2019 Top 500 MLB Draft Prospects
The BA 500 is an attempt to capture the industry’s consensus on the talent of the 2019 class—not to predict where players will be selected on June 3-5. The list was compiled in consultation with major league scouts, front office executives, scouting directors, college coaches and other professional evaluators. JJ Cooper, Teddy Cahill, Justin Coleman, Kyle Glaser, Bill Mitchell and Carlos Collazo contributed to the reporting and writing.
By Carlos Collazo
UPDATE (5/28): We’re now up to a full 500 scouting reports! There’s been some slight player movement in our most recent—and likely final—update to the BA 500, but most importantly you can now read about each and every player listed to get a thorough understanding of the 2019 draft class. We’ve also added a demographic breakdown of the class.
Since last June—just a few weeks after the conclusion of the 2018 draft—we have been watching the 2019 draft class by traveling across the country to high school showcases and college series while also talking with scouts and scouting directors in order to bring you a comprehensive ranking of the class as a whole.
Today, that comes together in the form of the BA 500, which is a list that’s been exhaustively tweaked and adjusted throughout the spring based on player performance, talent and discussions with industry sources throughout the league. Again, this list is an attempt to capture the industry’s consensus on the talent in the 2019 class—not to predict where players will eventually be drafted.
Signability can affect where players are selected, and particularly this year with a more shallow class on the whole, the industry consensus diverges fairly rapidly.
At the top is Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, who has been the clear cut No. 1 player in the nation since last summer and remains there today. Following him are a number of talented position players, including uber-talented prep shortstops Bobby Witt Jr. and C.J. Abrams, the best hitter in the class in California first baseman Andrew Vaughn, the top prep bat in outfielder Riley Greene, and a pair of college outfielders rounding out the top seven in Vanderbilt’s J.J. Bleday and Arizona State toolshed Hunter Bishop.
Make no mistake, there is impact to be found at the top of the class and in many of the bats. We haven’t even touched on players like Nevada-Las Vegas shortstop Bryson Stott, who leads a deep class of college shortstops, or Baylor backstop Shea Langeliers, who could give the draft its first year with two college catchers selected among the top-10 picks since 2008, when Buster Posey and Jason Castro were taken at No. 5 and No. 10, respectively.
The pitching class is more muddled. There are few standout, top-of-the-rotation type arms to be found on the college side, which has plenty of pitchers with high odds to be relievers at the next level or who lack the impact stuff that is typically found among the top arms of the class. There is no Casey Mize here, and on the high school side there is no MacKenzie Gore.
Texas Christian lefthander Nick Lodolo is routinely one of the first pitchers listed among the industry, but names like West Virginia righthander Alek Manoah, Kentucky lefthander Zack Thompson and San Jacinto (Texas) JC righty Jackson Rutledge are the best in a down year for arms.
We will continue to make tweaks and adjust the BA 500 as necessary as we get closer to draft day, and we’ll also regularly roll out scouting reports on every player ranked—in addition to state lists which will delve even deeper into the class. Today, we roll out the list with updated reports on the top 100 prospects.
You can find all of our 2019 draft coverage in one spot here.
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 216 | B-T: B-R
Commit/Drafted: Mariners '16 (40)
Scouting Report: After leading Oregon State to a College World Series title as a sophomore, Rutschman entered the 2019 draft season as the consensus top player, and the Beavers' backstop has done nothing but cement himself in that spot over the past year. Oregon State’s leading hitter during the 2018 College World Series, Rutschman then joined USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team in the summer, when he led all hitters in each triple slash category, hitting .355/.432/.516. This spring, Rutschman has taken another step forward offensively, doubly impressive when you consider he hit .408/.505/.628 with nine home runs as a sophomore in 2018. This season, he’s tapped into more of his plus raw power while also significantly boosting his walk rate. Opposing pitchers have often pitched around Rutschman this season, although the 6-foot-2, 216-pound backstop rarely expands the zone and has consistently kept his strikeout rate near 14 percent over his three seasons in the Pac-12. Rutschman has plus power from both sides of the plate, with his righthanded stroke just a bit shorter than his swing from the left side. He makes adjustments well at the plate, and while his 2017 summer in the Cape Cod League wasn’t ideal (.164/.282/.179 in 20 games), scouts have seen him do enough damage with Team USA to remain more than confident in his ability with a wood bat. Overall, Rutschman projects as a future .300 hitter. Defensively, Rutschman has all the tools to be a plus defender at the position. He has a strong arm, impressive receiving and blocking ability and excellent footwork on throws to second base, with a quick exchange from his glove to his release. Some scouts would like to have seen Rutschman throw more frequently this spring, but teams have run against him infrequently—and for good reason. Like most catchers, speed is Rutschman’s weakest tool and the only tool that doesn’t project as plus, but that’s hardly a concern moving forward. Most scouts believe Rutschman has a chance to be an All-Star-level player in the majors as an impact bat in the middle of the order while also bringing plenty of defensive value. With excellent makeup and plenty of natural leadership traits, Rutschman has all the intangibles teams like to see from their backstops. He is the best catching prospect since Buster Posey in 2008 and Matt Wieters in 2007.More Less
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 183 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: Witt Jr. has been famous for years, and not just because he’s the son of Bobby Witt, the No. 3 overall pick in the 1985 draft and a 16-year major league righthander. The younger Witt may equal or better where his father was picked, which would make them the highest-drafted father-son pairing ever. Witt has been expected near the top the 2019 draft class for years thanks to his size, speed and power. Last summer, he showed excellent power potential but also raised questions about his hit tool as he showed more swing-and-miss than evaluators would have liked. This spring, admittedly against lesser competition, Witt has shown a better approach and more bat-to-ball skills. He’s using the entire field more and staying more balanced at the plate, where in the past he showed a tendency to get a little pull happy and collapse his backside during his swing. Witt shows a solid awareness of the strike zone—when he got into trouble last summer it was because he was swinging and missing at pitches in the zone rather than expanding it. He has plus power that projects for 20-plus home runs at the big league level and potentially even more in the current overheated major league power environment. At shortstop, Witt is the top defender in the class and a future plus defender with elite hands, quick feet and a plus arm. He shows the ability to throw from multiple arm slots and make plays going to both his right and left with excellent throwing accuracy. He’s a plus runner who can impact the game on the bases. Scouts have long raved about his makeup and several said that his work ethic and drive will help him get the most out of his considerable tools. Witt will turn 19 years old right after the draft, so he is older for the class. He is seen as both a high-floor player as well as someone with one of the highest ceilings in the class because of his well-rounded toolset and strong odds of sticking at shortstop. If he is even a .230 or .240 hitter, he should have a lengthy big league career because of his defensive ability at shortstop, speed and power. If he proves to be an average or better hitter, he could become a franchise-caliber player.More Less
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 214 | B-T: R-R
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Scouting Report: Vaughn put up one of the best offensive seasons in Cal history in 2018, hitting .402/.531/.819 with 23 home runs (tying a single-season school record previously set by Xavier Nady in 1999) to win the 2018 Golden Spikes Award. That campaign proved Vaughn had arguably the best combination of hit and power tools of any prospect in the 2019 draft class. And while Vaughn had a quiet summer with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team in 2018, hitting just .224/.316/.367 in 10 games, he still has an excellent wood bat track record, as evidenced by his .308/.368/.654 slash line in the Cape Cod League last summer. Vaughn has an idyllic righthanded swing with the requisite bat speed and strength needed to allow scouts to peg him as a plus hitter with 80-grade raw power. He takes a professional approach to batting practice and works the ball to all fields before games, rather than simply pulling the ball and trying to hit home runs as often as possible. In games, however, Vaughn has no issues going over the fence to the right-center field gap or turning on pitches inside with easy impact. In addition to his feel for the barrel and ability to hit with authority, Vaughn has an uncanny understanding of the strike zone. His batting eye rivals any player in the country, and as a sophomore he walked 44 times compared to just 18 strikeouts. He has continued to walk at an impressive rate in 2019, and he’s still walking more than he’s striking out, although his strikeout rate is up as well. Still, Vaughn’s advanced feel to hit, power and plate discipline should allow him to become an impact hitter in the middle of a major league lineup, while also allowing him to rise through the minors quickly. Standing at 6 feet, 214 pounds and being a righthanded hitter and thrower, Vaughn doesn’t have the typical profile of a top-five pick. In fact, only four right-right first baseman under 6 feet tall have played more than 20 games in the majors since the integration era began in 1947. In spite of that, Vaughn’s bat is special enough to give him a chance to become the highest-drafted college first baseman since 1996, when the Twins took San Diego State first baseman Pat Burrell with the No. 2 overall pick. Teams might be critical of Vaughn’s defense because he is undersized for the position, but he moves well and has solid hands. While he’s unlikely to ever be a Gold Glove defender, he should be more than capable of handling the position and making all the routine plays.More Less
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 185 | B-T: L-R
Scouting Report: A unanimous first-team selection on the 2019 Preseason All-America team, scouts have long been enamored with Abrams’ elite athleticism, running ability and bat-to-ball skills from the left side. A 6-foot-2, 180-pound shortstop out of Georgia, Abrams’ standout tool is his running ability. An 80-grade runner, Abrams gets out of the batter’s box well and posts sub-4.00 second run times regularly. He has impressive instincts and routinely gets solid jumps on the base paths as well. Abrams pairs that speed with a line-drive oriented swing from the left side, and he has tremendous feel for putting the barrel on the baseball. He rarely swings and misses, and because of those skills scouts think Abrams could become a plus hitter. He still has plenty of work to do in regards to pitch selection and developing a real plan of attack, however, and at times Abrams has shown a tendency to get overly aggressive in the box and chase pitches out of the zone. He has below-average raw power at the moment and scouts have questioned his power potential at times, but he has improved his strength enough to the point that it would be fair to project average power in the future as he continues to fill out. It also wouldn’t be shocking if Abrams eventually reaches above-average power because of his impressive hand-eye coordination and ability to consistently put the barrel on the ball in today’s home run-friendly environment at the Triple-A and major league levels. Either way, he should get plenty of extra-base hits thanks to his running ability. Where scouts are most conflicted on Abrams is his future defensive home. He made center field look tremendously easy during his time with USA Baseball’s 18U National Team last fall (when he also hit .297/.395/.324 in nine games), and he projects as a plus defender in the outfield. But he also has a chance to stick at shortstop, where he has quick footwork, plus range, solid glovework and adequate arm strength. He’ll need to improve his throwing accuracy if he wants to stay on the dirt, as well as his ability to throw from multiple angles and arm slots, but he’s shown the ability to do all of those things at time. Now, it’s just a matter of consistency. He should be given every opportunity to play shortstop at the next level, with the excellent fallback option of becoming a premium defensive center fielder. In all, there’s still some polishing to do with Abrams, but he brings tremendous upside as a potential table-setter at the top of the lineup with plus defensive potential at multiple premium positions. Abrams is committed to Alabama, but he is expected to go off the board quickly this June.More Less
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 190 | B-T: L-L
Scouting Report: The best pure hitter in the prep class, Greene entered the 2019 draft cycle as one of the most highly regarded bats and he has done nothing to dispel those notions during high-profile events throughout the summer and into the fall. He’s hit top-level pitching so consistently that some teams have pegged him as a future 70-grade hitter, which is rare for prep bats. Greene has a slightly wide stance and a small hitch in is swing, but he has plenty of bat speed—more than enough to prevent it from being a potential red flag. He has a patient approach, and while there is some swing-and-miss in his game, Greene does a good job of working the count until he gets a pitch he can drive. Greene currently has solid power, but that should turn into plus power in the future as he continues to add strength to a still-lanky, 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame. While Greene has perhaps the most complete hitting package of the entire high school class, his supplemental tools leave something to be desired. He plays center field for his Florida high school team, but he is a below-average runner and will quickly move to a corner outfield position at the next level. Greene gets solid jumps on fly balls, but he lacks the closing speed necessary to make the in-between plays that major league center fielders are expected to handle. He should be able to play either left or right field, however, thanks to his average arm strength. In total, Greene doesn’t project to add much defensive value, but a team drafting Greene is taking him for his bat, which should allow him to become a middle-of-the-order threat. Greene is committed to Florida.More Less
- 6Vanderbilt OFNotes:
Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 205 | B-T: L-L
Commit/Drafted: Padres '16 (39)
Scouting Report: Bleday entered his junior season in 2019 as one of the most respected college hitters in the country. After pacing the Commodores in hitting during his sophomore season last spring (.368/.494/.511), Bleday went to the Cape Cod League. There, he showed solid power and hitting ability with a wood bat, posting a .311/.374/.500 slash line with five home runs in 36 games. With a balanced stance, smooth swing, solid bat speed and a refined approach with more walks than strikeouts in his college career, Bleday had the look of a high-floor hitter with a plus hit tool. However, there were initially some questions surrounding his ability to consistently impact the baseball. Bleday has answered those question this spring, as he has regularly tapped into the plus raw power that he’d previously been unable to reach during games. After hitting just six home runs through his first 90 games with Vanderbilt in 2017 and 2018, Bleday is among the country’s leaders in home runs in 2019. He hit 20 home runs through his first 41 games—upping his isolated power from .143 as a sophomore to over .420 as a junior—while continuing to post impressive strikeout and walk rates. Bleday’s power surge has increased his draft stock, going from a likely first-round corner outfield prospect with an impressive track record of hitting to one of the best impacts bats in the class and a player who should be selected at the top of the first round. Defensively, Bleday moves well and could handle center field in a pinch, but he profiles best as a corner outfielder—where his newfound power should allow him to succeed.More Less
- 7Arizona State OFNotes:
Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 210 | B-T: L-R
Commit/Drafted: Padres '16 (24)
Scouting Report: The younger brother of Mariners prospect Braden Bishop, Hunter was a highly regarded prospect out of high school thanks to an exciting package of athleticism, power and speed. Scouts were concerned with the quality of his hit tool at the time, so Bishop chose to attend Arizona State rather than sign with the Padres as a 24th-round pick in 2016. The move paid off, as Bishop has vaulted himself into high first-round consideration following a breakout junior campaign. After a solid freshman season in 2017, when he hit .301/.363/.484, Bishop struggled as a sophomore, hitting .250/.352/.407 with a 30 percent strikeout rate, which continued to raise questions about his hitting ability. This spring, Bishop has tweaked his approach at the plate and quieted his mechanics in the lefthanded batter’s box. The move has helped him significantly cut his strikeout rate and consistently tap into his plus-plus raw power, homering 17 times through his first 38 games. Bishop has a high-hand setup in the box, but he has solid plate coverage and improved plate discipline. He showed solid strike zone awareness in the Cape Cod League last summer, but he was too passive at times early in the count, which forced him into frequent pitcher’s counts. That hasn’t been the case this spring, and scouts are impressed with his adjustments to the point where they can now project him as an average hitter with 70-grade power. Bishop plays center field for the Sun Devils and has a chance to stick there, despite a large, 6-foot-5, 210-pound frame, thanks to plus running ability and good reads off the bat. However, it is rare for a player that tall to get regular time in center field at the major league level, and he might be better suited for a corner outfield spot, where he has above-average defensive potential with solid arm strength. Bishop has done more to improve his draft status than any of the players ranked near him this spring, and he is among the highest-upside college hitters because of his impressive collection of plus tools and exciting athleticism. A talented high school football player, Bishop is also praised for his mental toughness and ability to work through difficult situations off the field. His mother was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s when he was in high school, and he and his brother Braden raise money through their “4MOM” foundation that is trying to find a cure for the disease.More Less
- 8Texas Christian LHPNotes:
Ht: 6-6 | Wt: 180 | B-T: L-L
Commit/Drafted: Pirates '16 (1 comp)
Scouting Report: A first-team Preseason All-American, Lodolo is one of the few high-profile college pitching prospects with a long track record of starting in college. After the Pirates drafted Lodolo with the 41st overall pick in 2016 but failed to sign him, Lodolo made his way to Texas Christian, where he started 15 games as both as freshman and sophomore. Despite his durability, Lodolo was more solid than spectacular, posting a 4.35 ERA in 2017 and a 4.32 mark in 2018. He allowed more hits than scouts expected given his solid stuff, capped off by allowing more than 9.3 hits per nine innings as a sophomore. Lodolo has taken an impressive step forward as a junior, however. A 6-foot-6, 180-pound lefthander who still has room to fill out, Lodolo has pitched mostly off of two pitches this spring—a low-90s fastball that touches 94-95 mph with solid running life out of a lower arm slot and a sweepy breaking ball that flashes the makings of a plus pitch but needs more consistency. As a sophomore, Lodolo regularly showcased a changeup that had plus potential as well, but as his fastball command improved this spring (his walk rate went from 3.27 walks per nine innings in 2017 to 1.65 per nine through his first 10 starts in 2019), he has used the changeup less often. Lodolo’s stuff isn’t quite as loud as the typical top college starter of a draft class, but he is a high-probability major leaguer with above-average control of three pitches that are current average offerings but could be plus pitches in the future. He still has more projection than the typical three-year collegiate arm thanks to a lean body that can add more weight, and he was one of the best performers in the country through his first seven starts of the season before hitting a slight speed bump in April. Lodolo is a no-doubt starter who has proven to be a reliable Big 12 arm, but he profiles as a middle-of-the-rotation starter more than a No. 1 or No. 2 starter in the majors.More Less
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 190 | B-T: R-R
Commit/Drafted: Blue Jays '16 (34)
Scouting Report: In a typical draft class, Langeliers would be a safe bet as the top catching prospect in the class, but this year he’ll have to settle for the No. 2 spot behind Adley Rutschman. Langeliers has a well-rounded arsenal across the board, but his strengths are on defense, where he has plus arm strength and threw out nearly 70 percent of basestealers as a sophomore. He also handled plenty of premium pure stuff last summer with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team and handled it well. Langeliers is a polished pitch-framer, and he moves well behind the plate and shows impressive blocking ability from his 6-foot, 190-pound frame. If Langeliers never hits, he still profiles as a solid backup option in today’s game that focuses on pitch-framing ability. But he does have potential as a hitter as well, despite a down sophomore season when Langeliers hit just .252/.351/.496. Scouts think he can become an average hitter thanks to a balanced swing and solid understanding of the strike zone. While Langeliers struggled to hit in 2018, he still got on base at a decent clip thanks to a 13 percent walk rate. Last summer, Langeliers was second on Team USA in hitting with a .346/.393/.500 line, and he has solid-average raw power, most of which comes easier to the pull side. A broken hamate bone forced Langeliers to miss parts of February and March this season, but he has hit well since returning. His .322/.366/.494 slash line through his first 20 games of conference play has given scouts further confidence that his 2018 season was more of an outlier than the norm. Langeliers defensive toolset is too appealing for him to fall much further than the middle of the first round, and depending on how a team views his offensive upside, he could go among the top-15 picks.More Less
Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 200 | B-T: L-R
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Scouting Report: After hitting an impressive .333/.405/.474 over his first two seasons with Nevada-Las Vegas, Stott was the USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team starting shortstop last summer—always a good indicator for a player’s draft pedigree. Entering the summer, Team USA coaches believed they were getting an offensive-inclined shortstop who needed some work on the defensive end. However, Stott impressed the staff with his glovework, showing impressive footwork and body control along with accurate throws to the bag. Yet scouts left the summer with conflicting thoughts regarding Stott’s bat, as he showed good bat-to-ball skills but too often with a slap-heavy, low-impact swing. Questions have been raised about his potential offensive upside in spite of the numbers he had posted in the Mountain West Conference, but Stott quickly showed he was more than just a slap hitter early this spring. He’s more consistently tapped into his all-fields power by getting his lower half more into his swing and increasing his strength. That power uptick has come with more swing-and-miss (14 percent strikeout rate through his first 41 games) and a higher walk rate (around 20 percent), but his strikeouts aren’t at a concerning level. Defensively, most scouts believe Stott can stick at shortstop, where he has a plus arm with accuracy and a reliable glove. But there are some who question the pure quickness and range in Stott’s game and believe he’ll wind up being a better fit for third base, where his arm would fit just fine. Stott will record plus run times to first base at times, but scouts believe he’s closer to an average runner who could transition into a fringe-average runner as he puts on more weight. Regardless, Stott should be one of the first college shortstops off the board.More Less
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 225 | B-T: L-L
Commit/Drafted: Rays '16 (11)
Scouting Report: Thompson ranked No. 308 on the 2016 BA 500, but his draft ranking was dinged by a sore shoulder that limited him as a high school junior. He turned down a significant signing bonus when the Rays drafted him in the 11th round, instead opting to head to Kentucky. He made an immediate impact for the Wildcats, starting during the midweek and relieving on the weekends. He beat Indiana in an NCAA regional and ranked 26th in the country with 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings as a freshman, but his sophomore season was not as smooth. He was working as Kentucky’s Saturday starter when he had to sit out seven starts while nursing a sore elbow. Thompson returned to pitch in early May and also pitched during the summer in both the Cape Cod League and for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team. This spring, he’s been one of the best pitchers in the Southeastern Conference. He struck out nine or more hitters in nine of his first 11 starts this season, including 13 strikeouts in a complete-game shutout against Georgia. Thompson has one of the best swing-and-miss rates among this year’s college pitchers in part due to a 91-92 mph fastball that can reach 94 mph when he needs it. Thompson’s fastball earns 55 grades, with a few scouts willing to call it a true plus pitch. His 84-85 mph slider is a high-spin rate, above-average pitch and has some power to it, although it sometimes gets loopier and slower as well. His significantly slower mid-70s curveball is less consistent, ranging anywhere from fringe-average to above-average depending on the pitch. He doesn’t throw his changeup all that often, but when he does, it is an average pitch as well. Thompson’s delivery is solid and he has made significant strides with his control this year, improving it to average even if his command still wavers. As a four-pitch lefty with success in the SEC pitching on Friday nights, Thompson is one of the most talented starting pitchers in a thin class. Scouts typically project him as a future No. 4 starter, but he may fall slightly below his talent level because of his injury history.More Less
Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 170 | B-T: L-L
Scouting Report: Carroll wowed scouts all summer by dominating at the plate in almost every high-profile event he attended. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound outfielder plays above his size in every facet of the game. He has a polished hit tool and a terrific feel for the strike zone with a patient approach in the batter’s box. Carroll has no problem spitting on pitches just outside the zone and taking a walk, and then he can wreck havoc with his plus speed and advanced feel for running the bases. While Carroll is short, he isn’t small, with a solid frame and improved strength to the point where he could project for at least average power. Carroll’s speed plays in the outfield as well, where he is one of the best defensive center fielders in the class. Scouting directors voted Carroll as best prep defender in the class during the preseason thanks to excellent jumps and efficient route running. Some teams question his arm strength, and it was previously fringe-average, though reports on his throwing this spring have continued to improve as he’s gotten stronger. There are very few holes to speak of in Carroll’s game, although his size and some of the comparisons he’s gotten to Phillies prospect Mickey Moniak, who has struggled since being the No. 1 overall pick in 2016, might give some teams pause. Still, Carroll has shown more impact ability than Moniak did at the same age. He is also praised for his excellent makeup, high baseball IQ and impressive work ethic. Carroll’s all-around package and polish could allow him to become the highest-drafted Washington high schooler this century, passing Reese McGuire (2013) and Travis Snider (2006), who were both selected with the 14th overall pick. Carroll is committed to UCLA.More Less
Ht: 6-6 | Wt: 260 | B-T: R-R
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Scouting Report: Manoah split time between starting and relieving during his first two seasons with West Virginia, but after a stellar campaign as a starter in the Cape Cod League last summer—when he posted a 2.70 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 33.1 innings—Manoah has made a successful transition to a full-time starting role this spring. Through his first 12 starts this season, Manoah has been one of the more dominant arms in the country, posting a 2.07 ERA with 108 strikeouts over his first 82.2 innings (11.76 strikeouts per nine innings) and the lowest walk rate (2.29 per nine) of his career. Manoah mostly works off of two pitches—a power fastball that sits in the mid- to upper 90s and a hard slider that projects as a second plus pitch. While Monoah has shown a changeup at times, he’s mostly been a two-pitch starter this season. He also entered the season with significant reliever risk because of his erratic control, large, 6-foot-6, 260-pound frame and questionable athleticism. However, he has started pitching exclusively out of the stretch and, as a result, has improved his strike-throwing ability enough to give him a real shot of sticking as a starter in pro ball. But while his walk rate is down significantly this season, Manoah still needs to refine his command—as evidenced by 17 hit batters over his first 12 starts—and teams will likely be concerned with how well he is able to manage his body moving forward. This list of major league starting pitchers who have had success at or near Manoah’s size is a short one, with CC Sabathia, Aaron Harang, Justin Masterson and Michael Pineda some of the names who qualify. Still, Manoah’s stuff compares nicely with most of the pitchers in the 2019 class, and he’s steadily improved his draft stock with each start. Manoah should be one of the first college pitchers drafted this June.More Less
- 14San Jacinto (Texas) JC RHPNotes:
Ht: 6-8 | Wt: 260 | B-T: R-R
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Scouting Report: Rutledge entered the season as the second-ranked junior college prospect in the class after fellow righthander Carter Stewart because of his high school pedigree, tantalizing raw stuff and imposing, 6-foot-8, 260-pound frame. Out of high school, Rutledge had a solid, 90-93 mph fastball with impressive sinking life, but he needed to improve both his secondaires and overall control. Rutledge threw just 15.2 innings as a freshman at Arkansas before going down with a season-ending hip injury. Following the season, he decided to transfer to San Jacinto (Texas) JC and expected to enter the 2020 draft as a Kentucky commit. Those plans changed, however, when Rutledge came out this spring showing some of the best pure stuff of any pitcher in the country with improved control. Rutledge has regularly been into the upper 90s with his fastball, and he has held that velocity into the sixth and seventh innings of his starts throughout the season. In addition, he’s shown a pair of plus breaking balls in both a slider and curveball. Previously, Rutledge threw a hybrid breaking ball that was more slurve-like, but after interning with Pro Pitching Performance last summer (while he rehabbed from injury) Rutledge worked to differentiate those pitches with Rapsodo feedback and now has two distinct, swing-and-miss breaking pitches. He also has a changeup that could be a fourth above-average offering. While he isn’t facing the strongest competition, Rutledge struck out 123 batters through his first 12 starts and 77.2 innings (14.25 strikeouts per nine) this spring, with just 28 walks (3.25 walks per nine). Since his time in high school, Rutledge has significantly shortened his arm action. It’s now a incredibly tight and compact delivery, to the point that some scouts wonder how he’s able to generate and maintain his velocity. The upgrade in arm action has allowed him to improve his control, but scouts think he’ll need to continue refining his command when he faces stiffer competition at the pro level. Regardless, his pure stuff and the deception he creates with his delivery should give him plenty of room for error as he climbs the ladder. Rutledge has the upside of a No. 2 starter, but he carries some reliever risk due to his size and history of control problems.More Less
Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 218 | B-T: L-R
Scouting Report: One of the best pure hitters in the draft class, Baty brings 70-grade raw power to the table with impressive strength and plus bat speed. He also has an advanced approach at the plate and a feel for putting the barrel on the ball. In every batting practice Baty takes, his power stands out. The ease with which he’s able to send the ball out of the park, both to the pull side and to the opposite field, rivals nearly any player in the 2019 draft. A big, 6-foot-3, 218-pound third baseman, Baty has improved his body composition over the past few years, turning some of his baby fat into muscle, which has helped improve his game both offensively and defensively. Originally, most scouts believed that Baty was destined for a transition to first base in pro ball because of his below-average footwork, suspect hands and a plus throwing arm that had strength but was erratic with a slow exchange. He’s improved across the board defensively this spring, now giving himself a chance to stick at third base, but winding up at first base may still be the most likely outcome. He’s hit anything and everything thrown at him in a competitive area of Texas, but the biggest knock on Baty’s profile is his age. He’ll be just six months away from his 20th birthday at the time of the draft, and he is one of the oldest high school players in the class. Many teams operate with draft models that significantly penalize hitters for that, although at some point it’s hard to ignore Baty’s potential as a middle-of-the-order hitter—no matter his age or position. Baty is committed to Texas, but he is unlikely to make it to campus and could be drafted early on Day 1 of the draft.More Less
Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 210 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: Allan has been one of the most consistent prep pitchers in the 2019 class this spring. In fact, his consistency and continued improvement has helped vault the righthander into his current status as the top prep arm available in this year’s draft. Over the summer, Allan showed one of the better pure fastballs among prep pitchers, regularly sitting in the mid-90s. He paired his fastball with a true, 12-to-6 curveball, and both pitches could project as 70-grade offerings down the line. He’s shown the same quality of stuff this spring, but he’s improved his strike-throwing ability with both pitches while also cleaning up his strong, 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame. Allan has always had the look of a durable, innings-eating starter, but scouts had previously questioned how well he’d be able to maintain his physique. After his performances this spring, those concerns have quieted. Allan throws out of a slow windup and a three-quarter arm slot—a clean delivery and arm action that most teams are on board with. While Allan’s fastball/curveball combination is the bread and butter of his arsenal—and what will make him a first-round pick this June—he’s also shown a firm, upper-80s changeup that could become an average third offering. Like many amatuer pitchers, he doesn’t throw his changeup often, but scouts have seen it enough to think it could be a weapon for him as he furthers his development. Allan is committed to Florida, but he should be one of the first pitchers selected in this year’s draft.More Less
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 215 | B-T: R-R
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Scouting Report: Jung has been one of the most productive players in college baseball over the past three seasons. He was a first-team Freshman All-American in 2017 and a second-team All-American as a sophomore in 2018. His junior season has failed to reach the heights of his sophomore campaign, largely because he’s not flirting with a .400 batting average. But even if his offensive statistics have dipped, scouts remain comfortable that Jung can be an above-average or plus hitter in the future. He is big and strong, but his approach at the plate emphasizes hitting for average over power. He has a solid awareness of the strike zone and is happy to work deep in counts. Falling behind doesn’t seem to bother him either, as he’s shown he can work back from disadvantaged counts. When Jung does get a quality pitch to hit, his swing is geared to drive the ball up the middle or to the right-center field gap. There are plenty of examples of hitters who learn how to pull the ball as pros, but without significant changes, Jung projects as having average power, at best. Some evaluators have concerns that part of his hit-over-power approach comes from his average bat speed. There are even larger debates among evaluators about his defense. Some scouts look at his tight hips and below-average foot speed and project he’ll have to move to a corner outfield spot or first base. But Jung has good hands, an accurate, plus arm and the ability to throw on the run. He also does an excellent job charging in on balls. This season, the Red Raiders have moved Jung to shortstop and he’s looked reasonably comfortable there, even if it’s not a position he’ll play as a pro. The most likely result is Jung ends up as an average third baseman. Jung’s plate discipline, strong arm and his lengthy track record of hitting make him a likely middle-of-the-first-round pick, although the questions surrounding his agility and power potential stand in the way of him being considered in the absolute top tier of this year’s college hitters.More Less
Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 210 | B-T: R-R
Commit/Drafted: North Carolina
Scouting Report: Malone initially blew up on scouts’ radars as an underclassman and has long been thought of as one of the most talented pitchers in the 2019 draft class. He has an uber-projetable, 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame, a picturesque arm action and delivery, as well as well above-average pure stuff. His fastball trails only Georgia righthander Daniel Espino’s as the best fastball in the prep class, and Malone’s heater sits in the low to mid-90s, touching as high as 97 mph. The righthander also throws a curveball, slider and changeup. Throughout the summer, Malone displayed flashes of a plus breaking ball—at times with his slider and at other times with his curveball—but scouts lamented that fact that neither of his breaking balls show above-average or plus potential consistently. He would either struggle to get on top of his curveball regularly, or his slider would lack sharp biting action. This spring, Malone seems to have addressed those critiques, as he put on one of the best amatuer outings of the season at USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational. Pitching for IMG Academy (where he transferred to for his senior season after playing in North Carolina previously), Malone threw a seven-inning shutout and showcased an 80-83 mph slider that had late biting action and two-plane break. He used the pitch effectively against both righthanders and lefthanders, landing it in the zone for strikes and also using it as a chase pitch. Malone’s mid-70s curveball has 11-to-5 shape and could be an average or better offering in the future, depending on how he continues to improve his release point. His low-80s changeup has solid velocity separation from his fastball, and he throws the pitch with solid arm speed as well. Overall, Malone might have the best combination of current stuff and future projection of any prep pitcher in the 2019 draft class, and while he is committed to North Carolina, he should get drafted at some point in the middle of the first round this June.More Less
- 19Clemson SSNotes:
Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 195 | B-T: B-R
Commit/Drafted: Phillies '16 (30)
Scouting Report: A defensively gifted shortstop with physical projection and potential as a switch-hitter, Davidson ranked No. 131 on BA’s Top 500 Draft Prospects list in 2016. Since then, the son of six-year big leaguer Mark Davidson has continued to fill out physically and has built a dichotomous track record during his time in college. While playing for Clemson in the ACC, Davidson has looked like a legitimate first-round pick, having hit double-digit home runs and stolen at least 10 bases in each of his three seasons. Defensively, Davidson has a chance to stick at shortstop with plus arm strength and enough athleticism in his 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame. Yet, while Davidson has posted impressive power and speed numbers, his hit tool has always been a question mark. He’s never hit above .300 at Clemson, and his numbers with a wood bat in the Cape Cod League were poor. In two summers in the Cape, Davidson had an adjusted OPS+ of 58 (where 100 is average), which would be the third-lowest OPS+ for a player with at least 100 at-bats in the Cape Cod League the summer before his draft year since 2000. Current Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford is one of the few major league success stories to occur after struggling mightily in the Cape, and there are some similarities to be drawn with Davidson, though Crawford was seen as a much better defender at the time, while Davidson is a switch-hitter with more raw power. There is some length to Davidson’s swing, which leads to high strikeout rates. He’s whiffed between 18 and 22 percent of the time during each of his three seasons at Clemson and around 25 percent in the Cape Cod League, but his above-average speed and power allow him to provide offensive value despite a questionable hit tool. In the end, Davidson’s eventual landing spot will depend on how a team weighs his successful Clemson career with his Cape Cod track record. With a fair chance to remain at shortstop and a solid, all-around toolset, Davidson profiles as a safe first-round pick.More Less
Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 205 | B-T: R-R
Commit/Drafted: Mets '16 (32)
Scouting Report: One of the best strike-throwers in the country, Kirby formed an impressive one-two combination with righthander Kyle Brnovich at Elon this spring. Kirby is the higher-rated draft prospect, however, due to his slew of starter’s traits and solid four-pitch mix. While there are pitchers with louder pure stuff than the 6-foot-4, 201-pound righthander, Kirby is among the most likely 2019 draft prospects to make a major league impact because of his clean arm action and plus command. Through 11 starts and 71.2 innings this spring, Kirby had struck out 84 hitters and walked just five, which ranked as the best strikeout-to-walk ratio (16.8) in the country. While some scouts will critique the level of competition that Kirby faced in the Colonial Athletic Association and don’t expect him to miss many bats against better competition, it’s impossible to ignore his strike-throwing ability. There’s also his impressive 2018 in the Cape Cod League, where Kirby worked as a reliever and posted a 1.38 ERA over 13 innings, striking out 24 and walking only one. Kirby’s fastball has reached as high as 97 mph in the past, but this spring he’s worked mostly in the low 90s while touching 94-95 mph consistently. His fastball grades out as a plus offering because of his ability to spot it to both sides of the plate and elevate it when necessary. Kirby throws a curveball and a slider, and both pitches will flash plus at times, but they lack consistency right now and might be average pitches, at best, in a starting role. Kirby’s top offspeed pitch could be his mid-80s changeup, which he throws with conviction and consistently lands in the bottom of the strike zone. Kirby looks the part of a solid, middle- to back-of-the-rotation starter, and he should be selected in the middle of the first round this June.More Less
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 191 | B-T: R-R
Scouting Report: The son of former 19-year major league lefthander, Al Leiter, Jack is arguably the most polished pitcher in the 2019 prep class. Standing at just 6 feet, 191 pounds, Leiter isn’t the most physically imposing and he doesn’t have the biggest pure stuff, but he has an advanced feel for pitching with confidence in each of his offerings. A first-team Preseason All-American, scouting directors also voted Leiter as having the best command of the 2019 class with an up-tempo delivery and a starter’s arm action. Leiter uses both a four-seam and two-seam fastball, and his heater gets up into the 94-95 mph range early in outings before sitting comfortably in the low 90s. His curveball is his best offering and one of the better breaking balls in the entire high school class, as the mid-70s pitch ranges in shape from a true, 12-to-6 downer to a three-quarter breaking ball. Leiter can land the pitch, which features a spin rate in the 2,600 to 2,700 rpm range, for strikes in the zone or bury it for swings and misses as a chase pitch. He’ll also throw in a slider, which has tighter spin but less depth than his curveball, in the low 80s. The slider is more of an average offering while the curveball looks like a plus pitch. Additionally, Leiter has a low-80s changeup that is among the best in the class. Committed to Vanderbilt, Leiter is expected to be a difficult sign.More Less
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 184 | B-T: R-R
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Scouting Report: A third-team Preseason All-American behind fellow shortstops Logan Davidson (first team) and Bryson Stott (second team), Wilson has been one of the most consistent hitters in the ACC the last three seasons. After hitting .300/.377/.504 as a freshman, Wilson has steadily increased his production each season. Through 39 games as a junior, he posted a .333/.412/.667 slash line with a team-high 13 home runs and a career-best 11.8 percent walk rate. The calling card with Wilson is his hitting ability. He has produced everywhere he’s played and projects as a 60 hitter with plus raw power despite a smaller, 6-foot, 184-pound frame. Those offensive tools would suggest a superstar as an ACC shortstop, but Wilson’s supplemental tools are lacking. While he’s handled shortstop for the Wolfpack, most scouts believe his below-average running ability and lack of a quick first step will eventually push him to second base, where he should be a solid defender. His arm likely fits better at the keystone as well, and last summer with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, Wilson played second base while Stott handled the shortstop duties. There are some questions regarding how easily Wilson will be able to tap into his power with a wood bat, as he has a limited track record in that regard and didn’t make much impact in his 24 at-bats with Team USA over the summer. There’s also some swing-and-miss in Wilson’s game, but it’s hard to find a scout who doesn’t believe in his bat and most scouts laud Wilson’s makeup and baseball IQ.More Less
Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 190 | B-T: R-R
Commit/Drafted: Texas Christian
Scouting Report: Priester stands out for being a 6-foot-3 prep righthander who has excellent physical projection and advanced strike-throwing capabilities. He has good arm action from a three-quarter arm slot and an easy delivery. Although his delivery lacks flaws, scouts have questioned the quickness of his movements throughout the motion. His fastball sits in the low 90s with good life, but he has topped out at 96 mph this spring. His main secondary offering is a curveball that has good shape and flashes future plus potential. His third pitch is a changeup that lags behind his curveball. Priester hasn’t received much formal pitching instruction to this point, which makes him exceptionally intriguing considering his success and also speaks to his high aptitude for the game. He self-taught himself some of the mechanical details of the game by watching YouTube videos of pitchers he admired and wanted to emulate. While prep arms always have risk associated with them, Priester has the ingredients of a starting pitcher with big upside and has received enough helium this spring to perhaps land in the first round. Priester is committed to Texas Christian.More Less
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 207 | B-T: L-L
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Scouting Report: The key cog in the middle of North Carolina’s lineup the last two seasons, Busch has an excellent feel for the barrel and a strong understanding of the strike zone. He walked in 16 percent of his plate appearances as a freshman and recorded a 17 percent walk rate as a sophomore, when he hit .317/.465/.521 with 13 home runs and 55 walks, the latter of which ranked 10th in the nation. While Busch has a solid feel for the strike zone, he also has 60-grade raw power and a strong track record of hitting. He’s produced in both the ACC and with a wood bat in the Cape Cod League, where he hit .322/.450/.567 with six home runs in 27 games last summer. While Busch is a plus defender at first base, he has played mostly left field during his junior season. He’s been perfectly acceptable in the outfield, but he remains a below-average runner with a long exchange on his throws, so he will likely never be a defensive asset in the outfield. Still, he showed he could make all the routine plays and not embarrass himself, or his team, in a corner outfield spot, if needed. Some scouts have wondered what Busch would look like as a second baseman, but his most natural defensive position is first base. While he’s undersized for the position at 6 feet and 207 pounds, he has shown enough promise with the bat to fit the profile. Busch should go off the board in the second half of the first round.More Less
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 196 | B-T: R-R
Commit/Drafted: Louisiana State
Scouting Report: No pitcher—high school or college—has as much upside as Georgia righthander Daniel Espino in the 2019 draft. His pure stuff is the loudest of any arm in the class thanks to a fastball that is routinely in the upper 90s and has touched 99-100 mph several times throughout the summer and spring. But it isn’t just elite velocity that makes Espino’s fastball tick, as the pitch, at times, has riding life to his arm side and cutting action to his glove side. After his fastball, Espino has two seperate breaking balls that look like plus pitches. His curveball sits in the mid-70s, and his slider is thrown in the low 80s. Both have sharp, late-breaking action and are legitimate swing-and-miss offerings when combined with his 80-grade fastball. Espino also throws a firm, upper-80s changeup that has some potential and flashes the look of a solid-average offering, but the pitch will need further refinement. Just grading out the tools, there are only a handful of players who would make sense to be listed above Espino in any draft ranking, but teams are split on the prep righthander because of an unconventional arm action, reliever risk and the recent poor track record of high school pitchers who throw as hard as Espino does at such a young age. Espino’s arm action is long, and while his control is solid, scouts believe that he’ll need to refine his command at the next level, where hitters won’t be as likely to chase secondaries out of the strike zone. Scouts have also noted that Espino’s stuff and control are both better when he pitches on longer rest and question how he will perform when he is throwing on a pro schedule. For those who don’t knock Espino quite as hard for his arm action, it’s easy to point to his elite lower-half strength and mechanics to show why he’ll be able to hold up in the future and avoid unnecessary stress on both his elbow and shoulder. The Panamanian-born pitcher gets off the rubber with tremendous force and has solid athleticism and body control, keeping his upper and lower half synced up. Those high on Espino will point to him having the best stuff in the country and the upside of a front-of-the-rotation starter, while those lower on him will see a 6-foot high school righthander with an unconventional arm action and significant risk to end up in the bullpen. Those factors lead to a wide range of potential landing spots in the draft for the Louisiana State commit.More Less