2011 MLB Draft Preview: Top-5 HS Players

Blake Swihart is a top catcher prospect.

Last week, John Anderson named his top-five position player prospects from the collegiate ranks for this year's MLB draft. In his latest article, Anderson reveals his top-five position players from the high school ranks, based on his discussions with scouts and coaches from around the country.

1. Bubba Starling, P/OF, R/R, Gardner Edgerton High School, KS
The 6'5", 200 lb Starling is by far the most athletic high school player in this year's draft. He's already signed to play quarterback at Nebraska as well as baseball and could probably walk on and play basketball at Nebraska, too. He is just that talented an athlete. As a pitching prospect, scouts say he's more of a thrower right now than a polished pitcher. His fastball sits at 92-95 miles per hour and this intrigues some teams. However, most scouts believe his value is as an offensive player and as an outfielder in the big leagues. He has plus power…huge power.

Starling needs to clean his swing up a little bit, but he has quick hands and brings the head of the bat through the strike zone at an alarming rate. He has plus, plus speed, and a strong arm. He is skilled defensively, taking great routes to the ball. An AL scout mentioned to me last week that if Starling commits to baseball full time he would develop quickly and blast through the minors. Starling did strain a quad muscle and will miss a couple weeks but scout s have seen enough so that he will be assured to be a top 10 pick.

2. Francisco Lindor, SS, F/R Monte Verde Academy, FL
Scouts are mixed on the 5'11", 170 lb Lindor. Some feel he's merely a slap hitter who will steal some bases, while others believe he can develop mid-20 homerun power, which would make him a spectacular prospect. All scouts agree that his defense is amazing. He's got incredibly quick hands and is a slick fielder. One AL scout I spoke to believes his glove is major league ready right now.

The big issue is what type of hitter he becomes. He has quick hands through the strike zone and shows decent plate discipline. Lindor is playing on a weak high school team so he is not really pitched to that much, but regardless of some of the questions with his bat, some scouts think he could go in the top five and most think he's not going to drop out of the top-10. It all depends on how teams feel about the Florida State commit's offensive projection.

3. Josh Bell, OF, B/R, Jesuit College Prep, Dallas, TX
Bell is another athletic outfielder whose calling card is power. He has huge power, quick hands, a clean swing and great patience at the plate with a very simple approach. He has a decent arm and as he fills out will probably be a below average runner destined to a corner outfield spot. Bell takes good routes to the ball, which makes up for his lack of speed, but his big thing is power.

Scouts think he projects to be a 30-homerun outfielder. With right-handed power hitters in short supply and with the spring Bell is having, he is rising up the draft board and the Texas commit could be a top-15 pick.

4. Blake Swihart, C, B/R, Cleveland High School, Rio Rancho, NM
Swihart is a very athletic switch-hitting catcher. Scouts love to project on his development, as they believe he is just scratching the surface of his potential. He has a plus power bat, generating great bat speed and a natural lift in his swing from both sides of the plate. An American League scout said this week that the ball is just exploding off his bat.

Swihart runs well for a catcher and is very athletic behind the plate with good hands and quickness. He has a great rapport with his pitchers and scouts love the way he controls the game from behind the plate. The Texas commit has a plus arm and though he has played a few positions for his high school team this year, most scouts believe that he profiles as a catcher in the big leagues.

5. Javier Baez, INF/C, R/R, Arlington Country Day School Jacksonville, FL
The 6'1'', 205 lb Baez has bounced all over the infield this spring, including playing some catcher, but scouts project him as a shortstop and are excited with his potential. He has great bat speed, strong wrists and the ball has been exploding off his bat this season.

Scouts love his confidence but one AL scout told me this week that he worries about when Baez's confidence becomes too much flash. He has great feet for a middle infield position, soft hands and an arm that is capable for shortstop or third base, if a move to third is necessary.

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