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High School Preseason All-Americans 2018

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Each year, Baseball America polls scouting directors to select preseason High School All-America teams. The first team, in particular, has been an accurate predictor of both the first round of the draft and future major league success. Last year, seven members of the first team were selected in the first round, including top two picks Royce Lewis and Hunter Greene. This year’s high school crop is deeper than the 2017 class, particularly at the top.

The 2018 high school class is one of the strongest in recent years.

Despite only one player representing the typically strong state of California on the first team (shortstop Brice Turang), scouts see potential impact talent all over the field. This class has one of the most naturally gifted defensive prep catchers in Will Banfield, powerful and polished bats at the corners in Triston Casas and Nolan Gorman as well as high-end stuff and command on the mound with righthanders Ethan Hankins and Kumar Rocker and southpaw Matthew Liberatore.

Three players were unanimously selected to the first team: outfielder Jarred Kelenic, along with Gorman and Hankins. Casas was just one vote shy of a unanimous first team selection at first base.

One wrinkle in this year’s class is the amount of impact talent from the state of Arizona. Gorman and Liberatore give the state a legitimate shot at two drafted players among the first ten picks of the draft, depending on how the spring season unfolds. Today, Gorman is ranked the No. 6 player in the 2018 draft class and Liberatore is ranked No. 9.

That would be a historic level of prep talent for the Grand Canyon state, which hasn’t produced multiple first round high school picks this century. Gorman and Liberatore each have the talent to become the highest drafted Arizona products since at least 2000, as Arizona State righthander Mike Leake is the highest-drafted Arizona player in that time period. Leake was selected by the Reds with the eighth overall pick of the 2009 draft and has produced 15.3 WAR through an 8-year meajor league career since then according to Fangraphs.

Righthander Mike Jones is the highest drafted prep player from Arizona in that same time period. Jones was selected by the Brewers with the 12th pick of the 2001 draft. He spent nine seasons in the minor leagues. 2008 was a notable draft year for the state, with four college players selected in the first round, including Brett Wallace (No. 13, Cardinals) and Ike Davis (No. 18, Mets).

Here is the complete first team:

C | Will Banfield | Brookwood HS, Snellville, Ga.
1B | Triston Casas |American Heritage HS, Plantation, Fla.
MIF | Brice Turang | Santiago HS, Corona, Calif.
MIF | Nander De Sedas | Montverde (Fla.) Academy
3B | #Nolan Gorman | O’Connor HS, Phoenix
OF | #Jarred Kelenic | Waukesha (Wis.) West HS
OF | Mike Siani | Penn Charter HS, Glenside, Pa.
OF | Joe Gray | Hattiesburg (Miss.) HS
RHP | #Ethan Hankins | Forsyth Central HS, Cumming, Ga.
LHP | Matthew Liberatore | Mountain Ridge HS, Riverdale, Ariz.
RHP | Kumar Rocker | North Oconee HS, Bogart, Ga.
RHP | Mason Denaburg | Merritt Island (Fla.) HS
RHP | Mike Vasil | Boston College HS

# denotes unanimous first team selection

First Team Reports

Catcher

Will Banfield, Brookwood HS, Snellville, Ga. (Vanderbilt)

The most talented defensive catcher in the class, Banfield brings a plus arm to the table that some scouts have labeled a 70, with strong forearms and wrists that allow him to frame even the most advanced high school pitchers with success. He moves extremely well laterally and has good flexibility in his lower half that allows him to block and smother balls in the dirt. Offensively, Banfield has a powerful righthanded swing that should allow him to have at least above-average power down the line at the next level.

First Base

Triston Casas, American Heritage HS, Plantation, Fla. (Miami)

Casas has one of the more impressive track records of the high school class, serving as a middle of the order bat in Team USA’s 18U lineup in 2016 and 2017 and led the team in home runs last summer. Casas is one of the younger players on this team after reclassifying from the 2019 class into the 2018 class. Receiving votes as both the best pure hitter and best power hitter in the class, Casas also has a strong arm that could play at the hot corner, where he moves well for his 6-foot-4, 238-pound frame.

Middle Infield

Brice Turang, Santiago HS, Corona, Calif. (Louisiana State)

Perhaps the most polished all-around player in the class, Turang has plus-plus speed out of the lefthanded batter’s box, where he has an advanced understanding of the strike zone and arguably the best hit tool in the country. Defensively, Turang covers tons of ground up the middle and takes great angles to the baseball, using his athleticism to make difficult throws and turn the double play with ease, helping his average arm play up. Turang doesn’t have a ton of power, but takes an all-fields, line drive approach.

Nander De Sedas, Montverde (Fla.) Academy (Florida State)

Where Turang stands out with polish, De Sedas gets attention thanks to loud tools across the board. The switch-hitting infielder has plus raw power from both sides of the plate though still needs to find consistency from the left side, where he tends to get long and loopy, having been hitting from that side for around two years. De Sedas also has above-average arm strength on the infield with extremely quick hands and solid footwork, allowhim him to make all the plays despite lacking plus speed.

Third Base

Nolan Gorman, O’Connor HS, Phoenix (Arizona)

After winning all but one of the major home run derbies during the summer showcase season, Gorman made an easy case for having the best raw power in the 2018 class—high school or college. That power played in-game vs. some of the top high school pitchers as well, making Gorman one of the top offensive players in the class. Defensively, Gorman flashed plus glovework at third base with Team USA’s 18U national team, with plus arm strength and an impressive internal clock.

Outfield

Jarred Kelenic, Waukesha (Wis.) West HS (Louisville)

The sole unanimous first-team outfielder, Kelenic has a bat-first profile thanks to a hit tool that stacks up with anyone in the class despite playing high school ball in Wisconsin. Still, Kelenic is far from a hit-dependent profile, with plus arm strength that plays at any outfield position, as well as impressive athleticism, good reactions and route running ability that gives him a chance to play center, though many scouts think he will move to a corner as his body develops. With that, some scouts also project plus power.

Mike Siani, Penn Charter HS, Glenside, Pa. (Virginia)

The best defensive outfielder in the class, Siani is potentially a 70-grade defender in center where he has excellent range as a plus runner with great instincts and routes that allow him to make all of the routine plays and then some. Siani frequently rolled over on balls at the plate last summer, but sprays line drives across the field when he’s on time. Siani has a plus arm and has been up to 94 mph on the mound.

Joe Gray, Hattiesburg (Miss.) HS (Mississippi)

Gray Jr. made excellent adjustments in the fall after a down summer showcase season, and started looking more like the elite 5-tool ability that wowed scouts back in 2016. One of the most athletic players in the class, Gray lacks for no physical tools as a plus runner with a plus arm and plus raw power in the tank. He needs more polish at the plate, particular against quality offspeed offerings, but has the talent and hand-eye coordination to make adjustments and the bat speed needed to catch up to premium velocity.

Pitchers

Ethan Hankins, Forsyth Central HS, Cumming, Ga. (Vanderbilt)

Hankins has one of the most dominant pitches in the class in his mid-to-upper 90s fastball, but the velocity alone isn’t what makes it special. The pitch has elite life and the 6-foot-6 righty can locate it seemingly at will, something rarely seen from a pitcher his age with that sort of velocity. Hankins can still add weight to his frame and has the arm speed and athleticism that scouts like to see when projecting for the future, with secondaries that have flashed plus in a changeup and curve.

Matthew Liberatore, Mountain Ridge HS, Riverdale, Ariz. (Arizona)

Liberatore has the best mix of pitchability and projection of any pitcher in the country, as a 6-foot-5, 200-pound lefthander with great feel for a three-pitch mix, led by a fastball that gets into the low 90s fastball and two potential plus secondaries in a changeup and a low 70s curveball with great depth. Liberatore has a clean delivery and a bulldog-like mentality when he’s on the mound, but speaking with him about pitch sequencing and strategy after the fact reveals a deep understanding of the game.

Kumar Rocker, North Oconee HS, Bogart, Ga. (Vanderbilt)

No prep pitcher has raw stuff that stacks up with Rocker. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound righthander is the most imposing pithcer on the rubber, and fires fastballs low-to-mid 90s fastballs with ease, the best of which have touched 97-98 mph. Rocker also has a low 80s slider that breaks shart and late and a firm, mid-to-upper 80s changeup that deceptive arm speed and impressive fading life. Rocker will need to improve his fastball command this spring, but has every element you’d want out of a potential frontline starter.

Mason Denaburg, Merritt Island (Fla.) HS (Florida)

Denaburg has premium velocity that matches up with the best pitchers in the class, and also spotted the pitch effectively to both sides of the plate over the summer. He’s one of the most athletic pitchers in the class and is a talented catcher in his own right, with raw power at the plate. He could be a legit two-way player at Florida, though his pro future seems likely to come on the mound. Denaburg has flashed impressive offspeed offerings in the past but pitched off of his overpowering fastball for much of the summer.

Mike Vasil, Boston College HS (Virginia)

Vasil has the least track record of any first team pitcher, but what he showed last summer has every scouting director interested. The top prep prospect in the northeast, Vasil has a great body (6-foot-4, 210 pounds), a clean delivery and a four-pitch mix headlined by a fastball that gets into the mid 90s and a plus curveball. Vasil checks off the athleticism box as well as a high school basketball player and teams big on projectable arms out of the northeast should be itching to see the Virginia commit throw more this spring.

casey_mize_featured_30_days.jpg

2018 MLB Mock Draft Updated For May 18, 2018

Roughly an hour after the Tigers announce Casey Mize is the top pick, the 2018 MLB Draft’s game of chicken should begin.

Second Team
C Anthony Seigler, Cartersville (Ga.) High
1B Grant Lavigne, Bedford (N.H.) High
MIF Xavier Edwards, North Broward Prep, Coconut Creek, Fla.
MIF *Bobby Witt Jr., Colleyville (Texas) Heritage High
3B Jordan Groshans, Magnolia (Texas) High
OF Alek Thomas, Mount Carmel (Chicago) High
OF Elijah Cabell TNXL Academy, Altamonte Springs, Fla.
OF Ryder Green, Knoxville (Tenn.) Christian Academy
LHP Ryan Weathers, Loretto (Tenn.) High
RHP Austin Becker, Big Walnut HS, Sunbury, Ohio
RHP Cole Wilcox, Heritage HS, Ringgold, Ga.
RHP Slade Cecconi, Trinity Prep, Winter Park, Fla.
RHP Cole Winn, Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High

Third Team
C Noah Naylor, St. Joan of Arc Catholic SS, Mississauga, Ont.
1B John Malcom, Detroit (Mich.) Country Day High
MIF Jeremiah Jackson, St. Luke’s Episcopal School, Mobile, Ala.
MIF Blaze Alexander, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.
3B Nick Northcut, Mason (Ohio) High
OF Connor Scott, Plant High, Tampa
OF Nick Schnell, Roncalli High, Indianapolis, Ind.
OF Parker Meadows, Grayson (Ga.) High
RHP Adam Kloffenstein, Magnolia (Texas) High
RHP J.T. Ginn, Brandon (Miss.) High
LHP Luke Bartnicki, Walton High (Marietta, Ga.)
RHP Landon Marceaux, Destrehan (La.) High
RHP Carter Stewart, Eau Gallie High, Melbourne, Fla.

* denotes underclassman

Best Tools:

Best Athlete (Position Player)
1. Alek Thomas
2. Joe Gray
3. Brice Turang

Best Pure Hitter
1. Brice Turang
2. Triston Casas
3. Jarred Kelenic

Best Power
1. Nolan Gorman
2. Triston Casas
3. Jordan Groshans

Fastest Runner
1. Max Marusak
2. Mike Siani
3. Xavier Edwards

Best Defensive Infielder
1. Brice Turang
2. Xavier Edwards
3. Blaze Alexander

Best Defensive Outfielder
1. Mike Siani
2. Jarred Kelenic
3. Alek Thomas

Best Defensive Catcher
1. Will Banfield (unanimous)
2. Anthony Seigler
3. Austin Wells

Best Infield Arm
1. Blaze Alexander
2. Brice Turang
3. Nander De Sedas

Best Outfield Arm
1. Mike Siani
2. Elijah Cabell
3. Joe Gray

Best Catcher Arm
1. Will Banfield (unanimous)
2. Kameron Ojeda
3. Adam Hackenberg

Best Fastball
1. Ethan Hankins
2. Kumar Rocker
3. J.T. Ginn

Best Fastball Movement
1. Ethan Hankins
2. J.T. Ginn
3. Slade Cecconi

Best Breaking Ball
1. Carter Stewart (CB)
2. Ethan Hankins (CB)
3. Kumar Rocker (SL)

Best Changeup
1. Matthew Liberatore
2. Landon Marceaux
3. Kumar Rocker

Best Command
1. Matthew Liberatore
2. Landon Marceaux
3. Ethan Hankins

Best Athlete (Pitcher)
1. Mason Denaburg
2. Ethan Hankins
3. Matthew Liberatore

Closest To The Majors
1.Ethan Hankins
2. Matthew Liberatore
3. Brice Turang

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