Baseball America's draft content is powered by

2018 MLB Draft Scouting Reports For First Round Selections

Detroit Tigers Pick Casey Mize No. 1

Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn (BA Rank: 1)
Ht: 6-3 / Wt: 208
Bats: R / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Alabama Rank: 1

Scouting Report: Mize has established himself as the top player in the 2018 draft class thanks to a deep and talented repertoire that is made mostly of 60-grade or better offerings and exceptional control that allowed him to lead all college pitchers with a 12.11 strikeout-to-walk ratio as a sophomore in 2017. Through 10 starts this spring, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound righthander had improved his K/BB to a ridiculous 15.67 mark with a 2.25 ERA in 68 innings. Mize pitches off of a fastball that gets up to 97 mph but sits in the 93-95 range and a 70-grade splitter that’s among the best offspeed offerings in the country. Typically a difficult pitch to control, even for professional pitchers, Mize locates the 86-89 mph splitter remarkably well, with powerful downward action. He also has a slider that is in the mid- to upper 80s that he’s thrown with a different grip this spring than he had on previous occasions. He has two variations of the slider—one that is more firm and used as an out pitch and another that’s softer with more of a curveball shape and used as a get-me-over strike. He has also added a cutter to his repertoire this spring that’s in the 88-91 mph range and scouts have already graded it as a plus offering. On top of all of that, Mize also throws a slower changeup from a different grip than his power splitter, which falls in the low 80s with fade and sink. While technically he has a four-pitch mix, the variations to the splitter and slider give him six different offerings to attack hitters, each of which grade out as plus offerings for most scouts, headlined by the plus-plus splitter. The stuff, pitchability and performance give Mize the ceiling of a future ace, with his medical history being the only knock on his resume. Mize was shutdown with forearm issues during the spring and summer of 2017 and has had trouble staying healthy dating back to his time as a high school prospect in Springville, Ala. He’s avoided injury issues the spring of his junior year, however, and if he continues to make his starts and nothing crazy shows up in his medical this June, he should be the first player off the board.

San Francisco Giants Pick Joey Bart At 2

 Joey Bart, C, Georgia Tech (BA Rank: 5)
Ht: 6-3 / Wt: 225
Bats: R / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Rays ’15 (27)
Georgia Rank: 1

Scouting Report: Bart became the first player ever drafted out of Buford (Ga.) High when the Rays selected him in the 27th round of the 2015 draft, but Bart chose to instead attend Georgia Tech, following in the footsteps of major league backstops like Jason Varitek and Matt Wieters. Since then, Bart has established himself as the top catcher in the 2018 class by a wide margin and there are more than a few people wondering if he’s the best catcher to come through the program—high praise considering the talent and major league success of Varitek and Wieters. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, Bart has all the tools necessary to become an above-average defensive catcher at the pro level. He has a strong arm that’s at least above-average and likely plus, as well as strong and quiet hands, footwork that’s online to his target during throws and exceptional game-calling abilities for an amateur. Prior to this spring, scouts questioned Bart’s effort behind the dish, but the recent feedback has been exceptional. When he’s locked in and focused, he looks the part. Offensively, Bart has plus raw power to all fields and has a solid track record in the ACC, hitting 13 home runs during his sophomore season and hitting 11 home runs through his first 37 games this spring. Bart also has a solid wood bat track record, hitting .309/.389/.433 with two home runs in the Cape Cod League in 2016, which should help ease the worries of teams who might knock him for a poor summer in 2017, when he was dealing with a groin injury while playing for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team. Bart does have a history of striking out a bit too much, and most evaluators put the hit tool at fringe-average at best, but the combination of his defensive tools and his ability to get to his power in-game at a position that is incredibly scarce should have him flying off the board early.

Phillies Select Alec Bohm With The Third Pick

Alec Bohm, 3B, Wichita State (BA Rank: 7)
Ht: 6-5 / Wt: 240
Bats: R / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Kansas Rank: 1

Scouting Report: Bohm has been one of the most impressive college hitters in the 2018 draft class and has positioned himself to go early in the first round after several big performances in front of large groups of evaluators this spring. With a large, 6-foot-5, 240-pound frame, Bohm brings a vast amount of strength to the batter’s box, which helps provide some of the best raw power in the country. Bohm has gotten to that power frequently this spring, hitting .353/.464/.596 through his first 36 games with eight home runs and nine doubles. Perhaps more impressive than Bohm’s power output—he also hit 11 homers as a sophomore and six as a freshman—is his improved plate discipline this season. He’s cut his strikeout rate and significantly improved his walk rate, taking the free pass more frequently than striking out for the first time in his collegiate career. He has an exceptional understanding of the strike zone and always seem to have a plan when he steps in the batter’s box, with the ability to make adjustments within an at-bat. His loud spring comes on the heels of a summer in the Cape Cod League, where Bohm was selected to the all-star game and finished second in the league with a .351 average. Bohm has done as much as anyone in the 2018 class to prove himself with the bat, but where the questions will surface for him are on the defensive side. Some scouts think Bohm will eventually have to move to first base, while others believe his strong arm will be enough for him to stay at the hot corner.

Chicago White Sox Go With Nick Madrigal At 4

Nick Madrigal, SS/2B, Oregon State (BA Rank: 3)
Ht: 5-8 / Wt: 165
Bats: R / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Indians ’15 (17)
Oregon Rank: 1

Scouting Report: Most 5-foot-7 second basemen wouldn’t figure to be top-of-the first round talents if healthy, let alone if they had missed almost two months of their junior season. But Madrigal is far from the ordinary, undersized middle infielder, as he possesses arguably the best hit tool in the 2018 draft class. Northwest area scouts saw just six games of Madrigal (in which he hit over .500 with two home runs) before he went down with a broken left wrist after sliding into home plate during a February game against Ohio State. Fortunately, Madrigal’s track record is a lengthy one, as he played for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team during the summer of 2017 and also hit .303/.342/.376 as an 18-year-old in the West Coast Collegiate League in 2015, with more walks than strikeouts. Many area scouts and scouting directors alike are convinced that Madrigal would be a top-10 selection even if he never came back to the field, given the non-chronic nature of his injury combined with his prolific feel for the barrel. While Madrigal will never be confused for a slugger and likely doesn’t have much more fringe-average power, he makes the most of all the juice he has, with elite bat-to-ball skills that allows him to drive the gaps and use his speed to collect extra-base hits in the form of doubles and triples. He’s not just a hitter, however, as Madrigal possesses plus-plus running ability and matches that skill with savvy baserunning prowess. A potential top-of-the-order hitter, Madrigal also projects as a plus defensive second baseman at the next level. The hands that allow him to hit with such apparent ease also translate to the field, where he is sure-handed and quick around the bag with enough arm strength for the keystone. Arm strength is the one knock on Madrigal—aside from his size—and scouts are split on whether he can be a major league shortstop, as Oregon State teammate Cadyn Grenier’s defense was enough to push Madrigal to second base in 2016. Regardless of which side of the bag teams see him playing in the future, Madrigal seems like a lock to be taken inside of the first ten picks this June and could be a fast-moving college bat at the professional level, thanks to both his baseball skills and professional makeup and work ethic.

Reds Select Jonathan India With Fifth Pick

Jonathan India, 3B, Florida (BA Rank: 6)
Ht: 6-0 / Wt: 185
Bats: R / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Brewers ’15 (26)
Florida Rank: 2

Scouting Report: Scouts have admired the way India plays the game and his overall package of tools since he was a standout shortstop at American Heritage School in Delray Beach, Fla. India was ranked as the No. 82 player in the 2015 class, but after the Brewers drafted him in the 26th round he made his way to Gainesville. India was solid, but unspectacular, in his first two season with the Gators, missing some time with injury during his sophomore campaign in which he hit 274/.354/.429 with 23 strikeouts and 42 walks. He’s improved his draft stock substantially this spring, hitting .420/.551/.840 with 13 home runs and more walks (34) than strikeouts (30) through his first 40 games. He is among the nation’s top-10 hitters in each triple-slash category and scouts have been extremely happy to see his raw power translate more into games this year. His ultimate role will depend on his defensive position. He played a decent amount of innings at shortstop early this year, but most of his time with Florida has been at third base, where he has solid hands and an average arm. He’s likely a third baseman or a second baseman at the next level, with the flexibility to move to shortstop in a pinch or for a team that doesn’t prioritize shortstop defense. If third base is the destination, he has more than enough bat to profile there, especially if this year’s power display is here to stay.

At 6, Jarred Kelenic To The Mets

Jarred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha (Wis.) West HS (BA Rank: 12)
Ht: 6-1 / Wt: 196
Bats: L / Throws: L
Commit/Drafted: Louisville
Wisconsin Rank: 1

Scouting Report: Kelenic was the only outfielder in the high school class to unanimously make the first team in Baseball America’s Preseason All-America vote, as decided on by major scouting directors. Kelenic achieved that honor as one of the best hitters in the class with a balanced and powerful swing, a track record in the middle of USA Baseball’s 18U National Team lineup and a strong arm, as well as athleticism, above-average speed and impressive route running. One of the most intense players in the class, Kelenic has a fiery demeanor on the field that gives pause for some evaluators, while others who know him have no issues and see his passionate personality as a positive indicator. He lives and breathes baseball and is regularly in his dad’s training facilities in Waukesha, Wis., and also worked out in the same facility as Houston Texans’ defensive end J.J. Watt. One of the more polished hitters in the class, Kelenic has the frame and strength to continue to add more power as he gets into player development and could wind up with plus raw power down the road. As he ages, scouts are mixed on whether he stays in center field or moves to a corner, with his backers pointing to exceptional reads and defensive instincts, and detractors saying that his speed will back up as he gets stronger. He has more than enough arm for the outfield, regularly registering 96 mph readings from the grass and regarded as one of the most accurate arms in the class. The challenge with Kelenic is that he’s been difficult for teams to scout this spring in Wisconsin. He’s playing with a travel team rather than his high school and he’s also been seen indoors more frequently than outdoors. The track record for Wisconsin hitters is also poor, but Kelenic’s own track record with Team USA and on the showcase circuit, combined with his natural tools and makeup, could allow him to become the exception. He should be one of the first prep bats to get drafted this June.

Ryan Weathers Goes Seventh To Padres

Ryan Weathers, LHP, Loretto (Tenn.) HS (BA Rank: 16)
Ht: 6-2 / Wt: 210
Bats: R / Throws: L
Commit/Drafted: Vanderbilt
Tennessee Rank: 1

Scouting Report: The son of 19-year major league veteran David Weathers, Ryan is an advanced lefthanded pitcher out of Tennessee who offers a high floor for a prep arm. Weathers has three pitches that are at least average with a fastball, curveball and changeup. Scouts had to wait for a chance to see him this spring as Weathers is also a high-level basketball player and helped lead Lorretto High to its first ever state championship this season. When he did take the mound, Weathers pitched with a low-90s fastball that got up to 95 mph at its best with a curveball that appeared to be a tick better than it was last summer. Some scouts have put a 60-grade on the mid-70s breaking ball this spring after it was more 50-55 during the showcase circuit and with USA Baseball’s 18U team. He can also turn to an average changeup when he needs it as well. Weathers spots all of his pitches effectively—some evaluators believe he can develop future plus command—and his fastball plays up with heavy sinking action as well. With major league bloodlines and a well-rounded arsenal, Weathers figures to be a middle of the first-round pick, though he’ll need to maintain his body as he develops.

Braves Go With Carter Stewart At 8

Carter Stewart, RHP, Eau Gallie HS, Melbourne, Fla. (BA Rank: 9)
Ht: 6-6 / Wt: 200
Bats: R / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Mississippi State
Florida Rank: 4

Scouting Report: Over the summer, Stewart was known almost exclusively for his otherworldly curveball, which was a 70-grade offering at the time and routinely registered spin rates above 3,000 revolutions per minute. Stewart’s curveball was so impressive, in fact, that TrackMan honored the righthander at the Perfect Game All-America Classic in San Diego and said his breaking ball was among the most impressive pitches the company has ever tracked, at any level. At 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds, that performance alone was impressive. But this spring Stewart took a step forward, improving a fastball that once sat in the upper 80s to low 90s and has now reached 97-98 mph multiple times this spring, giving Stewart a chance at potentially two 70-grade pitches. On top of the stuff, Stewart brings impressive athleticism to the table and a good feel for the strike zone. Scouts have been impressed with how consistently Stewart is able to land his sweeping, low-80s breaker for a strike, especially considering the massive depth the pitch possesses. Stewart has also shown the ability to manipulate the offering depending on the situation. That sort of feel leaves some scouts projecting a changeup that could be at least average down the line. Stewart has thrown a changeup at times, but given his other offerings, he hasn’t needed to use a third pitch enough to give scouts much of a feel for it. An impressive golfer as well, Stewart could have a collegiate future on the links, but his skill on the mound should prevent him from ever reaching Mississippi State’s campus in the first place.

Kyler Murray To The Athletics At 9

Kyler Murray, OF, Oklahoma (BA Rank: 77)
Ht: 5-11 / Wt: 195
Bats: R / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Oklahoma Rank: 2

Scouting Report: Coming out of high school in 2015, Murray was considered one of the best two-sport stars coming out of Texas in years. He has a familial history with both football and baseball. Murray’s father, Kevin, was a star quarterback at Texas A&M in the early 1980s, while his uncle, Calvin, was a big league outfielder with multiple teams. Kyler would have been a potential late first-round pick out of high school if teams had thought he was signable, but as a two-sport star he told teams not to draft him because he was headed to Texas A&M. Murray has covered a lot of ground since then. He was supposed to be Johnny Manziel’s replacement for the Aggies, but he transferred to Oklahoma after starting three games and playing in eight as a freshman. That made Murray eligible to play his redshirt freshman season with the Sooners baseball team in 2017, but his rust was apparent. He hit .122 with no extra-base hits while struggling defensively in left field. Murray went to the Cape Cod League briefly last summer and, after serving as NFL No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield’s backup last season (he threw 21 passes), he showed significant strides in his second season with the Sooners baseball team. Murray looked much more comfortable in center field this year than he did in the corners last year, as the easier reads of center allowed him to take more decisive routes and let his plus speed play. There’s still a ton of projection involved with Murray because scouts know they aren’t seeing him at his best. He has spent much of the spring splitting time between baseball and spring football practice, where he was battling for the Sooners’ starting quarterback job. Scouts have generally seen more above-average than plus run times from him, but many believe that’s because he’s worn out. Similarly, he shows a 30 arm right now, but he doesn’t get to work on his throwing arm for baseball because he is muscled up for football. At the plate, Murray’s development this season has impressed evaluators. He is showing much more advanced pitch recognition and plate coverage, impressing with his ability to battle to deep counts. He has 20-25 home run potential down the road, with the bat speed that gives him a chance to develop into at least an average hitter as well. Murray’s signability is going to be a tricky puzzle for teams. He has the leverage to demand a significant signing bonus to give up football or he could also look to sign a contract that allows him to continue to play football, something Anthony Alford, Kyle Parker and Russell Wilson have done in the past. But he could also opt to not sign and push any such decisions back a year—he’ll still be a redshirt junior next June. As such, he’s a tricky player for scouts to evaluate. On pure talent, he’s a second- to third-round pick.

Pirates Select Travis Swaggerty With The Tenth Pick

Travis Swaggerty, OF, South Alabama (BA Rank: 11)
Ht: 5-11 / Wt: 180
Bats: L / Throws: L
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Alabama Rank: 2

Scouting Report: After going undrafted out of high school with little to no hype in the scouting community, Swaggerty has become a top-of-the-first-round talent because of his performance at South Alabama and an impressive summer with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team in 2017. With Team USA, Swaggerty started in center field and hit near the top of the order, hitting .328/.449/.406. That came after a spring in the Sun Belt Conference where his on-base plus slugging percentage was over 1.000 with 10 home runs. On the national radar after his impressive 2017 campaign, Swaggerty had one of the loudest starts to the 2018 season of any college player, hitting .390/.609/.707 through his first 13 games with three home runs. A five-tool talent, Swaggerty projects as an at least average hitter who has 60-grade running ability, 60-grade defense in center field and an above-average to plus arm. He profiles fairly safely in center field at the next level, and while some scouts have questioned his power potential in the past, he seems to have ticked up in that category early this spring and should have fringe-average to average power. Swaggerty seems to get the most out of his power potential, with 10 home runs during his sophomore season at South Alabama. He has also cut his strikeout rate and improved his walk rate during each of his seasons at South Alabama and in 2018 he is among the nation’s leaders in walks and walks per game. While Swaggerty has cooled off a bit as the season progressed, he seems to be a safe bet as a lefthanded hitting center fielder with a college track record and no real holes in his game.

Orioles Go With Grayson Rodriguez At 10

Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Central Heights HS, Nacogdoches, Texas (BA Rank: 24)
Ht: 6-4 / Wt: 230
Bats: L / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Texas A&M
Texas Rank: 1

Scouting Report: The biggest pop-up player of the 2018 draft class, Grayson Rodriguez is a huge, 6-foot-5, 230-pound righthander who was primarily in the lower 90s over the summer with some bad weight on his body. Over the winter he got into the gym, worked with a trainer and overhauled his body, cleaning it up and looking like a completely different pitcher this spring. The results were astounding, as Rodriguez has regularly been up to 97-98 mph with his fastball and sits in the mid-90s throughout his starts with remarkable ease in his delivery. In addition to the velocity that he’s shown he can sustain, Rodriguez has heavy life to his fastball and spots it fairly well in the strike zone, giving the pitch the makings of a 70-grade offering—If it’s not already there. In addition to the fastball, Rodriguez has a low-80s slider and a curveball that is a step ahead at 72-74 mph and occasionally slows up. He doesn’t throw it often, but he mixes in an occasional changeup to show it’s in the repertoire as well. Rodriguez has a very poised approach on the mound and rarely shows any emotion as he cuts through opposing lineups in front of deep crowds of scouts and high-level decision makers. Reportedly many teams in the back end of the first round have been bearing down on Rodriguez and he’s done enough this spring to establish himself among the top tier of high school arms.

Jordan Groshans Is A Blue Jay

Jordan Groshans, 3B/SS, Magnolia (Texas) HS (BA Rank: 38)
Ht: 6-4 / Wt: 190
Bats: R / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Kansas
Texas Rank: 3

Scouting Report: Groshans might never wind up at Kansas with his older brother, Jaxx, thanks to his performance throughout last summer and this spring at Magnolia High in Texas. A 6-foot-4, 190-pound shortstop, Groshans has quick bat speed and plus raw power and he showed the ability to square up elite pitching on the summer showcase circuit in 2017. He hit 90-plus mph velocity hard all over the field in multiple events, including a home run against a 95-mph fastball from New York righthander Lineras Torres Jr. in the Perfect Game All-American Classic. Over the summer, Groshans used a big leg kick to get start his load and when he was on time it didn’t hinder him, instead helping him generate more power. But there were instances where Groshans would get out on his front side and fly open early, leaving some scouts to question whether the big leg kick would create more timing issues as he advanced against better pitching. This spring, Groshans has quieted the leg kick and improved his balance and hand path to the ball, attempting to lift the ball less frequently and has been hitting lasers the entire season. He’s also added around 10 pounds of muscle while maintaining his lean body. Groshans has an above-average arm and he’s shown good defensive actions at a number of infield positions, though most scouts believe he will eventually move to third base with a chance to be an above-average defender as he continues to fill out his frame.

What Are The Marlins Getting With Connor Scott?

Connor Scott, OF/LHP, Plant HS, Tampa (BA Rank: 23)
Ht: 6-4 / Wt: 180
Bats: L / Throws: L
Commit/Drafted: Florida
Florida Rank: 8

Scouting Report: Scott draws some comparisons to current top Astros outfield prospect Kyle Tucker, who attended the same Plant HS in Tampa that Scott currently attends. Scott and Tucker have comparable swing paths and similar 6-foot-4, 180-pound frames, as well as the speed and athleticism that allow them both the be strong defensive outfielders. Scott wasn’t seen as much as scouts would have like on the summer showcase circuit, however, as he had his appendix removed and was forced to watch a few of the bigger showcases rather than take part. He got back on the field in the fall and started getting into a rhythm before impressing scouts during the spring, as he grew into more power and performed in front of a front office personnel in Florida who didn’t need to travel far from spring training facilities to see him. A toolsy player, Scott is at least a plus runner, with many evaluators throwing a double-plus grade on his speed to go along with a plus arm. There are questions whether he’ll be able to stay in center field or need to move to a corner as he continues to add weight, but he has enough arm strength for any outfield position. In fact, some scouts prefer Scott on the mound, where he’s in the low 90s as a lefthanded pitcher who fills up the strike zone and also has feel to spin a curveball and throw a changeup. Most teams appear to prefer the upside he offers as a potential impact hitter, however, with his speed and developing power leading to an intriguing all-around package. But having a fallback option as a pitcher should only help Scott’s draft stock. Some teams look at Scott as a no-doubt first rounder, while others see him going in the supplemental first round or later, and his lack of summer track record likely plays into that division.

What Can Mariners Look Forward To?

Logan Gilbert, RHP, Stetson (BA Rank: 19)
Ht: 6-6 / Wt: 225
Bats: R / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Florida Rank: 6

Scouting Report: Gilbert made a name for himself with an impressive showing in the Cape Cod League last summer, with a 1.72 ERA and 31 strikeouts to just four walks. He was also the Atlantic Sun pitcher of the year after a sophomore season at Stetson in which he went 10-0, 2.02 with 107 strikeouts and 26 walks. Looking to follow in the footsteps of fellow Stetson alumni Jacob deGrom and Corey Kluber, Gilbert has the size at 6-foot-6, 225 pounds to potentially become a future workhorse in a major league rotation. His stuff hasn’t been quite as good for scouts this spring as it was during the summer, when he was regularly in the mid-90s with a heavy, power fastball. The pitch still has good life and downward action, but it’s been regularly in the low 90s throughout his outings and his breaking balls—Gilbert throws a spike-grip curveball and a slider—haven’t been sharp enough for scouts to grade out as above-average or plus. While the stuff hasn’t been quite as loud, the results for Gilbert are still there, as he strikes out batters in spades (he had 101 strikeouts in 70 innings through his first 10 starts) and has improved his strike throwing as well. Even with the velocity sitting in the low 90s, Gilbert’s fastball plays up thanks to its action and the elite extension tGilbert gets in his delivery, which is likely above the current major league average. A team that takes Gilbert will have to hope he can improve his secondaries if they envision a frontline starter down the line. He’s shown flashes of above-average breaking balls in the past, but a 60-grade fastball that could be a plus-plus offering with returned velocity is the main selling point for the big righthander.

What To Expect From Cole Winn?

Cole Winn, RHP, Orange (Calif.) Lutheran HS (BA Rank: 10)
Ht: 6-2 / Wt: 195
Bats: R / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Texas Christian
California (S) Rank: 1

Scouting Report: In a down year in Southern California from a draft perspective, Winn made the decision to transfer from Colorado to Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High and play in the Trinity League—one of the nation’s best high school baseball conferences. The move has paid off, as Winn has separated himself from other Southern California arms and been one of the most consistent prep righthanders in the country, while also giving himself the opportunity to play at densely scouted events like the National High School Invitational and the Boras Classic South. Winn was on scouting directors’ radars long before his time with Orange Lutheran, however, after impressing at numerous events on the summer showcase circuit with three pitches, including a fastball reaching the 93-94 mph range and one of the more consistent curveballs in the class. This spring, Winn has been up to 96 mph with his fastball, which he can spot effectively to both sides of the plate. His best breaking ball is a plus, 12-to-6 curveball in the mid-70s that has powerful downward action, which he can spot in the zone or use to expand and create swings and misses. Winn also added a low-80s slider, seemingly out of nowhere, and while it’s behind the curveball, it has the makings of another average pitch. Winn is competing with a deep high school class, but he’s one of the few prep arms who has gotten better each time out and has had very few looks that raised questions.

Rays Benefit From Liberatore’s Slip

Matthew  Liberatore, LHP, Mountain Ridge HS, Glendale, Ariz. (BA Rank: 2)
Ht: 6-5 / Wt: 200
Bats: L / Throws: L
Commit/Drafted: Arizona
Arizona Rank: 1

Scouting Report: During the summer of 2017, Liberatore was an uber-projectable lefthander with great feel for three pitches that scouts could project to become plus down the line. At that time, Liberatore was sitting mostly in the upper 80s and low 90s with his fastball and had a low-70s, 12-to-6 curveball, as well as a changeup in the low to mid-80s. He performed well on the showcase circuit and with USA Baseball’s 18U National team, pitching in the USA’s 8-0 win over Korea in the gold medal game. During his first outing this spring, however, he was up to 96 mph with his fastball, a sharper curveball and a plus changeup. The 100-plus scouts could confidently leave that game and project three plus pitches on the prep lefthander who stood 6-foot-5. While the stuff hasn’t been quite as loud for Liberatore since then—his fastball in particular hasn’t held that velocity—he still has the frame and pitchability that teams can dream on, with a fairly clean and quick arm as well as makeup that scouts rave about. The Arizona commit pitches with a bulldog-like mentality on the mound but also brings a cerebral approach to what he’s trying to do, with an advanced understanding of how to attack hitters and how to manipulate his pitches. During the spring, Liberatore added a low-80s slider that he showcased to a large group of evaluators at USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational. The pitch is currently behind his curveball and changeup—both of which project as plus offerings—but showed some promise and he seemed confident with the offering given that he added it to his now-four-pitch mix about a week prior. While Liberatore’s stuff and control isn’t currently as loud as MacKenzie Gore’s (the top lefthander in the 2017 draft class) was at this same point last year, the combination of his size, projection, makeup and pitchability should have him off the board early in the first round.

Angels Gain Super Athlete At 17

Jordyn Adams, OF, Green Hope HS, Cary, N.C. (BA Rank: 45)
Ht: 6-2 / Wt: 180
Bats: R / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: North Carolina
North Carolina Rank: 1

Scouting Report: One of the most athletic players in the class, Adams is at least a 70-grade runner and many scouts have called him a legit, top-of-the-scale 80 runner. Committed to North Carolina to play both baseball and football, Adams is a four-star wide receiver whose father, Deke, is the defensive line coach for the Tar Heels football team. Adams has long been seen as a talented football player whose reputation among baseball circles was a raw, athletic player with tools who had real questions about his ability in the batter’s box. That perspective changed at USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational in late March, when Adams was arguably the tournament’s best hitter in a field that included many of the top prep bats in the draft class. At the NHSI, Adams had the fifth-highest average exit velocity thanks to a number of well-struck line drives. Teams immediately started watching Adams’ games with Green Hope High (Cary, N.C.) with more interest, as he put himself in the conversation to be a potential day one pick. Adams is an 80-grade athlete with impressive makeup, a chance to become an impact defender in center field and possesses a better hit tool than most scouts believed a year ago. Late in Green Hope’s season Adams has also shown enough power in games that might allow evaluators to project future plus power considering his bat speed and wiry frame, although there are scouts who have already put 60-grade power on Adams now. Between his collection of tools and his performance in front of the league’s top decision-makers, Adams has positioned himself to go on day one to a team that has the money to invest in a high-risk, high-reward player who could take large steps forward if he ever focuses exclusively on baseball. As a highly rated receiver with a potential in professional football, the price tag will likely be a high one.

Royals’ Fans Should Get Excited About Brady Singer

Brady Singer, RHP, Florida (BA Rank: 4)
Ht: 6-5 / Wt: 180
Bats: R / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Blue Jays ’15 (2)
Florida Rank: 1

Scouting Report: The latest in a developing tradition of talented Florida starting pitchers is righthander Brady Singer, who was one of the earliest players to establish himself at the top of the 2018 draft class with one of the most spotless track records in the country. Singer has a long history of success in the SEC and has improved—at least statistically—every season. After getting just one start as a freshman in 2016, Singer moved into a prominent role in Florida’s rotation in 2017 alongside Alex Faedo (who was taken No. 18 by the Tigers in the 2017 draft). As a sophomore, Singer led the Gators with 126 innings, posted a 3.21 ERA over 19 starts and struck out 21 batters in two starts during the 2017 College World Series, which Florida won. Even before Singer’s time in Gainesville, he was a prominent draft prospect, ranking as the No. 54 prospect on the 2015 BA 500. He was selected by the Blue Jays with the 56th pick of the MLB Draft but didn’t sign. Now, he’ll have a chance to go much higher as a starting pitcher with a strong track record and two plus pitches. Singer’s fastball sits in the low to mid-90s with impressive natural movement and he also has a sharp slider that has been a weapon for him in the past. Singer’s slider can be inconsistent at times, however, because of his low arm slot, which is a point of concern for some evaluators. While Singer doesn’t throw many changeups currently, scouts think he has the ability to develop at least an average changeup in pro ball, when he would be able to throw it more frequently. Teams more skeptical of Singer will see a two-pitch starter with a concerning arm slot that might lead to the bullpen, while less critical scouting departments might see a potential middle-of-the-rotation arm who has impressive strike-throwing ability and more high-level track record than any pitcher in a deep 2018 class.

Cardinals Are Getting Some Serious Power With Nolan Gorman

Nolan Gorman, 3B, O’Connor HS, Phoenix (BA Rank: 15)
Ht: 6-1 / Wt: 210
Bats: L / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Arizona
Arizona Rank: 2

Scouting Report: Gorman has some of the best raw power in the 2018 draft class—college or high school—and raised his stock significantly over the summer. Gorman won multiple home run derbies and showed that his power played against some of the top pitching prospects in the game at a few of the bigger showcases, displaying easy plus power against mid-90s velocity. He was the talk of the scouting community after putting on an offensive show during USA Baseball’s 18U National Team trials in late August against multiple college teams in Minnesota. Gorman was unanimously voted to BA’s Preseason High School All-America team at third base by major league scouting directors and had positioned himself to be one of the first hitters taken in the draft. However, his stock fell a bit this spring, when scouts noted that Gorman looked stiffer defensively, creating more reason to believe that he would eventually need to move to first base. Additionally, Gorman has added to the questions surrounding his hit tool rather than answer them, particularly at USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational, where he swung and missed often against offspeed pitches and also expanded his strike zone. He was one of just four batters at the event to swing and miss at least 10 times. While Gorman has had little trouble squaring up big-time velocity, he now has some significant questions about his ability to handle breaking pitches, as he also struggled in that domain during the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s U-18 World Cup in Thunder Bay, Canada, where he hit .222/.241/.294 with 10 strikeouts and four walks. Still, when Gorman hits the ball he hits it harder than almost anyone in the class. He had the highest average exit velocity at the NHSI at 102.1 mph, with an exit velocity a tick harder against breaking balls, specifically. Defensively, teams are likely split on his eventual destination. He has an above-average arm that’s likely plus and he showed impressive glove work at the hot corner with Team USA, making plays on the run and while off-balance. However, the increased stiffness he showed this spring won’t help encourage those who already believed he would eventually move to first. While his hit tool is more difficult to project now than teams would have liked, his power is 70-grade or better and that should still get him taken somewhere in the middle of the first round.

Twins Get Trevor Larnach, Power Potential

Trevor Larnach, OF, Oregon State (BA Rank: 27)
Ht: 6-4 / Wt: 205
Bats: L / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Padres ’15 (40)
Oregon Rank: 2

Scouting Report: A big, 6-foot-4, 210-pound outfielder, Larnach has shot up draft boards this season after finally tapping into the big power that he has long possessed. Through 34 games in a Pac-12 environment that tends to temper the long ball, Larnach has hit 11 home runs and 11 doubles with a .336/.452/.680 slash line. He ranks in the top 20 nationally in home runs, home runs per game, RBIs per game and slugging percentage. All that comes after hitting just three home runs through 88 games during his first two seasons with Oregon State. Larnach has made a mechanical change this year, quieting his load and better utilizing the strength in his lower half and letting the ball travel. He’s using his natural strength more effectively this spring and avoiding his previous tendency of reaching out and getting jumpy on his front side. That has allowed him to hit with power to the pull side and to the left-center field gap. With what he’s shown this spring, some area scouts believe he could tap into 25-plus home runs as a pro. Defensively, he’s likely a corner outfielder with below-average speed but enough athleticism to make the routine plays. He has an average arm that is starting to get stronger after elbow surgery a few years back.

Get To Know Brice Turang, The Newest Member Of The Brewers

Brice Turang, SS, Santiago HS, Corona, Calif. (BA Rank: 14)
Ht: 6-1 / Wt: 165
Bats: L / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Louisiana State
California (S) Rank: 2

Scouting Report: Turang is one of the most famous prep players in the 2018 class and entered the draft cycle as the top high school player in the nation. A four-year varsity starter at Santiago (Corona, Calif.) High, Turang also played for USA Baseball’s 18U National Team in 2016 and 2017, more than holding his own playing on the 2016 club that featured 2017 No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks Royce Lewis and Hunter Greene, respectively. In fact, you wouldn’t have to search far to find a scout who said Turang was the best player on the team, despite the fact that Turang never played in the international tournament in Mexico after getting hit in the face by a pitch. Because of his exposure and history as a talented player at such a young age, teams have been somewhat disappointed with Turang since last summer. He’s never struggled, but he’s also never wowed scouts in the same way that he did as an underclassman. Even with that said, Turang was still voted a first-team Preseason All-American, the best pure hitter in the class, the best defensive infielder in the class with the second-best arm, and the No. 3 athlete in Baseball America’s preseason survey to major league scouting directors. Turang is among the more polished prep players with an advanced left-handed hit tool and rarely swings and misses with a patient approach that allows him to hit the ball where it’s pitched. Turang’s loudest tool is his speed, which is at least plus and likely plus-plus, allowing him to wreak havoc on the bases and also cover a large swath of ground defensively. He can make throws from multiple angles, on the run, up the middle and in the hole, and also has the sure hands and footwork that should allow him to stay at the position at the next level. At just 6-foot-1, 165 pounds, the biggest knock on Turang is his size. Some teams are worried about the impact he’ll make at the next level and don’t anticipate him having much more than fringe-average raw power. While Turang might not be filling up a scout card with 6- and 7-grade tools, he does everything well, has a long track record of succeeding against elite competition and plays a premium position as a lefthanded hitter.

What Are The Rockies Getting With Ryan Rolison?

Ryan Rolison, LHP, Mississippi (BA Rank: 21)
Ht: 6-2 / Wt: 195
Bats: R / Throws: L
Commit/Drafted: Padres ’16 (37)
Mississippi Rank: 1

Scouting Report: A talented high school lefthander out of Tennessee, Rolison ranked in the top half of the BA 500 in 2016, but was drafted in the 37th round by the Padres and chose to attend Mississippi. As a freshman, Rolison pitched in 19 games, posted a 3.06 ERA and was named to the SEC’s all-freshman team by the conference’s coaches. Rolison allowed just 23 runs in 61.2 innings in 2016, which was the third-best mark in the SEC and helped him earn a spot in the starting rotation toward the end of the season. Rolison carried that success to the Cape Cod League that summer, where he used a fastball in the 91-94 mph range and a wipeout curveball to pitch to a 1.93 ERA and strike out 35 batters in 28 innings. Rolison has impressed during his draft-eligible sophomore season with Ole Miss as well, increasing his strikeout rate and using a three-pitch mix, headlined by a fastball with plus life in the low 90s. Rolison is not afraid to throw his fastball, which has been up to 96 mph, inside to righthanded batters, while his breaking ball regularly gets swings and misses and is at least an above-average pitch with the potential to be a plus offering down the line. Rolison’s changeup should become a solid third pitch as well. What has worried scouts this spring is the direction the 6-foot-2 southpaw takes to the plate. Many evaluators have commented that Rolison has been coming across his body too much in his delivery, which has impacted his strike-throwing ability and caused his walk rate to tick up. That should be a relatively easy fix in player development and most scouts believe in his control, which has been solid in the Cape and at Ole Miss in the past. While his stuff isn’t as loud as some of the other pitchers in the class, Rolison still has the talent to become a No. 3 starter down the road. As one of the few lefthanded arms at the top of the class, Rolison figures to come off the board in the first round and become the first Ole Miss player to do so since Drew Pomeranz, who was taken fifth overall in the 2010 draft.

New York Yankees Get One Of The Most Interesting Prospects

Anthony Seigler, C, Cartersville (Ga.) HS (BA Rank: 41)
Ht: 5-11 / Wt: 200
Bats: B / Throws: B
Commit/Drafted: Florida
Georgia Rank: 5

Scouting Report: Seigler is one of the more interesting players in the class as a switch-hitting catcher who can also get on the mound and throw in the upper 80s with either his right or left arm. Seigler throws a changeup from the left side and changes his arm slot, while he can reach 92 mph from the right side to go along with a slider. While he could wind up being one of the most impactful college players in the country at Florida as a catcher, righthander and lefthander, Seigler’s pro future is behind the plate. He is an impressive receiver and has a strong throwing arm, with pop times that hover around 2.00 seconds in-game. Some scouts see him as a better defensive catcher than Will Banfield thanks to his receiving, and Seigler did start most of USA Baseball’s 18U Team games over Banfield in the U-18 World Cup. While he doesn’t have plus power from either side of the plate, Seigler has hit well at every level and has more than enough juice and feel to hit to rack up plenty of doubles. There might not be any one plus tool with Seigler, but he does everything well and scouts rave about his makeup and personality, as he is consistently referred to as one of the toughest players in the prep class.

What Can The Cubbies Expect From Nico Hoerner?

Nico Hoerner, SS/2B, Stanford (BA Rank: 42)
Ht: 5-11 / Wt: 195
Bats: R / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
California (N) Rank: 3

Scouting Report: Named to the All-Pac-12 team and All-Pac-12 defensive team after his sophomore season in 2017, Hoerner has a solid, all-around skillset and an impressive track record at Stanford and in the Cape Cod League last summer. While Hoerner has no true standout carrying tool, he’s played a respectable shortstop with the Cardinal the past two years after playing mostly at second base as a freshman. He also has an impressive history with the bat. In two summers in wood bat leagues, Hoerner has hit over .300 and teams are intrigued by the increase in power that the 5-foot-11 infielder showed after hitting six home runs in 40 games last summer on the Cape. Teams that like Hoerner will see a player with a shot to stick at shortstop with strong hands in the box, a good strikeout-to-walk ratio and impressive exit velocities. Teams who are on the opposite side will see a player who’s likely a second baseman without the power profile they are looking for. Either way, college infielders who perform tend to get drafted high and Hoerner has performed in both the spring and summer with no gaping holes in his game.

Diamondbacks Reach A Bit For Matt McLain

Matt McLain, SS/2B, Beckman HS, Irvine, Calif. (BA Rank: 61)
Ht: 5-10 / Wt: 175
Bats: R / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: UCLA
California (S) Rank: 3

Scouting Report: McLain has taken advantage of a down year in Southern California this spring, hitting in seemingly every game he’s played. His performance was so strong, in fact, that area scouts began putting his name in the same conversation as fellow California shortstop Brice Turang—which would have seemed absurd just a year ago. A 5-foot-10, righthanded hitter without a ton of power, McLain doesn’t seem to profile as a top-50 pick, but he’s given himself a chance to be selected that high because he simply does everything well. He makes all the plays at shortstop as a soft-gloved infielder with agility, body control, impressive footwork and a solid arm, and he’s regularly given scouts plus running times down the line. While McLain is a shorter prospect, he’s not built slightly. He’s put on as much strength as he can for now, to the point where he’s showing some surprising power in games, although he’ll never project as a plus power hitter. He regularly hits the ball hard and with authority, frequently going to right-center with impact. McLain has shown enough bat-to-ball skills that scouts are putting a 50 or even 60 grade on his future hit tool. While some evaluators believe he might move off shortstop at the next level—he’s not a Nick Allen sort of defender—he’s hit enough this spring to rise up draft boards. Seemingly all of his tools have improved this spring, and with good makeup to top things off, it’s unlikely he ever sets foot on campus at UCLA, where he is committed.

Red Sox Grab Power Bat With Triston Casas

Triston Casas, 1B/3B, American Heritage School, Plantation, Fla. (BA Rank: 25)
Ht: 6-4 / Wt: 238
Bats: L / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Miami
Florida Rank: 9

Scouting Report: One of the top power-hitting players in the class, Casas has established an impressive track record as a corner infielder who was originally supposed to be in the 2019 draft class before reclassifying to become eligible this June. A two-time member of USA Baseball’s 18U National Team, Casas was named the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s player of the year in 2017, after leading the U-18 World Cup field with three home runs and 13 RBI, pushing Team USA to a gold-medal victory over Korea. He was also named the MVP of the tournament. Casas has 70-grade raw power out of a 6-foot-4, 240-pound frame that he has maintained well over the offseason, and he might be a bit lighter now after trimming up prior to his final season with American Heritage High in Plantation, Fla. His power plays to all fields, and Casas has enough to drive balls out of the park even when he doesn’t make solid contact. The Miami commit has a patient, selective approach at the plate and was among the more difficult player to pitch to on the summer showcase circuit according to a number of pitchers, although he has shown some of the swing-and-miss tendencies that can coincide with long arms. A surprisingly good athlete for his size, Casas has plus arm strength, which gives him an outside shot to play third base, where he plays for American Heritage. Most scouts believe he’ll inevitably slide to first base, however, which is a tough position to draft out of high school. But it is also challenging to find a hitter in the draft class with a better combination of hitting ability, plate discipline, power and track record against quality arms than Casas provides.

Nationals Grab Hard-Throwing Righty At 27

Mason Denaburg, RHP/C, Merritt Island (Fla.) HS (BA Rank: 22)
Ht: 6-3 / Wt: 190
Bats: R / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Florida
Florida Rank: 7

Scouting Report: Perhaps the most athletic pitcher in the class, Denaburg was one of the harder-throwing high school arms during the summer showcase season in 2017, touching 97 mph in short stints and serving as a reliever for USA Baseball’s 18U National Team. A former two-way player, Denaburg would be a legitimate pro prospect as a catcher with a strong throwing arm and raw power with the bat. However, his stuff on the mound is too intriguing for pro teams to keep him in gear and Denaburg scrapped catching this spring with Merritt Island (Fla.) High to focus on improving as a pitcher. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound righthander made a big jump after his first start of the season, when he matched up with Eau Gallie High (Melbourne, Fla.) righthander Carter Stewart in a highly-attended Prep Baseball Report tournament. In that game, Denaburg touched 97 mph in the first inning and settled into the low 90s, regularly touching 94 mph while also showing a much-improved curveball in the upper 70s that looked like a plus pitch. Over the summer, Denaburg was extremely fastball-heavy and scouts couldn’t get a good feel for his secondary offerings. The breaking ball that he showed in February gave scouts a reason to get excited. He threw a hard slider with a spike grip during the summer, but discovered a different grip when throwing bullpens and flat ground sessions during the offseason. Denaburg also throws an occasional low-80s changeup that shows promise. After the PBR event, Denaburg was more inconsistent and eventually shut things down altogether with biceps tendinitis that has caused him to miss approximately one month. The status of that injury will further complicate things as teams try to decide whether he is best served as a starter or a reliever long term, although his arm strength, athleticism and feel for spin give him a ceiling as a middle-of-the-rotation arm.

Clemson Slugger Seth Beer Headed To Houston

Seth Beer, 1B/OF, Clemson (BA Rank: 46)
Ht: 6-2 / Wt: 195
Bats: L / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
South Carolina Rank: 1

Scouting Report: Over the last three seasons, Beer has been one of college baseball’s brightest stars—and not just because of his infinitely punnable last name. Beer made a huge splash in 2016, enrolling early at Clemson and playing his freshman season when he could have been a senior in high school. He won BA’s Freshman of the Year Award that season by hitting .369/.535/.700 with 18 home runs—several in clutch, game-deciding moments. Since that season, though, Beer has hit for less contact, batting .277/.421/.561 with 14 home runs through 173 at-bats this spring. While there’s little doubt in Beer’s power—earning some 70 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale—his other tools are points of concern for scouts. Beer boasts exceptional pitch recognition and plate discipline, but some evaluators are more bullish on his hit tool than others due to his lack of a wood-bat track record. An accomplished swimmer who at one point was on track to compete in the Olympics, Beer’s swimmer’s body hasn’t translated into defensive ability on the field. He’s a poor runner, and his inefficient routes give him little chance of sticking in the outfield at the next level. He’s been an inconsistent first baseman as well, and doesn’t have a clear position heading into the draft. The team that drafts Beer will do so because of its belief in his power, plate discipline and overall hit tool. He has game-changing pop, but he’ll need to continue to hit and find a defensive home in order to move up the professional ranks.

With 29th Pick, Indians Pick Up Versatile Catcher Noah Naylor

Noah Naylor, C/3B, St. Joan of Arc Catholic SS, Mississauga, Ont. (BA Rank: 20)
Ht: 6-0 / Wt: 195
Bats: L / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Texas A&M
Canada Rank: 1

Scouting Report: The younger brother of current Padres prospect Josh Naylor, Noah is an impressive draft prospect in his own right, albeit a different sort of hitter than his brother. Whereas Josh showed immense power as an amateur, the younger Naylor is more hit over power, handling the offensive game from foul pole to foul pole but with the same long track record of success that Josh was afforded as a member of the Canadian Junior National Team. There are some scouts who would say Naylor has the best hit tool among all prep hitters in the 2018 class, led by a pure swing and the ability to adjust pitch-to-pitch, while also manipulating the barrel in each part of the strike zone. While he doesn’t have the elite power his older brother possesses, he does have present pop—it just doesn’t always show up in games. Many scouts think the power will continue to develop and improve, however. How high a team has Naylor on their board will depend on where they see him defensively. He’s a good enough athlete to catch and has a strong arm, but he can get lazy at times behind the dish and needs a lot of refinement. Some teams think he can turn into a solid third baseman, where he’s played frequently with Canada and over the showcase circuit while making all the routine plays. If neither of those work out, Naylor’s bat should still be good enough to play in a corner outfield position.

Dodgers Get One Of The Best Arms In The Class

J.T. Ginn, RHP, Brandon (Miss.) HS (BA Rank: 39)
Ht: 6-2 / Wt: 199
Bats: R / Throws: R
Commit/Drafted: Mississippi State
Mississippi Rank: 2

Scouting Report: Ginn has one of the best arms in this year’s draft class, having lit up radar guns with a 93-99 mph fastball with well above-average life. The Mississippi State signee has done a good job this year of cleaning up his delivery, as he’s more flowing and fluid after being stiffer in the past. He also hides the ball well in his delivery, which makes it even harder to hit his excellent fastball. He throws both a slider and curveball but the two blend together. One or the other should end up as a plus pitch, but right now it’s his power curve that is the better of the two as it presently flashes plus. When he throws his changeup between innings in warm-ups, it looks to be potentially average, but he’s yet to need to throw it against Louisiana high school hitters. Ginn’s biggest hurdles are his body and the fact that scouts have rarely seen him work longer than four or five innings. He was even used as a reliever early in the season at Brandon (Miss.) High, as his coach wanted to give him a chance to break the state saves record. He’s listed at 6-foot-2, but is probably closer to 6-foot and he’s already physically mature. He could move quickly through the minors, although there’s a lot of debate whether it will ultimately mean he pitches the first through fifth innings or in the eighth or ninth.

Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone