It might seem too far off in the distance, but rest assured that every team's scouting staffs will begin working on these players in short order. Summer leagues and showcases give scouts fantastic opportunities to start seeing next year's draftees in competitive settings in the very near future.
Things will obviously change from now until next June, but it's always good to look ahead and whet the appetite for next year's Draft. There is a lot of talent in the Class of 2011, though right now it appears like there isn't one Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper-type, who will completely dominate the Draft landscape. One thing does seem certain, at least of this moment: There should be a lot of interesting arms at the top of the Draft.
That doesn't mean someone can't jump to the foreground as the summer, and then next spring, arrives. For the time being, here are five high school and college players to know about for next year.
Archie Bradley, RHP, Muskogee HS, OK: With a smooth delivery, Bradley shows a plus fastball at times, but sits around 90-92 mph. He throws a curve and a slider, and commands the ball fairly well. At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, he's got the build and projectability that scouts love.
Dylan Bundy, RHP, Owasso HS, OK: The 6-foot-1 righty can run his fastball up into the mid-90s with plenty of life. He complements it with a curve and slider, and even shows a changeup which will only get better.
Travis Harrison, OF, Tustin HS, CA: A strong right-handed hitter, Harrison has a quick bat, and can really hit the fastball. He's got some power, which should develop to allow him to hit more than his fair share of homers. He runs well for his size, and could play a corner outfield spot or perhaps first base.
Daniel Norris, LHP, Science Hill HS, TN: He's a lefty with a quick arm who can run it up to 94 mph, sitting comfortably at 93 mph. That's enough to garner plenty of interest. He's also got a curve that's a work in progess, but he knows how to spin it. He's got a changeup, though he doesn't use it much. At 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, the lefty has some room to grow and add strength, which could make him even more interesting as he matures.
Henry Owens, LHP, Edison HS, CA: The 2010 Draft class was a little light on lefty high school prospects, but Owens joins Norris to make 2011 more interesting in that regard. Owens is 6-foot-5 with plenty of projection. Owens has an advanced feel for pitching, especially for a high schooler. His fastball might just be average, but there's room for added velocity as he matures. He's got a good curve and a deceptive changeup, all of which he commands very well.
Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA: A 2008 first-round pick of the New York Yankees, Cole went on to UCLA and has continued to impress with his pure stuff. He might have the best fastball in the class, and can run it up into the upper-90s with movement. He complements that with a power slider that has nasty bite to it. He doesn't use it much, but he's shown a changeup that could give him three above-average to plus pitches in the future.
Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt: Gray was a very good high school prospect who didn't get drafted early because of his commitment to Vandy, which he honored. He's not the biggest guy in the world, but his arm is more than big enough. He runs his fastball up to 95 mph, sitting comfortably at 92-93. Along with the heater, he's got a slider with power curve action that has the chance to be above-average, and while his changeup is behind those two, he's got a pretty good feel for it.
Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas: The 6-foot-6 right-hander has been part of a very deep starting staff as a sophomore, and he'll be the undeniable leader of it in 2011. He throws his fastball comfortably in the 92-94 mph range, topping out at 96 mph, and it comes out of his hand with ease. He throws a hard breaking ball that's a little slurvy, but when he stays on top of it, it's got good slider action. He also shows a good feel for his changeup, giving him the chance to have three at least above-average pitches.
Matt Purke, LHP, TCU: The first-round pick of the Texas Rangers in 2009, one of the reasons he wouldn't come down from bonus demands is likely because he knew he'd be eligible again in two years as a sophomore. The lefty has an above-average fastball he cranks up to 94 mph with a lot of sink. He has two breaking balls, a curve and a slider, and both have the chance to be above-average pitches. His changeup lags behind, but he doesn't throw it much. But with three outstanding pitches already to go along with excellent command and competitiveness, that likely won't matter.
Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice: Rendon heads into the summer as the best bat in the Class of 2011. He should hit for average and plenty of power. He's got great discipline at the plate and the ball just jumps off of his bat. He gets good marks for his defense at third as well, with excellent range, hands, and arm strength from the hot corner. He has the chance to be a true impact player in the big leagues.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less