2012 Draft: High School Bats

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Dante's already got the big league elbow guard stuff down. (Chris Welch/MiLB.com)

The Yankees have drafted a high school position player with their first pick in each of the last three drafts and in four of their seven drafts under scouting director Damon Oppenheimer. That target demographic has stayed the same but the preferences have changed over the years. The Yankees went for raw tools with guys like C.J. Henry and Austin Jackson years ago but now lean more towards polished types like Dante Bichette Jr. and Mason Williams. With that in mind, here’s a quintet of prep hitters who could be options for the Yankees with their first pick in this year’s draft, #30 overall.

Lewis Brinson, OF, Coral Springs High School (Florida) (video)
One of the best athletes in the draft at 6-foot-4 and 180 lbs., Brinson is a legitimate power-speed prospect. He’s shown big raw power from the right side throughout his high school career and has also fared well against high-end pitching on the showcase circuit. Brinson does need to work on his approach and has been both overly aggressive and overly passive at the plate in the past. A standout defender in center fielder because of his speed, he also runs well on the bases. Committed to Florida, Baseball America ranked Brinson as the 38th best prospect in the draft in their recent midseason update while Keith Law had him 50th. I recommend watching the video, that’s some impressive workout.

D.J. Davis, OF, Stone High School (Wiggins, Mississippi)
Arguably the fastest player in the draft, Davis knows his game and focuses on getting on base. He’s a left-handed hitter who can bunt for hits and beat out infield singles, plus he works deep counts and has continued to show better selectivity as the spring has progressed. Davis is a top flight defensive center fielder, getting good reads that make his speed play up even more. He’s never going to hit for much power and frankly, there’s a whole lotta Brett Gardner in his game. Davis is committed to Meridian Junior College in Mississippi and was recently ranked as the 39th best prospects in the draft by Baseball America.

(Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian)

Carson Kelly, 3B/RHP, Westview High School (Portland, Oregon) (video)
Oregon isn’t a traditional baseball hotbed, but Kelly has a chance to be the state’s first player drafted in the top three rounds in 15 years. He’s a legitimate two-way prospect who has performed well both on the mound and in the field, though he’s likely to come out as a position player with pitching as a fallback option down the road. A right-handed bat with a smooth line drive swing, Kelly has power and figures to add more once he adds some meat to his 6-foot-1, 180 lb. frame. His athleticism serves him well at the hot corner. On the mound, he’ll sit in the low-90s with his fastball and mix in both a curveball and a changeup. Kelly is committed to Oregon and draws raves for his makeup, work ethic, and baseball aptitude. He’s a personal fave, and Law and Baseball America ranked him as the 34th and 48th best prospect in the their midseason updates, respectively.

Wyatt Mathisen, C/SS/RHP, Calallen High School (Corpus Christi, Texas)
Mathisen is an interesting prospect, one who’s spent time pitching, catching, and at shortstop over the last year or so. Catcher is his natural position and he plays it well because of his footwork, athleticism, and strong arm, though he’s played primarily shortstop this spring because that’s where his team needs him. Mathisen can really hit from the right side, using all fields and offering lots of power to the pull side. At 6-foot-2 and 215 lbs., he’s going to slow down as he gets older and will have to keep an eye on his conditioning. Committed to Texas, Mathisen has big upside behind the plate but also a lot to learn after splitting time between so many positions. Law ranked him as the 31st best prospect in the draft recently.

Rio Ruiz, 3B, Bishop Amat High School (La Puente, California) (video)
A fringe first round talent coming into the year, Ruiz hadn’t performed well early in the season before a blood clot in his neck required hospitalization and ended his spring. The bat is his calling card as a left-handed hitter with contact skills, and his power will come once his 6-foot-2, 190 lbs. frame starts to fill out. Ruiz also pitched in high school, but he’s a better prospect at third base where his athleticism serves him well. There’s a chance he could wind up in a corner outfield spot down the road, and he obviously has a strong arm. Not only is his stock way down because of his sluggish performance and the blood clot, but Ruiz is also a top football recruit with a scholarship to play both sports at USC in his back pocket. Keith Law ranked Ruiz as the 47th best prospect in the draft in his midseason update, but a team is going to have to have a lot of faith in his talent to spend enough to keep him away from college.

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  • Jacque

    Is that really Dante Bichette? Looks like he’s 13.

    • Pat D

      I was thinking the same thing.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      He’s a lot closer to 13 than 25.

    • gageagainstthemachine

      Seriously, is he hitting off a tee in that photo? But what I really want to know is, “Whose mom brought the orange slices for after the game!?!”

    • Strat

      Holy shit I’m old.

  • Thomas

    Were Brinson and Davis unranked by Keith Law in his midseason update?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Yep. BA didn’t rank Mathisen.

  • DERP

    There is a Will Brinson on Klaw’s list. Ranked 50th. Law doesn’t list the name of the HS, but lists him as a 6-4 180 lb. outfielder like this review does.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Good catch, that’s him.

  • .zip file

    Carson Kelly; will he be the next Casey Kelly?

    • Wayne Tolleson

      Finally a prospect I can provide scouting on! I’ve seen Carson Kelly in person a number of times, as my son has played baseball against him since Carson was 9 or 10. Good player and seems to be a really good kid. Word I hear is the kid will sign and forego Oregon if he goes in the first round, which I suppose is the case for most prospects. I would love to see the Yanks nab him, but I am obviously not completely objective.

  • Tucker

    I just wanted to say that I know Carson Kelly personally. I play baseball in Oregon, and I’ve never met a player who works harder than he does. He’s working day in and day out. He would definitely be a great pick!

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Tucker Tolleson? Son of Wayne?

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    More impressive than the elbow guard-which many HS players use-is the tape over the wrists. His dad did that too iirc.

  • Gerald Williams

    CLASS OF 2013… you HAVE TO CHECK THIS KID OUT! DAN HETZEL from Sachem East on Long Island. This kid is an unbelievable outfielder who absolutely CRUSHES the ball! Rocket arm, big league frame already!

    http://www.bluechipprospects.com/pdf/2013.pdf

    April 19, 2012 F
    Sachem East 12
    at Lindenhurst 6
    Highlights: Sachem East 12, Lindenhurst 6: Dan Hetzel was 2-for-3 with a home run and 3 RBI and Joe Messina was 2-for-4 with two doubles and 4 RBI to lead Sachem East (5-4) in League II.

    April 17, 2012 F
    at Sachem East 14
    Lindenhurst 7
    Highlights: Sachem East 14, Lindenhurst 7: Brian Castles went 3-for-6 with two runs scored and Dan Hetzel went 2-for-5 with two RBIs for Sachem East (4-4) in League II.

    April 16, 2012 F
    Sachem East 8
    at Lindenhurst 6
    Highlights: Sachem East 8, Lindenhurst 6: Will Vega hit the go-ahead single in a two-run bottom of the fifth after Joe Deland hit an RBI double to tie the score at 6 for Sachem East (3-4) in League II. Deland finished 3-for-4 and Dan Hetzel was 2-for-2 with two walks.

  • Typical MIT Nerd

    What ever happened to the high school kid straight outta Compton?

  • IBN Goon Squad

    What makes Mike Axisa qualified to opine on amateur pitching talent?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Nothing at all.

      • gc

        Be sure to send him his refund in the mail. Oh wait…

        • .zip file

          We’re just a bunch of idiots offering our opinions on the internet…..

          Johnny Damon’d

      • http://none Bernard

        I would think that you’d be more appreciative of the fact that Mike set up this website so that you pogues could bicker and squabble. I’d say that if anyone has a right to give his opinion on his own site, he does. So lighten up and try to keep it civil.

    • Strat

      He owns the hall we’re partying in?

      /no strippers :(

  • LiterallyFigurative

    Of the guys on this list, Brinson sounds like he has the potential to be what this org needs: A power hitting outfielder.

    Mason Williams is the speed CF, so having a tall power hitter who could maybe be a good defensive corner OF would be a nice 1-2.

    We have young infielders in single A who are seen as possible MLB players in a few years.

    • jjyank

      Eh, I think the Yankees need to take either whoever they think has the highest upside or whoever has the best chance of playing at the MLB level. Drafting based on positional distribution of other prospects isn’t very smart. I love Mason Williams, but it’s a little early to be penciling him in as a sure thing. Most of the prospects we have will flame out or be traded, so drafting guys based on them is a bad strategy.

      The Yankees just need to take the best talent regardless of position. Period.

      • LK

        This really can’t be emphasized enough. We’re all drooling over how stacked Charleston is, but if Vegas was setting an over/under on consistent all-stars from that team it would still be .5.

        • http://none Bernard

          Still. I’ve been following the Yankees since 1950 [I was born in ’43], and I’ve never seen any of their farm teams loaded like the one at Charleston is. It really is special. We’d better enjoy it while it lasts.

    • Reggie C.

      Sounds like a guy who might not be there at 30.

      CF with speed, power, projectable frame … yeah, definitely not going to be there at 30. With the slot caps taking effect, this kid isn’t going to drop like Josh Bell.

      • Ted Nelson

        Not that they’re necessarily right, but both BA and Law have him below 30th.

      • http://none Bernard

        I hope I’m around at 70.

    • Ted Nelson

      Tyler Austin might be that guy as much as a late 1st, I’d say.

  • ADam

    If you drafted today.. who would you pick at #30? Realistically speaking?

  • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com The Plouffenator (Formerly Chen Meng Wang)

    From the tapes:
    Brinson’s swing is incredibly long in my opinion, I’m sure it could be cleaned up though

    Kelly’s Swing looks a lot more polished, however his throwing motion to third is just weird looking. It almost looks like his delivery, and that he’s fighting his body while throwing.

  • The Moral Majority is Neither

    Yankees seem to have found their stride with high school hitters, so I’d be fine with them staying with what works.

    After Culver and Bichette I will no longer get attached to potential targets (especially since Boston, Tampa and Toronto seem to grab all the pre-draft buzz guys).

  • Endlessmike

    Don’t foget about the Puerto Ricans.There’s a couple who are near first round talent that the yankees could get in the later rounds.

    Edwin Diaz (RHP-Caguas Military Academy) 6’3 righthander who can throw 94 mph would be a steal in the later rounds and is ranked high in Puerto Rico with the best arm.

    Jesmuel Valentin Diaz-(SS-2B-Puerto Rican baseball academy)Valentine-Diaz is a switch-hitter with a traditional split and could be a good infielder and wil have good insticts as Jose Valentin is he’s father.

    Wilfredo Rodriguez-(C-5’10-Puerto Rican BB academy) Thick build athletic catcher with a strong arm and good power to all fields.

    These Puerto Rican players are diamonds in the rough and can come cheap and fall in the draft.

  • http://twitter/TheRealJeromeS Jerome S.

    Scariest part about this?
    These people are my age.
    Now I feel old. I should get a job.

    • http://none Bernard

      Why bother? I worked for fifty years and where did it get me? Tired and old! Working is overhyped.

  • http://www.bronxbombersreport.com Craig Maduro

    If I got to make the call, I’d be staying away from D.J. Davis. I’m not a fan of the Brett Gardner-types. We have one and that is enough. Of course BG could be 34-35 and on another team by the time the Davis kid even made it to the bigs, but still. Give me power potential.