Each year, Baseball America polls scouting directors to select preseason High School All-America teams. The first team, in particular, has been an accurate predictor of both the first round of the draft and future major league success. Last year, seven members of the first team were selected in the first round, including top two picks Royce Lewis and Hunter Greene. This year's high school crop is deeper than the 2017 class, particularly at the top.
The 2018 high school class is one of the strongest in recent years.
Despite only one player representing the typically strong state of California on the first team (shortstop Brice Turang), scouts see potential impact talent all over the field. This class has one of the most naturally gifted defensive prep catchers in Will Banfield, powerful and polished bats at the corners in Triston Casas and Nolan Gorman as well as high-end stuff and command on the mound with righthanders Ethan Hankins and Kumar Rocker and southpaw Matthew Liberatore.
Three players were unanimously selected to the first team: outfielder Jarred Kelenic, along with Gorman and Hankins. Casas was just one vote shy of a unanimous first team selection at first base.
One wrinkle in this year's class is the amount of impact talent from the state of Arizona. Gorman and Liberatore give the state a legitimate shot at two drafted players among the first ten picks of the draft, depending on how the spring season unfolds. Today, Gorman is ranked the No. 6 player in the 2018 draft class and Liberatore is ranked No. 9.
That would be a historic level of prep talent for the Grand Canyon state, which hasn't produced multiple first round high school picks this century. Gorman and Liberatore each have the talent to become the highest drafted Arizona products since at least 2000, as Arizona State righthander Mike Leake is the highest-drafted Arizona player in that time period. Leake was selected by the Reds with the eighth overall pick of the 2009 draft and has produced 15.3 WAR through an 8-year meajor league career since then according to Fangraphs.
Righthander Mike Jones is the highest drafted prep player from Arizona in that same time period. Jones was selected by the Brewers with the 12th pick of the 2001 draft. He spent nine seasons in the minor leagues. 2008 was a notable draft year for the state, with four college players selected in the first round, including Brett Wallace (No. 13, Cardinals) and Ike Davis (No. 18, Mets).
Here is the complete first team:
C | Will Banfield | Brookwood HS, Snellville, Ga.
1B | Triston Casas |American Heritage HS, Plantation, Fla.
MIF | Brice Turang | Santiago HS, Corona, Calif.
MIF | Nander De Sedas | Montverde (Fla.) Academy
3B | #Nolan Gorman | O'Connor HS, Phoenix
OF | #Jarred Kelenic | Waukesha (Wis.) West HS
OF | Mike Siani | Penn Charter HS, Glenside, Pa.
OF | Joe Gray | Hattiesburg (Miss.) HS
RHP | #Ethan Hankins | Forsyth Central HS, Cumming, Ga.
LHP | Matthew Liberatore | Mountain Ridge HS, Riverdale, Ariz.
RHP | Kumar Rocker | North Oconee HS, Bogart, Ga.
RHP | Mason Denaburg | Merritt Island (Fla.) HS
RHP | Mike Vasil | Boston College HS
# denotes unanimous first team selection
Below, BA subscribers can find reports on every member of the first team, the complete second and third teams, as well as the best tools of the 2018 high school class as voted on by major league teams.