No travels over the holiday weekend, which means it was a video weekend for the 1:4 pref list. My focus was on starting to narrow down this top 15 list into a more manageable top 10. In addition to reviewing video I've taken on all of these players (totaling over 50 videos), I was able to catch-up on some game film I've had stored on the computer and in some cases on my DVR. Below are some quick thoughts on the guys currently situated 6-10, and what could cause them to rise-up or get cut from the pref list in the coming weeks. Also, I've included reasoning for dropping players 11-15 from consideration:
Still in the running:
Albert Almora (of) -- Easily the most impressive HS outfielder for me through the summer and fall. Lacks the ceiling of Buxton, but much more refined actions in the field and at the plate. Direct to contact, good plane, and shows pop in a projectable frame. Instincts in the outfield are great and reads off the bat are already average or better by Major League standards.
Gavin Cecchini (ss) -- Focused player with through-the-roof make-up. Business-like approach to the showcase circuit and performed well throughout each stop. I liked that he elected to use wood in the HS game I recently attended, but he expanded his strikezone and failed to square what should have been highly over-matched pitching (including a shaky freshman making his first ever appearance for the varsity squad). I'm relying on the summer/fall showings in projecting the bat to be top-ten worthy, and the glove/arm/actions/instincts make short the easy position to project to.
Carlos Correa (ss/3b) -- Big pop and big arm strength. His approach is a work-in-progress, though he has helped his cause over the past 9-months, shortening his load without losing the violence in his barrel delivery. The result is a shorter swing with comparable torque and a little more time to pitch-ID. Looks like a third baseman, long term, but if you believe in the bat (I do) you could have a "60" player between the offensive and defensive profile.
Luc Giolito (rhp) -- Elbow strain makes him a wildcard, but he's easily the highest-ceilinged arm on the board for me. Giolito has shown growth from his coming out party during the 2010 Area Code Games to the summer circuit and winter workouts. He isn't likely to be a fast-move candidate, but the wait should be worth it. Once he gets everything working together in his motion, he could be a plus to plus-plus velocity guy at 85% effort.
Deven Marrero (ss) -- Beware narratives! Marrero hasn't been hitting, but we do have a history of seeing him perform, including with wood. The trend right now is to for media outlets to come up with a reason that Marrero has struggled this spring. The truth is that he has always been a slightly better hitter with wood than with BBCOR, and even with wood he has never really looked like + hit or + power guy. You're buying positional certainty, advanced feel, and saved money on development.
Missing the cut:
Max Fried (lhp) -- Projectable, advanced secondaries, but limited "now" velocity and consistency. Fried is exactly the type of player I hope to get a shot at in the middle-third of the first round or lower, but lacks the probability to really match-up with the players that will be available in the top 5.
Stryker Trahan (c) -- The defense was just too rough in the spring check-in for me to keep him in the discussion for selection in the top 5 overall. The power is legit, and big, and his athleticism could allow him to play an outfield corner (likely left field) if he has to scoot out from behind the dish. Some folks close to Stryker had very positive comments regarding his make-up, work ethic, and overall character.
Zach Eflin (rhp) -- Spring helium guy that was overlooked more than he should have been in the fall down in Jupiter. The velocity jump is nice, but certainly not surprising, considering the arm speed, frame, and easy motion. The same, there are three legit college arms with better "now" stuff and more probability. It doesn't make sense to keep a follow on Eflin in that context when, essentially, you're looking for Eflin to develop into one of those college arms.
David Dahl (of) -- Potential five-tool package that just misses manifestation in-game, from my looks. His speed plays down some due to some inconsistency in his routes, and he can get too pull-happy at the plate. Almora and Buxton present higher probability and ceiling, making Dahl redundant on our follow list. That said, he's the type of player that, two years from now, people might scratch their head and wonder how he was available at 15th overall.
Walker Weickel (rhp) -- Projection guy in the summer that saw some slide down in Jupiter and a full step back this spring. His ceiling now isn't any lower than it was in the summer (top high school arm in the draft), but he hasn't taken that big step forward yet, and the safer bet is still Giolito. Like Eflin, Weickel just doesn't offer enough over the college trio to make his continued follow worthwhile.
On to the 1:4 pref list:
Current Preference List (April 11, 2012)
1. Mark Appel, rhp, Stanford Univ.
2. Byron Buxton, of, Appling County HS (Baxley, Ga.)
3. Kevin Gausman, rhp, Louisiana St. Univ.
4. Kyle Zimmer, rhp, Univ. of San Francisco
5. Mike Zunino, c, Univ. of Florida
6. Albert Almora, of, Mater Acad. (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.)
7. Lucas Giolito, rhp, Harvard-Westlake HS (Studio City, Calif.)
8. Gavin Cecchini, ss, Barbe HS (Lake Charles, La.)
9. Carlos Correa, ss/3b, Puerto Rico Baseball Acad. (Gurabo, P.R.)
10. Deven Marrero, ss, Arizona St. Univ.
11. Max Fried, lhp, Harvard-Westlake HS (Studio City, Calif.)
12. Stryker Trahan, c, Acadiana HS (Lafayette, La.)
13. Zach Eflin, rhp, Hagerty HS (Chuluota, Fla.)
14. David Dahl, of, Oak Mountain HS (Birmingham, Ala.)
15. Walker Weickel, rhp/1b, Olympia HS (Fla.)
For today's draft video, here's a look at Carlos Correa(ss/3b, Puerto Rico Baseball Acad., Gurabo, P.R.) in action down in Jupiter: