Regis Jesuit’s Caleb Sloan finds himself facing a great predicament next week.
“It’s kind of a no-lose situation,” said Sloan, a standout right-handed pitcher who committed to TCU in last summer. “Either way, I’m going to be perfectly happy because both roads are great opportunities. It’s a fun predicament to be put in.”
That predicament: Whether he’ll attend TCU, or sign with whichever MLB team drafts him next week. The 2017 MLB Draft begins on Monday, and Sloan is the consensus top high school draft prospect from Colorado this season.
“It’s been a dream of mine to play professional baseball for a long time and that goal is attainable thanks to all the help I’ve had,” he said. “I’m excited for the process and I’m excited for what lies ahead.”
Sloan saw his innings double from junior to senior year — and for good reason. A 2.4 strikeout-to-walk ratio and an 8-2 record this past spring speaks for itself.
“I think we haven’t even reached the ceiling on him yet,” Regis Jesuit coach Matt Darr said. “Here’s a kid from a physical statement where he may project and may end up throwing high 90s or maybe even touching 100. I don’t think he’s done from a velocity standpoint, and continuing to learn how to really pitch is going to help him as well.”
And now, a potential pick in the top five rounds of next week’s MLB Draft could be the result.
“You hear all kinds of different stuff on these kids from a draft perspective when you talk to scouts,” Darr said. “I’ve heard on him — and again, this is just hearsay going around — he could land anywhere from the third to the fifth round.”
Four Colorado high school athletes cracked into Baseball America’s top 500: Sloan (172), Heritage’s Casey Opitz (306), Rock Canyon’s Matt Givin (401) and Peak to Peak’s Brayden Weyer (494).
Weyer is the only athlete from a team that doesn’t play in Class 5A. If he’s picked, Weyer would become the first player ever drafted from Peak to Peak, according to CHSAANow.com’s historical MLB Draft database. (The school opened in 1999.)
“I think it’s crazy to come from a small 3A school. We’re not known for athletics, so to be able to do that for my school, it’s something I’ve always dreamed about,” Weyer said. “Getting drafted, that’s a crazy idea and it’s crazy that it might just happen.
“There’s millions of players that play baseball and to be one of those who gets selected out of all of those players would be a real honor.”
Both Sloan and Weyer are extremely humble for the amount of talent that they possess.
“The thing that was most impressive to me was the way that (Sloan) led with humility,” Darr said. “He treats everybody the same, he doesn’t big-time anybody. He’s always the guy that’s encouraging other guys, and that’s going to serve him well especially as he moves to the next levels. He’s not going to be the guy right away whether it’s in the (minor) leagues or at TCU.
Weyer echoed Darr’s comment: “I don’t like to put out there what I’ve accomplished or what’s happening to me, so I like to stay humble to who I am. I know a lot of guys would try and play it up, but I don’t like to do that at all.”
What Sloan has struggled with, as most young pitchers with exceptional velocity do, is working in offspeed pitches.
“You can tell a kid or coach a kid on the importance of the offspeed or the importance of pitching,” Darr said. “But, until they experience for themselves some failure because they only have velocity, they need to feel that and experience it themselves. And when they do, then they realize they’ve got to learn how to pitch, too. I think it’s still somewhat of a work in progress for Caleb.”
But, Sloan possesses the raw talent — a 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame that creates a wicked downward angle towards the plate.
“He’s a kid that regularly sits at 94-95 and has touched 97. That’s just rare for a high school kid,” Darr said. “He’s also got the frame and the makeup from a size standpoint to land there. The arm talent makes him special if you just look at sheer tools. His work ethic makes him special from a makeup standpoint.
“He doesn’t take his talent for granted. Some kids that are exceptionally talented don’t necessarily work hard.”
Weyer is pitted between academics and athletics.
Weyer went to Peak to Peak because of its high academic ranking, choosing the academic path versus the athletic path. The 6-foot-11, 200-pound right-hander is committed to Seattle University.
Now, he must make a choice between the two again.
“We’re going to look at every offer with full intent to take it and see what we get,” Weyer said. “School is a big thing for us, but we won’t turn down any offer.”
David Peterson, a Regis Jesuit alum who is now the ace at the University of Oregon, is 19th on MLB.com’s Prospect Watch and 17th in Baseball America’s top 500. Peterson was previously drafted by the Red Sox in Round 28 of the 2014 draft.
This season, he is 11-4 with a 2.51 ERA, and 140 strikeouts against just 15 walks. He struck out 20 batters against Arizona State on May 1, tying a program record.
If he’s drafted in the first round, Peterson would become the 24th Colorado product selected that high. The most recent first-round pick was former Thomas Jefferson pitcher Kyle Freeland in 2014. He is now in the Rockies’ starting rotation.
So Regis Jesuit could potentially have two top picks in this year’s draft in Peterson and Sloan.
“The thing that’s most impressive about Caleb is his development the last few years,” Darr said. “He’s got all the intangibles that I would hope would make him super appealing to the Major League clubs, but you just never know in the draft what’s going to happen and what’s out there.”
“He’s got two great options ahead of him, whether he signs professionally and starts his career or goes to TCU. I don’t think he’s going to go wrong either way.”
Legacy alum Lucas Gilbreath, now at Minnesota, is listed at 219 on Baseball America’s list, while former Rocky Mountain standout Carl Stajduhar (New Mexico) is listed at 357.
Both were previously drafted as high school seniors in 2014.
Others who were previously drafted and are now eligible again include Grand Junction’s Owen Taylor (Kansas), Pueblo South’s Cory Voss (Arizona), Fairview’s Ryan Kokora (Friends University in Kansas), and Chaparral’s Keenan Eaton (Colorado Mesa).