Join Today! Become A Baseball America Insider

Top Alabama 2019 MLB Draft Prospects

2019_30Days.jpg

To see our BA 500 draft rankings, click here. To see other states, click here.

State List Talent Ranking: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
(Stars are listed on a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being the weakest)

1. Gunnar Henderson, SS, Morgan Academy, Selma, Ala. (BA RANK: 30)
Source: HS • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 194 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Auburn

The top prospect in Alabama, Henderson is a physical, 6-foot-3, 194-pound shortstop with high upside both offensively and defensively. At the plate, Henderson has the potential for an average hit tool with current above-average power that could turn into plus power down the line. His body has improved this spring, as he’s grown into his 6-foot-3 frame with even more room to continue to add strength. Defensively, teams are still mixed in regards to Henderson’s future. For a rangier kid without elite quickness, some scouts believe Henderson will need to move to third base, where he has plus defensive potential with solid hands and 60-grade arm strength. Others, however, have seen him handle shortstop well and believe he has enough athleticism to remain there, where he could be an average defender. To meet those aspirations, Henderson will need to shorten up some of his actions in the infield—he can get long with his throwing motion at times—and also improve his footwork and ability to throw from multiple angles. He has allowed the game to speed up on him at times, but he should at least get a chance at shortstop at the next level before moving to third base. He has enough hitting ability and power to profile well at either position. An Auburn commit, Henderson could go off the draft board at some point on Day 1.

2. Ethan Hearn, C, Mobile (Ala.) Christian HS (BA RANK: 66)
Source: HS • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 195 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Mississippi State

The first-team catcher on BA’s Preseason All-American team, Hearn is a 6-foot, 195-pound backstop with a big arm and raw power out of a physical lefthanded swing. He has plenty of muscle in his frame, which helps him defensively, where he has plus arm strength and flashes plus pop times around 1.9 seconds in warmups. While scouts praise his defensive potential, there have been questions raised about his mobility behind the plate and the fact that he’ll need to polish his receiving skills. However, scouts believe his mental toughness and intense work ethic will suit him well as he moves up the ladder and has to incorporate more details into his game from a mechanical standpoint and in regards to leading a pitching staff. Offensively, Hearn is more power over hit at the moment, with above-average raw power but a below-average hit tool. With the chance to be an above-average or even plus defender depending on his development, Hearn’s power gives him the chance to be a solid everyday catcher in the current major league environment. Hearn is a Mississippi State commit, but as the best prep catching prospect in the class—which is the one of the riskiest demographics in the draft—he might not make it to Starkville.

3. Will Holland, SS, Auburn (BA RANK: 72)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-10 • Wt: 181 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Holland broke out as a sophomore in 2018, hitting .313/.406/.530 with 12 home runs while playing a flashy shortstop to garner second-team all-SEC honors. He entered 2019 among the top tier of college shortstops after a strong showing in the Cape Cod League, where he hit .341/.431/.432. Yet Holland’s prospect status has fallen throughout the spring, as he has struggled immensely with the bat during his junior season. An aggressive hitter, Holland has always been prone to high strikeout rates, but the fact that it came with high averages and extra-base power somewhat negated those concerns. Through his first 45 games this season, Holland has been one of Auburn’s worst hitters, batting just .228/.375/.364 with 46 strikeouts and 27 walks. Holland could need some mechanical tweaks at the next level, as some have questioned his wide, spread-out stance, and he also must improve his pitch selection. Defensively, Holland has the range, arm strength and athleticism for shortstop, and he has the ability to make highlight-reel plays look relatively routine from time to time. However, he still needs to refine some of the finer details of the position and improve his overall consistency in order to stick at the position long term. Holland’s spring season has clouded his draft stock, but his toolset, defensive potential and previous track record shouldn’t let him drop much further than the third round.

4. Davis Daniel, RHP, Auburn (BA RANK: 154)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 180 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Brewers '18 (11)

Davis has been a highly regarded prospect since coming out of high school in Alabama, when he was drafted in the 34th round by the Cubs in 2016. Daniel immediately factored into Auburn’s rotation as a freshman and then split time as a starter and reliever with the Tigers in 2018, when he was a draft-eligible sophomore and was selected in the 11th round by the Brewers. His 2019 season was ruined by an arm injury that eventually led to Tommy John surgery, having thrown just two innings in his season debut. That complicates things for Daniel, who could have been a top-100 prospect with a healthy season because of a fastball that’s been up 97 mph, a solid breaking ball and a good changeup. Daniel struggled with his control at times when healthy—he walked 4.32 batters per nine innings during his sophomore season—and his fastball flattened out and became too hittable. His injury status will make him something of a wild card in the draft this year.

5. Edouard Julien, INF, Auburn (BA RANK: 203)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 195 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Phillies '17 (37)

Ranked No. 451 on the BA 500 coming out of secondary school in Canada in 2017, Julien impressed scouts with the Canadian Junior National Team with a loose, lefthanded swing, quick hands and above-average speed. Now, after just two years with Auburn in the SEC, Julien is a draft-eligible sophomore thanks to one of his secondary school years counting the same as one year of junior college. Because of that, Julien is one of the younger four-year players in the class, and he will turn 20 just a month before the draft. He’s a bit of a split-camp player for teams, however, as he has plus raw power—some of the best on Auburn’s club—but there are questions about his hit tool. After posting a .275/.398/.556 slash line with 17 home runs as a freshman, Julien has hit just .232/.367/.429 with eight home runs and a 27 percent strikeout rate through 54 games this spring. The whiffs are concerning, and Julien similarly struggled in the Cape Cod League last summer, hitting .205/.289/.372 with a 33 percent strikeout rate. The good news is that he has always walked at a solid clip—roughly 15 percent of the time over his two years with the Tigers. Given his age and 2018 performance, teams might be willing to take a shot. Defensively, Julien doesn’t have an obvious fit, but he profiles as a corner player in some capacity, whether that’s at third base or in the outfield.

6. Nathaniel LaRue, C/RHP, McGill-Toolen HS, Mobile, Ala. (BA RANK: 210)
Source: HS • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 203 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Auburn

LaRue is a 6-foot-3, 203-pound two-way prospect committed to Auburn. He is athletic and profiles well as a catcher, but evaluators seem to be most intrigued by what he can do on the mound. He shows above-average arm strength and throws plenty of strikes thanks to a repeatable delivery. LaRue throws his fastball in the low 90s as well as a breaking ball that flashes plus. LaRue also shows feel for a third-pitch changeup with sinking action. While he has some power with the bat, most evaluators see his long-term future on the mound.

7. Britt Sparks, RHP, Shelton State (Ala.) JC (BA RANK: 268)
Source: JC • Ht: 6-5 • Wt: 220 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Alabama

A two-way player for Shelton State JC, Sparks hit .365/.459/.500 with nine walks and eight strikeouts in 52 at-bats, but he has more upside on the mound. Listed at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, Sparks posted a 3.32 ERA with 35 strikeouts and 12 walks in eight starts and 40.2 innings this spring. His fastball currently sits in the 89-92 mph range, but there should be added velocity to come in the future. An Alabama commit, Sparks has a chance to go to the Southeastern Conference and become an immediate fixture in the Crimson Tide’s weekend rotation, where he could raise his draft stock with solid performances against better competition. For now, he’s an intriguing projection prospect.

8. Graham Ashcraft, RHP, Alabama-Birmingham (BA RANK: 350)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 215 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Dodgers '16 (12)

When Ashcraft turned down the Dodgers as a 12th-round pick out of high school, it was reasonable to surmise that he might turn himself into a first- or second-rounder with a strong career at Mississippi State. After all, he was a strong, powerful pitcher who had touched 99 mph in high school, and he had also shown plenty of power at the plate—he hit 16 home runs to lead the state of Alabama as a high school junior. Nothing has been easy for Ashcraft since then. He showed a blazing, mid-90s fastball as a freshman with the Bulldogs, but his season ended early because he needed hip surgery. Ashcraft then missed all of the 2018 season recovering from surgery on his other hip. He decided to transfer for his redshirt sophomore year, and began this season in Alabama-Birmingham’s rotation. But his stuff has lacked the same consistency this year. He occasionally showed a mid-90s fastball, but his command was lacking. He lost his rotation spot and had a 16.20 ERA and 13 hits allowed in just 6.2 innings in six appearances over the final month of the season. Ashcraft still has plenty of potential, but he may be better off returning to school—he has two years of eligibility remaining—to prove he’s better than his late-season swoon.

9. Trace Bright, RHP, Trinity Presbyterian HS, Montgomery, Ala. (BA RANK: 353)
Source: HS • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 195 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Auburn

A lanky, 6-foot-4, 195-pound righthander, Bright is a projection arm out of Alabama who last summer showed an 87-90 mph fastball at the East Coast Pro showcase. While there Bright had below-average control of the pitch, but also flashed some promise with a mid-70s, three-quarter curveball that had good shape but early break. This spring Bright has added some weight, though he still has more room to add strength in the future. At his best, Bright has touched 92-93 mph. Bright is committed to Auburn.

10. Branden Fryman, SS, Samford
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 170 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Mets '16 (37)

CC

11. Brandon Kaminer, LHP, Wallace (Ala.) JC
Source: JC • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 180 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Louisiana State

12. Jordan Beck, OF/3B, Hazel Green (Ala.) HS
Source: HS • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 210 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Tennessee

13. Evan Gillespie, LHP, Faulkner (Ala.)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-10 • Wt: 215 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

14. Oraj Anu, OF, Wallace (Ala.) JC
Source: JC • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 210 • B-T: B-R • Commitment/Drafted: Kentucky

15. Blake Bennett, LHP, Haleyville (Ala.) HS
Source: HS • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 190 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Alabama

16. Chase Patrick, RHP, Chattahoochee Valley (Ala.) JC
Source: JC • Ht: 5-9 • Wt: 164 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Mississippi State

17. Jared Shemper, LHP, Wallace (Ala.) JC
Source: JC • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 196 • B-T: R-L • Commitment/Drafted: Mississippi State

18. Peyton Wilson, C, Hoover (Ala.) HS
Source: HS • Ht: 5-10 • Wt: 170 • B-T: B-R • Commitment/Drafted: Alabama

19. William Hamiter, SS, Northridge HS, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Source: HS • Ht: 5-11 • Wt: 180 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Alabama

graphic-Orelvis_Martinez_MikeJanesFourSeam.jpg

Gulf Coast League Top 20 Prospects For 2019

Many of the top draft picks and high-profile international signings who played in the GCL struggled to perform.

Are you a member?

In order to access this exclusive content you must have a Baseball America Account. 

Login or sign up  

of Free Stories Remaining