MLB Draft Could Be Big for a Few Brevard Players, Prince Fielder Last One Taken From Area in First Round
By Alan Zlotorzynski, Senior Editor // June 4, 2018
Stewart, Denaburg projected first round selections
ABOVE VIDEO: Carter Stewart speaks with Space Coast Daily’s Alan Zlotorzynski earlier this year prior to a big matchup with Merritt Island. Stewart is projected to be a Top 10 pick in tonight’s MLB Draft and will be in attendance in the Secaucus, New Jersey studios.
WHAT: The 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft
WHEN: June 4-6. Round 1 will begin with a live broadcast from the MLB Network studios in Secaucus, NJ. The annual amateur draft covers three days and 40 rounds.
HOW TO WATCH: MLB Network and MLB.com
NOTE: The draft order is the reverse order of the previous year’s regular season standings. MLB does not have a draft lottery, nor can postseason results change the draft order.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – If you haven’t been paying attention, Brevard County high school baseball is a pretty big deal these days.
If you were able to attend a game this year involving several different teams in the area it was almost as if you were an extra in the 2012 Clint Eastwood baseball movie about an old-fashioned scout called, ‘Trouble with the Curve.’
While the county produces great talent on the diamond in just about every Space Coast high school, scouts flocked to see three players, in particular, the Commodores Carter Stewart and Nick Pogue and the Mustangs Mason Denburg. Stewart and Denaburg are currently ranked as the No.5 and No.24 overall draft-eligible prospects while Pogue is listed to be a mid to late-round selection.
All three players are in a win-win situation tonight.
If they aren’t drafted high enough, the fallback is to attend college and play in the top baseball conference in the country, the Southeastern Conference.
That’s also another interesting storyline. While Carter and Pogue have been teammates for the past few years at Eau Gallie playing for manager Bobby Collins, they are committed to playing at different SEC schools. Carter would be heading to Starkville, Mississippi to play for the Bulldogs and Pogue would head to UF to play for the reigning National Champion, Florida Gators.
The plot thickens with the 2018 Space Coast Daily Breakfast of Champions Baseball Player of the Year, Mason Denburg. He is currently committed to join Pogue in Gainesville.
The highest rated player of the three is Stewart, the 2018 Florida Gatorade Player of the year and depending on what you read or watch could be taken as high No.5 overall by the Cincinnati Reds or as low as No.8 by the Atlanta Braves.
Stewart possesses a fastball that can hit the radar gun at 96-98 mph in most starts and settles in at 92-94 mph. The thing that makes him such a coveted prospect is the pitch he throws to strike out opponents, his curveball.
ABOVE VIDEO: Brett Dolan speaks with 2017 PG All-American Carter Stewart during the Classic broadcast on MLB Network.
Alyson Footer of MLB.com recently said,”Stewart is considered to have one of the best curveballs — if not the best — of all pitchers projected to be early selections in the Draft this year. Its spin rate, unsurprisingly, has been labeled as “elite,” reaching levels that rival some Major League pitchers.
Commodores skipper Bobby Collins recently told me that Stewart’s spin ratio on his breaking ball is higher than any spin ratio of any pitcher in major league baseball at the moment. It is the classic fall off the table breaking ball that many big leaguers can only dream of throwing and Stewart does it at age 18.
Stewart is one of several prospects to be invited to attend the MLB Draft at the MLB Network studios in Secaucus, New Jersey tonight. Stewart will attend with his parents to be a part of what he described to Footer as a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
“I said, ‘Let’s do it. Why not?'” Stewart said. “If I go little later than expected, I can deal with it. Just chill. What’s wrong with being in one of the most popular studios in baseball?”
ABOVE VIDEO: Merritt Island Mustang pitcher Mason Denaburg speaks with Alan Zlotrzynski of Space Coast Daily and the Friday Night Locker Room following a win over Eau Gallie earlier this season.
Stewarts season ended several weeks back as the Commodores finished the year 12-10. Mason Denaburgs season ended less than a week ago as he returned to the mound from a month-long arm issue in time to lead the Mustangs all the way to the state title game.
The Mustangs lost in nine innings but Denaburg’s performance throughout the postseason has raised his draft stock, which slid a bit due to the arm issue which forced him to play outfield as it healed.
Denaburg, arguably one of the best athletes in all of Brevard County, began his career at Merritt Island as a multi-sport athlete. On the gridiron as a sophomore, Denaburg was one of the best kickers in the county. His range was 50-yards and he was consistently booting kickoffs out of the end zone.
On the diamond, Denaburg began behind the plate catching but what he could do from the mound couldn’t be overlooked. Skipper Greg Plecki made him the ace of the staff and Denaburg delivered.
He finished this season allowing less than one run per game (0.99 ERA) and his two to one strikeout ratio is something you usually only see in little league.
ABOVE VIDEO: Nick Pogue speaks with Space Coast Daily’s Alan Zlotorzynski earlier this year prior to a big matchup with Merritt Island. Pogue is projected to be a mid to late round selection over the next few days in the MLB Draft. Pogue is committed to play at the University of Florida with Mason Denaburg.
Denaburg struck out 73 batters in just 35.1 innings pitched this season and he held opponents to a measly .167 batting average. In the state semifinals vs. Barron Collier Denaburg allowed just two runs walked only two and struck out 13 batters, including holding the middle of . their line-up to a combined 1-14 with six strikeouts.
Denaburg can also hit. He batted .410 this past year with five home runs, 21 Runs batted in and 35 hits in 83 at-bats.
All three face a similar decision to the last Brevard County player to be selected in the first round of the MLB Draft, Prince Fielder.
Fielder spent his first three years of high school playing at Florida Air Academy before transferring to Eau Gallie play baseball there his senior year. The six-time MLB All-Star hit .524 with 13 doubles, 10 home runs, 41 RBIs, and scored 47 runs for the Commodores.
Fielder had committed to play college baseball for Arizona State but after being selected seventh overall by the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round, began his professional career almost immediately and reported to the Ogden Raptors of the Rookie-level Pioneer League.
Whatever happens over the next few days Stewart, Pogue, and Denaburg will continue a tradition of Space Coast draftees. Last year, Melbourne High’s Jake Walsh (Florida Southern), Viera’s Christian Robinson (Stanford) and Merritt Island’s Brady McConnell (Florida) were all selected in the MLB Draft.
Walsh is currently in the St. Louis Cardinals organization playing Advanced A ball while Robinson and McConnell are playing college baseball.
ABOVE VIDEO: The last time Brevard County had two players selected in the first round of the MLB Draft was in 1975 when two current National League Skippers and Space Coast Sports Hall of Famers were selected.
The last time Brevard County had two players selected in the first round of the MLB Draft was in 1975 when two current National League Skippers and Space Coast Sports Hall of Famers were selected.
Current Pittsburgh Pirates manager and Merritt Island grad Clint Hurdle was drafted No.9 overall by the Kansa City Royals and three-time World Series champ (2010, 12, 14), Bruce Bochy of the San Francisco Giants was selected No.23 in the 1975 MLB June Draft-Secondary Phase
Satellite High skipper Jason Arnold who also faced a similar decision to what the players face tonight in terms of attending college or reporting to play professionally was drafted twice.
Arnold was first drafted following his junior year at UCF by the Cincinnati Reds in the 16th round of the 2000 amateur draft. The former Melbourne Bulldog elected to return for his senior season and the following year watched as draft status climbed 14 rounds, as the New York Yankees made Arnold the 63rd overall player taken in the 2001 MLB Draft.
Even if the draft doesn’t work out for all of the players tonight history says that with their talent and hard work, they still have a shot to reach the show.
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