As we head through the dog days of summer, there’s still a long way to go for the CBL season. However, the college and high school seasons are over, which means it’s time to ponder the future. Earlier, we took a look at the top six performances from the collegiate level, and today we’ll look at the top six high school performances.
The 2016 NFHS season should be remembered as the year of underclassmen. None of the top six performances came from players who will be draft eligible this off-season, which means next season should be a great one full of talented, experienced players.
Brantley’s raw numbers aren’t exactly eye-popping for the high school level at first glance. His 3-2 record and 2.38 ERA are still good, they just don’t jump off the page like most high school standouts. Of course, Brantley was just 14 years old this season, and he did more than hold his own. He walked just 9 batters in 11 starts and scouts expect his stuff to only improve. By the time he’s draft eligible, Brantley could very well be the consensus top pick. He’s a great young pitcher who should only get better with experience, and his freshman season did nothing to quiet the hype.
Foster was another freshman who excelled in his first season. Foster posted a 1.80 ERA in 60 innings, and struck out a rather impressive 90 batters while walking 16. At 6’4″ and 180 pounds, Foster’s body type screams future ace, although some scouts question his ability to remain a starter at the pro level.
“He has two pitches right now that project to be great pitches, but unless his changeup gets a lot better in the next few years, he’s going to be a late inning reliever,” one scout told me. Foster has plenty of time to develop a third pitch, so it seems a bit premature to call him a late inning reliever, but he’s a player to watch at the high school level next season.
Mike Murillo had a monster offensive season, which scouts insist is necessary for him to remain an elite draft prospect because his defense is poor. He projects as a big league right fielder despite the fact that he’s playing left field right now. His arm strength and poor range would play better in right field at the big league level. He hit 21 home runs in just 185 at bats, while batting .314/.399/.735. Murillo is still a bit thin at 175 pounds, but if he can continue to fill out the power potential is unlimited.
Mitchell’s first season of organized baseball was a great one. As a 15-year-old sophomore who’d never played organized baseball, expectations weren’t all that high for the kid from Manhattan. Maybe they should have been. Mitchell went 6-0 in 10 starts, striking out 67 batters while walking just 9 in just under 63 innings pitched. Mitchell has 3 pitches he uses equally, and he has good size at 6’2. Scouts insist his velocity should improve as he gets stronger too, which currently sits between 87-89 MPH. That’s very impressive for a 15-year-old.
Billy Jones moved to Minneapolis with his parents this past fall, making him a new kid in a new city as a sophomore in high school. That’s not an easy change for a kid to make, but Jones fit in immediately. He hit .398/.472/.789 and added 19 home runs in just 171 at bats. Jones potential is immense, and scouts are already flocking for a glimpse of Jones. If he can stay at third base his value improves greatly, although at this early stage scouts seem to think he’s destined to be a first baseman. If his bat continues to perform like it did this season, his defensive position will rightfully be an afterthought.
It’s rare to see any high school player dominate the way Jose Garcia did this season, and even rarer for it to come from a true freshman. Garcia hit a ridiculous .402/.476/.874, while adding 24 home runs in 199 at bats. Garcia is already an intimidating presence at 6’3 and 195 pounds, and scouts expect him to end up close to 250 by the time he graduates. Whenever Garcia decides to declare for the draft, his bat should put him squarely in the discussion for the number one pick. With several other talented youngsters, Garcia will need to continue to rake at the high school level to remain a top prospect. But his freshman season couldn’t have gone any better, and Garcia is now the player to watch heading into next season.