CHICAGO -- A long summer for players, parents and scouts alike is all but over. After a few months full of showcases and two All-America games, the top high school prospects eligible for the 2014 First-Year Player Draft can return home for classes and some rest.
The top prospects spent the summer traveling the country, from Cary, N.C., to San Diego, each hitting at least some of the half-dozen or so big events.
All the travel and baseball can be tiring, especially with the strain of dozens of scouts watching every game and workout. Still, many players said they were happy to have had the opportunity to compete with the best players in the country on such big stages.
"It's been fun," Touki Toussaint, a right-hander from Coral Springs Christian in Florida said. "I'm not really tired. I've been training for this."
Top high school talent
|1||Tyler Kolek||RHP||Shepherd HS (Texas)|
|2||Jacob Gatewood||SS||Clovis HS (Calif.)|
|3||Alex Jackson||C||Rancho Bernardo HS (Calif.)|
|4||Michael Gettys||OF/RHP||Gainesville HS (Ga.)|
|5||Touki Toussaint||RHP||Coral Springs Christian HS (Fla.)|
|6||Nick Gordon||SS||Olympia HS (Fla.)|
|7||Dylan Cease||RHP||Milton HS (Ga.)|
|8||Brady Aiken||LHP||Cathedral Catholic HS (Calif.)|
|9||Sean Reid-Foley||RHP||Sandalwood HS (Fla.)|
|10||Justus Sheffield||LHP||Tullahoma HS (Tenn.)|
Toussaint ended his summer as the starting pitcher at an All-America game at Wrigley Field. He attracted attention at every event thanks to his mid-90s fastball and athletic frame.
Jacob Gatewood, an infielder from Clovis High in California, agreed with Toussaint. Gatewood also played in several of the high-profile events, but said he was just happy to be playing baseball.
"Anytime I get to travel around the U.S. playing baseball sounds like a good time to me," he said.
In addition to the showcases, Gatewood made a guest appearance in the Chevrolet Home Run Derby at Citi Field in July. He had a breakout performance under the bright lights of the All-Star festivities, hitting 13 home runs and capturing the attention of the Major Leaguers watching from the field.
"It was the best summer of my life," Gatewood said.
Even though summer is all but over, baseball never truly ends for many of the top prospects. Several, including Gatewood, will play with their travel teams in a high-profile wood bat tournament in Jupiter, Fla., in October. And there are still 20 seniors playing for Team USA in the 18-and-under World Cup in Taiwan this week.
But for now many of next year's Draft prospects can relax for a bit. Some players will shift their focus to another sport. Others will use the time to improve before their senior seasons in spring.
Dylan Cease, a right-hander from Milton High in Georgia, has impressed scouts all summer with his mid-90s fastball and his feel for the changeup and curveball. He said he will spend his offseason preparing for spring, when he and the rest of the high school seniors will make their final impressions before the Draft.
"I had a pretty good summer," he said. "During the offseason I'll focus on putting on weight, getting stronger and improving my control."