Top 100 Draft Prospects
The Top 100 Draft Prospects ranking is fluid and constantly changing throughout the spring. Baseball America aims to capture industry consensus with this list. Roughly three months from the draft, it’s safe to say no consensus has been reached beyond the top two players in the draft class, and there’s a lot to sort out between now and when we expand the list to 200 and eventually the BA500 at the end of May.
The Twins, picking first under new leadership in Derek Falvey, are believed to be carefully considering and evaluating a group of nine players at the top of the draft. Sources within the scouting departments of teams picking in the top 10 are scrambling to figure out which players best suit them. Some of the top prospects entering the season have battled inconsistency, showing flashes of elite tools but giving teams cause for caution.
At the top of the class, there are two fascinating two-way prospects in Southern California prep legend Hunter Greene and Louisville superstar Brendan McKay. No one has improved their stock as much as McKay, as he’s marrying an elite pure hit tool with developing power in a .466/.575/.741 slash line; most teams thus far appear to favor him as a first baseman. On the mound, where he’ll tickle 95 mph and show a plus curveball from the left side, he’s got a 0.36 ERA and a robust 41-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The caveats: At least one of his potential suitors at the top of the draft prefers him as a pitcher, where most peg him as a future No. 3 starter, and no college first baseman has ever gone No. 1 overall.
According to decision-makers at the top, Greene’s polish and potential on the mound exceed his upside as a righthanded hitting shortstop with top-of-the-scale raw power. He’s pitching in the upper 90s like it’s easy and has reached 102 mph with his lively fastball. He draws loose comparisons to Dwight Gooden because of how advanced he is on the mound at such a young age—he’s still too young to vote, not turning 18 until next August. The caveat: No prep righthander has ever gone No. 1, either.
That combination of velocity, youth, athleticism and maturity (Greene scored a 31 on the ACT last fall—the national average is 21) could help Greene convince the Twins and Falvey to make Greene the exception. Cost will be a significant factor as well.
According to industry sources, the Twins are considering nine players for the No. 1 pick, starting with Greene and McKay. The other seven: college righthanders J.B. Bukauskas (North Carolina), Alex Faedo (Florida) and Kyle Wright (Vanderbilt), Vanderbilt outfielder Jeren Kendall, Virginia first baseman Pavin Smith and prep outfielders Austin Beck (Lexington, N.C.) and Royce Lewis (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.).
Beyond the top two, the order of the players is harder to solve than a Leslie Knope scavenger hunt. “No one has separated themselves,” is a common refrain from scouts from area supervisors to crosscheckers to special assistants on up to scouting directors.
That’s still true of the college pitching class in the Southeastern Conference, where top righthanders Alex Faedo (Florida), Tanner Houck (Missouri), Alex Lange (LSU) and Kyle Wright (Vanderbilt) all have had their struggles. Lange and Faedo face off Friday in what’s sure to be one of the most heavily scouted games of the spring.
There are players improving their stock and those whose stock has taken a hit. Here’s a rundown of some of them, presented from highest to lowest of where they appear on the updated Top 100.
Austin Beck, of, North Davidson HS, Lexington, N.C. (4): Beck is the nation’s highest riser, showing elite all-around tools and joining Lewis and Adell in the toolsy prep outfielder conversation. He missed last summer due to a knee injury though, and teams weren’t able to evaluate him with a wood bat against professional caliber pitching. Decision-makers are cautious of his mechanics and aggressive approach. Hard-working area scouts have seen Beck show feel for hitting with wood as an underclassman, and the team that ends up taking him will likely be one that trusts its area scout’s conviction in Beck.
Seth Romero, lhp, Houston (10): Romero has improved his body and is showing a fastball at 93-96, though he doesn’t always pitch there. He also has flashed two plus offspeed offerings from the left side. Romero has posted a 2.53 ERA and a 57-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio against solid college lineups thus far.
Heliot Ramos, of, Leadership Christian Academy, Guaynabo, P.R. (15): A split-camp player, Ramos kicked off last summer with a strong showing at the Perfect Game National Showcase, an event that is not universally attended by decision-makers who are in the process of signing players from the previous year’s draft. He was the MVP of last summer’s Under Armour All-America Game, where he tripled off Hall and homered off lefthander Jacob Heatherly. Ramos missed the East Coast Pro Showcase due to a family medical situation and then had a suspect performance at the WWBA showcase last fall. Ramos’s draft stock began to balloon again in January, and there are teams who believe he will be able to stay in center field as 60-to-70 grade runner with good reads off the bat. Other teams, however, are wary of his swing-and-miss history and the right-right prep outfielder demographic, and see him landing in right field, which takes him out of day one consideration for them. The overall picture of his draft stock should clear up in early May at Puerto Rico’s annual Excellence Tournament, and he could be a high riser during private workouts prior to the draft.
Adam Haseley, of/lhp, Virginia (18): Another of the class’ two-way talents, Haseley has hit his way up the ladder as an athletic center fielder with hitting ability, emerging power and middle-of-the-diamond defense. He has exceptional bat control and a refined understanding of the strike zone. He has extensive performance track record dating back to his high school days.
Jake Burger, 3b, Missouri State (22): Scouts are split on Burger’s defense but agree his power (21 homers last year, nine this year) ranks ahead of his hitting ability. He has the arm strength to play third base, and teams that believe he can play the hot corner could start considering him in the second half of the first round.
Logan Warmoth, ss, North Carolina (24): One of the safest bets on the board, Warmoth is a Cape Cod League performer (.270, 4 HR) who also is hitting this spring (.364, 4 HR), making him a rare commodity. He’s likely hitting his way toward being the first college middle infielder picked.
Griffin Canning, rhp, UCLA (28): Canning is the latest Bruins ace who has taken a step forward as a junior. He locates his four-seam fastball well, competes and earns average grades for his fastball, curve, slider and changeup, all of which flash above-average. With a 1.89 ERA and 43-13 strikeout-walk ratio in 33.1 innings, he’s pitched his way into the first round.
Brady McConnell, ss, Merritt Island (Fla.) HS (47): McConnell is a projection play with a lanky 6-foot-1, 170-pound frame and hasn’t gotten off to a great start offensively.
Michael Gigliotti, Lipscomb (48): A Cape performer (.310) with 70 speed, Gigliotti just hasn’t hit this spring, batting .238 with four extra-base hits. Scouts have mentioned “scratching our heads” and “not the same guy” when discussing one of last summer’s breakout performers.
Evan Skoug, c, Texas Christian (83): Skoug is a bat-first catcher, and he’s just not hitting, off to a .197 start with 34 strikeouts in 71 at-bats. “If he’s not hitting,” one crosschecker said, “what can you do with him? He’s just pressing so much right now.”
J.J. Schwarz, 1b/dh, Florida (NR): Schwarz ranked No. 15 on our preseason Top 100 College prospects, but that was with the assumption he’d catch some as a junior. Instead, he’s a righthanded-hitting first baseman/DH with a fairly grooved swing who’s not hitting. All of Schwarz’s value is in the bat, and he’s hitting .226 with two homers.