The 2013 Draft: The top five players
By Jeff Ellis
February 11, 2013
It is officially draft season.
The football draft season is gearing up with the combine occurring this month, and the baseball draft season is just kicking into gear as the college and high school seasons will soon begin. Everyone is releasing their top 100 lists, and we are beginning to see the crystallization of draft boards. It's weird to think that even though no one has really played over the last few months that draft boards have changed. Yet they do as evaluators watch film, or converse with each other.
I thought it would be about time for me to release what my own personal top five is at this point in the year. Now remember, things can change significantly as this time last year I was writing about how I thought Lucas Giolito would be the top pick in the draft, which ended a few weeks later because of a major injury.
1. Clint Frazier, OF, High School
Frazier has been slowly climbing up every board I see. It's not hard to see why with a possible centerfielder with good power, a quick bat, and plus everything. If you have read my pieces over the years, you know one of the major things I look at for hitters is bat speed, and Frazier's is unmatched. If you make a mistake this guy will hammer it. To me he has the best bat speed in this draft, and with his swing it' not hard to see power develop in that swing.
I know people have compared him to Mike Trout, but please forget that comparison. He is a great athlete but doesn't have that speed or base running ability that is at a Trout level to me. His future is more likely in right field than center as well. One thing these two players do have in common is they go all out every time, they work and work and never stop trying to improve. Since Frazier is a red head, get prepared to hear a lot about him playing like his head is on fire.
Whatever team drafts Frazier gets a guy who projects as a plus player in every category. He should hit for a high average, walk, play solid defense, steal 20-30 bases, and hit in the 25-30 home run range. The reason you don't fear paying him a ton of money is that his biggest plus skill is his work ethic. Some high school kids make you nervous, but Frazier never will. He is about as safe as a high school prospect can get.
While I find the Trout comparison unfair, when I see him to me I see more of Matt Holiday, a guy who can play center but is better off in the corner, and contributes in every facet of the game. I personally think based on last year, there is a very good chance he ends up going to Houston first overall, especially if he can save them money to spend on other players.
2. Ryne Stanek, SP, Arkansas
The Indians have scouted and drafted heavily out of Arkansas over the past few drafts (Howard, McClure) so I am sure they are extremely familiar with Stanek. There are three big college pitchers in this draft and to me Stanek is the best draft prospect.
I put Stanek first because I think he has the best chance to be a true number one of anyone in this draft. He also has the lowest floor of the pitchers, but to me the chance to draft a pitcher who was a plus plus fastball and slider that is already a plus pitch is going to be hard to ignore.
The issue with Stanek is that he needs to work on his third pitch, and some people do not like his mechanics at all. He throws from a three quarter slot, and since mechanics and delivery are such hot talk anymore expect a lot of talk on Stanek to be about his delivery.
This is a guy the scouts know well as he was a 3rd rounder out of high school and has performed every year in college. He throws in the mid 90's and can get it up there at 97 on occasion. He has two plus pitches and his absolute worst case to me is an all star closer, though I see a front of the line pitcher who has the potential to be a legit number one pitcher going forward.
3. Austin Wilson, OF, Stanford
Wilson was considered a top ten pick out of high school, but fell because of concerns about signability. He went to Stanford, and has performed well.
Wilson is a huge outfielder at 6'4" 240-pounds, but he is such an athlete that he moves well in the outfield and should be a plus defender in right field. His frame and game performance show that there should be plus power in his bat, yet he plays for Stanford so that means his swing has been messed with as he has been discouraged from trying to pull the ball. This is a major knock on everyone out of Stanford, and I wonder how long until this starts to hurt their recruiting.
I am higher on Wilson than most, but I see a major athlete and a guy who could play any sport he wanted. His frame screams power production, and he has a good eye at the plate. Yes, I am betting that his swing can be adjusted easily but I don't think that is a concern.
I saw one report that compared his size and athleticism with Andre Dawson and I can see why. I just see a big right handed power bat with plus athleticism and a good approach at the plate. Add in the fact that being a college bat means he could be in the majors in two years. All this makes him a player I am excited to watch.
4. Mark Appel, SP, Stanford
Last year I had Appel at about this same rank on my draft board. The question on Appel is if he is going to be over scouted. Sometimes a player gets scouted and seen so often that all scouts end up seeing is his flaws.
Appel strikes me as a front of the rotation pitcher, but I just don't see him as a true number one type. He throws hard sitting in the mid 90's and can get it up there in the high 90's on occasion. He has been a great pitcher at Stanford, and being a senior he is a guy who should be in the majors within two years. I imagine the team that drafts him will be ready to fast track him to the majors.
I think the knock on Appel right now is that he just doesn't have the crazy upside a lot of teams want with a top five pick. The other question is who is going to draft him as many of the teams that passed on him last year are the same teams in the top five this year. Still, if he is on the board when the Indians are drafting they have to consider him. He is about as safe a pitching prospect as they come. He is a known pitcher who is going to be a front line starter, and should be ready to pitch in the majors soon.
5. Austin Meadows, OF, High School
Meadows is a classic five-tool guy who has been competing with Frazier in Georgia for years. When it comes to choosing which guy you like better it is really an eye of the beholder type of debate. Meadows is a mega athlete and a better one than Frazier who is also a top athlete.
If you love Meadows it's because he is a lock to stay in centerfield and should provide 25-30 home run power. He is an athlete who is also a baseball player that can do it all, and is much more polished than last year's top athlete Bryon Buxton. I don't think anyone dislikes Meadows unless you are like me and prefer Frazier, though that is because of Frazier's bat speed and slightly better power potential. Plus I am willing to bet that Meadows will come with a higher price tag as well.
At the end of the day there is a very good chance that whatever team drafts Meadows, he will become the top athlete and the top prospect in that system. It is hard to go wrong with a guy with his potential. He does fit the Indians draft profile as an up the middle bat who profiles to stay there.
Sean Manaea SP; Justin Williams OF; Kris Bryant 1B/3B; Dominic Smith 1B/OF; Jonathon Crawford SP
So there it is, my initial top five prospects for the 2013 Draft. I will be profiling several of my favorite players as the draft progresses. It won't just be the top 100 players as we expand to try and figure out who the Indians might be targeting in the later rounds of the draft. As always, the comments and debates are half the fun of these projections.
Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at email@example.com
It's way early and all of this is projection based. I'm not really a huge fan of Wilson, I guess it's the what you see is what you get factor. He will be a fast riser in any system.
I like Austin Meadows myself, but a number of people are in on Frazier big-time. Meadows has good size / build, while Frazier is a smaller, albeit well compacted frame. I think that may come into play for some teams.
Looking at the SP every where I've looked Appel, Stanek and Manaea are all largely grouped together, with little to no distinction between them. I disagree with these assessments sheerly on Ryne Stanek's upside.
Imo, Stanek could separate himself from Appel and Manaea with a good showing this Spring and work on a third pitch. Appel is another what you see is what you get type. If Appel fell to the Tribe, is their signability concerns? I'd think so.
Then there's Manaea, it's hard to find LHSP period. Manaea is that and a power lefty with the potential be a #2 SP, IMHO.
Another name who could be top 10 material is Kohl Stewart. He possesses a plus FB (95+), but may be a hard sign... Right now he's signed up to be Johnny Manziel's backup at TX A&M.
Finally, my hope is the Tribe takes a different approach with the #5 pk overall, I'm sure they will bc they won't anticipate picking that high again for a number of yrs.