LAKELAND, FL- The Florida Diamond Club put on their annual showcase at Joker Marchant Stadium this weekend, the spring home of the Detroit Tigers. This event attracts many of the state’s best prospects and is run by the major league scouts who comprise the FDC.
Last year, the four regional teams at the event produced 38 draft picks. The number should be close again this year though a number of the state’s premium talents didn’t make it to Lakeland. Lakeland High School infielder Yordy Cabrera stood out as the #1 prospect.
There weren’t any pitchers who showed consistent plus velocity or plus breaking balls, but the strength of the event was probably the depth of projectable arms. This is the group that tends to change the most between October and June and I’d expect at least some of these arms to emerge as high picks.
The state will predictably take a drop in early-round catchers after an unusually strong and deep catching class in 2008. There are a handful of first-five round candidates in the state, but none made the Top-10.
The top two turned out to be shortstops while four righthanded pitchers also make the list.
The rankings are based on my present-day perception of the participating players as professional prospects for the 2010 Draft.
1. Yordy Cabrera, SS/3B, Lakeland HS 6-1, 210 R/R
With plus-plus raw power and major league bat-speed already, Cabrera might be the nation’s best prep hitting prospect. He’ll swing and miss a lot and get fooled on off-speed, but all the hitting tools are there to move quickly to the big leagues. Cabrera is also a solid-average runner with good infield actions and a plus arm. Most scouts see him at third base down the road, but Cabrera can play short in the low minors. He projects for the 1st-round with a chance to go in the first five overall depending on the spring. Cabrera is signed with Miami.
2. Manny Machado, SS, Brito Miami Private HS 6-2, 173 R/R
Perhaps the most polished prep player in the state, Machado doesn’t have a knockout tool but is solid across the board and makes all the plays at shortstop. Machado has good hands with the feet and arm to play the position at least in the low minors. An advanced hitter, Machado should grow into major league power and bat-speed. Machado is an average runner on the bases who might swipe a few on instincts. He’s committed to Florida International University.
3. Johnny Barbato, RHP, Felix Varela HS 6-1, 174
Barbato is a sleeper of sorts in Florida. The lanky Barbato doesn’t have the size or present standout stuff of A.J. Cole or Karsten Whitson, but he’s that next level down and has the type of quick arm and athletic delivery to project with age. Barbato threw 88-90 MPH with a clean arm-action and delivery, but he impressed scouts most with his location and command. The potential is there for Barbato to develop a solid-average major league curve and change. His pitchability will get him outs in the low minors and his stuff should get more powerful as he fills out physically. Barbato’s signed with Florida
4. Jimmy Hodgskin, LHP, Bishop Moore HS 6-0, 185
A lanky lefty who lives in the mid-high-80s with a big league change-up, Hodgskin will be a force as a freshman if he ends up at Troy University because his pitchability is so advanced. With an easy arm-action and projectable body, Hodgskin has a chance to develop into an average big league velo guy as well. His curve is in the developmental stage. Hodgskin’s delivery is unique in that he swivels his head, sort of like Fernando Valenzuela short of looking to the sky. Despite the head movement, Hodgskin hits the target with his pitches and displays some of the best command in the country.
5. Casey Mulholland, RHP, Pendleton Academy 6-2, 179
Mullholland wasn’t as sharp with his off-speed as I’ve seen in the past, but it’s there. Blessed with a very quick arm and good athleticism in his delivery, Mullholland has the ability to throw all four pitches at the big league level. Mulholland lived in the 86-88 MPH range this weekend, showing very good up-down command. His curveball has the most potential and could easily end up a plus major league pitch.
6. J.D. Williams, 2B, Brooks-Debartolo HS 6-0, 190 S/R
Williams has a lot of fast twitches in his arms and legs, a plus runner who can generate bat-speed from both sides of the plate with line-drive power. Williams feasted on a 90 MPH fastball to hit a homerun batting lefthanded but later waved at a low curveball for strike three. His approach needs work, especially against off-speed, but all the hitting actions are there to move up. Some question Williams’s hands and arm for second base, but his feet work well and the outfield is definitely an option.
7. Ben Gamel, OF, Bishop Kenny HS 5-10, 170 L/L
Though Gamel is not a big kid, the ball jumps off his bat and he shows fast twitches all over the field. Gamel ran a 6.76 60 yard-dash, showed a workable radar in the outfield, and an arm that projects for average. Gamel hits a lot of hard line-drives and has the bat-speed to hit average fastballs with wood right now. His brother Mat is a prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers system and Ben is committed to Florida State.
8. Alec Asher, RHP, Lakeland HS 6-4, 215
Asher has the large frame and strong core of a future workhorse, with an effortless arm-action and smooth delivery. He threw 88-90 MPH and showed feel for a two-plane biting slider. As a high school teammate of Yordy Cabrera’s, Asher is sure to be seen in the spring. He’s yet to commit to a college.
9. Colin Richardson, RHP, Winter Haven HS 6-0, 180
Richardson may have had the sharpest curveball in Lakeland this weekend. He lacks the prototype height and size of a big league pitcher, but Richardson’s package is otherwise impressive. He threw 86-88 MPH with sinking action on his fastball along with the curveball,l that projects to a solid-average MLB pitch or better. Richardson’s arm-action and his delivery are smooth and he should throw harder in the future.
10. Juan Gomes, OF, Miami Southridge HS 6-0, 180 R/R
The athletic Gomes showed a quick bat and a plus arm for the outfield. When he fills out his lanky frame, Gomes has a chance to develop into a big league hitter because he has a loose, easy swing, and shows the ability to make adjustments with his hands. Gomes “only” ran a 7.26 60 yd, but he shows much more agility in shorter bursts.