Jake Barrett and Tommy Joseph had plenty in common this past prep baseball season. The recent graduates of Mesa Desert Ridge and Scottsdale Horizon high schools, respectively, have another thing in common. They are projected to be high-round draft picks in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Jake Barrett and Tommy Joseph had plenty in common this past prep baseball season.
• They were a couple of battering rams at the plate. Barrett homered 20 times; Joseph had 15.
• They competed in the same region — the 5A-II Pima Region — the last two years.
• And they ultimately met in the 5A-II championship game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium last month, won by Desert Ridge, 9-8.
Their paths have crossed many times since their prep playing days began in 2006.
The recent graduates of Mesa Desert Ridge and Scottsdale Horizon high schools, respectively, have another thing in common. Come Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday at the latest, they are projected to be high-round draft picks in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Their meetings in 2009 were pretty intense. They split two games in the regular season. The title game was an emotional roller coaster, with Horizon rallying from 7-0 down to lead 8-7 and lose in the final inning.
So it was relief for Joseph that the last three weeks gave way to a more relaxed pace after the rigors of April and May playoff baseball.
Joseph and Barrett spent most of last week flying around the country to workouts hosted by potential employers. Joseph worked out at Angels Stadium, AT&T Park, Chase Field, Coors Field and Tropicana Field, and heads to Dodger Stadium on Monday. That’s usual stuff for highly touted prospects.
“It’s been kind of tiring, but it’s exciting,” Joseph said prior to boarding a plane for Tampa. “It’s cool to work out at major league parks.”
The Horizon slugger got a chance to cool down late last month after the 5A-II title game with Desert Ridge. He ended up a teammate of Barrett’s on the 5A North all-star squad and got to catch the Jaguars’ ace in that game. They’ve known each other the last four or five years as their stock has risen concurrently over that time.
“It was great to catch the player of the year, with me being the all-state catcher,” Joseph said. “That was a fun time. After the workouts are done, I’ll try to relax a little. Hopefully, if I don’t get drafted the first day, it will happen early the second day.”
Barrett, the Tribune’s Player of the Year and Gatorade Player of the Year for Arizona, is projected to go anywhere from the second to fifth round, depending on the source. Barrett fanned 98 batters in 62 innings this season with a 9-3 record and 1.90 ERA. He’s an outstanding hitter, as well (.510 average, 66 RBIs).
Joseph, a full-time catcher this season, enjoyed a highlight moment against Barrett in mid-April when he whacked a three-run double that beat Desert Ridge, 6-5, at Horizon. The term “light-tower power” is attached to Joseph. Along with his 15 homers, Joseph batted .442 with 36 RBIs. He has a strong arm, as evidenced by back-picking 18 runners and going 8-for-10 at throwing out runners on steal attempts. His downside is lack of speed and quickness, but those attributes are forgiven with his bat, arm and position.
“He’s probably as solid a player as we competed against,” Desert Ridge coach Pat Herrera said of Joseph. “We noticed he handled pitchers real well. He has an arm. We coached against that and he still picked us. He didn’t have huge games against us, but did have the hit that beat us the first time against Jake. He can definitely play at the next level.”
Conversely, Horizon coach Eric Kibler was equally impressed with Barrett, who started two of the three meetings between Horizon and Desert Ridge. In 12 innings Barrett pitched against Horizon, he blanked them in 10 of those. Two big innings Barrett surrendered against Horizon prevented him from nabbing a pair of wins.
“He is the real deal,” Kibler said. “It’s easy to see why he impresses. I’m pretty sure both of them will go early.”
2009 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft
When: Tuesday, 3 p.m., rounds 1-3; Wednesday, 9 a.m., rounds 4-30; Thursday, 8:30 a.m., rounds 31-50
Where: Tuesday from Secaucus, N.J.; Wednesday and Thursday from MLB headquarters in N.Y. via conference call
TV: MLB Network for Tuesday’s first 32 picks; remaining picks Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday on MLB.com