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2016 MLB Draft: high school position players, potential 1st round options

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Having completed the college side of the draft class (or mostly, I missed quickly rising Louisville catcher Will Smith), we turn to the high school class, starting this time from the position player side. Unlike the college pitching and hitting classes which were both quite lackluster, the high school position players is okay. It's lacking in the high end impact talent at the top, but that's no concern for the Blue Jays, and is also a little short on middle infielders who project to switch, but there's definitely talent.

As on the college side, there's no sense bothering with the best draft prospects at the top. So, no Mickey Moniak, Drew Rutherford, or Devin Perez; all of whom will be long gone when the Blue Jays pick at 21st overall barring completely unforeseen events in the next 72 hours. The draft stock of high school players - especially pitchers - is more volatile, and they're more prone to sliding, so we'll be a little more liberal in examining options who don't figure to be around where the Jays pick, but nonetheless could pretty easily slide to where they'd be on the board.

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As with the other series, we'll start with a chart with some background info on some of the possible candidates. Statistics for high school players are beyond useless, so it's just basic info compiled from MLB.com's profiles (including their projected positions, not necessarily what the player has played in high school), the player's age on draft day, as well as the latest rankings from Perfect Game, MLB.com and Baseball America (there's other good sources, but this is just to give a general idea):

Player Pos. Ht Wt State Age PG MLB BA
Josh Lowe 3B 6'4" 190 Georgia 18.4 12 17 17
Alex Kirilloff OF 6'2" 195 Penn. 18.6 19 18 15
Taylor Trammell OF 6'2" 195 Georgia 18.7 27 32 13
Nolan Jones 3B 6'3" 195 Penn. 18.1 24 20 19
Drew Mendoza 3B 6'4" 195 Florida 18.7 21 36 43
Will Benson OF 6'6" 220 Georgia 18.0 46 38 30
Carter Kieboom 3B 6'2" 185 Georgia 18.8 30 45 44
Gavin Lux SS 6'2" 175 Wisconsin 18.6 65 33 36

Geographically, It's a pretty banner year for Georgia in the mid-round round to top 50 pick range, which is interesting because the Jays have taken high school position players out of Georgia (and the deep south more broadly). It's also a pretty strong year for some of the colder weather states in the Midwest. One thing I think should always be kept in mind is age. My calculation is that the average high school draft picks expected to go in the top 3-4 rounds will have an average age on draft day of 18.4 years (18 years, 5 months), with a standard deviation of 0.4 years (5 months). That means that all the players listed above fall with a very normal range, there really aren't any outliers.

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Josh Lowe (video)

Lowe doesn't figure to make to the Jays, but again it doesn't take much for an expected slide. He's considered to be one of the best athletes on the high school side, and is a legitimate two-way prospect with a fastball that can touch the mid-90s. In addition to one of the best arms in the draft, he's considered to have some of the best raw power as well. That gives him multiple potential carrying tools and will make him a first round pick.

Alex Kirilloff (video)

Kirilloff too had some of the best power on the high school side, winning the home run derby at the PG All-American classic last summer, and is lauded for an advanced ability to barrel up balls and hit. His value is all in his bat, as he profiles at best in at outfield corner, with some concerns he might end up even more positionally limited.

Taylor Trammell (video)

Trammell has been linked to the Jays, and as discussed last week, fits a lot of their tendencies. He's got some of the best speed in the draft, and is one of if not the top athlete in the draft, with an impressive football career. The big question is will he hit. If he does, he's a star, as he has decent raw pop as well. If not, he probably doesn't make it out of AA, basically D.J. Davis redux.

Nolan Jones (video)

Jones is considered one of the better pure hitters, and is a shortstop who is expected to end up at another position, though it's not clear whether that's 2B, 3B or the outfield. He's got a very good arm, and would be a prospect on the mound as well.

Baseball America has a great in-depth write-up on Jones from February

Drew Mendoza (video)

Mendoza's draft stock has slid some this year from where it was last summer, but he still has some of the best power available on the high school side. Last summer, in fact, he hit two home runs in a game off Blue Jays eventual second rounder Brady Singer. He's a good athlete who profiles at third base with a very good arm. He's a potential impact bat if all goes well, though he is on the slightly older side.

Will Benson (video)

Benson is another player who could fit a lot of the things the Blue Jays generally look for in high school pitchers position players. He's a very physical, athletic outfielder who is above average across the board when it comes to speed, arm and fielding. When he makes contact, he hits the ball really hard, though there are some concerns about his swing (see here, and for a deeper profile). The profile draws comparisons to Jason Heyward, but that would obviously be pretty much the 99th percentile outcome.

Carter Kieboom (video)

Kieboom comes from a baseball family, the younger brother of minor leaguer Spencer Kieboom and another in college ball. He's considered the best hitter of all of them, and one of the most advanced high school hitters available, having succeeded against some of the top pitching prospects in the draft. His future position is not set in stone either, with third base and catcher possibilities. He too is on the oldish side, and will turn 19 right at the end of the minor league season.

Gavin Lux (video)

Lux is moving up draft boards, and Keith Law's latest mock draft had the Jays taking him. He's a strong defender who is expected to stick at shortstop, with some seeing him near the top of the high school class in defensive value. He bats from the left side, and while his bat is not expected to be a carrying tool, if things go well he should hit for a decent average with a little pop.

Lux also has a significant Blue Jay tie, as his uncle is Augie Schmidt, who was taken 2nd overall by the Blue Jays in 1982, though did not make the majors (still ended up a pretty good draft, with David Wells and Jimmy Key the next two picks). Despite his cold weather background, he's considered to be quite advanced thanks to that influence, as Schmidt is a D-III college coach.