Treasure trove of tool sets...
The outfield class is an interesting collection of talent this year,
with four incredibly high ceiling tool boxes at the top to go along with a high floor/good ceiling talent in Jackie Bradley, Jr. (Univ.
of South Carolina). JBJ provides the wonderful blend of good probability
and good ceiling, boasting an advanced approach to the game complemented by plus defense up the middle and the chance for
an above-average hit tool. He has a smooth, compact stroke at the plate and is capable of spraying linedrives all over
the field, even carrying a little but of pop in the barrel. Derek "Bubba"
Starling (Gardner-Edgerton HS, Gardner, Kan.), George Springer (Univ. of Connecticut),
Brian Goodwin (Miami Dade Coll.) and Joshua Bell (Jesuit
Coll. Prep, Dallas, Texas) each represent immense potential balanced by some risk in their respective unrefined games.
Of these four, Starling has devoted by far the least amount of time to his baseball development, due to his commitments on
the football field and basketball court. Even so, he shows surprising feel for the game that stems in part from his
natural athleticism and part from his ability to pick things up quickly. Unlike many multi-sport prep talents, Starling's
issues are almost entirely a product of simply not having received enough advanced instruction, making his prospects a little
less risky than they might first appear. Bell is a slight behind Starling across the board, but similarly shows big
potential due to his impressive "now" skills and the vast room for growth -- both physically and in his game.
Springer and Goodwin were two of the more impressive athletes in collegiate summer ball this year, with Goodwin standing out
on the Cape and Springer splitting time between the Cape and the USA Collegiate National Team. Springer is the classic
boom or bust proposition, with a long complicated swing and raw approach, but huge power and loud tools in the outfield. The
potential is there for an above-average right fielder with big pop at the plate, but he could just as easy struggle significantly
with his contact rate. Goodwin is slightly more refined, but like Springer needs to quiet his approach at the plate
and tighten-up his game across the board. The remainder of the class is prep heavy, with little separating the dozen
or so talents slotting in behind Bell and Starling. Derek Fisher (Cedar Crest HS, Lebanon,
Penn.) profiles nicely in right field and shows some of the better in-game power at the prep ranks. Dwight Smith (McIntosh HS, Peachtree City, Ga.), Billy Flamion (Central Catholic
HS, Modesto, Calif.), Travis Harrison (Tustin HS, Tustin, Calif.), Joshua Tobias (Southeast Guilford HS, Greensboro, N.C.) and Jacob Anderson (Chino
HS, Chino, Calif.) all show potential for power and profile best in an outfield corner. Jake Cave (Kecoughtan HS, Hampton, Va.) came on strong in the fall to solidify himself as one of the more dynamic
talents in the high school class, showing excellent arm strength and accuracy to go with an impressive hit tool. Among
the much thinner collegiate class, Zach Cone (Univ. of Georgia) has the potential to
develop into a valuable power/speed threat in center field, flashing good leather and covering the gaps. Jason Coats (Texas Christian Univ.), and to a slightly lesser extent Nick Martini
(Kansas St. Univ.), each have a nice quiet stroke with the ability to barrel the ball in all quadrants. Kyle Gaedele (Valparaiso Univ.) and Alex Dickerson (Indiana
Univ.) both have tremendous raw power, though Dickerson's swing is almost exclusively pull-oriented and carries
with it a lot of questions as to whether any of the big raw power will manifest at the pro ranks (questions not assuaged by
a ho-hum summer with Team USA). Gaedele put forth a highly impressive summer in the Northwoods League, and will look
to build upon that this spring. Primarily an infielder right now, Johnny Eierman (Warsaw HS, Warsaw, Mo.) could fit very
well in center field given his speed and arm. Futher, he could shoot up the rankings this spring if he continues to
show the hard contact and athleticism he had on display at the Area Code Games.
- Derek "Bubba" Starling | Gardner-Edgerton HS, Gardner, Kan.
- Jackie Bradley, Jr. | Univ. of South Carolina
Springer | Univ. of Connecticut
- Brian Goodwin | Miami Dade Coll.
- Joshua Bell | Jesuit Coll. Prep., Dallas, Texas
- Zach Cone | Univ. of Georgia
- Jason Coats | Texas Christian Univ.
- Derek Fisher | Cedar Crest HS, Lebanon, Penn.
- Brandon Nimmo | East HS, Cheyenne, Wyo.
- Kyle Gaedele | Valparaiso Univ.
- Charles Tilson |
New Trier Township HS, Winnetka, Ill.
- Alex Dickerson
| Indiana Univ.
- Dwight Smith | McIntosh HS, Peachtree
- Jake Cave | Kecoughtan HS, Hampton, Va.
- Nick Martini | Kansas St. Univ.
- Billy Flamion | Central Catholic HS, Modesto, Calif.
- Mikie Mahtook | Louisiana St. Univ.
- Zach Wilson | Arizona St. Univ.
- Shon Carson | Lake City HS, Lake City, S.C.
Harrison | Tustin HS, Tustin, Calif.
- Johnny Eierman
| Warsaw HS, Warsaw, Mo.
- Aaron Brown | Chatsworth
HS, Chatsworth, Calif.
- Eric Snyder | Edison HS,
Huntington Beach, Calif.
- Roman Quinn | Port St.
Joe HS, Port St. Joe, Fla.
- Johnny Ruettiger |
Arizona St. Univ.
- Jo-El Bennett | Houston County
HS, Columbia, Ala.
- Joshua Tobias | Southeast
Guilford HS, Greensboro, N.C.
- Desmond Henry |
Centennial HS, Compton, Calif.
- Jacob Anderson
| Chino HS, Chino, Calif.
- Shawon Dunston, Jr.
| Valley Christian HS, San Jose, Calif.
| Top tools|
| Hit:|| Derek "Bubba" Starling | Gardner-Edgerton HS, Gardner, Kan. |
Gaedele | Valparaiso Univ. |
| Speed:|| Roman Quinn
| Port St. Joe HS, Port St. Joe, Fla.|
| Arm:|| Brian
Goodwin | Miami Dade Coll. |
| Defense:|| Jackie Bradley, Jr. | Univ. of South Carolina |
|Copyright DiamondScape Baseball LLC
|Derek "Bubba" Starling (photo by Nick J. Faleris)
Steve Carter on Starling's Bat
Starling has football strength and he knows it. Unlike many two-way players
before him, however, he already shows an understanding of how to use that strength to his advantage. His swing is short,
basic, and explosive, as his strength and athleticism allows him to build bat speed without gimmicks or long movements.
Despite being "raw" as a hitter, Starling has shown a very good feel for the craft, and attacks the baseball like
only real hitters do. His swing is so simple, in fact, it creates an all-but-blank canvas with which pro-level coaches
should have a field day. The largest weakness in his game at this point is a lack of refinement in his baseball skills
due to divided athletic attention. A sole focus on baseball would greatly help Starling accelerate his ascent into
the player he could become, as he's barely scratched the surface of his potential, at this point in his career.
J. Faleris on Starling's Defense
Starling's athleticism is apparent on the field.
While his actions will need to be cleaned-up across the board, he has the raw skills to be shaped into a plus defender in
right field with plus arm strength. Right now, he can get tentative charging and tracking the ball and struggles some
reading the ball of the bat -- two issues that should resolve as he sees more regular action on the diamond. Despite a strong throwing arm, he lacks carry and shows inconsistent accuracy due to a short
arm action. As he learns to extend on the back side, he will do a better job of building momentum through release and
showing more fluidity. His has plenty of footspeed to cover the gaps and will improve his routes with reps and pro instruction.