The 2012 amateur draft is less than one week away, so between now and then I’m going to highlight some prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.
Jose Orlando (J.O.) Berrios | RHP
It’s a strong year for Puerto Rico, with infielder Carlos Correa in the mix to go first overall. Berrios attends Papa Juan XXIII High School and is expected to be the first pitcher from the island selected next week. He’s committed to Miami Dade College, a two-year school.
Standing 6-foot-1 and 180 lbs. after spending the last few months working with a trainer, Berrios sits anywhere from 90-95 with his fastball and has legitimately run it up to 98 at times this spring. A power low-80s slider is his top secondary offering and he’s made progress with a fading changeup. Berrios throws strikes because he’s athletic and has a smooth and repeatable delivery. It’s worth noting that he just turned 18 last weekend and is young for the draft class.
MLB.com (#45), Baseball America (#49), and Keith Law (#79) all ranked Berrios as a sandwich/second round talent recently. The present stuff is among the best in the draft class but he doesn’t offer a ton of projection given his size. Law mentioned that the Yankees were focusing on arms yesterday, specifically Berrios and some other high schoolers. They’d likely have to grab him with their first rounder (#30 overall) rather than wait for their two second rounders (#89 and #94 overall), meaning Berrios would only be the second prep pitcher taken with the top pick under scouting director Damon Oppenheimer (Gerrit Cole in 2008). I’m a fan.