Ranking the North Carolina preps

Tar Heels Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator Scott Jackson has constructed a stellar recruiting class for 2010. | InsideCarolina.com/Matt Clements

It’s a down year for the North Carolina high school draft class.  Like the 2008 crop, it lacks star potential, as there is no Brian Goodwin (2009), Madison Bumgarner (2007), Lonnie Chisenhall (2006), Alex White (2006) or Cameron Maybin (2005) with which to hang its hat.  The depth of the class is also underwhelming, although there is enough talent and projection to make those words look foolish in a few years.

I have ranked the top six draft-eligible preps below.  The reason for not going deeper is because I have not seen enough of the other players in the state, but I am confident that my top six would not change regardless.  For a later post, I will compile my notes on most of the high schoolers I saw this spring and organize them into short-form scouting reports.  For the purposes of this ranking (and most future rankings), however, I am sticking to players that I saw in-person multiple times rather than forming opinions based only on what I’ve read or seen on video.

** Because it will be difficult for me to determine a player’s signability in many cases, this list should be interpreted as an overall talent ranking.  This is not a prediction of who will be drafted the earliest.

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1. Matt Roberts, c, Graham (N.C.) HS | Commitment: North Carolina | OFP Class: Average

Roberts will be drafted for his catch-and-throw ability, as both his glove and arm grade as future 60 tools.  On talent alone, he would land in the 4th-6th rounds, but a strong commitment to the Tar Heels could cause him to fall out of that range.

2. Connor Narron, ss, Charles B. Aycock HS, Pikeville, N.C. | Commitment: North Carolina | OFP Class: Average

Narron, the son of former Rangers and Reds manager Jerry, profiles best as a third baseman once he fills out an athletic 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame.  He offers above-average power potential and the fluid actions to become a solid defender, but serious questions about his makeup (specifically, on-field demeanor) will push him down some teams’ draft boards.

3. Ty Linton, of, Charlotte (N.C.) Christian School | Commitment: North Carolina | OFP Class: Average

There is plus raw power in Linton’s pull-conscious swing, but he isn’t the fast-twitch athlete that his two-way commitment (football, linebacker) suggests he is.  A 45/50 runner presently (4.3-4.4 run times to first base from the right side) with an average arm, he will only get slower and stiffer as he adds bulk, which will limit him to left field in pro ball.  If a team signs him, it will be because they believe in the bat.

4. Austin Brice, rhp, Northwood HS, Pittsboro, N.C. | Commitment: Appalachian State | OFP Class: Average

After pitching in the high-80s to open the spring, Brice blew up in a midseason start in which he sat 91-92 mph and mixed in several 93s.  Brice has an athletic 6-foot-2 frame that will add lean muscle quickly, but needs to learn to pitch with more plane.  He is signable in the 6th-10th rounds.

5. Joel McKeithan, ss, T.C. Roberson HS, Asheville, N.C. | Commitment: Vanderbilt | OFP Class: Average

McKeithan stands to gain more from going to college than the other five players on this list.  He is very physically underdeveloped and has a strong commitment to the Commodores, making him a very impractical sign, but the talent and tools are easy to project.  The name will be much more popular at this time in 2013.

6. Tyler Barnette, rhp, Hickory (N.C.) HS | Commitment: Charlotte | OFP Class: Mild-average

Barnette carries classic physical projection with his long, lean build that measures 6-foot-3, 180 pounds.  Although his velocity dropped off slightly toward the end of the season – likely due to a combination of the workload and playing shortstop every day he wasn’t pitching – he sat in the low-90s for most of the spring with a curveball that flashed above-average potential.  Like Brice, he will receive 6th-10th round consideration.

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