Major League Baseball draft rankings fluctuate like the seasons – and yes, baseball season is still a winter away - but one major scouting service ranks Jesuit junior Lance McCullers Jr. as the nation's top prospect in the Class of 2012.
McCullers, a right-handed pitcher and shortstop, tops the Perfect Game Cross Checker’s Top 200 draft prospects for 2012. Four of the list’s top six players are high schoolers.
“Not only does McCullers have a loose, fast arm with electric stuff, but he has command of all three pitches in his repertoire,” writes Perfect Game’s Allan Simpson. “In addition to his dominant fastball, he also has a mid-80s power curve and a changeup. His superior arm strength is readily evident on the left side of the infield, and his powerful left-handed bat makes him a middle-of-the-order presence.”
In fact, Simpson refers to McCullers in the same breath as Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Delmon Young as No. 1 picks that emerged as unquestioned top prospects as high school underclassmen.
McCullers is also ranked No. 3 on Baseball America’s Jim Callis’ Class of 2012 draft prospect list.
McCullers, who has orally committed to the University of Florida, helped lead the Tigers to the Class 4A state final last spring, with a 97-mph fastball and gap-power bat. Over the summer, he played for the USA Under-18 National Team and participated in the Under Armour All-American Game.
A Times All-Suncoast first-team selection last spring as a sophomore, McCullers hit .457 with 8 doubles, 4 triples, 2 homers and 30 RBIs while going 2-0 with 3 saves and a 0.39 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 18 innings.
To read a Times feature on McCullers from this past season, click HERE.
-- EDUARDO A. ENCINA (firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @EddieHometeam)