December 11, 2014
Before They Were Pros
As part of Perfect Game's partnership with Baseball Prospectus, David Rawnsley, Todd Gold and Patrick Ebert will be conducting a “Before They Were Pros” series, providing scouting reports on some of the top prospects in baseball from when they were in high school attending PG events. This six-part series (one for each division in MLB) will appear once Baseball Prospectus has provided their own detailed scouting reports of the top prospects, team-by-team, as part of their own series.
We continue with a look at the American League East. Be sure to read Baseball Prospectus' features on each of the five teams:
Red Sox | Rays | Blue Jays | Yankees | Orioles
And here are links to the other 'Before They Were Pros' series already conducted:
NL East | NL Central
Boston Red Sox
Rafael Devers – 3B
There was already a serious buzz in the international scouting community when Devers came to the PG World Showcase in early January, 2013, with the thought being that the Dominican native might be the premium player in the 2013 international class that would become eligible to sign that July 2.
Devers was a couple months past his 16th birthday when he arrived in Fort Myers, Fla., meaning he would likely have been a sophomore in high school if he had been raised in the United States. He had a strong 6-foot, 185-pound build that was well filled out in the hips and thighs. Although he ran a respectable 7.00 and threw 88 mph across the infield in drills, it was obvious that Devers wasn't your typical tooled-up Dominican prospect. The buzz from the scouts was directed at Devers' left-handed bat, and the rest of the tools just had to be playable to support the buzz.
Devers batting practice was what you might expect from a 16-year-old with all those eyes on him. He had a big coil and uppercut in his approach and spent the entire session trying to pull and lift the ball with only moderate success. The scouting notes in the PG database from BP specifically include the phrase "probably not his game swing."
Things changed entirely once live pitching took the mound. It was immediately obvious that Devers saw the ball exceptionally well for such a young hitter, and not only had the ability to recognize what pitches he could drive to what part of the ball park, he had the ability to take close pitches and to foul off pitches he needed to in order to stay alive in counts. His swing was fluid and loose with plus raw bat speed and he hit the ball to left-center field as hard as he pulled it.
Devers had one very notable at-bat against Dustin Hagy, a 6-foot-6 right-hander who was later a 31st-round pick of the Orioles. Hagy was throwing 89-92 mph with a pretty nasty 77-mph curveball and it was pretty evident that he knew who was in the batter's box by the way he ratcheted up his stuff and focus with Devers in the box. The at-bat went at least a dozen pitches, with the 16-year-old continually fouling off pitches in every quadrant of the plate with Hagy not backing down a bit. The battle ended with Devers lining a hit to left-center field and scouts throughout the stands muttered a collective "wow" at the quality of performance of both players.
Devers went on to sign with the Red Sox for a $1.5 million signing bonus, one of the top bonuses given in the 2013 class. His exceptional performance between the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League in his first season (.322-7-57, 35 walks in 70 games) certainly seems to support the initial impressions of his offensive potential. —David Rawnsley
Matt Barnes – RHP
Although he was built super lean and lanky, the potential for growth and strength gains were obvious for the 6-foot-4, 180-pound Barnes in high school. He competed in a handful of Perfect Game tournament events and one showcase, the 2007 Northeast Top Prospect Showcase, where he earned a PG grade of 9 and garnered this report:
He pitches from a 3/4 arm slot with long and loose arm action. Barnes has good arm speed and a live arm. He has good mechanics with some effort in his delivery. Matthew has an 88-mph fastball with arm-side run and good command. He has a sharp 11-5 curveball at 71 mph and a solid changeup at 75 mph. Barnes has a projectable body and arm and the ball comes out easy.
While the projectability and likelihood for increased fastball velocity were evident, it's nearly impossible to project a near 10-mph increase in his three years in college. But that's exactly what happened with Barnes, who attended UConn, playing alongside current Astros slugger George Springer, while dialing his fastball up to 97 mph by his junior year.
The velocity came largely thanks to the loose arm and arm speed that were noted in his showcase report above. Still projectable at 205 pounds it was easy to envision Barnes maintaining that newfound velocity deep into games.
His curveball also gained more power in college, now thrown in the mid to upper 70s, to go along with his changeup while picking up and developing a slider to give him a solid four-pitch repertoire. Here is a snippet of Barnes' pre-draft report in 2011:
Along with a significant increase in velocity, his feel for pitching has also improved by leaps and bounds. He produces a good downhill angle on his fastball … His hard, sharp 75-78 mph curve is his best off-speed pitch, though he still has a tendency to cut it off instead of snapping it off out front. His 79-80 mph slider continues to evolve, but often is flat with a slurvy-shaped rotation. He can produce the same arm speed on his changeup as his fastball, and locates it well to both sides of the plate with late sink. Though Barnes uses minimal effort in his delivery, he still struggles at times with his mechanics, particularly in identifying a consistent release point, which mildly impacts his command.
At the time Barnes was expected to go off the board among the top eight to 15 overall picks, therefore it was a mild surprise that he fell to the Red Sox at 19. That was the first of four first-round picks for the Red Sox that year, a draft haul that included Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Mookie Betts. —Patrick Ebert
Brian Johnson – LHP
Selected by the Dodgers in the 27th round out of high school in 2009, Johnson opted to honor his commitment to play for the Florida Gators on a talent-laden squad. He served a crucial two-way role while in college, serving as one of the team's top starters while also batting in the middle of the Gators' lineup in the cleanup spot, usually behind his battery mate and Golden Spikes winner Mike Zunino, the no. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft.
Here's the report written about him leading up to the 2012 draft in which he was ranked the 37th-overall prospect:
Johnson has legitimate pro potential as both a hitter and pitcher, and brings to mind former two-way college stars and high-round picks such as Joe Savery (Rice) and Sean Doolittle (Virginia). Though he hasn’t been quite as consistent across the board this spring as he was in 2011 (5-1, 3.88 with 11 BB/39 SO in 48 IP; .315-4-23 as a hitter), Johnson’s stuff has been solid. His fastball normally has been in the 89-91 mph range, but will top out at 93, and he complements it with a big-breaking curve that he commands with maturity.
Prior to his time spent at Florida, Johnson was a well-known prospect from Cocoa Beach, Florida. He finished his high-school career as the 119th high-school prospect in the class of 2009, and although he didn't participate at any PG showcase events, he did appear in numerous tournaments, including two trips to the WWBA World Championship in Jupiter. His peak velocity at those events was 90 mph, routinely sitting in the mid to upper 80s with a sharp curveball.
Johnson's velocity of course took a step up while in college, frequently sitting in the low 90s while peaking at 94 mph. His curveball continued to be his second best offering, a perfect complement to his fastball and overall command.
Although most lefties that have the ability to throw in the 90s are developed on the mound, Johnson could have been drafted early as a power-hitting first-base prospect, as noted in his report above. His 6-foot-4, 220-pound stature gave him intriguing power potential, and he routinely exhibited one of the more polished approaches at the plate in the college game and a smooth, left-handed swing with a natural uppercut path. However, his profile as a big, strong, and durable left-hander with the ability to eat up innings was too good to pass up. —Patrick Ebert
Tampa Bay Rays
Justin O'Conner – C
It hasn't been particularly surprising that Justin O'Conner has emerged as one of the best defensive catchers in minor-league baseball, except when you consider that he didn't catch until his senior year in high school. But then again, conversions from the middle infield to behind the plate are not unprecedented or even uncommon. Buster Posey played shortstop and pitched in high school, the same positions that O'Conner excelled at as a PG All-American prior to converting full time during his senior season at Cowen High School in Muncie, Indiana.
What was obvious was that O'Conner had the athletic ability to play just about any position on the field defensively, highlighted by a throwing arm that was one of the best to come along in many, many years. Here are his defensive notes from the 2009 PG National Showcase, before he'd started catching:
++ arm, extra step, overmatched the 1B/almost broke his wrist, everything works cleanly … Very, very good defensive actions. 70/80 arm, 60 agility, very quick hands (65-70). Tools to become premium MIF at the major-league level. Made plays in the games. Has short release and is effectively one of the best HS infield throwers I've ever seen. Defensive ability will give teams plenty of patience with the bat. Can play anywhere on field and be above average.
O'Conner threw an absurd 95 mph across the infield in drills at the National and was also 91-93 off the mound. It wasn't effortless velocity but it wasn't contrived showcase velocity either. He had a top of the scale hose to go with 6.7 speed and overall athleticism.
O'Conner's bat, as mentioned in the defensive notes, wasn't a polished tool, although he had lots of raw bat speed and plenty of power. In fact, he won the Rawlings Home Run Challenge at the PG National Showcase, held that year in the Metrodome in Minneapolis. O'Conner also hit .460-8-40 as a high school senior. But most of the concern in scouts' minds were about how his offense would develop, and it was evident even then that O'Conner's aggressive nature would lead to walk and strikeout issues against high-level pitching.
There was a somewhat painful example of O'Conner's aggressive offensive approach that many scouts probably remember to this day. The right-handed hitter was at the plate at the 2009 Area Code Games facing a left-handed pitcher with a big-breaking curveball. O'Conner took his usual big swing at the breaking ball, came up empty, and was left completely open to the pitch hitting him square where all players fear to be hit. It may have been a fitting introduction to one of the unfortunate, but regular pains of playing catcher.
However, the Rays believed in O'Conner enough to take him with the 31st pick in the 2010 draft, a selection they received for having not signed LeVon Washington the previous year, and signed him to a $1,025,000 bonus. —David Rawnsley
Nathan Karns – RHP
A well-known commodity coming out of high school, Karns was ranked 43rd in Perfect Game's final ranking of the high-school class of 2006. After the Arlington, Texas native was drafted by the Astros in the 10th round of the draft that year, Karns decided to take his talents to North Carolina State.
Karns, who defined Texas heat with his strong 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame and heavy, low-90s fastballs, attended a trio of Perfect Game showcases while in high school. His peak velocity of 92 mph came at the 2005 National Showcase held at Turner Field, and here is his report from that event:
He has a long arm action in back that works smoothly and smooth mechanics with a medium-effort release way out front. Karns does a good job staying balanced over the rubber and letting his strong lower half drive him to the plate. His fastball topped out at 92 mph with some sinking and running action. Karns breaking ball is a mid-70s slurve that has a late bite with good two-plane action. He also threw a couple of 76-mph changeups. With his frame, present velocity, and fast arm, Karns is one of the top pitching prospects in the country and one of the true power pitchers who might end up throwing in the mid to upper 90s before everything is said and done.
After going 3-2 as a freshman with a 2.67 ERA in nine appearances, eight of which were starts, Karns opted to transfer to a school much closer to home at Texas Tech, but in the two years that followed he never enjoyed the same success. Although he did strike out 105 in 104 1/3 combined innings during his sophomore and junior years, he also allowed 116 hits and 69 walks, leading to a 6.90 cumulative ERA for the Red Raiders.
At the time there was some belief that Karns may be better suited to a short relief role where he wouldn't have to worry about pacing himself, not to mention his swing-and-miss one-two punch, as his heavy fastball now peaked in the mid-90s to go along with his hard biting breaking ball. Still recognizing his strong, sturdy build and powerful right arm, the Nationals took Karns in the 12th round of the 2009 draft. —Patrick Ebert
Taylor Guerrieri – RHP
Guerrieri was a late comer to the top-prospect ranks even though he threw at a number of WWBA events prior to his senior year for the Diamond Devils team out of South Carolina. That changed one day in early July, 2010, at the 17u WWBA National Championship with Guerrieri pitching for the Diamond Devils in a pool play game on East Cobb Field 1.
Guerrieri topped out at 94 mph that day, eclipsing his previous high at a Perfect Game event by five miles per hour. His curveball was his best pitch, showing big power up to 81 mph with sharp, biting action and lots of 11-to-5 depth. One of the more interesting parts of Guerrieri's performance that day was that he seemed to be able to reach back for his best stuff just about any time he wanted it, often pitching in the upper 80s until there was a threat, then dialing up the 93-94s with the big hammer. He was still touching 94 mph when he came out after six innings.
The rest of the summer was much of the same, including strong performances at the 18u WWBA National Championship and at the East Coast Pro Showcase.
The aspect of Guerrieri's talent from a scouting standpoint that really stood out was how well he synchronized his upper and lower halves when throwing. His arm came through at exactly the right time to maximize his leverage on release, making it look like he was throwing with no effort whatsoever. When you see someone with the ability to keep their lower half, upper half, and arm all in sync and make it look so easy, you can't help but think, "why doesn't every pitcher just do that?" Of course, it's one of the hardest things to do and repeat in the game of baseball.
Guerrieri was even better in the spring prior to the draft, pitching in the 93-96 range and touching as high as 98 mph regularly. His curveball was more consistent as well and he was even able to mix in some surprisingly good changeups, giving scouts the opportunity to project him with three potential-plus pitches. There is a note in Perfect Game's draft report on Guerrieri that says while fellow class of 2011 right-hander Dylan Bundy was considered one of the best high-school pitchers to come along in many years, there were a number of scouts who liked Guerrieri better.
The 2011 draft class was absolutely loaded, which was one reason that Guerrieri slid to the 24th overall pick, where he signed for a $1.6 million bonus. The other was a number of youthful off-the-field incidents that Guerrieri had reportedly been involved in that made some teams have second thoughts. —David Rawnsley
Justin Williams – OF
It is very rare for an athlete to pick up the game of baseball as a teenager and manage to make up for lost time quickly enough to develop into a legitimate prospect. It takes a special athlete to be able to develop the requisite muscle memory in relatively limited reps. Pitchers are more able to do so, but the odds are skewed very heavily against a position player.
Justin Williams didn't allow that to deter him though. He was a nationally ranked wide receiver prospect before giving up football after his junior season at Terrabonne High School in Houma, Louisiana. The physically imposing outfielder put on jaw-dropping power displays during batting practice, highlighted by blasting a shot into the upper deck of the Metrodome during the 2012 PG National Showcase, and he also claimed the Rawlings Home Run Challenge as part of the 2012 PG All-American Classic.
Understandably, Williams was raw as a pure hitter during his high-school days. And while he made tremendous strides and developed at a very rapid rate, he was still behind many of his prospect peers in the 2013 class. As a result, his raw power didn't translate to game swings. But given his background, that shouldn't have come as a surprise.
David Rawnsley touched on this topic in his Draft Focus article on Williams during the spring of 2013:
How to hit for power is often the last skill that hitters learn. If you watch Williams hit in games and don't see it, don't be disappointed. It's there. Be patient. Appreciate what you are seeing now.
The Diamondbacks were patient, and they waited until the second round of the draft that year before snagging him with the 52nd-overall pick. They were able to cash him in as a valuable trade chip this offseason after he continued his rapid development trajectory in the low levels of the minors. And if that development continues, he will be a very valuable player in the modern game in which power is scarce. —Todd Gold
Toronto Blue Jays
While no new reports are provided for the Toronto Blue Jays top prospects this year, here is a link to last year's 'Before They Were Pros' feature on the American League East where you can read prospect reports on Blue Jays top prospects Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris, as well as others: 2013-14 AL East
New York Yankees
Ian Clarkin – LHP
Ian Clarkin, a product of San Diego and a participant of the 2012 Perfect Game All-American Classic, was well known to scouts from an early age. While he was always on the radar as a prominent prospect, there was a wide range of opinions on his future potential.
The single most important factor in evaluating a teenage pitching prospect is the arm action. Everything else about a pitcher can be changed and improved, but arm action is not only the most important indicator of future potential, it is also the most difficult to change. The scouts who were saw the good in Clarkin pointed to his arm action as what they liked most.
He had good velocity on his fastball for his age, though he wasn't elite in terms of peak fastball velocity. He steadily marched from the mid-80s to the low 90s during his high-school career, which put him near the top of the class's left-handers. But an indicator that scouts often look to in order to predict fastball velocity increases is curveball spin, and Clarkin's curveball didn't quite meet the quality of his fastball and changeup during his underclass years, causing some to doubt his projection.
It is uncommon for a prominent pitching prospect to make a dramatic improvement in their breaking ball from their junior to senior year. Typically the pitchers who feature a plus curveball have shown the ability to spin the ball well from an early age, but Clarkin proved to be the exception and watched his curve jump a level in his final college season. In doing so, Clarkin answered his biggest question mark and put himself into the conversation as a first rounder. During his the spring of his senior year at Madison High School in San Diego, his curveball showed sharpness and depth in the upper 70s and was arguably his best pitch.
All of this led to him being drafted in the first round by the Yankees, the third of three first round picks they made that year, as the 33rd-overall selection. —Todd Gold
Rob Refsnyder – 2B/OF
Refsnyder's bat has carried him for quite a few years. Ranked the 293rd high-school prospect in the class of 2009, his other tools didn't quite stack up with his bat, making him somewhat of a fringe player when it came to finding a set position for him to play. His fastest time in the 60-yard dash was 7.09 seconds and his best throw from across the infield was clocked at 85 mph.
Here is his report from the 2007 Sunshine West Showcase:
Refsnyder has a lean and athletic frame with lively actions … has nice footwork in the middle of the diamond moving very well allowing him to make all the plays. He also has very soft and sure hands … Refsnyder uses a simple swing with a line-drive swing plane to make consistent contact. He stays balanced throughout his swing, and he keeps his hands inside the ball. Refsnyder tracks pitches well and keeps his hands back, allowing him to stay on the breaking ball well.
Refsnyder ended up at the University of Arizona and continued to show well at the plate. He used a big junior season to help propel the Wildcats to a College World Series championship in 2012 and was named a College All-American because of it. The summer before he was listed as the 39th prospect that played on the Cape, and leading up to the 2012 draft was ranked as Perfect Game's 177th best draft-eligible prospect.
Here is his pre-draft report:
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Refsnyder is the type of ball player scouts may need to see over the course of several games to truly appreciate his array of skills. He lacks flair in his approach to the game and none of his tools jump out as a matter of routine, but Refsnyder is a solid all-around talent who has juice in his bat (.320-6-55 in 2011, .375-4-39 in 2012 through games of mid-April) … More than anything, scouts would like to see more speed and/or power out of Refsnyder, but his running times are often compromised by his penchant for getting bad jumps out of the batter’s box and his power is mitigated by his team playing in huge new home ball park.
The overall report on Refsnyder remained the same, labeled as somewhat of an outfield 'tweener' for not having the ideal power production of a corner outfielder and lacking the straight-line speed to play center. That said, he routinely quieted those concerns by hitting at every level he had played at prior to being drafted in the fifth round by the Yankees in the 2012 draft. —Patrick Ebert
Hunter Harvey – RHP
Harvey is the son of two-time All-Star, right-handed pitcher Bryan Harvey, but the Harvey family baseball background goes far deeper than just father and son. Bryan Harvey's late father, Stan, is regarded as one of the greatest hitters in softball history and was inducted into the ASA Hall of Fame in 1996. Harvey himself only played one year at UNC-Wilmington before returning home to work and play locally before being signed as an undrafted free agent and moving on to an unlikely MLB career. Hunter's brother, Kris, also played professionally for eight years, the first three years as an outfielder before switching to the mound and reaching Double-A.
Perhaps because of the family's baseball background, Hunter Harvey essentially disregarded the standard summer/fall circuit, playing for his local American Legion team and very rarely traveled outside of North Carolina. Those connections made his name well circulated in the scouting community but mostly just as word of mouth that Bryan Harvey had a son who was very talented.
The only national level event Harvey ever threw at was the 2012 East Coast Professional Showcase. He had a very long and loose build at 6-foot-3, 175-pounds and a smooth delivery with a slight pause and gather at the top. His arm was fast and fluid and it was immediately obvious that he was a high-ceiling talent. Harvey's fastball worked between 90 and 94 mph in that outing with steep downhill angle from a high three-quarters arm slot. Harvey also threw a 75-mph curveball that had hard, tight spin, and a respectable upper-70s changeup.
Harvey was even better as a high-school senior, going 8-0, 0.38 with 116 strikeouts and only 17 walks. He regularly topped out at 96-97 mph and also showed the Harvey family athleticism while playing shortstop. In a move that was unconventional—rare but totally in keeping with the Harvey's approach to the entire process with Hunter – he didn't commit to any college and clearly told everyone from teams to the media that he was going to sign and start his professional career immediately.
The Orioles selected him with the 22nd-overall pick, just about where he was projected to be picked, and signed him for a $1,947,000 signing bonus. —David Rawnsley
Chance Sisco – C
A talented and versatile overall athlete, Sisco was ranked the 141st prospect in the high-school class of 2013, and the 179th-overall draft prospect. However, formerly a third baseman, Sisco's stock was on the rise as the 2013 draft approached as he took to catching fairly quickly, leading to him being taken in the second round of the draft that year.
Here's his pre-draft report:
Another talented left-handed hitter with a commitment to Oregon, Sisco doesn't have quite the same offensive impact that Francis Christy (No. 38) does, but he is a better bet to stick behind the plate. He's somewhat new to catching and his footwork is still improving, but he has good catch-and-throw tools and the athleticism to eventually become a quality defensive catcher. He's also a talented defender at third, and his left-handed bat is plenty interesting in it's own right. He's been a bit under the radar for most of his career, though that has begun to change over the past six months.
At 6-foot-1 and 180-pounds, Sisco wasn't overly physical, and no one tool stand out, but the sum of his parts created a well-rounded player. He positioned himself well, both behind the plate and at third base, and his arm played anywhere on the field.
Offensively, hitting left-handed worked in his favor, with a fluid swing and good extension. Sisco routinely showed the ability to stay inside the ball well while covering the plate, and his loose, strong wrists allowed him to hit the ball hard to the gaps with budding over-the-fence power. He made the most of his time spent at the one Perfect Game event he attended, the 2012 WWBA World Championship, where he was named to the All-Tournament team by going 6-for-10 with three doubles, a triple, and a home run as a member of the powerful Midland Redskins squad. —Patrick Ebert
Christian Walker – 1B
During his high-school career Walker attended 13 Perfect Game events, including numerous showcases that help show the progression he made from his very first event as a 13-year-old in 2004 to his final event in the fall of 2008.
At the time Walker played third base and also spent time behind the plate, showing good speed (6.86 60-yard dash at the 2008 National Showcase) and overall athleticism for his 6-foot, 210-pound stature, but it was his bat that stood out the most.
After being drafted in the 49th round out of high school by the Dodgers, Walker attended the University of South Carolina, where he played in three consecutive College World Series championships. The Gamecocks won the first of those two in 2010 and 2011, with Walker being named to the College World Series All-Tournament Team all three years. He did so in 2011 while playing with a broken hamate bone in his left wrist, which caused him to miss the always important summer travel season the year prior to him being eligible for the draft out of college.
He hit .336 with with 45 doubles and 30 home runs in those three years with the Gamecocks, proving time and time again that he was an offensive force to be reckoned with. During the 2011 College World Series, the first time the event was held at TD Ameritrade Park, Walker was the only player in attendance that had no problem consistently driving the ball to the park's deep and spacious outfield gaps.
After being ranked 88th in Perfect Game's high-school class of 2009 rankings, he was ranked the 200th-overall prospect leading up to the 2012 draft. Here's his pre-draft report:
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Walker has been a powerful presence in the middle of the order on consecutive national-championship teams. While he has very good plate discipline, sometimes he can be patient to a fault. As a first baseman, Walker is going to have to continue to hit at the next level to move up the ladder, and most of his power at this point of his career is to the alleys.
Had Walker been 2-3 inches taller and hit left-handed, his draft stock may have been viewed significantly different, although the Orioles still liked his bat enough to take him in the fourth round with the 132nd-overall pick of the 2012 draft. —Patrick Ebert
Josh Hart – OF
The prodigious East Cobb program has been a national powerhouse on the travel-ball circuit dating back to the late twentieth century. They have a rich tradition of winning, and Josh Hart enjoyed a healthy share of success as their leadoff hitter throughout his prep days.
His game was centered around speed and center-field defense. And while he wasn't quite a plus runner, his awareness of how to utilize that above-average speed allowed it to play up. While he wasn't an elite hitter, he combined good contact skills with a good approach that allowed him to utilize his speed well.
David Rawnsley commented about these attributes as part of Hart's Draft Focus article prior to the 2013 MLB Draft:
He’s a speed player without blazing speed. He ran a 6.49 at the 2012 Perfect Game National, but that might have been an outlier for him. He ran 6.70 at the 2012 East Coast Pro and is usually around 4.15 down to first base from the left side. He’s probably a 55 runner on the pro scale, with scouts that like him giving him a 60 and those who don’t a 50 … But Hart plays so much faster than his stop watch times that it makes those numbers irrelevant.
As a result of his skillset there was a wide range of opinions on Hart amongst evaluators. Those that didn't think his speed-oriented game would have the same level of impact at the highest level had only lukewarm interest. But given the number of games that scouts saw him play during his East Cobb career and at talent rich Parkview High School in suburban Atlanta, there were many who appreciated the nuanced ability he displayed in every phase of the game. He was an exceptional basestealer who read pitcher's moves very well for his age and wreaked havoc on the bases as a result.
Hart also made good decision on the bases and showed steady development both at the plate and in center field. It all added up for some evaluators and as a result he was expected to be a top-50 pick in the 2013 draft, which he was. —Todd Gold
Todd Gold is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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Patrick Ebert is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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David Rawnsley is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
Click here to see David's other articles.
You can contact David by clicking here