20 Players To Know From The 2022 National High School Invitational
Last week USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational took place, marking a return for the prestigious high school tournament for the first time since 2019. The 2022 edition of the tournament was won by Florida powerhouse Stoneman Douglas High.
In addition to being one of the better competitions in high school baseball in the country, MLB scouts flock to the event to get looks at some of the most talented prep players in the nation.
Below are notes and videos on notable players from the event, including the top pitching prospect in the 2022 class, a record-setting pitching performance by a Virginia righthander and a 2024 Southern California outfielder shaping up to be a star.
Top 200-Ranked 2022 Players
Dylan Lesko, RHP, Buford (Ga.) HS (No. 6)
Lesko matched up with righthander Caden Dana and Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) on Wednesday night in the first round of the tournament—the most highly anticipated matchup of the event.
The best pitcher in the 2022 class rose to the occasion and pitched four innings, with seven strikeouts, no walks and just two hits and one run allowed. While his Buford team would eventually lose to Don Bosco, Lesko flashed electric stuff and had scouts wondering if he throws the best changeup they’ve seen from a high school pitcher.
Lesko averaged 95 mph with his fastball and touched 96-97 mph at peak, holding that fastball velocity throughout his four innings of work. The pitch features impressive riding life and at his best he shows precise command of the pitch and an advanced feel to spot it wherever he needs.
As is typically the case for Lesko, his changeup was his go-to secondary and a pitch that was thrown 13 times compared to just three curveballs. His changeup earns double-plus grades routinely and was thrown in the 78-82 mph range with tremendous tumbling action. Like his fastball, Lesko shows an advanced ability to spot his changeup in the zone for strikes, but it has enough movement and velocity separation from his fastball (while retaining fastball arm speed) to generate plenty of whiffs below the zone and on pitches in the dirt.
While it might be uncommon to project a pitch as plus that’s used as infrequently as Lesko’s curveball was in this outing, it seems like a fair future grade for the breaking ball. He threw just three curveballs but got swinging strikes on each of them. Lesko threw the pitch in the mid 70s and it featured plenty of downward depth, hard biting action and high spin rates in the 2,900-3,000 rpm range.
Lesko’s best inning was the fourth, when he struck out the side and finished each strikeout with a different pitch. If Lesko weren’t the clear cut top pitching prospect in the draft, he would be a strong hitting prospect in his own right, and he went 2-for-3 with three barreled balls at the plate.
Mikey Romero, SS, Orange (Calif.) Lutheran (No. 47)
The top-ranked hitter at the NHSI, Romero had a quiet week as the No. 3 hitter with three-time defending champion Orange (Calif.) Lutheran. He went 2-for-10 (.200) in four games, with one double and one single while striking out twice and hitting a number of flyouts.
While his game production was nothing to get excited about, scouts are still impressed with what is described as a low maintenance and direct swing and evaluators appreciate that he doesn’t seem fazed by high-quality high school stuff.
In batting practice, Romero showed an ability to use all fields naturally, and his best hit of the event came when he got a 94 mph fastball on the outer half and went with it to the opposite side, hammering the pitch on the ground and eating up the third baseman with a 95 mph exit velocity ground ball.
Some scouts are skeptical of Romero’s arm strength from shortstop, but in Baseball America’s looks at his defensive opportunities—admittedly all were fairly routine plays with his feet set and moving toward first base—he showed solid zip on his throws with good accuracy as well.
Gavin Turley, OF, Hamilton HS, Chandler, Ariz. (No. 50)
A tooled-up outfielder and the leadoff hitter for Hamilton, Turley went just 1-for-10 (.100) in three games at the NHSI, with one double, four strikeouts and one walk.
Despite his results, Turley flashed the tools that get scouts excited with 60- and 70-grade run times down the first base line (4.15-4.25 seconds), a number of balls hit with 100-plus mph exit velocities, a strong throwing arm from the outfield and a few dynamic defensive plays on balls in the gaps.
We’ll start with his defense, which is worth mentioning because Turley played both left and right field for Hamilton. In general, the industry is highly skeptical of righthanded hitting and righthanded throwing corner outfield profiles in high school (i.e. Dylan Crews making it to Louisiana State), but Turley seems to have the speed and athleticism to handle center despite playing the corners in Cary last week.
He made a few impressive plays on balls in the right-center gap, where he showed athleticism on an impressive full-extension diving catch and later showed a quick first step on another ball in the gap and a fairly direct and efficient route to track down a well-hit ball with no dive needed.
As a hitter, Turley has impressive bat speed and when he’s timed up and on the barrel has the strength to do plenty of damage—as was the case when he turned on a first-pitch fastball and drove a double down the left field line off the bat at 107 mph. He also has an aggressive approach, showed a tendency to expand the zone and has a swing with some moving parts.
It’s a wide setup and he starts his lower half with a toe tap that leads into a decent sized leg kick, and there’s also a decent amount of pre-pitch movement with his hands. The bat itself is quick through the zone, with some length to the swing and a slight uppercut path. Turley looks to do damage at the plate and takes big, aggressive swings especially when he’s ahead in the count.
Jordan Taylor, OF, St. Johns Country Day HS, Orange Park, Fla. (No. 106)
The leadoff hitter for a St. Johns Country Day team that lost in the championship game to Stoneman Douglas, Taylor went 5-for-13 (.385) over four games at the NHSI with a double, two walks, one strikeout and four stolen bases—tied with Roman Anthony for the tournament lead.
Taylor has a lean, projectable frame with plenty of room to fill out, with long legs that cover plenty of ground in the outfield and plus running ability overall. He legged out an infield single in the championship game with a 4.18 home-to-first time, and was generally aggressive and looking to take an extra bag once he got on base.
Scouts in the past have called Taylor’s swing crude, while acknowledging that he’s headed in the right direction mechanically. This week, he showed a fairly simple operation at the plate, with minimal pre-pitch movement. He takes a short step to get started with his lower half, but did have a tendency to open up towards his pull side in that movement which could create some holes on the outer half of the plate. There’s a slight hand drop and extension back and away from his back shoulder in the upper half, but evaluators seemed to think his bat path was fine.
Taylor did lunge a bit at times and was early and out in front of pitches at times, with a tendency to chase secondaries below the zone. He did show a two-strike approach, with a wider lower half at times and has the speed to create base hits out of ground balls and put pressure on an infield defense, with a frame that should grow into more power as well.
Defensively, Baseball America saw only routine plays from Taylor in center field in this look, but he made them all with no issues.
Caden Dana, RHP, Don Bosco Prep HS, Ramsey, N.J. (No. 108)
Dana wasn’t as efficient as Lesko in his four innings of work against Buford, but showed a solid four-pitch mix and settled in as his outing progressed. He struck out six batters and walked none, while allowing five hits and three earned runs on 73 pitches. He was erratic with his strike throwing during the first few innings, spiking his fastball, changeup and curveball at times, but made an adjustment and was in the zone with a fastball, slider and changeup in his final frame.
Dana is a large righthander with wide shoulders and more room to continue adding strength to an already physical frame. He worked from the first base side of the rubber and throws from a high, three-quarter slot with a short arm action in the back.
The Kentucky commit touched 95 mph and pitched in the 92-94 mph range for the most part, while also throwing a 79-80 mph curveball, 82-85 mph slider and 82-86 mph changeup.
The curveball has 12-to-6 shape and looked like his more consistent breaking ball in this outing, with more natural shape from his arm slot. The slider did flash solid later in his outing, but it also spun early out of his hand and backed up and flattened out at times. Dana’s changeup was fairly straight and didn’t show much tumbling action, but like his slider the pitch did look better towards the end of his outing and induced a groundout in the fourth inning.
While Dana was one of the harder-throwing pitchers of the event, he didn’t miss as many bats with the pitch as you would expect given the velocity.
Levi Huesman, LHP, Hanover (Va.) HS (No. 115)
Huesman matched up with a strong Orange Lutheran High team in round one on Wednesday. He threw five innings, allowed five hits and five runs (four earned), while striking out five and walking two on 92 pitches.
Huesman works from the third base side of the rubber and pitches out of the stretch, with a three-quarter arm slot that he repeats well and a fast arm with a strong lower half to go with it.
In this outing he ran his fastball up to the 94-95 mph range at best, but mostly sat around 91-92 over his five innings of work, with occasional arm-side running action. He allowed a bit of contact vs. Orange Lutheran and after his fastball started to get hit a bit, Huesman started pitching more off a slurvy breaking ball in the 74-78 mph range.
He showed good feel to land the pitch consistently and it did get some whiffs when he kept the ball at the bottom of the zone and below it.
Huesman also worked in an 80-84 mph changeup, but it was his third-most used pitch of the outing.
Jacob Reimer, SS, Yucaipa (Calif.) HS (No. 117)
Among all the primary draft targets, Reimer was the hitter who showed the best approach and pure hitting ability of the NHSI. He went 4-for-13 (.308) with one double and two strikeouts and consistently put the ball on the barrel, was on time and showed an ability to turn on the baseball or go the other way.
A shortstop and three-hole hitter for Yucaipa, Reimer will likely move to another position at the next level. His hands were fine in this event, but he has a thick lower half and a filled-out chest and midsection, and running ability and range that would fit better at either second base or third. He made routine plays, but was more challenged on difficult ground balls in the hole and up the middle in this look.
Reimer’s calling card is the bat and he showed some of the best pitch recognition of the event, while consistently being on time and making good swing/take decisions.
Reimer has a slightly wide setup at the plate and gets his swing started with a small toe tap, but keeps his hands fairly quiet and has a direct and quick path to the baseball with a slight uphill finish. He swung and missed on a few pitches elevated in the zone, but in general showed a good ability to get the barrel on the ball on all sorts of pitch types and locations. In the box, he looks comfortable and has a patient, selective approach at the plate. One of his most impressive at-bats came after getting behind in an 0-2 count. He made an impressive two-strike adjustment and went with a pitch on the outer half, driving it hard on the ground through the 4-3 hole.
While other hitters at this event showed louder raw tools, Reimer looked like one of the most advanced bats of the field.
Roman Anthony, OF, Stoneman Douglas HS, Parkland, Fla. (No. 139)
Anthony has had a strong spring to start the year in South Florida, and led all hitters at the NHSI with seven hits. Overall, Anthony went 7-for-15 (.467) with seven singles, three walks and no strikeouts, while also tying Jordan Taylor for the tournament lead in stolen bases—going 4-for-4.
Anthony plays center field for Stoneman Douglas but has an immensely projectable, 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame that should add plenty more strength and muscle in the future. He’s a strong athlete with wide shoulders and present strength now in his upper half and has shown the power in the past that would allow him to profile nicely in a corner.
The Mississippi commit showed a simple and fluid lefthanded swing from the left side. He starts slightly upright and narrow before making a simple stride to start his swing, with quiet hands and little pre-pitch movement to speak of.
While Anthony made plenty of contact at this event, he also had plenty of hits that came off the cap and sputtered through the infield, or top-spun balls into shallow right field. There is plenty of raw power in the tank, but he didn’t access that in games this week. He has a pull-heavy approach now and was shifted on frequently.
Anthony turned in several average and above-average run times to first base and was an aggressive and instinctive runner on the bases, consistently getting good jumps on his stolen base attempts. He also moves well underway in the outfield with long, gliding strides.
Mason Neville, OF/LHP, Basic HS, Las Vegas (No. 181)
Neville played well on both sides of the ball at the NHSI, going 4-for-9 (.444) with four singles and a stolen base as a hitter and pitching one inning of relief, where he struck out two batters and walked one. He’s also a strong runner and defender in center field.
On the bump, Neville threw fastballs in the 87-88 mph range and also worked in a 72-75 mph curveball in a short appearance. He has a simple operation with a three-quarter arm slot, good direction to the plate and a balanced, fairly easy finish.
Unranked 2022 Players To Note
Seth Keller, RHP, Hanover (Va.) HS
Keller dominated the NHSI as both a hitter and pitcher. On the mound he set a new NHSI record with 16 strikeouts, and he was one of just two hitters with a .750 average for the tournament, among hitters to record more than two at-bats.
On the mound, Keller threw seven innings and allowed just three hits and one run, while striking out 16 batters compared to just one walk. The stuff matched the performance, as Keller ran his fastball up to 95 mph and held that velocity well deep into his outing. His fastball features a solid amount of arm-side run, likely thanks to a lower arm slot.
He throws a split-change that he showed plenty of confidence in. The pitch checked in around 81-83 mph with spin in the 1,100-1,200 rpm range and looked like a consistent swing-and-miss pitch for him. He also threw a sweepy slider in the low 80s with 2,400-2,500 rpm spin.
Keller is listed at just 5-foot-10, 185 pounds and doesn’t have a ton of physical projection remaining, but he has plenty of stuff now and is now responsible for one of the most dominant outings at the NHSI. He’s committed to Old Dominion.
Ben Jacobs, LHP, Huntington Beach (Calif.) HS
Jacobs turned in a quality start against Hamilton in the second round, throwing six innings and allowing one hit and one run, while striking out five and walking four. A strong, filled-out lefthander with sloped shoulders, Jacobs worked from the third base side of the rubber in this outing with an overhand windup, three-quarter arm slot and some slight hooking action in the back of his arm stroke.
He pitched in the 90-92 mph range with his fastball, though he didn’t get a ton of swing and miss on the pitch, and also worked in a mid-80s changeup with solid fade and depth, but missed with the pitch below the zone frequently. Jacobs mostly worked off his fastball/changeup combination, but he also spun a solid curveball in the 78-79 mph range with good spin and depth at its best. The breaking ball was inconsistent in this outing—it lacked finish at times, he got around the pitch at times and it would back up to his arm side at times—but it showed solid 1-to-7 shape and looked good when he kept it down.
Jacobs is committed to UCLA.
Chris Arroyo, LHP, Stoneman Douglas HS, Parkland, Fla.
Arroyo was named the tournament MVP after driving in eight runs, scoring six more and going 6-for-9 (.667) as a hitter, while pitching in two games. He started earlier in the event and came in to close the championship game, in total throwing five innings and not allowing a run. Arroyo pitched in the 88-90 mph range and touched 91-92 with lots of arm-side running action. He also threw a curveball in the 71-76 mph range and an upper-70s changeup. Arroyo is committed to Florida.
Jake Clemente, RHP, Stoneman Douglas HS, Parkland, Fla.
Clemente was one of the harder-throwing pitchers of the event with a fastball that ranged from 90-94 mph for the most part, but touched 95-96 at peak. A 6-foot-4, 210-pound righthander, Clemente has a large and strong frame with a thick lower half. He pitched five shutout innings against Orange Lutheran to push Stoneman Douglas to the championship game and gave up just two hits and one walk, while striking out five. On top of his fastball, Clemente also threw a slider in the 78-82 mph range that would loosen up to his glove side at times, and a mid-80s changeup with solid fade that induced ground balls when he placed them in the strike zone. While Clemente doesn’t have the fastest arm, he’s got plenty of strength, a loose arm action and seemed to get off the rubber well.
Dallas Macias, SS, Regis Jesuit HS, Aurora, Colo.
Macias was a barrel machine on the first day of the NHSI, squaring up three balls in his first three at-bats against Yucaipa. He first drove an 89 mph fastball hard on the ground through the 4-3 hole to his pull side, and in his next at-bat used the opposite field on a line drive into shallow right field. He didn’t get a hit in his third at-bat but lined out with hard contact to the second baseman before finally showing some whiffs in his fourth at-bat, when he got behind 0-2 and swung through a breaking ball for a strikeout. For the tournament, Macias showed impressive barrel control and went 5-for-10 (.500) with five singles, two strikeouts, a walk and three stolen bases. Macias is committed to Oregon State.
Matthew Matthijs, RHP, Conley HS, Greenville, N.C.
Matthijs pitched 5.1 innings for host program DH Conley, and while he had to work around eight hits and three walks, he managed to hold Servite (Calif.) High to just two runs, while striking out five. While he only touched 90 mph and mostly pitched in the upper 80s, Matthijs showed some impressive traits on his fastball, including standout induced vertical break and some cutting action at times. He also mixed in a mid-70s, 12-to-6 curveball that had solid depth and got whiffs below the zone, a slurvy slider around 80 mph and a low-80s changeup. Matthijs showed solid arm speed, worked from an overhand windup and threw from a high, three-quarter arm slot. He is committed to North Carolina.
2023 MLB Mock Draft Version 3.0
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Derek Curiel, OF, Orange (Calif.) Lutheran HS (2024 HS No. 2)
Curiel is one of the top-ranked players in the 2024 class and stood out on both sides of the ball in Cary. As the leadoff hitter for a strong Orange Lutheran program, Curiel went 5-for-12 (.417) with a double, two strikeouts and went 2-for-2 in stolen bases.
He’s got a lean, 6-foot-1, 168-pound frame now that should pack on plenty of strength in the future, but what jumps out immediately is the impressive fluidity and ease of his lefthanded swing. The ball jumped off his bat in batting practice with warning track power now to straight center field, and he showed consistent feel for the barrel with above-average bat speed.
Curiel continued to impress in-game, and showed an advanced approach at the plate with solid pitch recognition and an ability to use all fields. He has a simple setup with minimal pre-pitch movement and a compact, direct path to the ball. The Louisiana State commit turned in a 3.86-second home-to-first time on a nicely placed bunt down the third base line for a hit and also showed a strong and accurate throwing arm from center field. He threw out one runner attempting to score from second on a ground ball up the middle and placed the ball perfectly at home plate with solid carry, and later showed continued accuracy and strength on a throw to third base.
As his 2024 rank would indicate, he’s a must-know name and was one of the most exciting players of the NHSI—regardless of class.
Roch Cholowsky, SS, Hamilton HS, Chandler, Ariz. (2023 No. 29)
One of the more exciting shortstops of the event was Cholowsky, who went 2-for-9 (.222) with three strikeouts and a walk but showed impressive actions on the defensive side of the ball.
On multiple occasions he showed deft hands and the ability to throw on the run with strength and accuracy on balls to his glove side up the middle. Additionally, he has impressive footwork around the bag on double play balls, consistently putting himself in strong positions to throw with his body behind the ball with body control that jumped out.
His throws were accurate and strong to first base and it looks like he will have solid or above-average arm strength at the position, with all of the fluid actions and glovework necessary to stick there. Cholowsky is committed to UCLA.
Christian Rodriguez, RHP, Stoneman Douglas HS, Parkland, Fla. (2023 NR)
Rodriguez threw a six-inning complete game for Stoneman Douglas in a 12-1 run rule game against Yucaipa in round two. He needed 76 pitches to navigate those six innings and allowed five hits and one run, with eight strikeouts and one walk.
Rodriguez is a shorter and smaller righthander who doesn’t have a ton of projection at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, but he showed some impressive stuff and a fastball with solid induced vertical break. His fastball sat in the 90-92 mph range and touched 93, and he showed both a four-seam with good riding life that generated some whiffs above the zone, as well as a two-seam fastball that had less ride and more horizontal movement to the arm side.
He threw a breaking ball that ranged from 71-80 mph and could have been two different offerings, but both featured more horizontal and sweeping action than downward depth. It was a breaking ball with slider shape, but curveball velocity.
Rodriguez worked from the third base side of the rubber and threw from a three-quarter arm slot. There is a bit of extension in the back of his arm action, and he has a slight crossfire landing with some spin off to the first base side. He had a loose arm, though, without much violence with a deliberate tempo. Rodriguez is committed to Florida.
Ryan Kucherak, 3B, Hamilton HS, Chandler, Ariz. (2023 NR)
Kucherak formed a formidable left side of the infield with Cholowsky, holding down the hot corner for Hamilton. He didn’t have a standout offensive performance this week—going just 1-for-8 (.125) with three strikeouts and three walks—but had several impressive defensive plays at the hot corner.
On one occasion he made an athletic diving catch to his glove side to stop a hard hit ground ball that easily could have snuck through the 5-6 hole for a single, sprung to his feet and let the ball fly with impressive carry across the diamond. Later in the same game, Kucherak positioned himself well on a slower hit ball, getting his feet around the baseball, again showing arm strength that looked above-average with a quick exchange.
Kucherak is committed to Baylor.
Luke Scherrer, C, Yucaipa (Calif.) HS (2023 NR)
Scherrer made USA Baseball’s All-Tournament team for the event, after going 5-for-9 (.556) with a pair of doubles, a walk and no strikeouts as the catcher and cleanup hitter for Yucaipa High. Scherrer is a strong and physical hitter and was responsible for one of the furthest-hit balls of the tournament when he doubled off an 82 mph fastball on the first day of the NHSI. Scherrer is a Cal Poly commit.