard
pressed to find a more polished right-handed bat in the state.
- Ian Hagenmiller, Sr. Palm Beach Central
strong arm and power potential make him a natural for a third base
profile. His bat speed and defensive upside could make him a very
attractive, rising draft prospect this spring.
- Cord Sandberg, Sr. Manatee
athleticism jumps off the page at you, and his power potential isn’t
that far behind. He’s a two-sport athlete with tremendous upside as
a defensive player as well. This is a player that scouts expect to
continue getting better with more repetition.
- Willie Abreu, Sr. Mater Academy Charter
is a well rounded talent. He’s flashed power potential, speed on
the bases and in the outfield, as well as a very strong throwing arm.
Aside from being a high level draft talent, he’s the type of player
with the refined skills to perform right now.
- Justin Smith, Jr. Bartram Trail
is very young and his skills are still raw. Because of that, he’s
somewhat of a gamble to put on this list. But, there are evaluators
in Florida that expect him to erupt this spring.
- Nick Gordon, Jr. Olympia
could make this team as a shortstop or as a pitcher, but this is the
spot that does him justice. He’s proven time and again that he’s
dynamic on both sides of the ball, and he continues to be build his
case as an elite 2014 draft prospect.
- Tyler Danish, Sr. Durant
has established himself not only as an intriguing draft prospect, but
one of the reliable big game arms in the state of Florida. He’s
pitched an succeeded at the highest levels of tournament play, and he
figures to continue putting up dominant numbers at the high level
level. He’ll pitch at 90-93 mph with big life, but it’s his
polish that has impressed professional scouts again and again.
- Brett Morales, Sr. King
reports have had Morales living at 90-94 mph with his fastball and
showcasing solid command. He’s already one of the better established
pitching talents in the state and should continue to be a force
- Touki Toussaint, Jr. Coral Springs Christian
arsenal is as electric as any pitcher in the state. His 97 mph
fastball and knockout downer curveball should have him primed for a
dominant junior season.
- Thomas Szapucki, So. William T. Dwyer
a rarity to place a junior on one of these teams, let alone a
sophomore, but Szapucki is about as deserving a candidate as you’ll
find. Playing for Dwyer, Perfect Game’s preseason No. 48 ranked team
in the nation, he has thrived and made himself one of the elite
pitchers in the nation before even his second year in high school.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound southpaw has already shown he can consistent
reach 90 mph, pitching between 87-89 with regularity. It’s been his
feel for pitching, though, that has put him right near the top of the
2015 draft rankings. His mid-70s curveball is already very sharp, as
is his location. Regardless of age and experience, Szapucki is going
to be one the most difficult pitchers to contend with this spring in
- Ian McKinney, Sr. Boone
that McKinney’s raw stuff is anything to sneeze at, but what sets
him apart is his advanced feel for his deep arsenal and ability to
throw strikes with his off-speed pitches. He’s the type of
pitcher that is ready to be successful at a high level right now.
Region Best Tools
Hitter For Average: Nick Longhi, Sr., Venice Senior
are many candidates for this title, but Longhi’s track record of
hitting against top flight competition put him just above the likes
of Zack Collins, John Sternagel and Cord Sandberg. It’s a very
talented group of pure hitters in Florida to watch this spring, and
it’s quite possible someone else could grab this title before it’s
all said and done.
Hitter For Power: Zack Collins, Sr., American Heritage
rave consistently about Collins’ strong frame and easy power
potential. And, as good as Collins has been, the future power is more
intriguing than what he can do right now. He has a buggy whip action
in his load, and the thought is that once he gets his timing down
he’s going to be a lethal left-handed power threat. As he hits
against more and more top notch competition, we could expect to see a
barrage of home run power this spring.
Baserunner: Nick Gordon, Jr., Olympia
Gordon is a contender in at least four of these tools categories, and
could find himself atop many of these lists next year. As impressive
as he is on the mound, in the field, and at the plate, he’s also an
excellent base runner. His plus raw speed is obvious (6.69 60 yard
dash time), but he knows what he’s doing on the base paths and is
impressive going from first to third.
Defensive Catcher: Chris Okey, Sr., Eustis
we’ve already touched on, it is indeed the year of the catcher,
especially in Florida. In a tight race with Brian Navarreto, however,
it’s Okey that appears to be the elite defensive catcher in the
state. His receiving skills have drawn rave reviews from scouts in
the region and his arm strength has also been well documented. He’s
one of the best pure backstops in the country, not just in Florida.
Defensive Infielder: Oscar Mercado, Sr., Gaither
like to throw around phrases like “pure shortstop” when it comes
to Oscar Mercado. He has the electric arm across the diamond, the
smooth actions, and above average range to be an elite defensive
presence at the next level. He’s one of the few amateurs out there
that scouts can live comfortably with the idea of transitioning quite
easily defensively at the professional level.
Defensive Outfielder: Bernardo Bonifacio, Sr., Arlington Country
blistering speed make him a fairly obvious candidate for this title,
although it is a crowded field of outfielders that includes Josh
Greene. Bonifacio ran a 6.52 60 yard dash at the Perfect Game
National Showcase and shows outstanding range in center field. His
above average arm strength should also help him to continue to
profile in center field as he presumably advances to the professional
Infield Arm: Spencer Trayner, Sr., Jesuit
difficult to argue with putting Trayner here, considering his 95 mph
velocity across in the field at the Perfect Game National Showcase.
He’s also shown upside on the mound, but this type of arm across
the diamond is exceptionally rare and he’s shown the other physical
aspects of the game to go with it.
Outfield Arm: Justin Smith, Jr., Bartram Trail
may very well be the toolsiest players in the 2014 draft class, and
his arm stands out among them. Willie Abreu also could stake a claim
to this title, but right now Smith has the arm that looks like it
could be weapon for him at the next level.
Fastball: Touki Toussaint, RHP, Jr., Coral Springs Christian
Toussaint’s arm would stand out in just about any class you placed
him in, past or future. And, his 97 mph fastball is the clear
standout in the state of Florida as we head into the spring. Brett
Morales and Tyler Danish from the senior class are not far behind,
and neither is Nick Gordon from the junior class, but for now Touki
is the clear winner with his very consistent mid-90s velocity.
Off-speed Stuff: Touki Toussaint, RHP, Jr., Coral Springs
it turns out, Touki sits at the top of the heap when it comes to
off-speed pitches as well. And, that is mostly on the strength of his
knockout, 12-to-6 curveball. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound righty displays
ones of the sharpest true curveballs in the last couple years in the
high school ranks, and that alone puts him over the top in this
category. The depth of other pitchers’ arsenals like Ian McKinney’s
and Tyler Danish make them contenders here, but Toussaint may have a
true plus pro offering on his hands in his curveball.
Command: Tyler Danish, RHP, Sr., Durant
scouts who have seen Danish liken him to a college level pitcher. He
works around the plate very consistently with both his fastball and
off-speed pitches, and repeats his delivery exceptionally well. With
the type of life he generates, being able to locate the way he does
makes him a fascinating commodity.
Pitchability: Ian McKinney, LHP, Sr., Boone
a number of pitchers in the state with an advanced feel for pitching,
including the aforementioned Tyler Danish. It’s an advanced group
of pitchers, and McKinney’s four pitch mix stands out even among
pitchers like Danish, Sean Brady and others. He works at 87-90 mph
with his fastball, but what stands out about his game is his feel for
his curveball, slider, and changeup. He mixes his pitches very well,
using his changeup effectively against right-handed batters and
flashing a sharp, late breaking slider at 79 mph. This is a young
pitcher with a full fledged arsenal that could be downright dominant