2018 Draft talent to be on display at Atlanta's PDP event Saturday
Potential No. 1 overall pick Rocker among impressive talents in attendance
By Manny Randhawa
The summer schedule for MLB/USA Baseball's Prospect Development Pipeline begins with a bang on Saturday in Atlanta, with a prospect-packed lineup that features the player some consider to be the No. 1 prospect in the 2018 MLB Draft, Kumar Rocker.
Other highly touted high school players who will participate include Ethan Hankins, Will Banfield, Kendall Simmons and Luke Bartnicki, all of whom could garner consideration in the first round of the 2018 Draft. Cole Wilcox, Carter Raffield and Devin Warner are three more attendees who project to be taken in the early rounds next year.
The PDP, a joint venture between Major League Baseball and USA Baseball, provides top-level instruction and generates exposure for up-and-coming players free of charge.
Saturday's PDP event, which will feature 61 high school players from Georgia and Florida, will take place at the Grizzly Baseball Complex, home of the Georgia Gwinnett Grizzlies. It will run from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET.
Player evaluations will be led by staff from the MLB Scouting Bureau and supported by MLB club representatives. They will include player assessments, infield and outfield drills and batting practice. The event will conclude with pitchers throwing bullpen sessions.
After conducting Saturday's player evaluations, MLB's Scouting Bureau will file reports made available to all Major League clubs.
Participants will also benefit from the program's use of advanced technology to measure foot speed, agility, strength, explosivity and symmetry. During batting practice, each swing a player takes will be tracked by a sensor to provide detailed analysis.
Rocker, 17, is a 6-foot-4, 240-pound right-handed pitcher out of North Oconee High School (Ga.). He features a 94 mph fastball, an improving slider and changeup. He also hits for power from the right side. He's the son of former NFL defensive tackle Tracy Rocker.
Hankins, 16, is another tall right-hander (6-foot-6, 200 pounds) out of Forsyth Central High School (Ga.), and touches 95 mph with his fastball.
Banfield, a 17-year-old catcher/right-handed pitcher out of Brookwood High School (Ga.), has demonstrated outstanding defensive skills behind the plate while also unleashing a 94-mph fastball on the mound.
Simmons, a 17-year-old infielder and right-handed pitcher out of Tatnall Square Academy (Ga.), is projected by some as a five-tool talent at the professional level. He hits the low-90s with his fastball, and his bat speed and athleticism should make him a top Draft prospect come 2018.
Bartnicki, 17, is a 6-3, 210-pound left-handed pitcher out of Walton High School (Ga.). He features a fastball that can reach 95 mph and has shown a penchant for improving in each appearance on the mound.
Several other workouts will be held around the country throughout the summer, as listed below, before culminating on Sept. 20-24 with the PDP National Scout Team Championship in Cary, N.C.
Salt River, Ariz., May 30
Kansas City, June 4
St. Petersburg, June 5
Denver, June 6
Cincinnati, June 20
Oxford, Ala., June 20
Houston, June 21
Pawtucket, R.I., June 22
Seattle, June 23
Cary, N.C., June 25
Oakland, June 25
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.