MLB Draft Top 300 Prospects
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Baseball America’s Top 300 prospects for the 2018 draft was compiled in consultation with scouts and evaluators from major league clubs.
With two weeks down in the college baseball season, there’s been no player who has pushed himself into a consensus 1-1 spot, with three months to go until the 2018 MLB Draft.
In the minds of many evaluators and decision makers, there are a handful of players (around 5-8) who have the talent and ability to make that move as we get closer to the draft, but it has yet to happen. South Florida lefthander Shane McClanahan had an argument for the top spot in our updated top 300 draft prospects list below thanks to exceptional stuff from the left side, but the track record of Florida righthander Brady Singer allows him to retain the spot for now.
On the high school side, Mountain Ridge High (Riverdale, Ariz.) lefthander Matthew Liberatore has made a jump after his heavily scouted first outing of the season, which saw his fastball velocity reach up to 96—an improvement from the low 90s range the Arizona commit settled into for much of the summer showcase season. With an improved fastball, Liberatore has three potential plus pitches in a low 70s curveball and low-to-mid 80s changeup.
Liberatore’s jump, combined with the injury status of Forsyth Central High (Cumming, Ga.) righthander Ethan Hankins has moved the southpaw into the top high school slot, as well as the top 5 overall on our current rankings. By most accounts, Hankins’ shoulder injury does not warrant a major slide at this point, as the flamethrowing righthander could be back on the mound in the next few weeks. Additionally, some front office executives believe that even if Hankins were to miss the entire spring, he wouldn’t fall much further than the middle of the first round, thanks to arguably the best fastball in the class, as well as his feel for pitching and athleticism.
LHP Ryan Rolison (Mississippi), RHP Casey Mize (Auburn), SS Brice Turang (Santiago High, Corona, Calif.) and 3B Nolan Gorman (O’Connor HS, Phoenix) are also among the top group of players who could push into the top spot by June 4.
Hankins’ injury situation is different than Oregon State second baseman Nick Madrigal’s, but the degree to which each player’s stock is affected is similar. Madrigal should remain in the top of the first round throughout this spring despite missing a sizeable portion of the season thanks to a wrist injury.
While college hitters are normally expected to rise up boards as the spring progresses, that hasn’t happened to a large extent at this point with the exception of South Alabama outfielder Travis Swaggerty and Oregon State outfielder Trevor Larnach.
Instead, there are a number of righthanded pitchers—both at the college and high school levels—who are trending upward for various reasons. That group includes Stanford’s Tristan Beck and Kentucky’s Sean Hjelle on the college side and Merritt Island (Fla.) High’s Mason Denaburg and Eau Gallie High’s (Melbourne, Fla.) Carter Stewart.
Plant (Tampa) High outfielder and lefthanded pitcher Connor Scott has been getting a lot of attention early this spring as well and has interest from many teams both as a toolsy outfielder with a swing reminiscent of former teammate Kyle Tucker and as a strike throwing lefthander on the rubber who can get up to 94 mph.
*It is worth noting that Oregon State LHP Luke Heimlich is not on this list. This is not an oversight. In 2017 Heimlich would have ranked as a supplemental first round to second round talent before the Oregonian reported in June that in the past Heimlich pled guilty to sexually molesting a 6-year-old family member. Every MLB team removed him from their draft board and the junior went undrafted. He then remained unsigned even though as an undrafted draft eligible junior he was eligible to sign with any team as a free agent. In our reporting, multiple teams said they have yet to figure out how they will deal with Heimlich in the 2018 draft.