Draft Prospect Barometer: Who’s Rising, Who’s Falling?

Rising

Foster Griffin, LHP, The First Academy (FL)

Griffin pitched like a first-rounder at the National High School Invitational, showing easy low-90s velocity and two quality secondary offerings. At 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds, he’s also got the frame that scouts drool over. Toss in the fact that he’s left-handed, and he’s almost a lock to go in the first 28 picks.

Kyle Freeland, LHP, Evansville

Freeland drew some major attention with his second consecutive 15-strikeout performance last week. He’s now garnered enough helium that he could find himself selected in the first-half of the first-round. As detailed in a Baseball America game report on Freeland’s most recent start, the lefty is the best there is in college baseball at throwing strikes. At least two-thirds of his pitches have gone for strikes in each of his starts this season. He also has seen tremendous growth in his breaking ball.

Jacob Bukauskas, RHP, Stonebridge HS (VA)

Eye-opening stats aren’t always a indicator for talent, especially among high-schoolers. Still, the numbers that Bukauskas has put up this season are worth mentioning: 68 strikeouts in 29.2 innings. Fresh off an 18-strikeout performance, Bukauskas is rising fast. More impressive than his 20.6 k/9 ratio is the fact that he has reportedly touched 100-mph, no small feat for a pitcher with such a small stature (6-foot-1, 175 pounds). A lightly touted prospect before the season, Bukauskas is working his way onto many top-ten lists as we draw closer to the draft. Bukauskas is also one of the youngest draft-eligible players for 2014, further enhancing his stock.

Falling

Carlos Rodon, LHP, North Carolina State

Rodon’s 2.29 ERA and 72/21 k/bb have hidden the fact that he’s been a shell of his former self. His fastball control has been sub-par, forcing him to go to his slider more than a college pitcher should have to. He’s also dealt with some decreased velocity. More disturbing is that he’s having real trouble putting tough starts behind him. Rodon has long been considered the crown-jewel of this draft class, but with just a few months to go, it seems as though he’s been passed by East Carolina’s Jeff Hoffman, and several high-school players.

Matt Chapman, 3B, Cal State Fullerton

Like Fullerton itself, Chapman entered 2014 with huge expectations. With an 18-13 record and Chapman hitting .275, it’s safe to say neither party has come close to those lofty expectations. Coming off a season in which he posted a .285/.415/.457 line and scouts felt he was finally coming of age at the plate, Chapman has regressed. His average, on-base and slugging percentages have all dipped and he’s got more strikeouts than walks. On the plus side, he does lead the Titans with four home runs, and he’s two away from setting a new career-high in that category.

Trea Turner, SS, North Carolina State

It’s not pick on NC State day, I promise. Turner entered the season as a potential top-five pick, and while he’s struggled to stay healthy, when he’s been on the diamond, he hasn’t looked like the electric table-setter that he’s often been labeled. It took a torrid stretch to get his batting average back over .300 and his OBP of .389 is only good enough to place him third on his own team. After stealing a combined 87 bases the past two seasons, it’s also somewhat disappointing that he’s only tallied 13 steals this year.

 

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