Head Of The Class
While we at Baseball America still are digesting the 2018 draft class, we also have an eye on the 2019 class. At this point in time, the top of next year’s class looks to be much heavier on position players at both the high school and college levels. In this feature we rank the top 10 high school and top 10 college draft prospects for 2019.
Top 10 High School MLB Draft Prospects For 2019
1. Bobby Witt Jr., SS
Colleyville (Texas) Heritage HS
The son of 16-year major league pitcher Bobby Witt, the younger Witt is an all-around player with above-average to plus tools in every category and the ability to stick at shortstop. His father found success on the mound, but Witt Jr.’s future is in the batter’s box—though he has touched 97 mph on the mound—where he has developing power thanks to adding 10 pounds of muscle over the last six months. He has plus-plus speed out of the righthanded batter’s box and has excellent hands defensively. He is committed to Oklahoma, where his father played.
2. C.J. Abrams | SS
Blessed Trinity HS, Roswell, Ga.
At least a plus-plus runner, Abrams is a lefthanded-hitting shortstop with the defensive skills to stick at the position and fantastic feel for the barrel offensively. His speed allows him to rack up extra bases but he hasn’t shown big-time raw power. Defensively, Abrams has a quick exchange, advanced body control and above-average range.
3. Riley Greene, OF
Hagerty HS, Oviedo, Fla.
Greene has arguably the best pure hit tool in the 2019 high school class, with quick hands out of the lefthanded batter’s box in addition to a discerning eye at the plate. He appears calm and in control of his at-bats, regardless of the count and has a track record of walking at a high rate. He should continue to hit for more power and already has solid pull-side pop.
4. Brennan Malone, RHP
Porter Ridge HS, Indian Trail, N.C.
Malone stood out as an underclassman during the showcase circuit last summer, throwing in the low 90s with good feel for spinning a breaking ball. His fastball has touched as high as 97 mph early this summer, but he also has impressive secondaries in an 83-85 mph fading changeup and mid-70s curveballj with 12-to-6 break. Both could become plus offerings down the line.
5. Rece Hinds, 3B
Niceville (Fla.) HS
The premier power hitter of the 2019 prep class, Hinds has been famous on the national scene for a long time, thanks in part to his participation in the 2017 Under Armour All-America game along with Bobby Witt Jr. Hinds has plus raw power in the tank with a clean bat path and fluid, loose swing out of the righthanded batter’s box. His easy plus arm strength fits best at third base.
6. Daniel Espino, RHP
Ga. Premier Acad., Statesboro, Ga.
A 6-foot-3 righthander, Espino was perhaps the most impressive player at Perfect Game’s National Showcase early this summer. There, he struck out five batters in two innings and pitched with at 93-97 mph and touched as high as 98. He’s not just a hard-thrower. He showed three solid offspeed offerings: a low-70s curveball, a 77-80 mph slider and a firm, upper-80s changeup.
7. Hunter Barco, LHP
Bolles School, Jacksonville
Barco had his breakout on the national scene last fall when he was arguably the most impressive pitcher at Perfect Game’s WWBA World Championship as an underclassman. An athletic lefthander, he throws from a very low arm slot and has tremendous running life on a low-90s fastball and a tumbling, 82-85 mph changeup. The consistency of his low-80s slider over the course of the summer and spring could be the key factor in where he falls in the draft
8. Matthew Thompson, RHP
Cypress Ranch HS, Houston
Like Hunter Barco, Thompson is a pitcher who popped during last fall’s PG event in Jupiter, Fla., by getting his fastball up to 96 mph out of an athletic 6-foot-1 frame. He has also shown a breaking ball that has hard, late-breaking action, but he’ll need to continue refining his control and command.
9. Tyler Callihan, 3B
Providence HS, Jacksonville
Some evaluators believe that Callihan is a first-round-caliber hitter thanks to a strong lefthanded swing and consistent hard contact. He likely won’t fit in the middle of the infield but has a chance to stick at third base with continued work, though could still move to first base.
10. Jerrion Ealy, OF
Jackson (Miss.) Prep HS
A tooled-up outfielder, Ealy is a four-star running back on the football field and is committed to Mississippi thanks to his prowess on the gridiron. On the baseball field, he has plus arm strength, is a plus runner and has some raw power in the tank thanks to an quick hands and an aggressive swing. He has shown some swing-and-miss tendencies he’ll need to iron out.
Top 10 College Prospects For 2019
1. Adley Rutschman, C
Rutschman came to Oregon State as both a catcher and a kicker for the football team and played both sports as a freshman. He gave up football this year and broke out at the plate to earn All-America honors. Listed at 6-foot-2, 216 pounds, Rutschman is a physical, switch-hitting catcher. He is a patient hitter who has burgeoning power, though to this point it has mostly played to the gaps. He is an asset behind the plate, where he has well a above-average arm and does a good job of receiving, blocking and managing the staff.
2. Shea Langeliers, C
Langeliers in 2017 was a first-team Freshman All-American and followed that up with a strong summer in the Cape Cod League, where he stood out as the best catcher despite his youth. The righthanded hitter has plus power and it plays well in games. Behind the plate, he has an above-average arm and in the last year has improved defensively.
3. Josh Jung, 3B
Jung immediately stepped into Texas Tech’s lineup as a freshman and has done nothing but hit, this year earning All-America honors. Listed at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, the righthanded hitter provides an impressive all-around skill set with the ability to hit for both average and power. He’s very athletic for his size and is a solid defender with a plus arm at the hot corner.
4. Logan Davidson, SS
Seth Beer got all the attention at Clemson, but Davidson was the Tigers’ best prospect. A switch-hitter, Davidson has above-average power and gets to it in games, though it comes with a fair amount of swing-and-miss. He has a rangy frame at a listed at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds and he has a chance to stay at shortstop thanks to his range and arm.
Cardinals Were Ready For Remote Development
Because the Cardinals had shifted away from a traditional instructional league arrangement years ago, they were ready for remote player development.
5. Zack Thompson, LHP
At this early juncture, college pitching looks to be a weak point of the 2019 draft. Thompson came into the spring regarded as one of the top sophomore arms, but an elbow injury limited him to 31 innings. At his best, he throws his fastball in the low 90s and his big curveball is the best of his three offspeed pitches.
6. Braden Shewmake, SS
Shewmake has been one of Texas A&M’s top hitters the last two years and will this summer play for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team for the second year in a row. Listed at 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, he is long and lean and has above-average hitting ability. He’s still a work in progress at shortstop, but his hit tool and above-average speed make for an intriguing package.
7. Nick Lodolo, LHP
Lodolo didn’t sign as the 41st overall pick out of high school but hasn’t had the runaway success at TCU that was expected. His raw tools remain enticing, however. Listed at 6-foot-6, 185 pounds, he has a great pitcher’s frame and the makings of a solid three-pitch mix. Lodolo needs to find more consistency, especially with his command.
8. Will Holland, SS
Holland is toolsy and athletic and had a breakout spring as Auburn’s everyday shortstop. He has an above-average combination of power and speed that makes him a dangerous hitter at the top of the lineup. Holland has the hands, range and arm to make highlight-reel plays but is still prone to inconsistency on defense.
9. Drew Mendoza, 3B
Mendoza has big raw tools and athleticism. Listed at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, the lefthanded hitter has easy power and gets to it in games. He is a patient hitter with good on-base skills, but he has struck out in nearly a quarter of his college plate appearances. He’s still a work in progress at third base and will need to improve his defensive consistency.
10. Matt Wallner, OF
The 2017 Freshman of the Year had a strong sophomore campaign, hitting .351/.474/.618 with 16 home runs. Listed at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, he has big raw power and has done a good job of getting to it in games. He profiles well as a right fielder thanks to his plus arm. Waller also has pitched and throws a powerful fastball, but his future figures to be as a hitter.