SANTALUCES, FL- Santaluces High School is hosting an eight-team tournament this week that includes some good baseball schools from the area.
Their baseball complex used to be the minor league spring training facility for both the Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos before both franchises moved out in 1998. The diamonds are still in excellent shape and a nice gift for the area high school kids who get to play on them every year.
There were four concurrent games on Monday night as I tried to focus on the prospects. The highest-ranked (by PGCrosschecker.com) was righthanded pitcher Jacob Johnson from Trinity Christian High School.
Johnson is ranked 30th among Florida high school prospects and 367th overall in the nation for the 2009 draft.
He’s a big-framed 6-3, 231 righty, with strong legs, hips, and a very thick core. Johnson looks the part of a workhorse and showed me a strong delivery that absorbed stress much more with the body than the arm.
Johnson threw 89-91 MPH for me at two off-season showcase events during short stints. Today, he was more in the 85-88 MPH range with good sink. Johnson used a low-70s curveball as his secondary pitch, but it’s his slider (80 MPH) I have rated higher, as a potential major league average offering. His command was okay today.
Scouts made note of the lower velocity, but I think anyone who uses their imagination can see him throwing average in the future. Johnson has the right arm-action and body to become a consistent 90+ MPH guy when he’s 23 years-old. The slider has a chance to be average and he just needs another pitch to work in there. Johnson has committed to Wake Forest.
On the other side of the clover leaf complex was Jupiter High School against West Boca Raton. West Boca’s Chase Greene played center field today, though he’s usually the shortstop. We have Greene ranked as the #50 high school prospect in the state and #242 in the country. Greene is a speedster who probably fits best in the outfield, anyway. He didn’t catch any fly balls when I was watching, but he really scooted to a single that went into the gap.
There are a lot of scouts who question his ability to stay in the infield. I believe he’d have a chance at second base, but he has better upside in center. Though his arm is well below-average, he has a chance for plus range out there. Though I didn’t get a good running time in this game, he would grade out as a 65 runner on the 20-80 scale.
The 5-9, 160 righthanded hitting Greene will have to figure out a pesky offensive game to take advantage of his speed; he doesn’t project as a big power guy or middle order hitter. The bat-speed and raw power isn’t quite there for that. In the two at-bats I watched, Greene struck out and flew out. He didn’t look comfortable against the curveball and that will be something that might come on in the coming years. Greene has committed to the University of South Florida.
A very intriguing 2011 pitcher took the mound for West Boca Raton today named Mike Kelly. At about 6-3, 180, the sophomore righty has a good-looking delivery and loose arm. He threw 87-88 MPH in the early innings with good feel for a 77 MPH change. The curveball has a ways to go, but he showed he could put on a good spin on occasion. I was impressed with his competitiveness and an excellent move to first base. Remember the name in two years.
Jupiter High School is one of the nation’s best baseball programs. I don’t think they have any high drafts for this year, but there are a number of future D1 NCAA players, some of whom may turn into high-draft prospects while in college. Lefty Brandon Hagan started and threw mid-80s with good pitchability. At 6-1, 170, he’ll grow stronger for sure. Centerfielder Tyler McCarthy is an undersized (5-10, 160) speedster committed to George Washington University who hit a triple against Kelly. And third baseman Kurt Schluter is going to Stetson. The lanky 6-2, 175 righthanded hitter slugged a big homerun to left field, also off of Kelly. With workable hands and arm at third base, it’s not hard to envision a high draft after three years of college, if he isn’t quite ready this June.