2019 MLB Draft: Top 50 High School Prospects
The high school top 50 was compiled in consultation with major league scouts, front office executives, scouting directors and other professional evaluators. The list is an attempt to gauge the industry’s consensus on the 2019 high school draft talent at the current moment, but with so much time between now and the draft, much is sure to change. However, this does provide a general overview of the strengths and weaknesses of the 2019 prep class.
With the summer in the rearview mirror, major league teams have been able to watch many of the top high school players in country and begin lining players up in preparation for the 2019 draft. The 2019 class isn’t as strong or deep as a 2018 class that was overflowing in pitching, and many scouts believe the group as a whole is a tick below-average compared to the past several years.
The strength of the class comes from the East Coast once again, with Florida accounting for more players (nine) than any other state and 18 percent of the top 50. That’s just less than last year’s Florida crop at the same time (11 players, 22 percent) though the 2019 Florida class has more players closer to the top of the rankings, with an average rank of 17.7 compared to 24.3 in the 2018 top 50. The state has three of the top six players and six of the top 15.
After Florida comes Texas (7 players, 14 percent) and Georgia (6 players, 12 percent) with Texas having a much higher average ranking in this year’s class (18.7) than last year’s (33.6) thanks to No. 1 overall prospect Bobby Witt, as well as two other prospects among the top 10. The Peachtree state is strong once again, with just one fewer player in the top 50 than 2018, and two of the top six players in the class in shortstop C.J. Abrams (No. 2) and righthander Daniel Espino (No. 6).
Evaluators believe this year’s hitting crop is about average compared with recent years, though the 2019 class does have plenty of middle infielders and outfielders ranked highly at this stage compared to the 2018 group. You can see the full position breakdowns below.
2019 Positional Group Breakdown
- Catcher: 2 (4%)
- Corner Infield: 4 (8%)
- Middle Infield: 10 (20%)
- Outfield: 12 (24%)
- Righthanded Pitchers: 19 (38%)
- Lefthanded Pitchers: 3 (6%)
2018 Positional Breakdown
- Catcher: 4 (8%)
- Corner Infield: 5 (10%)
- Middle Infield: 7 (14%)
- Outfield: 9 (18%)
- Righthanded Pitchers: 19 (38%)
- Lefthanded Pitchers: 6 (12%)
Texas shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. leads the class as previously mentioned, and while most evaluators and scouts point to the tooled-up Witt as the top prospect, it’s not a complete consensus in the same way that Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman is the No. 1 player on the college side. Some scouts prefer Abrams, who is a lefthanded hitter with elite speed and Dee Gordon comparisons, while others prefer the bat of Florida outfielder Riley Greene—the top hitter in the class. Whichever order, teams seem to agree that these three players are the top trio of the class at this point.
After the top hitting group comes the top two pitchers in the class — Florida righthander Brennan Malone and Georgia righthander Daniel Espino. The two have pitched themselves into the top tier of prep pitching, with a significant drop off between them and the next arms. Teams are fairly split on who they prefer, with some liking the projection and clean arm slot that the 6-foot-3 Malone offers, while others are favor with Espino’s fastball velocity, more consistent breaking ball and elite lower half despite a 6-foot frame that is shorter than the typical top-end prep pitcher.
Both players — as well as every other prospect on this list—will have plenty of time to improve their stock with strong spring seasons. The consensus on the high school class is sure to shift as we draw closer to the draft in June. Baseball America will continue to follow the class throughout the year, consulting scouts and evaluators along the way to update draft rankings as we build up to our annual BA 500 list.
Below you can see full reports and video on each of the top 50 prospects to get even more acquainted with the 2019 class.