Maybin rates as top oufielder
Few multi-tool outfielders but many to choose from in draft
There are few things that get a scout's blood pumping faster than a true five-tool outfield prospect. Finding a Ken Griffey Jr. or a Delmon Young type, a guy who'll rake at the plate, run like a deer and catch everything in sight is a dream many have this time of year.
Those kinds of impact players don't exactly grow on trees, so it's not often those dreams become reality. In this year's draft class, there are a few impact outfielders of that ilk, mostly from the high school ranks. That list could grow by one if Justin Upton, the consensus top talent in the draft, makes a full-time move from the infield to center field as a pro as some suggest.
Even without Upton, there is some good talent to be had, even if it's not deep in the eye-popping, top-of-the-first-round category.
"There are some good middle-of-the-road drafts, but it's not extremely strong up front," said one American League scouting executive. "There are some good players out there, but not as many as you like."
The best outfield prospect may be North Carolina high schooler Cameron Maybin, who has battled Upton for the title of best high school player in the draft. Draft observers can expect anywhere from eight to 10 outfielders going in the first round. Here are the most likely candidates:
Cameron Maybin, T.C. Roberson HS (N.C.)
The team that lands Maybin will have a tough time deciding where to bat him. He's played a rock-solid center field this spring and has absolutely terrorized prep pitching. In 58 at-bats, Maybin hit .655 with 13 homers and nine doubles. He also swiped 24 bases and scored 50 runs. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound center fielder played for the same summer team as Ken Griffey Jr. did when he was in high school, and his skills are on par with Griffey's at that age. Look for Maybin to be among the top 10 players drafted.
Jay Bruce, West Brook HS (Texas)
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound slugger has come out of nowhere to be considered a top draft prospect this year. Bruce has solid tools across the board, with power potential at the plate, enough speed to play center and enough arm to project in right field. Those looking for a toolsy outfielder may want Maybin first, but if he's off the board, Bruce could come in a close second.
Andrew McCutchen, Fort Meade HS (Fla.)
This 5-foot-11, 170-pound prep standout packs a punch. Previously known mostly for his speed, McCutchen slugged 11 home runs in 48 games this spring, while batting a lofty .667. "I think he's definitely a top 10 pick," says one National League scout. "He's always had great speed, but his bat has been really impressive this year."
C.J. Henry, Putnam City HS (Okla.)
Like Bruce, Henry has been another fast mover on draft boards, using this spring to impress scouts. The 6-foot-3, 193-pound Henry is also a top basketball recruit. There's some debate about which position he'll call home. He plays shortstop, but many scouts project him as an outfielder because he hasn't appeared comfortable in the infield this year. His athleticism and tools should make the transition relatively easy.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Oregon State
Ellsbury wasn't on many top-pick lists to start the season, but he has been the catalyst for the Beavers' best season in school history. The junior center fielder was named the fastest baserunner and best defensive center fielder by Baseball America. He led the conference in hitting with a .426 average going into the team's final conference series against USC. He's an intriguing combination of speed an on-base ability, so teams who value those performance-based stats will be on him hard. He's risen to become the top college OF in the draft.
John Drennen, Rancho Bernardo HS (Calif.)
The left-handed slugger is the latest in a long line of draft prospects to come out of Rancho Bernardo. Drennen projects as a corner outfielder with legitimate power. In 83 at-bats this spring, he's hit .470 with 14 home runs and 44 RBIs. He's drawn comparisons to Brian Giles and Jeremy Reed, outfielders who don't have one outstanding tool, but impress as a complete package.
Trevor Crowe, Arizona
Scouts covet the junior left fielder, who bats leadoff for one of the most potent offenses in the nation. He has given the Wildcats a little bit of everything, batting over .400 with nine home runs, 45 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. Plus, he's shown the ability to turn it up a notch when it counts. The switch-hitter has batted .453 with seven steals and 22 runs scored in Pac 10 Conference play. His speed and on-base ability make him easily projectable as a future leadoff hitter in the big leagues.
Daniel Carte, Winthrop
Statistically, Carte dropped off in his junior year at Winthrop, perhaps thanks to the pressure of suddenly being a big-time prospect at a mid-major program. But what made him that big-time prospect still sticks in the minds of most scouting directors. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound right fielder was named the 2004 Cape Cod League MVP after becoming just the sixth player in league history to reach double figures in home runs.
Brian Bogusevic, Tulane
Most see this 6-foot-3, 200-pound left-hander as a pitcher at this point, but he's not without value as a right fielder. He's hit .351 in 94 at-bats for the Green Wave, making some scouts wonder what he'd be like if he could focus more on his hitting. As one of the top left-handed college pitchers in the draft, however, his future probably will be on the mound.
Colby Rasmus, Russell County HS (Ala.)
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Rasmus has simply raked in his senior year. In 103 at-bats, he hit .524 with 22 home runs and 60 RBIs. The smooth-swinging left-handed hitter has line-drive power to all fields and enough athleticism to play center field. Scouts have compared him to Shawn Green and Steve Finley.
Jordan Danks, Round Rock HS (Texas)
Danks' older brother is John, the Rangers' first-round pick in 2003 who is now one of that organization's top pitching prospects. While John turned pro out of high school, there's been a lot of talk that Jordan will go to University of Texas first, forcing his draft stock to drop. Talent-wise, however, he belongs on this list. Danks won the home run derby at the AFLAC All-American Classic last summer and projects to being a power-hitting right fielder in the future.
Chris Gigley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.