Featured Photo: Nick Schnell (OF, Roncalli (Indianapolis, Ind.))
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Check out our 2018 Draft Spotlight Library for more notes on the top prospects in the 2018 MLB Draft Class.
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Last weekend Burke Granger was on hand for the inaugural Prep Baseball Report Midwest Select, a high school tournament consisting of some of the top teams and programs from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. Below are spotlights on three players who stood out.
Nick Schnell, OF, Roncalli (Indianapolis, Ind.)
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/180 B/T: L/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 2m
As one of the bigger names at the Prep Baseball Report Midwest Select in Indianapolis over the weekend, Schnell showcased an impressive collection of tools. Over the course of three games, the Louisville commit went 5-for-9 with a double and a pair of triples in front of more than a dozen regional and national evaluators.
At 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, Schnell has a lean, well-proportioned frame, with athleticism that translates well onto the diamond. A centerfielder, Schnell reads the ball well off the bat, and has closing speed to run down balls in either gap. His arm is a plus tool, with carry and accuracy to each base, and he showed it off in a pitching stint during the tournament where he sat 90-to-93 mph early, and topped out at 94. A left-handed hitter, Schnell shows feel for the barrel, routinely driving balls into the left-center field gap. While there appeared to be a comfort level in the opposite field approach, Schnell also showed the ability to turn on pitches on the inner half. When putting the ball in play, Schnell displayed plus run times to first base and a long fluid stride on the base paths.
One National League scout has compared Schnell’s profile to that of Milwaukee outfielder Christian Yelich. Ranked 70th on our Mid-Season MLB Draft list, the strong performance a high visibility event could have pushed Schnell into day one territory
Nick Northcut, 3B/RHP, William Mason (Mason, Ohio)
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/200 B/T: R/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 11m
A Vanderbilt commit, Northcut was part of talented cohort that made the trek to Indianapolis over the weekend to participate in Prep Baseball Report’s Midwest Select showcase. Swinging a wood bat, Northcut went 3-for-6, with a walk and two doubles over Mason’s two games.
At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Northcut appears to have firmed up his body a bit since the summer, appearing fairly well-proportioned in this viewing. He looked comfortable at third base throughout the day, showing soft hands and a quick exchange on a few high choppers before displaying average arm strength on throws across the diamond. Northcut started on the mound for Mason’s second game of the tournament, and sat 84-to-86 mph in the first inning. At the plate, however, is where Northcut shines. Commencing with an open stance, high hands, and his back elbow parallel to the ground, Northcut uses above-average bat speed and a lofty swing path to consistently impact the baseball. Northcut’s raw power projects as plus, and he doesn’t need to sell out to get there. He was especially effective on fastballs up in the zone, and while a few breaking balls left Northcut off balance, he didn’t swing and miss at any pitches during the two game set.
Based on talent alone, Northcut is a potential second-to-fourth round MLB Draft pick. Vanderbilt has a strong track record of getting recruits to campus, and if Northcut makes it to Nashville, he could be an impact bat and potential high selection in 2020.
Jack Perkins, RHP, Kokomo (Kokomo, Ind.)
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/200 B/T: R/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 5m
Perkins was the highest profile arm to throw at the Prep Baseball Report Midwest Select last Friday, and turned in a performance he’d probably like to forget. Pitching against Ohio powerhouse Cincinnati Moeller, Perkins frequently ran into barrels, ultimately getting pulled with one out in the third inning, and his team already trailing 10-2.
Though he’s athletically built at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Perkins’ muscular frame doesn’t offer much by way of future projection. There’s a low-to-moderate level of effort in Perkins delivery, with a quick arm capable of generating plus velocity. Over the summer, his fastball sat at 93-to-95 mph in short stints, though in this outing he pitched in the 90-to-92 mph range, maxing out at 93. His command of the pitch was well below average, often leaving it up and over the fat part of the plate. Despite his struggles, his hard breaking ball – thrown at 80-to-83 mph – flashed the makings of a future above-average pitch, missing bats with sharp two-plane break. He occasionally displayed some feel for a firm 83-to-84 mph changeup, though he was working behind in too many counts to throw it with any regularity.
Perkins checked in near the back of our recent MLB Draft Top 125, though he appeared to show a need for some collegiate level seasoning during this outing. Should he follow through on his commitment to Louisville to smooth out his edges, his appealing three pitch mix could be an asset to Dan McDonnell’s pitching staff.