After baseball players from the state of Arizona leave high school to either enter the MLB Draft or go onto college, it is hard to keep up with their progress. You almost forget that they were even on this path to become a pro baseball player until they finally receive their first call-up with a big league club.
Well there are a few players that have just recently been drafted out of high school in Arizona who are off to very good starts to their minor league careers in pursuit of achieving their ultimate dream of reaching the majors.
The first, Dylan Cozens. We remember him as both a baseball and football player out of Chaparral High School. Cozens ended his career as a Firebird with a walk-off home run to win the state championship in 2012. Rather than heading to the University of Arizona to play baseball and football, Cozens went pro after being drafted by the Phillies.
Fast forward to 2014 and the 6-6, 235 pound Cozens is the number nine ranked prospect in the Phillies organization. This season for the Single-A Lakewood BlueClaws, he is hitting .255 with 10 doubles, five home runs and 21 RBI through 42 games. Scouts say that his raw power to all fields could have him on the fast track to the bigs, but first needs to develop some more consistency.
Former Gilbert star DJ Peterson went a different route than Cozens after leaving high school. After being selected in the 33rd round in 2010, he decided to attend college instead and played for the University of New Mexico. That decision paid huge dividends for the third baseman as he made a name for himself with the Lobos as one of the top hitters in college baseball. He was then selected by the Mariners 12th overall in the 2013 draft.
Peterson has hit the ground running with the High Desert Mavericks, the Single-A Advanced affiliate for the Mariners. He is hitting .288 with nine doubles, a triple and five home runs to go with 29 RBI’s through 37 games. Last year after first signing with club and reporting to the organization, he hit an impressive 13 home runs in just 55 games. He is considered the Mariners number two ranked prospect.
D.J.’s younger brother Dustin, who passed on playing ball for ASU and was drafted out of Gilbert High School on the same day last year as his older brother, is considered the San Diego Padres number 15 prospect and is playing well for Single-A Fort Wayne of the Padres organization. Roping three home runs and 30 RBI in 42 games this season.
Hamilton baseball this week became 2014 State Champions in Division I. A couple players who come from that great Husky program from the past couple of seasons who have made the jump to the bigs from high school in recent years are Mitch Nay and Cody Bellinger.
Nay, after being drafted out of Hamilton in 2012, is now the number five prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays organization suiting up for the Single-A Lansing Lugnuts. In 2014, the third baseman is hitting .275 with seven doubles, two home runs and 24 RBI through 44 games. He as long been known for his bat and that continues to be the case, but scouts have reportedly also been impressed with his glove at the hot corner as well.
His former teammate at first base, who was drafted out of Hamilton in 2013 to the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, is Cody Bellinger. Since being drafted, he reportedly has gained 15 pounds to go with his already long 6-4 frame. He has not yet played in a game this season as he will start out in the Arizona Rookie League which doesn’t begin until the middle of June.
Finally a couple former high school prepsters in Arizona looking to become home town heroes in with the home town Diamondbacks are pitcher Charles Brewer from Chaparral and middle infielder Jamie Westbrook out of Basha. Both at very different stages in their development but both are guys that the D-backs really like in their organization.
Brewer got a short stint with the Diamondbacks after making his big league debut in 2013. He has spent all of 2014 thus far in Triple-A Reno where he is off to a bit of a slow start going 3-5 in his first nine starts with a 7.28 ERA.
“Charles is just a ‘Steady Eddie’ guy that every year for the last couple of years has just kept doing his thing,” said Diamondbacks Director of Player Development Mike Bell. “He’s got tremendous confidence, he loves to pitch, he’s resilient. He can do a lot of things for the organization because he is versatile.”
Jamie Westbrook wasn’t sure where he would begin his 2014 campaign, whether it be in the Arizona Rookie League or on another minor league roster. He ended up starting the season at second base for the Single-A South Bend SilverHawks and now they cant keep him off the field. In 48 games he is hitting .270 with 12 doubles, a triple, four home runs and 17 RBI while sporting a .317 on-base percentage. He had a huge game this past Saturday for South Bend going 4-6 with two home runs. That’s after a quick 2013 season with the D-Backs Arizona Rookie League squad and with Missoula suiting up for a combined 57 games and hitting .356 in that span.
“Jamie is a lot of fun to watch,” stated Bell. “He’s a young guy but he is very mature with the way he carries himself and the way he works, you see him as a guy who is a lot further along. I can say that his one biggest strength is that he can really hit a fastball and that is a tremendous thing because when you can do that at a young age, you have a chance to keep moving up.”
These are just a few of the great names to keep an eye out for as guys who were recently high school players in Arizona that are making good names for themselves as professionals.