With the 2014 First-Year Player Draft now officially in the books, it's time to get started on 2015.
Almost immediately after this year's Draft concludes, work on next year's commences. The summer schedule is jam-packed with summer leagues, showcases and All-American games.
Just how busy is the summer schedule? It starts with the elite college wood-bat Cape Cod League opener on the college side on Wednesday and the Perfect Game National Showcase on the high school end of things on Thursday. It ends in August with the pair of All-American Games.
Scouting done now will be used to help determine priorities of whom to watch. If a player gets hurt or the weather doesn't cooperate, what scouts see now can weigh heavily into a decision come next June.
the summer circuit
|June 11||Cape Cod League begins|
|June 12-16||Perfect Game National Showcase, Fort Myers, Fla.|
|June 16-22||USA Baseball Tournament of Stars, Cary, N.C.|
|July 19-28||USA Baseball Breakthrough Series, Cary/Durham, N.C.|
|27-Jul||Cape Cod League All-Star Game, South Yarmouth, Mass.|
|July 30-Aug. 2||East Coast Professional Showcase, Syracuse, N.Y.|
|Aug. 4-9||Area Code Games, Long Beach, Calif.|
|Aug. 10||Perfect Game All-American Classic, San Diego|
|Aug. 16||Under Armour All-America Game, Chicago|
Things will undoubtedly change several times as the summer wears on and, of course, between now and next spring. But here's a quick look at the top high school and college prospects who could end up being top of the first round type talents in 2015.
Daz Cameron, OF, Eagles Landing HS, Ga.: The son of former big leaguer Mike, Cameron was one of the best players on the field at the Under Armour All-American Game … a year ago. He's athletic and toolsy, just like his dad was, with an exciting power-speed combination.
Justin Hooper, LHP, De La Salle HS, Calif: In 2014, the top high school lefty hailed from San Diego. Next year, it could be the San Francisco Bay Area that can make that claim. Hooper is a 6-foot-6 lefty who's very athletic on the mound, with reports that he's up to the mid-90s with his fastball already.
Ryan Johnson, OF, College Station HS, Texas: Johnson joined Cameron as underclassmen at the Under Armour All-American Game a year ago. The TCU commit has some serious potential with the bat. He has bat speed and raw power from the left side of the plate. Big and strong, Johnson has the offensive profile teams look for in corner outfielders.
Brendan Rodgers, SS, Lake Mary HS, Fla.: The shortstop has bat speed and good raw power, especially for a middle infielder. He's a smooth and athletic infielder, with good hands and a solid arm, making the Florida State commit the best all-around high school shortstop in the class as of right now.
Kyle Tucker, OF, H.B. Plant HS, Fla.: Tucker's older brother is Preston Tucker, currently the No. 20 prospect in the Astros' system. The Florida commit can flat out hit from the left side of the plate, with the chance to have decent power as well. He runs well and plays a solid center field, but it's his bat that lands him on this list.
Alex Bregman, SS, LSU: Taken in the 29th round of the 2012 Draft by the Red Sox, this New Mexico native went on to LSU and has continued to excel. Named the college freshman of the year by Baseball America in 2013, Bregman wasn't quite as productive in 2014, but he has all the tools in the box, maximized by tremendous instincts.
Riley Ferrell, RHP, TCU: Serving as the closer for TCU, Ferrell has racked up 15 saves, including a win in Game 1 of the Horned Frogs' Super Regional team. He's consistently been in the upper-90s touching 98-99 mph with regularity. He couples it with a nasty upper-80s slider and has been virtually unhittable all year.
Michael Matuella, RHP, Duke: Duke had a rare first-round pick in Marcus Stroman in 2012 and Matuella has the chance to join him. If everything continues to click, he could far surpass him as a potential top-of-the-Draft-type of college arm. He developed into a four-pitch starter with a mid-90s fastball, two distinct breaking balls and a changeup.
Nathan Kirby, LHP, Virginia: Kirby dominated as the Friday starter for one of the best college programs in the country, helping Virginia reach the Super Regionals, a year after struggling a bit as a freshman. He carves up hitters with a 92-93 mph fastball and an outstanding power curve. His biggest improvement has been in developing an effective changeup to give him a very intriguing three-pitch mix.
Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt: Vandy has been cranking out first-round pitching in recent years and Fulmer seems headed in that direction as well. The 15th-round pick in 2012 pitched behind Tyler Beede after moving into the rotation in 2014 and should take the helm as the Friday starter in 2015, using his fastball, breaking ball and changeup to continue carving up the SEC.