MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Scouts bear down on newly eligible Gilliam

CARY, N.C. -- Parkview High School in Georgia has long been a stopping point for scouts, with players like Jeff Francoeur and, more recently Matt Olson and Josh Hart, coming through the program and on to the pro ranks.

This year, the main attraction is left-hander Mac Marshall. There was some hope Marshall would pitch the opener in the main stadium, but because he took the mound against rival Brookwood back home on Saturday, he wasn't slated to go until Game 2 on Thursday. But there was still reason for scouts to stick around to watch the Georgia powerhouse take on Regis Jesuit from Colorado.

That reason came in the form of first baseman Isiah Gilliam. Until recently, Gilliam was seen as an underclassman whom scouts noticed but didn't focus on when they came to see Marshall. The recent news that Gilliam is now eligible for this year's Draft instead of 2015 has the scouting industry scrambling to evaluate him.

Things didn't go well for Parkview, losing to Regis Jesuit, 6-1, in a bit of an upset. But Gilliam, a switch-hitter who looks like he might be best suited for an outfield corner, picked up two hits, really the only two hard-hit balls against Regis Jesuit right-hander Zach Heath. Batting left-handed, Gilliam absolutely scorched balls in the fourth and the sixth with a good number of scouts on-hand.

Getting to see four games' worth of at-bats from Gilliam is a huge benefit of coming to this tournament, especially for national scouts and scouting directors, who likely didn't pay much attention to the athletic and strong first baseman prior to now.

"He has a short, quick bat," said a cross-checker, who estimated Gilliam could go as high as the second round, while noting that it was still early in the evaluation process. "I'm not sure how much current power there is, but I like the look of the approach."

The Parkview coaching staff compared Gilliam's power potential to that of Olson. Olson, now in the Oakland A's system, is ranked as the No. 5 first-base prospect in the Minors, one given a 60 power grade on the 20-80 scouting scale.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow