Draft : : Story
Friday, May 10, 2002

Biggest Draft Gainers and Surprises

Perfect Game Staff        
Each year there are players who move up to the front of the draft class due to strong performances during the spring season. Some of these players were nearly unknown before their final high school season. Others have been ranked earlier, but have continued to improve. Here is a list of a few prospects who have increased their stock dramatically over the past couple months.

Chris Gruler 6?€™3/200 RHP Liberty HS Brentwood, CA
Chris Gruler
Gruler is a strong RHP who we?€™ve watched grow over the last few years. In the past year we saw him many times. First, in June at the PG National he showed low 90s velocity and great arm action, quick and fluid. His breaking ball looked very promising. At several other events he was less than amazing, but we kept reporting he had a chance to be a MLB power pitcher.

Then at the PG/BA World Championship in Jupiter last fall, Gruler put it all together. He lived in the mid 90s with a devastating, at times, breaking ball. This spring he?€™s continued to improve, to the point of living in the mid 90s and touching lots of 97s. His make up and mound presence is right up there with anyone in the country. Sure he still projects, but he has reached the level we predicted for him, way ahead of schedule. He is looking like a very early first round pick.

Zach Greinke 6?€™2/190 RHP Apopka HS Orlando, FL
Zach Greinke
We have watched Greinke closely for the past couple years. He has always been a good prospect as a player. Two years ago we put him on the mound, because he showed plus-plus arm strength from the infield. He touched 94 that day and looked like he was born on the mound. Many times we have written that this kids future is pitching and he has a very special arm. However, even after again showing mid 90 velocity, a very good breaking ball and an advanced feel for pitching at the PG World Showcase last winter, everyone tried to figure out what position he projected best at. He did look good behind the plate and that even became news. Sometimes the hardest thing to see?€? is the most obvious!

All bragging aside, it has been crystal clear to us, for two years, where this special arm belonged. Wish we had a dollar for every time we told scouts that Greinke is a big time pitching prospect. Problem was, Zach was first a player and a very good one. He didn?€™t really pitch all that much with his summer teams, high school or in other showcases. This spring has changed everything. Zach became the ace of his high school pitching staff. The rest will soon become history. Greinke should go early in the first round as a RHP.

Jeremy Hermida 6?€™3/195 OF Wheeler HS Marietta, GA
When we saw Hermida in the PG/BA World Championship, we saw a very good player with a potential plus bat. He looked like a good prospect who could develop into a top 5-10 round pick. Hermida has become perhaps the biggest of all surprises among position players this spring.

First of all, he has worked hard to develop an excellent MLB body and strength. That added size and strength has helped him become one of the top hitting prospects in this years draft. Some scouts say he is the hitter in high school baseball. He has simply improved more than any player in the country over the last 6 months. He looks like a sure first round pick at this time.

John Mayberry 6?€™5/210 OF/1B Rockhurst, MO HS Overland Park, KS
John Mayberry
We rated Mayberry one of the top prospects in the nation after watching him in last years PG National at Tropicana Field. He hit the best pitching in the nation better than anyone else at the event. Mayberry is an athletic first baseman, who we feel has a future in the outfield. He runs OK and has a strong arm. His dad was a former major league hitting star and it looks like the younger Mayberry might be too.

After Tropicana, Mayberry had several lack luster showings including the Area Codes. Making the mistake of listening to others we moved him down the list a ways. We forgot what we saw in Tropicana Field! That was a mistake?€? if it?€™s there?€? it?€™s there! Now the only thing keeping John from being an early pick is his commitment to Stanford. If he decides he wants to start his pro career now?€? he?€™s going early in this years draft.

A few others who have, with strong performances this spring, moved front and center into possible high draft status.
Cole Hamels 6?€™2/185 LHP Rancho Bernardo HS San Diego, CA
Top lefty, out last year with broken arm. Now throwing low to mid 90s with more.
Kevin Jepsen 6?€™3/195 RHP Bishop Monogue HS Sparks, NV
We have seen Jepsen very good, but now he?€™s been in the upper 90s with a 90 mph slider.
Zach Hammes 6?€™7/230 RHP Iowa City HS Iowa City, IA
Hammes has opened some eyes with his consistent 90+ live fastball and plus curveball. He projects to throw in the mid 90s or better. Maybe the best arm action in the country.
Blair Johnson 6?€™4/200 RHP Washburn HS Topeka, KS
The first 14 fastballs we saw Johnson throw last year were all 91-93. He has continued to get better this year.
Matt Cain 6?€™3/190 RHP Houston HS Collierville, TN
We liked Cain to begin with, but didn?€™t see the low to mid 90s he?€™s been throwing this spring. Team mate and top prospect Connor Lalor was injured so Cain took over this spring.
Greg Miller 6?€™5/190 LHP Esparanza HS Yorba Linda, CA
We made the mistake of thinking we saw Miller his best ever early this year. We liked him a ton, but now he has increased his velocity to the low 90s and can really pitch.
Jesse English 6?€™2/215 LHP Rancho Buena Vista HS Vista, CA
English is showing plus velocity and extreme pitchability.
Romelio Lopez 6?€™7/240 P/OF Conroe HS Sugar Land, TX
Is he Juan Gonzalez with the bat or is he a mid 90 power pitcher?
Robert Sovie 6?€™2/195 OF Stratford Academy Macon, GA
One of the top athletes he may be the fastest player in the draft.
Brandon Weeden 6?€™4/190 RHP Cobble HS Edmond, OK
Kind of unknown for awhile, but now one of the better pitching prospects in the plains. Could be a big surprise.
Kris Harvey 6?€™4/190 RHP Catawba HS Catawba, NC
Dad was a big leaguer and now son is looking like one.
Mark Wagner 6?€™1/185 C Mayfair HS Lakewood, CA
Athletic catcher who stood out at the PG predraft. Nothing but line drives.
Trevor Crowe 5?€™11/180 INF Westview HS Portland, OR
Some past injury concern, but big time switch hitter who can run and play.
Garrett White 6?€™5/230 LHP Round Rock HS Round Rock, TX
Big, strong lefty, we liked him when we first saw him and he?€™s even better now.
Jarrad Page 6?€™0/185 OF San Leandro HS San Leandro, CA
Football star with plus baseball tools.
Paul Keck 6?€™3/190 C/P Granada HS Pleasanton, CA
Keck shows plus arm strength and power potential. Big, good, athlete!
Jonathan George 6?€™3/220 RHP Camden Catholic HS Pennsauken, NJ
Been lights out this spring, consistent low 90s with more.
Brandon Perry 6?€™1/175 LHP Graham HS Graham, NC
Teammate of the very projectable and better known, Nick Starnes.
Kodiac Quick 6?€™3/185 RHP Belton HS Belton, MO
Belton HS also has draft prospect Randy Braun. Quick has committed to Stanford so he may be unsignable, but he has shown a plus-plus fastball this spring.
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