MLB Draft Top 300 Prospects
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Casey MizeCOL RHPNotes:
Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 208 | B-T: R-R | Committed/Drafted: Never Drafted
Scouting Report: Mize has established himself as the top player in the 2018 draft class thanks to a deep and talented repertoire that is made mostly of 60-grade or better offerings and exceptional control that allowed him to lead all college pitchers with a 12.11 strikeout-to-walk ratio as a sophomore in 2017. Through 10 starts this spring, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound righthander had improved his K/BB to a ridiculous 15.67 mark with a 2.25 ERA in 68 innings. Mize pitches off of a fastball that gets up to 97 mph but sits in the 93-95 range and a 70-grade splitter that’s among the best offspeed offerings in the country. Typically a difficult pitch to control, even for professional pitchers, Mize locates the 86-89 mph splitter remarkably well, with powerful downward action. He also has a slider that is in the mid- to upper 80s that he’s thrown with a different grip this spring than he had on previous occasions. He has two variations of the slider—one that is more firm and used as an out pitch and another that’s softer with more of a curveball shape and used as a get-me-over strike. He has also added a cutter to his repertoire this spring that’s in the 88-91 mph range and scouts have already graded it as a plus offering. On top of all of that, Mize also throws a slower changeup from a different grip than his power splitter, which falls in the low 80s with fade and sink. While technically he has a four-pitch mix, the variations to the splitter and slider give him six different offerings to attack hitters, each of which grade out as plus offerings for most scouts, headlined by the plus-plus splitter. The stuff, pitchability and performance give Mize the ceiling of a future ace, with his medical history being the only knock on his resume. Mize was shutdown with forearm issues during the spring and summer of 2017 and has had trouble staying healthy dating back to his time as a high school prospect in Springville, Ala. He’s avoided injury issues the spring of his junior year, however, and if he continues to make his starts and nothing crazy shows up in his medical this June, he should be the first player off the board.
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Matthew LiberatoreHS LHPVideoNotes:
School: Mountain Ridge HS, Glendale, Ariz.
Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 200 | B-T: L-L | Committed/Drafted: Arizona
Scouting Report: During the summer of 2017, Liberatore was an uber-projectable lefthander with great feel for three pitches that scouts could project to become plus down the line. At that time, Liberatore was sitting mostly in the upper 80s and low 90s with his fastball and had a low-70s, 12-to-6 curveball, as well as a changeup in the low to mid-80s. He performed well on the showcase circuit and with USA Baseball’s 18U National team, pitching in the USA’s 8-0 win over Korea in the gold medal game. During his first outing this spring, however, he was up to 96 mph with his fastball, a sharper curveball and a plus changeup. The 100-plus scouts could confidently leave that game and project three plus pitches on the prep lefthander who stood 6-foot-5. While the stuff hasn’t been quite as loud for Liberatore since then—his fastball in particular hasn’t held that velocity—he still has the frame and pitchability that teams can dream on, with a fairly clean and quick arm as well as makeup that scouts rave about. The Arizona commit pitches with a bulldog-like mentality on the mound but also brings a cerebral approach to what he’s trying to do, with an advanced understanding of how to attack hitters and how to manipulate his pitches. During the spring, Liberatore added a low-80s slider that he showcased to a large group of evaluators at USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational. The pitch is currently behind his curveball and changeup—both of which project as plus offerings—but showed some promise and he seemed confident with the offering given that he added it to his now-four-pitch mix about a week prior. While Liberatore’s stuff and control isn’t currently as loud as MacKenzie Gore’s (the top lefthander in the 2017 draft class) was at this same point last year, the combination of his size, projection, makeup and pitchability should have him off the board early in the first round.
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Nick MadrigalCOL SS/2BVideoNotes:
School: Oregon State
Ht: 5-8 | Wt: 165 | B-T: R-R | Committed/Drafted: Indians '15 (17)
Scouting Report: Most 5-foot-7 second basemen wouldn’t figure to be top-of-the first round talents if healthy, let alone if they had missed almost two months of their junior season. But Madrigal is far from the ordinary, undersized middle infielder, as he possesses arguably the best hit tool in the 2018 draft class. Northwest area scouts saw just six games of Madrigal (in which he hit over .500 with two home runs) before he went down with a broken left wrist after sliding into home plate during a February game against Ohio State. Fortunately, Madrigal’s track record is a lengthy one, as he played for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team during the summer of 2017 and also hit .303/.342/.376 as an 18-year-old in the West Coast Collegiate League in 2015, with more walks than strikeouts. Many area scouts and scouting directors alike are convinced that Madrigal would be a top-10 selection even if he never came back to the field, given the non-chronic nature of his injury combined with his prolific feel for the barrel. While Madrigal will never be confused for a slugger and likely doesn’t have much more fringe-average power, he makes the most of all the juice he has, with elite bat-to-ball skills that allows him to drive the gaps and use his speed to collect extra-base hits in the form of doubles and triples. He’s not just a hitter, however, as Madrigal possesses plus-plus running ability and matches that skill with savvy baserunning prowess. A potential top-of-the-order hitter, Madrigal also projects as a plus defensive second baseman at the next level. The hands that allow him to hit with such apparent ease also translate to the field, where he is sure-handed and quick around the bag with enough arm strength for the keystone. Arm strength is the one knock on Madrigal—aside from his size—and scouts are split on whether he can be a major league shortstop, as Oregon State teammate Cadyn Grenier’s defense was enough to push Madrigal to second base in 2016. Regardless of which side of the bag teams see him playing in the future, Madrigal seems like a lock to be taken inside of the first ten picks this June and could be a fast-moving college bat at the professional level, thanks to both his baseball skills and professional makeup and work ethic.
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Shane McClanahanCOL LHPVideoNotes:
School: South Florida
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 188 | B-T: L-L | Committed/Drafted: Mets '15 (26)
Scouting Report: The top college lefthander in the 2018 draft class, McClanahan possesses some of the best raw stuff of any draft-eligible player in the country led by a fastball that can reach 100 mph. That number would have seemed absurd after seeing McClanahan prior to his senior season at Cape Coral (Fla.) High, when he was throwing a mid-80s fastball. But McClanahan went through a massive growth spurt around that time, going from 5-foot-6 to the 6-foot-2 he’s currently listed at and touched 94 mph at times during the spring of 2015. Three years later, and through his first 10 starts of the 2018 season with South Florida, McClanahan is regularly in the mid- to upper 90s with his fastball and has used that pitch to help him lead the country in strikeouts per nine innings (15.02), with 94 strikeouts in 56.1 innings. At just 188 pounds with a lean frame that could still add more weight, McClanahan doesn’t get that sort of velocity with a huge, muscular build but instead with a lightning quick arm out of a low, three-quarter slot in a delivery that some scouts describe as high-effort. In addition to his fastball, McClanahan has a mid-80s changeup and a slider, both of which project as plus pitches down the line although the changeup is currently more consistent than the breaking ball. McClanahan isn’t without warts, however, as he already had Tommy John surgery, which sidelined him during the 2016 season, and is regularly erratic to the plate. McClanahan has a history of being more of a thrower than a pitcher at this point, with more than five walks per nine innings through his first 10 starts in 2018. Durability will be a question mark with McClanahan as well, as many college pitchers around him on draft boards have a much longer track record of performance and summer history. Still, the pure stuff he offers from the left side is a rare commodity and one that teams at the top of the first round will likely pounce at given the opportunity this June. McClanahan offers the potential of a top-of-the-rotation southpaw if everything breaks right and he improves his control and command. Assuming good health, a worst-case scenario for McClanahan would likely be taking on the role of a shutdown reliever.
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Brady SingerCOL RHPNotes:
Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 180 | B-T: R-R | Committed/Drafted: Blue Jays '15 (2)
Scouting Report: The latest in a developing tradition of talented Florida starting pitchers is righthander Brady Singer, who was one of the earliest players to establish himself at the top of the 2018 draft class with one of the most spotless track records in the country. Singer has a long history of success in the SEC and has improved—at least statistically—every season. After getting just one start as a freshman in 2016, Singer moved into a prominent role in Florida’s rotation in 2017 alongside Alex Faedo (who was taken No. 18 by the Tigers in the 2017 draft). As a sophomore, Singer led the Gators with 126 innings, posted a 3.21 ERA over 19 starts and struck out 21 batters in two starts during the 2017 College World Series, which Florida won. Even before Singer’s time in Gainesville, he was a prominent draft prospect, ranking as the No. 54 prospect on the 2015 BA 500. He was selected by the Blue Jays with the 56th pick of the MLB Draft but didn’t sign. Now, he’ll have a chance to go much higher as a starting pitcher with a strong track record and two plus pitches. Singer’s fastball sits in the low to mid-90s with impressive natural movement and he also has a sharp slider that has been a weapon for him in the past. Singer’s slider can be inconsistent at times, however, because of his low arm slot, which is a point of concern for some evaluators. While Singer doesn’t throw many changeups currently, scouts think he has the ability to develop at least an average changeup in pro ball, when he would be able to throw it more frequently. Teams more skeptical of Singer will see a two-pitch starter with a concerning arm slot that might lead to the bullpen, while less critical scouting departments might see a potential middle-of-the-rotation arm who has impressive strike-throwing ability and more high-level track record than any pitcher in a deep 2018 class.
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Alec BohmCOL 3BVideoNotes:
School: Wichita State
Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 240 | B-T: R-R | Committed/Drafted: Never Drafted
Scouting Report: Bohm has been one of the most impressive college hitters in the 2018 draft class and has positioned himself to go early in the first round after several big performances in front of large groups of evaluators this spring. With a large, 6-foot-5, 240-pound frame, Bohm brings a vast amount of strength to the batter’s box, which helps provide some of the best raw power in the country. Bohm has gotten to that power frequently this spring, hitting .353/.464/.596 through his first 36 games with eight home runs and nine doubles. Perhaps more impressive than Bohm’s power output—he also hit 11 homers as a sophomore and six as a freshman—is his improved plate discipline this season. He’s cut his strikeout rate and significantly improved his walk rate, taking the free pass more frequently than striking out for the first time in his collegiate career. He has an exceptional understanding of the strike zone and always seem to have a plan when he steps in the batter’s box, with the ability to make adjustments within an at-bat. His loud spring comes on the heels of a summer in the Cape Cod League, where Bohm was selected to the all-star game and finished second in the league with a .351 average. Bohm has done as much as anyone in the 2018 class to prove himself with the bat, but where the questions will surface for him are on the defensive side. Some scouts think Bohm will eventually have to move to first base, while others believe his strong arm will be enough for him to stay at the hot corner.
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Joey BartCOL CVideoNotes:
School: Georgia Tech
Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 225 | B-T: R-R | Committed/Drafted: Rays '15 (27)
Scouting Report: Bart became the first player ever drafted out of Buford (Ga.) High when the Rays selected him in the 27th round of the 2015 draft, but Bart chose to instead attend Georgia Tech, following in the footsteps of major league backstops like Jason Varitek and Matt Wieters. Since then, Bart has established himself as the top catcher in the 2018 class by a wide margin and there are more than a few people wondering if he’s the best catcher to come through the program—high praise considering the talent and major league success of Varitek and Wieters. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, Bart has all the tools necessary to become an above-average defensive catcher at the pro level. He has a strong arm that’s at least above-average and likely plus, as well as strong and quiet hands, footwork that’s online to his target during throws and exceptional game-calling abilities for an amateur. Prior to this spring, scouts questioned Bart’s effort behind the dish, but the recent feedback has been exceptional. When he’s locked in and focused, he looks the part. Offensively, Bart has plus raw power to all fields and has a solid track record in the ACC, hitting 13 home runs during his sophomore season and hitting 11 home runs through his first 37 games this spring. Bart also has a solid wood bat track record, hitting .309/.389/.433 with two home runs in the Cape Cod League in 2016, which should help ease the worries of teams who might knock him for a poor summer in 2017, when he was dealing with a groin injury while playing for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team. Bart does have a history of striking out a bit too much, and most evaluators put the hit tool at fringe-average at best, but the combination of his defensive tools and his ability to get to his power in-game at a position that is incredibly scarce should have him flying off the board early.
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Carter StewartHS RHPVideoNotes:
School: Eau Gallie HS, Melbourne, Fla.
Ht: 6-6 | Wt: 200 | B-T: R-R | Committed/Drafted: Mississippi State
Scouting Report: Over the summer, Stewart was known almost exclusively for his otherworldly curveball, which was a 70-grade offering at the time and routinely registered spin rates above 3,000 revolutions per minute. Stewart’s curveball was so impressive, in fact, that TrackMan honored the righthander at the Perfect Game All-America Classic in San Diego and said his breaking ball was among the most impressive pitches the company has ever tracked, at any level. At 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds, that performance alone was impressive. But this spring Stewart took a step forward, improving a fastball that once sat in the upper 80s to low 90s and has now reached 97-98 mph multiple times this spring, giving Stewart a chance at potentially two 70-grade pitches. On top of the stuff, Stewart brings impressive athleticism to the table and a good feel for the strike zone. Scouts have been impressed with how consistently Stewart is able to land his sweeping, low-80s breaker for a strike, especially considering the massive depth the pitch possesses. Stewart has also shown the ability to manipulate the offering depending on the situation. That sort of feel leaves some scouts projecting a changeup that could be at least average down the line. Stewart has thrown a changeup at times, but given his other offerings, he hasn’t needed to use a third pitch enough to give scouts much of a feel for it. An impressive golfer as well, Stewart could have a collegiate future on the links, but his skill on the mound should prevent him from ever reaching Mississippi State’s campus in the first place.
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Brice TurangHS SSVideoNotes:
School: Santiago HS, Corona, Calif.
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 165 | B-T: L-R | Committed/Drafted: Louisiana State
Scouting Report: Turang is one of the most famous prep players in the 2018 class and entered the draft cycle as the top high school player in the nation. A four-year varsity starter at Santiago (Corona, Calif.) High, Turang also played for USA Baseball’s 18U National Team in 2016 and 2017, more than holding his own playing on the 2016 club that featured 2017 No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks Royce Lewis and Hunter Greene, respectively. In fact, you wouldn’t have to search far to find a scout who said Turang was the best player on the team, despite the fact that Turang never played in the international tournament in Mexico after getting hit in the face by a pitch. Because of his exposure and history as a talented player at such a young age, teams have been somewhat disappointed with Turang since last summer. He’s never struggled, but he’s also never wowed scouts in the same way that he did as an underclassman. Even with that said, Turang was still voted a first-team Preseason All-American, the best pure hitter in the class, the best defensive infielder in the class with the second-best arm, and the No. 3 athlete in Baseball America’s preseason survey to major league scouting directors. Turang is among the more polished prep players with an advanced left-handed hit tool and rarely swings and misses with a patient approach that allows him to hit the ball where it’s pitched. Turang’s loudest tool is his speed, which is at least plus and likely plus-plus, allowing him to wreak havoc on the bases and also cover a large swath of ground defensively. He can make throws from multiple angles, on the run, up the middle and in the hole, and also has the sure hands and footwork that should allow him to stay at the position at the next level. At just 6-foot-1, 165 pounds, the biggest knock on Turang is his size. Some teams are worried about the impact he’ll make at the next level and don’t anticipate him having much more than fringe-average raw power. While Turang might not be filling up a scout card with 6- and 7-grade tools, he does everything well, has a long track record of succeeding against elite competition and plays a premium position as a lefthanded hitter.
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Travis SwaggertyCOL OFVideoNotes:
School: South Alabama
Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 180 | B-T: L-L | Committed/Drafted: Never Drafted
Scouting Report: After going undrafted out of high school with little to no hype in the scouting community, Swaggerty has become a top-of-the-first-round talent because of his performance at South Alabama and an impressive summer with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team in 2017. With Team USA, Swaggerty started in center field and hit near the top of the order, hitting .328/.449/.406. That came after a spring in the Sun Belt Conference where his on-base plus slugging percentage was over 1.000 with 10 home runs. On the national radar after his impressive 2017 campaign, Swaggerty had one of the loudest starts to the 2018 season of any college player, hitting .390/.609/.707 through his first 13 games with three home runs. A five-tool talent, Swaggerty projects as an at least average hitter who has 60-grade running ability, 60-grade defense in center field and an above-average to plus arm. He profiles fairly safely in center field at the next level, and while some scouts have questioned his power potential in the past, he seems to have ticked up in that category early this spring and should have fringe-average to average power. Swaggerty seems to get the most out of his power potential, with 10 home runs during his sophomore season at South Alabama. He has also cut his strikeout rate and improved his walk rate during each of his seasons at South Alabama and in 2018 he is among the nation’s leaders in walks and walks per game. While Swaggerty has cooled off a bit as the season progressed, he seems to be a safe bet as a lefthanded hitting center fielder with a college track record and no real holes in his game.
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Jarred KelenicHS OFVideoNotes:
School: Waukesha (Wis.) West HS
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 196 | B-T: L-L | Committed/Drafted: Louisville
Scouting Report: Kelenic was the only outfielder in the high school class to unanimously make the first team in Baseball America’s Preseason All-America vote, as decided on by major scouting directors. Kelenic achieved that honor as one of the best hitters in the class with a balanced and powerful swing, a track record in the middle of USA Baseball’s 18U National Team lineup and a strong arm, as well as athleticism, above-average speed and impressive route running. One of the most intense players in the class, Kelenic has a fiery demeanor on the field that gives pause for some evaluators, while others who know him have no issues and see his passionate personality as a positive indicator. He lives and breathes baseball and is regularly in his dad’s training facilities in Waukesha, Wisc., and also worked out in the same facility as Houston Texans’ defensive end J.J. Watt. One of the more polished hitters in the class, Kelenic has the frame and strength to continue to add more power as he gets into player development and could wind up with plus raw power down the road. As he ages, scouts are mixed on whether he stays in center field or moves to a corner, with his backers pointing to exceptional reads and defensive instincts, and detractors saying that his speed will back up as he gets stronger. He has more than enough arm for the outfield, regularly registering 96 mph readings from the grass and regarded as one of the most accurate arms in the class. The challenge with Kelenic is that he’s been difficult for teams to scout this spring in Wisconsin. He’s playing with a travel team rather than his high school and he’s also been seen indoors more frequently than outdoors. The track record for Wisconsin hitters is also poor, but Kelenic’s own track record with Team USA and on the showcase circuit, combined with his natural tools and makeup, could allow him to become the exception. He should be one of the first prep bats to get drafted this June.
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Kumar RockerHS RHPNotes:
School: North Oconee HS, Bogart, Ga.
Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 240 | B-T: R-R | Committed/Drafted: Vanderbilt
Scouting Report: Rocker is one of the most well-known prep names in the 2018 high school class thanks to exceptional stuff—headlined by a fastball that routinely reaches 98 mph—and a physically imposing 6-foot-4, 240-pound frame. Despite his big build, Rocker is athletic for his size and has the bloodlines to back it up, as his father, Tracy, played football at Auburn before a brief NFL career with the Washington Redskins. When it comes to pure stuff, there’s perhaps no pitcher in the high school class who can match Rocker pitch for pitch. His fastball is regularly in the low to mid-90s and reaches the upper levels when he needs it. The pitch is delivered with such ease that is sometimes looks like he’s just playing catch. After that, Rocker has a pair of secondary offerings that have both looked plus, with a power breaking ball—some scouts call it a curve and some dub it a slider—that’s hard and tight in the low to mid-80s with late-breaking action. Rocker’s changeup is firm and has been up to 91 mph this spring, with fading action that allows the pitch to fall off the table at its best. Just grading out the tools, Rocker should be the top high school player in the class, but he got hit around more than his stuff would indicate last summer, especially when his fastball flattened out and stayed up in the zone. Some evaluators wonder if he just lacks deception and whether adding a two-seam fastball with more movement would help him down the road. The reports from his spring season with North Oconee High in Bogart, Ga., have all been exceptional and while he did deal with a minor hamstring injury that pushed back one of his starts, Rocker has done everything evaluators wanted him to do. Moving forward, the Vanderbilt commit needs to be on top of managing his weight as a bigger-bodied pitcher and he’ll need to take steps forward with the command of his entire repertoire once he gets to levels where his stuff alone isn’t overwhelming. Overall, Rocker has the elements to be a future front-of-the-rotation arm and should be a first-round pick.
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Ryan RolisonCOL LHPNotes:
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 195 | B-T: R-L | Committed/Drafted: Padres '16 (37)
Scouting Report: A talented high school lefthander out of Tennessee, Rolison ranked in the top half of the BA 500 in 2016, but was drafted in the 37th round by the Padres and chose to attend Mississippi. As a freshman, Rolison pitched in 19 games, posted a 3.06 ERA and was named to the SEC’s all-freshman team by the conference’s coaches. Rolison allowed just 23 runs in 61.2 innings in 2016, which was the third-best mark in the SEC and helped him earn a spot in the starting rotation toward the end of the season. Rolison carried that success to the Cape Cod League that summer, where he used a fastball in the 91-94 mph range and a wipeout curveball to pitch to a 1.93 ERA and strike out 35 batters in 28 innings. Rolison has impressed during his draft-eligible sophomore season with Ole Miss as well, increasing his strikeout rate and using a three-pitch mix, headlined by a fastball with plus life in the low 90s. Rolison is not afraid to throw his fastball, which has been up to 96 mph, inside to righthanded batters, while his breaking ball regularly gets swings and misses and is at least an above-average pitch with the potential to be a plus offering down the line. Rolison’s changeup should become a solid third pitch as well. What has worried scouts this spring is the direction the 6-foot-2 southpaw takes to the plate. Many evaluators have commented that Rolison has been coming across his body too much in his delivery, which has impacted his strike-throwing ability and caused his walk rate to tick up. That should be a relatively easy fix in player development and most scouts believe in his control, which has been solid in the Cape and at Ole Miss in the past. While his stuff isn’t as loud as some of the other pitchers in the class, Rolison still has the talent to become a No. 3 starter down the road. As one of the few lefthanded arms at the top of the class, Rolison figures to come off the board in the first round and become the first Ole Miss player to do so since Drew Pomeranz, who was taken fifth overall in the 2010 draft.
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Nolan GormanHS 3BVideoNotes:
School: Sandra Day O'Connor HS, Phoenix
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 210 | B-T: L-R | Committed/Drafted: Arizona
Scouting Report: Gorman has some of the best raw power in the 2018 draft class—college or high school—and raised his stock significantly over the summer. Gorman won multiple home run derbies and showed that his power played against some of the top pitching prospects in the game at a few of the bigger showcases, displaying easy plus power against mid-90s velocity. He was the talk of the scouting community after putting on an offensive show during USA Baseball’s 18U National Team trials in late August against multiple college teams in Minnesota. Gorman was unanimously voted to BA’s Preseason High School All-America team at third base by major league scouting directors and had positioned himself to be one of the first hitters taken in the draft. However, his stock fell a bit this spring, when scouts noted that Gorman looked stiffer defensively, creating more reason to believe that he would eventually need to move to first base. Additionally, Gorman has added to the questions surrounding his hit tool rather than answer them, particularly at USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational, where he swung and missed often against offspeed pitches and also expanded his strike zone. He was one of just four batters at the event to swing and miss at least 10 times. While Gorman has had little trouble squaring up big-time velocity, he now has some significant questions about his ability to handle breaking pitches, as he also struggled in that domain during the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s U-18 World Cup in Thunder Bay, Canada, where he hit .222/.241/.294 with 10 strikeouts and four walks. Still, when Gorman hits the ball he hits it harder than almost anyone in the class. He had the highest average exit velocity at the NHSI at 102.1 mph, with an exit velocity a tick harder against breaking balls, specifically. Defensively, teams are likely split on his eventual destination. He has an above-average arm that’s likely plus and he showed impressive glove work at the hot corner with Team USA, making plays on the run and while off-balance. However, the increased stiffness he showed this spring won’t help encourage those who already believed he would eventually move to first. While his hit tool is more difficult to project now than teams would have liked, his power is 70-grade or better and that should still get him taken somewhere in the middle of the first round.
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Jackson KowarCOL RHPVideoNotes:
Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 170 | B-T: R-R | Committed/Drafted: Tigers '15 (40)
Scouting Report: Kowar would be the Friday night starter at almost any other school in the country, but instead serves as Florida’s “1b” starter behind righthander Brady Singer. Kowar was a top high school prospect coming out of North Carolina in 2015, ranking No. 99 on the BA 500, but was seen as a tough sign and made it to Gainesville after the Tigers selected him in the 40th round. A 6-foot-6, 185-pound righthander, Kowar has improved every year with Florida and has an ideal frame with plenty of room to add more weight. Kowar has a clean arm action that he uses to throw a low to mid-90s fastball and a changeup that is currently a 60-grade offering. He is comfortable using his changeup against both righties and lefties, as the pitch has terrific fading action with fastball arm speed and routinely comes across in the low 80s. Kowar’s breaking ball is behind his fastball and changeup. He tinkered with a slider in the fall prior to the 2018 season, but scrapped the pitch and reverted to a curveball that ranges from the mid- to upper 70s with three-quarter breaking action that occasionally has good depth and shows signs of a third average pitch. The curveball has been too inconsistent for area scouts to throw an average grade on it currently, as it tends to blend into a sluvry offering when he gets on the side of the pitch. But teams who have seen it at its best might believe he can eventually figure it out and add a third average pitch to his repertoire. Kowar has a few medical concerns in his past, as he’s dealt with multiple collapsed lungs, one of which caused him to miss the second half of his freshman season. Given his current stuff and the projection he still has with a lanky and athletic body, in addition to his developing SEC track record, he should give Florida a second first-round pitcher selected and there are teams who prefer Kowar to his rotation mate.
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Ethan HankinsHS RHPVideoNotes:
School: Forsyth Central HS, Cumming, Ga.
Ht: 6-6 | Wt: 215 | B-T: R-R | Committed/Drafted: Vanderbilt
Scouting Report: Perhaps the most perplexing player in the 2018 draft class, Hankins entered the year with a real shot to become the first prep righthander ever selected with the No. 1 overall pick. The lanky and athletic 6-foot-6 Vanderbilt commit wowed scouts over the summer, when he regularly used a 70-grade fastball in the low to mid-90s that got up to 97-98 mph at its best with elite life and advanced command for his age. Before Hankins began his senior season with Forsyth Central High (Cumming, Ga.), many evaluators expected Hankins to throw into the triple digits. A shoulder injury interrupted his season, however, and while he made his way back to the mound the stuff was not the same. During the showcase circuit with USA Baseball’s 18U National Team, Hankins struck out 27 international batters and walked three in 12 innings. In general, Hankins’ velocity has been down this spring, although he has still reached 96 mph and scouts have still seen some of the plus fastball life that made the pitch such a weapon in the past. Prior to the season, scouting directors voted Hankins as having the best fastball and best fastball movement in BA’s Preseason All-America poll, where he also was named a unanimous first-team pitcher. Hankins has exceptional athleticism and body control, allowing him to spot his fastball and secondary offerings more effectively than a typical prep pitcher at his height and with his velocity. His mid-70s curveball has been inconsistent, likely a fringe offering at its best, though he occasionally snapped off a few plus offerings, with a low-80s changeup that’s in the same boat. Hankins has tinkered with a slider in the past and multiple evaluators believe that will be the breaking ball he ends up developing in the future thanks to his arm slot. But for now, teams are still evaluating and projecting his curveball as well. Hankins’ medical will be crucial in determining his eventual landing spot in the draft, though when he first went down in February, some decision-makers thought he would still go in the top of the first round even if he never came back to throw another pitch. He has returned to the mound, however, and while the stuff hasn’t come all the way back, he’s at least showing teams he can throw regularly. When healthy, Hankins has the potential to be a true frontline starter and would rank as the top high school pitcher in the 2018 class, but his spring has created more questions than answers.
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Ryan WeathersHS LHPNotes:
School: Loretto (Tenn.) HS
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 210 | B-T: R-L | Committed/Drafted: Vanderbilt
Scouting Report: The son of 19-year major league veteran David Weathers, Ryan is an advanced lefthanded pitcher out of Tennessee who offers a high floor for a prep arm. Weathers has three pitches that are at least average with a fastball, curveball and changeup. Scouts had to wait for a chance to see him this spring as Weathers is also a high-level basketball player and helped lead Lorretto High to its first ever state championship this season. When he did take the mound, Weathers pitched with a low-90s fastball that got up to 95 mph at its best with a curveball that appeared to be a tick better than it was last summer. Some scouts have put a 60-grade on the mid-70s breaking ball this spring after it was more 50-55 during the showcase circuit and with USA Baseball’s 18U team. He can also turn to an average changeup when he needs it as well. Weathers spots all of his pitches effectively—some evaluators believe he can develop future plus command—and his fastball plays up with heavy sinking action as well. With major league bloodlines and a well-rounded arsenal, Weathers figures to be a middle of the first-round pick, though he’ll need to maintain his body as he develops.
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Mason DenaburgHS RHP/CVideoNotes:
School: Merritt Island (Fla.) HS
Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 190 | B-T: R-R | Committed/Drafted: Florida
Scouting Report: Perhaps the most athletic pitcher in the class, Denaburg was one of the harder-throwing high school arms during the summer showcase season in 2017, touching 97 mph in short stints and serving as a reliever for USA Baseball’s 18U National Team. A former two-way player, Denaburg would be a legitimate pro prospect as a catcher with a strong throwing arm and raw power with the bat. However, his stuff on the mound is too intriguing for pro teams to keep him in gear and Denaburg scrapped catching this spring with Merritt Island (Fla.) High to focus on improving as a pitcher. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound righthander made a big jump after his first start of the season, when he matched up with Eau Gallie High (Melbourne, Fla.) righthander Carter Stewart in a highly-attended Prep Baseball Report tournament. In that game, Denaburg touched 97 mph in the first inning and settled into the low 90s, regularly touching 94 mph while also showing a much-improved curveball in the upper 70s that looked like a plus pitch. Over the summer, Denaburg was extremely fastball-heavy and scouts couldn’t get a good feel for his secondary offerings. The breaking ball that he showed in February gave scouts a reason to get excited. He threw a hard slider with a spike grip during the summer, but discovered a different grip when throwing bullpens and flat ground sessions during the offseason. Denaburg also throws an occasional low-80s changeup that shows promise. After the PBR event, Denaburg was more inconsistent and eventually shut things down altogether with biceps tendinitis that has caused him to miss approximately one month. The status of that injury will further complicate things as teams try to decide whether he is best served as a starter or a reliever long term, although his arm strength, athleticism and feel for spin give him a ceiling as a middle-of-the-rotation arm.
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Cole WinnHS RHPVideoNotes:
School: Orange (Calif.) Lutheran HS
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 195 | B-T: R-R | Committed/Drafted: Mississippi State
Scouting Report: In a down year in Southern California from a draft perspective, Winn made the decision to transfer from Colorado to Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High and play in the Trinity League—one of the nation’s best high school baseball conferences. The move has paid off, as Winn has separated himself from other Southern California arms and been one of the most consistent prep righthanders in the country, while also giving himself the opportunity to play at densely scouted events like the National High School Invitational and the Boras Classic South. Winn was on scouting directors’ radars long before his time with Orange Lutheran, however, after impressing at numerous events on the summer showcase circuit with three pitches, including a fastball reaching the 93-94 mph range and one of the more consistent curveballs in the class. This spring, Winn has been up to 96 mph with his fastball, which he can spot effectively to both sides of the plate. His best breaking ball is a plus, 12-to-6 curveball in the mid-70s that has powerful downward action, which he can spot in the zone or use to expand and create swings and misses. Winn also added a low-80s slider, seemingly out of nowhere, and while it’s behind the curveball, it has the makings of another average pitch. Winn is competing with a deep high school class, but he’s one of the few prep arms who has gotten better each time out and has had very few looks that raised questions.
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Jonathan IndiaCOL 3BNotes:
Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 185 | B-T: R-R | Committed/Drafted: Brewers '15 (26)
Scouting Report: Scouts have admired the way India plays the game and his overall package of tools since he was a standout shortstop at American Heritage School in Delray Beach, Fla. India was ranked as the No. 82 player in the 2015 class, but after the Brewers drafted him in the 26th round he made his way to Gainesville. India was solid, but unspectacular, in his first two season with the Gators, missing some time with injury during his sophomore campaign in which he hit 274/.354/.429 with 23 strikeouts and 42 walks. He’s improved his draft stock substantially this spring, hitting .420/.551/.840 with 13 home runs and more walks (34) than strikeouts (30) through his first 40 games. He is among the nation’s top-10 hitters in each triple-slash category and scouts have been extremely happy to see his raw power translate more into games this year. His ultimate role will depend on his defensive position. He played a decent amount of innings at shortstop early this year, but most of his time with Florida has been at third base, where he has solid hands and an average arm. He’s likely a third baseman or a second baseman at the next level, with the flexibility to move to shortstop in a pinch or for a team that doesn’t prioritize shortstop defense. If third base is the destination, he has more than enough bat to profile there, especially if this year’s power display is here to stay.
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Tristan PompeyCOL OFNotes:
Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 200 | B-T: B-R | Committed/Drafted: Twins '15 (31)
Scouting Report: Pompey is the younger brother of Blue Jays outfielder Dalton Pompey. His older brother is a speedy center fielder, but the younger Pompey is a much bigger, slower corner outfielder whose value is tied much more to his bat than his glove. But like Dalton, Tristan Pompey understands the value of understanding the strike zone. He spits on pitches out of the zone, although he will swing and miss at strikes as he looks to do damage. Pompey shows plus or better raw power in batting practice, but in games he hits plenty of stinging line drives instead of majestic long flies. Pompey led all SEC hitters with a .410 average in conference games in 2017. His track record of hitting in the SEC helps scouts look past a poor performance in the Cape Cod League last summer, when he hit .230/.284/.345. Pompey turns in fringe-average run times out of the box, but he runs better once underway and he can pick his spots to steal. Defensively, he's below-average in any outfield spot because of poor routes, reads and some over-aggressiveness that can turn a single into extra bases. His below-average arm is best left in left field. Pompey is a divisive prospect as some scouts see him as a second or third-round talent, while others see a track record of SEC performance and a strong, physical body that projects as a late first-round pick.
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Connor ScottHS OFVideoNotes:
School: Plant HS, Tampa
Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 180 | B-T: L-L | Committed/Drafted: Florida
Scouting Report: Scott draws some comparisons to current top Astros outfield prospect Kyle Tucker, who attended the same Plant HS in Tampa that Scott currently attends. Scott and Tucker have comparable swing paths and similar 6-foot-4, 180-pound frames, as well as the speed and athleticism that allow them both the be strong defensive outfielders. Scott wasn’t seen as much as scouts would have like on the summer showcase circuit, however, as he had his appendix removed and was forced to watch a few of the bigger showcases rather than take part. He got back on the field in the fall and started getting into a rhythm before impressing scouts during the spring, as he grew into more power and performed in front of a front office personnel in Florida who didn’t need to travel far from spring training facilities to see him. A toolsy player, Scott is at least a plus runner, with many evaluators throwing a double-plus grade on his speed to go along with a plus arm. There are questions whether he’ll be able to stay in center field or need to move to a corner as he continues to add weight, but he has enough arm strength for any outfield position. In fact, some scouts prefer Scott on the mound, where he’s in the low 90s as a lefthanded pitcher who fills up the strike zone and also has feel to spin a curveball and throw a changeup. Most teams appear to prefer the upside he offers as a potential impact hitter, however, with his speed and developing power leading to an intriguing all-around package. But having a fallback option as a pitcher should only help Scott’s draft stock. Some teams look at Scott as a no-doubt first rounder, while others see him going in the supplemental first round or later, and his lack of summer track record likely plays into that division.
Grayson RodriguezHS RHPNotes:
School: Central Heights HS, Nacogdoches, Texas
Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 230 | B-T: L-R | Committed/Drafted: Texas A&M
Scouting Report: The biggest pop-up player of the 2018 draft class, Grayson Rodriguez is a huge, 6-foot-5, 230-pound righthander who was primarily in the lower 90s over the summer with some bad weight on his body. Over the winter he got into the gym, worked with a trainer and overhauled his body, cleaning it up and looking like a completely different pitcher this spring. The results were astounding, as Rodriguez has regularly been up to 97-98 mph with his fastball and sits in the mid-90s throughout his starts with remarkable ease in his delivery. In addition to the velocity that he’s shown he can sustain, Rodriguez has heavy life to his fastball and spots it fairly well in the strike zone, giving the pitch the makings of a 70-grade offering—If it’s not already there. In addition to the fastball, Rodriguez has a low-80s slider and a curveball that is a step ahead at 72-74 mph and occasionally slows up. He doesn’t throw it often, but he mixes in an occasional changeup to show it’s in the repertoire as well. Rodriguez has a very poised approach on the mound and rarely shows any emotion as he cuts through opposing lineups in front of deep crowds of scouts and high-level decision makers. Reportedly many teams in the back end of the first round have been bearing down on Rodriguez and he’s done enough this spring to establish himself among the top tier of high school arms.
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Logan GilbertCOL RHPVideoNotes:
Ht: 6-6 | Wt: 225 | B-T: R-R | Committed/Drafted: Never Drafted
Scouting Report: Gilbert made a name for himself with an impressive showing in the Cape Cod League last summer, with a 1.72 ERA and 31 strikeouts to just four walks. He was also the Atlantic Sun pitcher of the year after a sophomore season at Stetson in which he went 10-0, 2.02 with 107 strikeouts and 26 walks. Looking to follow in the footsteps of fellow Stetson alumni Jacob deGrom and Corey Kluber, Gilbert has the size at 6-foot-6, 225 pounds to potentially become a future workhorse in a major league rotation. His stuff hasn’t been quite as good for scouts this spring as it was during the summer, when he was regularly in the mid-90s with a heavy, power fastball. The pitch still has good life and downward action, but it’s been regularly in the low 90s throughout his outings and his breaking balls—Gilbert throws a spike-grip curveball and a slider—haven’t been sharp enough for scouts to grade out as above-average or plus. While the stuff hasn’t been quite as loud, the results for Gilbert are still there, as he strikes out batters in spades (he had 101 strikeouts in 70 innings through his first 10 starts) and has improved his strike throwing as well. Even with the velocity sitting in the low 90s, Gilbert’s fastball plays up thanks to its action and the elite extension tGilbert gets in his delivery, which is likely above the current major league average. A team that takes Gilbert will have to hope he can improve his secondaries if they envision a frontline starter down the line. He’s shown flashes of above-average breaking balls in the past, but a 60-grade fastball that could be a plus-plus offering with returned velocity is the main selling point for the big righthander.
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Triston CasasHS 1B/3BVideoNotes:
School: American Heritage School, Plantation, Fla.
Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 238 | B-T: L-R | Committed/Drafted: Miami
Scouting Report: One of the top power-hitting players in the class, Casas has established an impressive track record as a corner infielder who was originally supposed to be in the 2019 draft class before reclassifying to become eligible this June. A two-time member of USA Baseball’s 18U National Team, Casas was named the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s player of the year in 2017, after leading the U-18 World Cup field with three home runs and 13 RBI, pushing Team USA to a gold-medal victory over Korea. He was also named the MVP of the tournament. Casas has 70-grade raw power out of a 6-foot-4, 240-pound frame that he has maintained well over the offseason, and he might be a bit lighter now after trimming up prior to his final season with American Heritage High in Plantation, Fla. His power plays to all fields, and Casas has enough to drive balls out of the park even when he doesn’t make solid contact. The Miami commit has a patient, selective approach at the plate and was among the more difficult player to pitch to on the summer showcase circuit according to a number of pitchers, although he has shown some of the swing-and-miss tendencies that can coincide with long arms. A surprisingly good athlete for his size, Casas has plus arm strength, which gives him an outside shot to play third base, where he plays for American Heritage. Most scouts believe he’ll inevitably slide to first base, however, which is a tough position to draft out of high school. But it is also challenging to find a hitter in the draft class with a better combination of hitting ability, plate discipline, power and track record against quality arms than Casas provides.