A fastball that touches 96 mph combined with pinpoint control could lead to right-hander Phil Bickford of Westlake Village Oaks Christian becoming a top-10 selection when the first 73 picks of Major League Baseball's amateur draft are made Thursday in Secaucus, N.J.
Rounds 3 through 10 will take place Friday, followed by Rounds 11 through 40 on Saturday. The draft begins at 4 p.m. PDT.
The Houston Astros have the No. 1 pick, followed by the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies. The Dodgers have the 18th pick; the Angels' first choice comes at No. 59.
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Bickford has momentum entering the draft after striking out 18 batters, including 11 in a row, Saturday night when Oaks Christian won the Southern Section Division 4 championship with a 4-0 victory over Pico Rivera El Rancho.
Bickford has accepted a baseball scholarship from Cal State Fullerton but has made it clear that playing baseball professionally is his dream.
Two other Southern California products also figure to be first-round picks. Dominic Smith, a first baseman and pitcher from Gardena Serra High, and shortstop JP Crawford of Lakewood will be in New Jersey after being invited by Major League Baseball.
Last year, pitcher Max Fried of Studio City Harvard-Westlake was taken No. 7 by the San Diego Padres and signed for $3 million. His high school teammate, pitcher Lucas Giolito, was taken No. 16 by the Washington Nationals and signed for $2.925 million. Fried is considered among the top prospects in the Padres organization. Giolito underwent elbow surgery and hasn't pitched this season.
Pitchers Jonathan Gray of Oklahoma and Mark Appel of Stanford are among the most highly touted players in the draft, along with University of San Diego slugger Kris Bryant.
Among Southern California players, first baseman Jake Bauers of Huntington Beach Marina helped himself with a standout senior season in which he hit 10 home runs. Third baseman Ryan McMahon of Santa Ana Mater Dei, a USC signee, is another player with strong credentials.