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Time to start getting excited


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Since it seems we'll be playing for the #1 pick next year, here are BA's top Highschoolers for that draft:


AGE 15: ROBERT STOCK, rhp, Agoura, Calif.


Stock?s acclaim as a youth league player has been surpassed in the last decade by only Delmon Young and Justin Upton, the first picks in the 2003 and 2005 drafts. He also was honored as the best in his age at 13 and 14, and was no less dominant as a 12-year-old.


A year ago, he was the youngest player ever selected to play for USA Baseball?s youth national team. This year, he was the second-youngest player on the same team that finished second at the World Youth Championship in Mexico. He started three games in the tournament, including both the semifinal and gold-medal game for the U.S. He was brilliant in the first three innings of a showdown against Cuba, before rain upset his tempo and a lengthy delay led to his being lifted after four innings. By then, he had fanned eight, giving him 27 strikeouts in 14 innings?a tournament record. Overall, he went 1-1, 0.64.


Though he has more upside as a righthander and is the No. 2 prospect in the Draft Class of 2007 at that position, Stock has made a greater impact in high school as a lefthanded-hitting catcher. He hit .404-8-29 for Agoura High as a sophomore in earning all-county honors. He worked just 20 innings last spring, going 5-1, 2.90 with 29 strikeouts in 20 innings, as he played a secondary role on a veteran staff.


He has exceled on the mound in summer competition. He pitched two complete-game wins at USA Baseball?s Junior Olympics in June with a fastball that topped at 93 mph. At the Area Code Games in August, he tied Jordan Walden (the top high school pitching prospect in the 2006 draft) for best velocity, at 94. This fall, he was clocked at 95 in a scout league game, the same day he launched a 430-foot home run.




FREDDIE FREEMAN, of, Villa Park, Calif.


A virtual unknown nationally heading into USA Baseball?s Junior Olympic competition in June, Freeman made a big impression and went on to excel at the World Youth Championship in Mexico. The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder hit .548-3-16 with seven doubles, leading Team USA in all categories, to power the U.S. to a second-place finish. Prior to his emergence as a legitimate power-hitting prospect this summer, Freeman had not hit a home run in two seasons at El Modena High. But he?s already considered one of the top prospects in the Class of 2007.


TIM MELVILLE, rhp, Wentzville, Mo.


The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Melville made a big impression in his first season at Holt High in suburban St. Louis, earning second-team all-Missouri honors after going 6-1, 0.76 while hitting .380-4-21. Having just moved to the area from Virginia, Melville elected to return home for the summer to play for his former team, the Richmond Braves, and helped lead that team to the WWBA 15-year-old national title and a second-place finish at 16.


Melville was also selected to the U.S. squad that finished second at the World Youth Championship in Mexico, fashioning a 1-0, 0.00 record with 11 strikeouts in five innings. With a fastball that peaked at 92 mph on the summer, Melville elevated his stock to No. 2 overall among players in the high school class of 2008, according to Perfect Game USA.




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