2014 Perfect Game High School Baseball preview index
Depth Leads to Quality Matchups
year may have been a down year in terms of draft picks for the
Florida high school class, but this year will be the polar opposite.
In 2013 only one player was selected in the first round (Christian
Arroyo, 25th overall), with Tyler Danish next off the board, 55th overall and the first Floridian high school arm selected.
first pitcher shouldn’t have to wait until the 55th pick this year to hear his name called, and if so, that particular
team could be getting the steal of the draft. The headliner of the
2014 class is the depth of arms, led by four Perfect Game
All-Americans: Sean Reid-Foley, Touki Toussaint, Cobi Johnson, and
from the All-American quartet, Florida offers other arms that have
been making tremendous strides and have some serious helium heading
into the spring. Atop of the helium group is Stanford commit Keith
Weisenberg and two Florida commits who took full advantage of the
on-looking scouts in Jupiter last October, Weston Davis and Alex
players may be a step behind of the pitchers at this point in Florida
in terms of depth, but two names that will be followed closely this
spring will be middle infielders Nick Gordon and Forrest Wall. Gordon
has been known for some time, participating in high-level events for
the last couple of summers. The biggest difference for Gordon heading
into his senior season is his physicality. Gordon has added
noticeable strength to his frame, adding more pop to his lefthanded
has taken a different route to the top of the prospect rankings, but
finds himself currently ranked 27th overall in the 2014 rankings. Making a big splash at the East Coast
Professional Showcase, Wall continued his hot hitting in Jupiter and
makes consistent, hard contact from the left side.
the class being so deep, scouts are sure to see a quality matchup on
any given day. For example, Gordon and his Olympia High School
teammates host Orangewood Christian and Forrest Wall at 4:00 pm on
season matchups have some of the state's top teams going
head-to-head, lining up each other’s aces to square off. On
February 3 there was a double-header at American Heritage Delray’s
field, and the first game allowed scouts a chance to see lefthander
Bennett Sousa and The Benjamin School against Broward Prep.
following game, American Heritage Delray faced the battery of Touki
Toussaint and Benito Santiago along with the rest of the Coral
Springs Christian Academy team. That gave scouts a strong look at
Heritage outfielder Todd Isaacs, who has emerged from Jupiter and
shows plus tools in the outfield and on the base-paths.
early season matchup that brought a throng of scouts behind the
backstop occurred on February 4 under the lights at Alonso High
School. Alonso hosted Osceola in a preseason game and each team
started a mid-90s righthander; Alex Faedo and Keith Weisenberg
Orange is a team that will allow scouts a look into the future with
three ranked 2016 players in the top 50, led by righthander Austin
Bergner. Primed for a strong season, the Warriors will be able to see
how they stack up, facing PG's 10th preseason ranked Lake Brantley,
led by 2013 PG All-American outfielder Carl Chester and Ole Miss
commit Tate Blackman. West Orange opens up the regular season against
Lake Mary, which boasts Florida State commit and the No. 2 ranked
player in the 2015 class, shortstop Brendan Rodgers.
High School Dream Team
Based on present tools and position played for high school team
– J.J. Schwarz, Sr. Palm Beach Gardens
a catcher who projects to stay behind the plate at the next level
isn’t always an easy task, never mind a defensive catcher that
shows big potential at the plate. That’s exactly what you’ll find
in Schwarz, who shows solid catch-and-throw ability behind the plate
with a quick release and a strong, accurate arm to second base in
game action. At the plate, the 6-foot-2 Schwarz uses his long limbs
to create leverage in his easy and loose swing, repeatedly driving
the ball to deep left field. He shows good bat speed and the ball
seems to jump of his barrel and finds a second gear once in flight.
– Jeremy Vasquez, Sr. Martin County
shows nice tools around the bag with soft hands and strong glove
skills at first base. But what sets him apart from other first
basemen are his skills in the box. A lefthanded hitter, Vasquez shows
consistent hitting tools at every event he attends. Whether it is
big-time velocity or quality breaking balls, the Florida commit uses
loose, strong hands and an easy swing to barrel up the ball on a
– Milton Ramos, Sr. American Heritage
is one of the best defenders in the this years draft class and has
drawn favorable comps to fellow Floridian and 2013 second round pick
Oscar Mercado. His bat has made steady progression over the summer
and into the fall and will be followed closely this spring,
especially as he adds strength to his frame.
MIF – Brendan Rodgers, Jr. Lake Mary
is the only underclassmen to make this list, but watching him play
you wouldn’t be able to tell his age or class. A smooth defender
who has a good chance of sticking at shortstop, Rodgers put on a show
with the bat all summer. Jupiter was no different, as he showed an
advanced approach at the plate against quality pitching with the pop
in his bat to match. It will be fun to follow his progression as he
has another year on the showcase circuit.
like the depth of this year's pitching, the position players made it
difficult to cut it down to just two middle infielders. Forrest Wall
was the most difficult to leave off after the way he ended the
summer, showing off his very impressive lefthanded swing. Tate
Blackman shows a very nice all around tool set at shortstop, as does
Dalton Guthrie, a proven leader both with the Florida Burn and his
high school team, the Venice Indians.
– Joe Dunand, Sr. Gulliver Schools
listed as a primary shortstop, the PG scouting staff has seen Dunand
play at a very high level at third base for Marucci Elite on the
travel ball circuit. A strong 6-foot-2, 210-pound athlete, Dunand has
shown smooth actions around the third base bag with soft hands and
enough arm strength across to make the deep throw. His bat steadily
improved throughout last summer and into the fall, showing better
fluidity in his swing. The strength and bat speed have always been
there, consistently squaring up inside pitches to his pull side,
creating hard and loud contact.
– Carl Chester, Sr. Lake Brantley
6.28 60-yard dash at the National Showcase can speak to Chester’s
ability to run.
speed plays on both sides of the ball as he covers a lot of ground in
center field (see below) and allows him to get down the first base
line in the 4.0 to 4.1 area consistently. Once on base, Chester
wreaks havoc and is very disruptive. The University of Miami commit
shows a fluid righthanded swing with surprising pop and an advanced
approach at the plate.
– Justin Smith, Sr. Bartram Trail
University of Miami commit, Smith has shown all five tools throughout
the past couple of years. At 6-foot-2, 210-pounds, Smith is a strong,
athletic outfielder with the tools to match the frame. He has plenty
of arm strength to stay in right field and has showed the ability to
make the big throw in game settings. He flashes big power with the
bat as well and runs a 6.67 60-yard dash.
– Luke Bonfield, Sr. IMG Academy
might be new to the state of Florida after transferring down from New
Jersey for his high school senior season, but his reputation with the
bat followed him. Bonfield has the ability to cover the entire plate
and barrel up the ball with very good bat speed to all parts of the
field. While he makes consistent, hard line drive contact to the gaps
for doubles, don’t be surprised when those balls start making their
way over the fence.
UT – Nick Gordon, Sr. Olympia
has been in the national spotlight for some time and continues to
show high level tools every time he steps on the field. The
multi-position standout will stick at shortstop at the next level,
thanks to his superb athleticism and smooth fielding actions, but he
also has a strong feel with the bat from the left side. Gordon is
also a top round talent on the mound, working comfortably with his
fastball in the low-90s and also shows feel for a hammer breaking
ball. He has the MLB bloodlines – his father is former big-league
coser Tom “Flash” Gordon – but Gordon is his own player and has
added noticeable muscle to his frame, helping to develop power and
show all five tools at an elite level.
– Touki Toussaint, Sr. Coral Springs Christian
shows both big velocity and a plus secondary offering on the mound on
a consistent basis. When you take into consideration how relatively
new he is to the mound, scouts dream on what Toussaint may look like
as a finished product. The first thing you notice when he delivers a
pitch is how loose and quick his arm action is and how easy the ball
leaves his hand. The 6-foot-2 Vanderbilt commit frequently touches
the mid-90s, with a high of 97, and has one of the best curveballs in
this year’s draft class.
– Foster Griffin, Sr. The First Academy
only lefty to crack this rotation, Griffin shows everything you’d
want to see in a young pitcher: lefthanded, 6-foot-5 and projectable
and a three-pitch mix. With a fastball topping out at 92 mph, Griffin
is able to make that play up as he uses his long levers and creates
excellent downhill plane. His curveball flashes potential and
presently shows a very good changeup with fading action. Not only
does he have a feel for three pitches, he knows how to use them with
an advanced overall feel on the mound.
– Sean Reid-Foley, Sr. Sandalwood
had a strong summer, throwing well at most of the major events this
year. Of the six events he threw at this summer, he touched at least
93 mph at five of them, topping at 95 at the East Coast Pro. On top
of the big velocity, the fastball shows heavy arm-side run action,
and it is his off-speed that sets him apart from some of the other
power arms in this year's class. He works his slider into the
mid-80s, a true slider with late bite, and he also owns a fading
changeup which he can bring in on righthanded hitters, a devastating
pitch against hitters at this level. When everything is working,
Reid-Foley dominates the opposition and gets many empty swings.
– Cobi Johnson, Sr. James W. Mitchell
brings a high baseball IQ on the mound, going out there with a game
plan that he executes. It is easy to project the 6-foot-4, 180-pound
Johnson to throw in the mid-90s one day and he is already throwing 93
mph, but he dominates his outings as though he was showing the big
fastball velocity. He is able to carve up both corners of the plate
with his fastball, showing the highest level pitchability and an
advanced feel of a big 12-to-6 curveball that shows very good depth
– Keith Weisenberg, Sr. Osceola
time he takes the ball at a Perfect Game event it is as though
Weisenberg takes another step forward. The Stanford commit regularly
sits in the low-90s and uses his 6-foot-4 frame and high
three-quarters arm slot to get on top of the ball and generate very
sharp downhill plane. Velocity comes easy for Weisenberg, and one
shouldn’t be surprised when he continues adding to his fastball,
which also has plenty of sink and run down in the zone. He already
throws an above average slider in the mid-80s and shows a feel for a
changeup, a pitch that shows big potential in the future.
only five spots to be filled, pitchers will inevitably be left off.
In the 2014 class alone eyes need to closely watch righthanders Alex
Faedo, Weston Davis and Cre Finfrock as well as lefthanders Carson
Sands and Bennett Sousa.
Region Best Tools
Hitter For Average: Luke Bonfield, Sr. IMG Academy
are a few categories among the top tools that were extremely close,
with this being one of them. Jeremy Vasquez is very advanced with the
bat, as is Bonfield, who started his hot hitting at the National
Showcase last June and didn’t stop all summer. Bonfield set the
tone for what he would do the rest of the summer in one of his first
at-bats in Minnesota, barreling up a mid-80s slider from PG
All-American righthander Luis Ortiz. He consistently squares up top
pitching, showing gap power with more on its way.
Hitter For Power: J.J. Schwarz, Sr. Palm Beach Gardens
has shown the ability to impact a game on both sides of the ball,
with his bat possibly being the loudest tool throughout the course of
the game. He shows very good strength in his righthanded swing with
major power and loud contact off the barrel. He is able to generate
pull-side power and has also shown the ability to sting the ball to
the opposite way. Even as a 2015, Brendan Rodgers garnered
consideration for this category, showing easy power off of the
highest level pitching.
Baserunner: Carl Chester, Sr. Lake Brantley
turned in the top 60 time of the past year from all Perfect Game
events, a 6.28 at last June's National Showcase. A plus runner,
Chester uses his speed both in the outfield and on the bases, showing
aggressiveness on the base-paths and is very disruptive to the
opposing pitcher once he gets on. Todd Isaacs Jr. came bursting on
the scene in Jupiter with the Atlanta Blue Jays, and made a strong
run at this category, as did Nick Gordon.
Defensive Catcher: Dominic DiCaprio, Jr. Marjory Stoneham Douglas
a 2015 graduate, DiCaprio takes this category as he has shown
high-end defensive actions behind the plate every time he suits up.
With a strong 6-foot, 210-pound frame, DiCaprio has what you want to
see in a catching prospect: no problem handling quality pitches,
sound footwork, smooth and easy actions, and a strong arm that
delivers accurate bullets in game action.
Defensive Infielder: Nick Gordon, Sr. Olympia
you combine his plus athleticism, high baseball IQ, and cannon of an
arm, he has the ability to make plays that shouldn’t be made. The
added strength to his frame has done nothing to hinder him in the
field, as he stills makes the play deep in the 5-6 hole. And while
others may not have the arm strength to make the off-balance throw,
Gordon has no problem firing an accurate strike to first base in such
situations. He takes big, easy gliding steps to the ball with range
to both sides and displays sound glove work.
Defensive Outfielder: Carl Chester, Sr. Lake Brantley
Chester is the complete package in center field. Being a plus runner,
Chester gets a quick first step on the ball, and is able to cover a
vast amount of real estate. He glides easily to the ball with clean
fielding actions. On top of those tools, Chester owns a strong arm,
something not commonly associated with fleet-footed center fielders.
Infield Arm: Nick Gordon, Sr. Olympia
stated above, Gordon has top of the line arm strength, recently
throwing 94 mph across the infield at the World Showcase. His throws
are accurate and show plus carry, but what is most impressive is how
easy and effortless the throws are out of his hand.
Outfield Arm: Justin Smith, Sr. Bartram Trail
has shown big arm strength from the outfield since the Junior
in 2011 and it plays very well in right field in game action. He gets
on top of his throws, allowing the ball to travel in a straight line
to the intended target with no tail.
Fastball: Touki Toussaint, Sr. Coral Spring Academy
impressive as the reading on the radar gun is when Toussaint’s
fastball crosses the plate, there are other factors that put him to
the front of this group. With such an easy and loose arm action, it
is easy to envision a few more ticks being added to his fastball that
already tops out at 97 mph. The pitch is very clean out of his hand
and shows explosive life in the zone.
Off-speed Stuff: Touki Toussaint, Sr. Coral Springs Academy
claims back-to-back categories as his breaking ball is the pitch that
he is most known for on the national scene. A true knockout pitch,
Toussaint varies the velocity on the curveball, with a power
curveball up to 80 mph and a knee buckling, mid-70s pitch with
outstanding depth and break. In Jupiter his curveball registered 2800
RPM (rotations per minute) on the TrackMan radar, surpassing the MLB
average of 2500 RPM.
Command: Cobi Johnson, Sr. James W. Mitchell
father, Dane, is a pitching coordinator for the Toronto Blue Jays,
and he has passed his knowledge on to his son, Cobi. The younger
Johnson has a knack for getting and staying ahead of hitters, and
fills up the strike zone with all of his pitches. He shows plus
control of his fastball in the lower half of the zone, which he is
able to execute thanks to using his 6-foot-4 frame to generate sharp
downhill plane. He also has a strong feel for his plus hammer
curveball, which he throws in any count.
Pitchability: Juan Hillman, Jr. Haines City Senior
only entering his junior season this spring, Hillman has shown some
of the highest-level abilities on the mound. With a projectable frame
and quick arm, Hillman comfortably sits in the high 80s with his
fastball, often times touching 90, and controls the pitch very well.
He is able to sit on both sides of the plate with downhill plane and
has no problem coming in on the hands of righthanded hitters. To
complement his fastball, Hillman features one of the better breaking
pitches in the 2015 class with a deep 1-to-7 curveball.