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2025 MLB Draft: 5 College Players Boosting Their Stock


Image credit: Florida State LHP Jamie Arnold (Photo courtesy of Florida State Athletics)

With under a month left in the regular season, there is more than enough of a sample size to examine a handful of 2025-eligible prospects who have improved their respective draft statuses. In addition to a new No. 1 arm in the class, I’ll take a look at a trio of impact bats, as well as another lefthander who is making plenty of noise down south. It is important to remember that while these five players have improved their standing, the 2025 draft cycle has not even begun. A lot can—and will—change over the course of the next 15 months.

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Jamie Arnold, LHP, Florida State

Arnold has been one of the best arms in all of college baseball this year. He owns a minuscule 1.32 ERA with 78 strikeouts to just 12 walks across 54.2 innings. He has made mince meat of every opposing lineup he’s faced to this point, but most notably held Clemson to one run on three hits across seven innings.

The 6-foot-1 lefthander has seen both his stuff and velocity tick up since last year. He deploys a three-pitch mix that includes a fastball, slider and a changeup. There isn’t a whole lot of effort in Arnold’s delivery and he attacks from a low three-quarter, borderline sidearm slot with present arm speed. His fastball sits in the 92-95 range, but has regularly touched 96 and 97. It explodes out of his hand and features run and ride through the zone, and is at its best when elevated on the arm side. Opposing hitters are hitting just .190 against it, and so far it has an impressive miss rate of 34%.

He supplements his thunderous heater with a long, sweeping low-to-mid-80s slider that has some teeth to it. It is a particularly uncomfortable look for lefthanded hitters given that it will start almost behind their back and end up in the other batter’s box, but Arnold also deploys the pitch against righthanded hitters. He has an advanced feel for the offering and consistently generates ugly swings and misses. While he’s thrown in just 5% of the time, Arnold is still gaining feel for a mid-80s changeup that at times has flashed late tumbling life with natural fade to the arm side.

There is plenty to like when it comes to Arnold. He’s an above-average strike-thrower from the left side with a chance to have two plus or better pitches when all is said and done. I feel reasonably confident in his ability to start long term, and this season he has established himself as the new top college pitcher in the class.

Henry Ford, 1B, Virginia

Following a productive summer in the Valley League in which he hit .311/.402/.522, Ford burst onto the scene as a true freshman. He immediately cemented himself as an everyday player within Virginia’s loaded lineup and has arguably been the team’s most productive hitter to this point. Through 37 games, Ford is hitting .371/.461/.715 with 11 doubles, 13 home runs and 49 RBIs.

At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, Ford is an imposing presence in the box. He sits pretty deep in his base with a normal handset. Ford has a noticeable leg lift, but he more so just picks his front leg up and puts it back down as opposed to some huge stride. There isn’t much of a load and his hands hardly drift at all. It’s a little bit of a clunky and stiff pre-swing move, but he makes it work. Ford does a great job of hitting against a firm front side and his back hip explodes through the baseball. He has plenty of wrist and forearm strength and naturally creates leverage in his swing, but especially to the pull side.

There is no shortage of torque in Ford’s operation, and he rotates well while really finishing his swing. Ford’s approach is average, but he has flashed an advanced feel for the barrel. His 90% overall in-zone contact rate is impressive, but it increases to a whopping 96% when focusing only on fastballs. Ford regularly drives the ball with authority to all fields, but his highest quality of contact has come to the pull side. I would grade his power as plus and hit tool as average, though I do believe it is closer to a 55 than a 50.

Even if Ford ends up at first base long term, you are buying the offensive upside. Right now, the bat is more than enough to warrant a potential top-50 overall selection.  

Kane Kepley, OF, Liberty

A 5-foot-8 firecracker, Kepley is one of the most intriguing non-power five prospects in this year’s class. After a strong true freshman season, Kepley this summer tore up the Coastal Plain League and hit .339/.468/.546 with 14 extra-base hits, a ridiculous 29-to-11 walk-to-strikeout ratio and 26 stolen bases. He has not missed a beat this year and is currently hitting .336/.457/.550 with new career-highs in a handful of statistical categories.

In the box, Kepley has a slightly open front side—it will be a touch more open against lefthanded pitchers—with a medium-high handset. He uses a toe-tap instead of a stride and his barrel explodes through the hitting zone. Kepley has plus bat speed and really drives his back leg. He’ll drop his back knee at times and has sneaky thump to the pull side.

Both his approach and contact ability are outstanding. Kepley has borderline double-plus bat-to-ball skills and is consistently on the barrel. His overall contact rate this year is an impressive 89%, including 91% against pitches within the strike zone. Kepley’s pitch recognition skills are impressive, and he does a commendable job of picking up spin out of the hand and seldom expands the strike zone. Kepley peppers the entire field with line drives and his plus speed enables him to take an extra base on balls down the line or in the gap.

Not only is Kepley a plus runner, but he most importantly knows how to run. He has an extremely advanced baseball sense and is a headache for opposing pitchers to deal with on the basepaths. Kepley picks his spots to run and will rarely cost his team an out. His speed and instincts translate well to centerfield where he flashes an average arm, but he could eventually wind up in left field.

The easy comparison is 2023 sixth-round pick Tommy Hawke, and like Hawke Kepley profiles as an early-to-middle day two selection in 2025.

Gavin Kilen, SS, Louisville

Kilen had a rather modest true freshman campaign, but so far has enjoyed a breakout 2024 season to the tune of a .370/.408/.637 slash line with 15 doubles, three triples, five home runs and 25 RBIs—all of which are new career-highs.

The 6-foot shortstop has a simple setup in the box with an upright stance. He has a noticeable leg lift, though the stride itself is minimal, and a slight barrel tip. He has a loose swing and I am a particular fan of his hand action. Kilen has an aggressive approach with plus contact skills. His in-zone contact rate of 94%, including 97% against fastballs, is mighty impressive. Kilen will use the entire field, but his highest quality of contact is undoubtedly to the pull side.

Kilen has fared well at shortstop this year and his defense has improved a bit, but I still think he is a second baseman when all is said and done. His arm is a tick below-average, and his actions would work best on the right side of the infield where he has the potential to be an average defender. Kilen’s offensive production this year has been a welcome sight, and right now he profiles as a second-to-fourth round pick.

Shane Sdao, LHP, Texas A&M

It is easy to get lost in the shuffle on a Texas A&M pitching staff whose 3.21 cumulative ERA ranks second nationally, however Sdao has carved out a meaningful role for himself as a sophomore. After being relied upon heavily as a freshman, Sdao in 2024 has pitched his way to a 3.32 ERA with 27 strikeouts to just three walks across 21.2 innings.

At 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds, Sdao has a lean, high-waisted build with some present physicality in his lower-half. He has a short arm stroke and attacks from a high-three quarter slot with plenty of arm speed. Sdao’s fastball sits in the 91-94 range, but has topped out at 96. It jumps out of his hand and flashes riding life up in the zone, where it gets over the barrel of opposing hitters.

Sdao’s bread-and-butter pitch is his low-to-mid-80s slider that he has an advanced feel for. He varies its shape well, and against righthanded hitters it has more of a gyro look with depth, whereas against lefthanded hitters it looks the part of a true sweeper with plenty of lateral movement. It is a legitimate out pitch, and so far this season it has a 44% miss rate. Lastly, Sdao rounds out his arsenal with a mid-80s changeup that he uses somewhat sparingly. It gets good separation off his fastball and will at times flash a bit of late tumble. It looks the part of a potentially average third pitch down the road.

Sdao has plus control and could find himself in the Aggies’ weekend rotation come 2025. If he makes the jump from the bullpen to the rotation and fares well as a starter, his stock has a chance to skyrocket.

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