MLB Draft Begins Tonight
The Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft begins tonight with rounds 1 and 2 beginning at 4:00 PM Arizona time.
For the first time since I have been around, we will have 2 Arizona high school names called in day 1 of the draft.
Mountain Ridge left handed pitcher Matthew Liberatore is likely to be the first AZ name to go off the board.
Libby has been a fixture at Ridge since his sophomore season, and I’ve had the opportunity to see him on the bump many times since then. It was apparent 2 years ago that this was a special player, but his development over the last 12 months has been impressive.
As a sophomore Matthew was 86-88 with a good changeup and command of a breaking ball.
As a junior I began seeing 88-90 and I saw him up to 92.
This spring the velo has been 92-94 and he’s been up to 96-97, but the biggest change I’ve seen has been the curveball.
The pitch has become a 12-6 over the falls hammer that has excellent late life. When you hear baseball execs sitting around you and throwing the name Barry Zito around….you know it’s a serious breaking ball.
He’s also added a slider that also has great depth and late movement, and the changeup remains a weapon.
Matthew is expected to be a top 10 pick tonight.
Sandra Day O’Connor third baseman Nolan Gorman will also be a first round selection.
If you believe mock drafts, many had him in the 15-20 pick range, but recent rumors have Nolan linked to some teams in the first 10 picks.
Like Libby, Nolan came onto the scene as a sophomore, when he hit .490 and clubbed 11 homers. I felt he was the best hitter in the state that year, not only showing obvious power, but also having good plate discipline and a solid 2 strike approach.
This spring Nolan hit .421 with 10 bombs and was walked 46 times.
Defensively he’s shown that he is perfectly capable of staying at 3rd base.
Look for a couple of names to go off the board in day 2 (Rounds 3-10).
Basha Outfielder Brennan Davis looks to be a 3-4 round pick. Brennan is an outstanding athlete who also played basketball at Basha until his senior season. He is a player who will only improve as he plays more baseball, which makes him very attractive to the pro game.
Also look for Kellis infielder Jonny Ornelas to be selected in the 3-4 round range. He likely profiles as a second baseman in pro ball, and the bat has some serious buggy whip to it.
After these 4 names things get a tad murkier, and making predictions becomes a crap shoot at best.
We always seem to have around 10-20 high school names go off the board over the 3 day span. With that in mind here are some possible high school draftees:
Chris Barraza- RHP Sahuarita HS
Nick Cupp- IF/OF Williams Field HS
Jayce Easley- MIF O’Connor HS
James Gamble- OF Greenway HS
Jake Jarvis- OF Basha HS
Alex Kelch- MIF Tucson High
Mark Lopez- RHP Nogales HS
Ian Mejia- RHP Sahuarita HS
Leo Palacios- LHP Carl Hayden HS
David Watson- RHP Mesquite HS
Chase Webster- RHP Mesquite HS