Top 5 Regional High School Draft Prospects

Written by Blaine Clemmens on .

The 2013 Major League Baseball amateur draft is right around the corner so it’s time to take a look at who are the top high school prospects in Northern California.  Now, you might be saying, “the draft is in June, that isn’t right around the corner.”  You would be correct if only considering the calendar and how many days until the draft.  However, a scout’s “pref list” is turned in by May 1st and from here on out it is all about making sure all the paperwork is in, getting last looks at the top guys, and more than anything, getting each player’s signability. 

 You might need some help deciphering some of that language in the previous paragraph.  A “pref list” is an area scout’s preferred order of the prospects in his territory.  Some scouts have DEEP lists (say up to 75 players) and some have very shallow lists (maybe as few as 40 players).  The top ten players won’t be exactly the same for every scout but in each scout’s top ten there are likely to be at least five common names.  The term “signability” refers to what it will take to sign the player to a pro contract.  A high school senior with a scholarship to a major college program will tell clubs how much it will take for him to forgo going to college.  Signability isn’t really supposed to affect how high a player gets drafted or IF he gets drafted, but the reality is that signability has trumped talent in some ways.

I was out at the Casa Grande/Cardinal Newman game on Wednesday (May 8) and there was a small collection of scouts, including a west coast crosschecker, to see Casa Grande's catcher, Francis Christy.  Christy signed with Oregon and as a left-handed hitter with power and a strong arm, he is obviously on the radar to be drafted.  How high?  I could see the 4th or 5th round as a possibility, based on talent and his profile.  Is he signable in those rounds?  I have no idea.  I do know that he didn't have his best day on Wednesday, showing poor blocking skills, including a lazy effort with a runner on third base that allowed that runner to score, and poor baserunning instincts and effort. 

I took my little league team out to the game to see the top ranked Gauchos because most of the kids I coach will attend Casa Grande someday.  I didn't go out to see Christy but seeing some of my old scouting colleagues got me thinking about the rest of the area, which is generally regarded as VERY strong and top heavy this season.

Here are the top five high school prospects in Northern California, generally speaking: LHP/1B Matt Krook of St. Ignatius Prep, OF Jordan Paroubeck of Serra HS, RHP Chris Viall of Soquel HS, RHP Carlos Salazar of Kerman HS, and LHP Jonah Wesley of Tracy HS.  Now, those players aren't ranked in order, but those five players are likely to be the most commonly listed near the top of the pref lists.  That doesn’t mean they are the top five of ALL prospects in Northern California because a full list takes four-year and junior college players into account. 

Krook signed with Oregon, Paroubeck signed with Fresno State, Viall signed with Stanford, Salazar signed with Fresno State, and Wesley signed with UCLA.  All of those can be considered major college programs, obviously.  It is basically a foregone conclusion that kids committed to Stanford will go to school so Viall likely won’t get serious attention, despite his exceptional talent.  Krook recently had a VERY poor outing in front of a very large gathering of draft decision makers and that will affect his draft slot.  UCLA isn’t quite as good as Stanford in getting their players to come to school, but they do get their fair share so Wesley’s signability is likely in question, as will be Krook’s. 

Of those players, Paroubeck and Salazar are likely the most signable, simply because a degree from Fresno State and playing baseball in the Mountain West Conference doesn’t quite measure up with a degree form Stanford, UCLA, and Oregon, while playing Pac-12 baseball.  That statement isn’t intended to disrespect a great Fresno State baseball program and a fine university, rather, it just reflects part of what is considered in the draft process.