Top Louisiana 2019 MLB Draft Prospects
State List Talent Ranking: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
(Stars are listed on a 1 to 5 scale relative to what the state typically produces, with 1 being the weakest)
A 6-foot-4, 200-pound third baseman with Tulane, Hoese has broken out in his junior season in the American Athletic Conference. After hitting a combined five home runs over his freshman and sophomore seasons, Hoese has managed 19 homers as of April 16—more than any hitter in the country. In that 36-game stretch, Hoese has managed a .409/.500/.879 slash line with more walks (24) than strikeouts (16). However, teams will be plenty skeptical of Hoese on draft day considering his track record prior to this season, and the fact that he’s a fringe-average defender at third base. Most of his value is tied to his bat, and with a pair of mediocre wood-bat summer performances, a team taking him on Day 1 or early Day 2 will have to be confident his 2019 season is more indicative of his talent.
Smith doesn’t have any “wow” tools that many of the other 2019 college shortstops possess, but unlike most of them, Smith’s consistency and reliability when healthy has given him a fairly high floor. He handled himself well as a freshman in 2017, hitting .281/.407/.409 with more walks (39) than strikeouts (33) in 72 games, but the following year a stress reaction in his back limited him to just six games. This spring, Smith has been a consistent defender at shortstop, and through his first 48 games, he led Louisiana State in batting average (.348), on-base percentage (.444) and stolen bases (15) and was second on the team in slugging percentage (.525). Smith’s tools are close to average across the board, with his best tool being either a solid-average hit tool or his defensive ability at shortstop. At just 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, Smith surprisingly has average raw power, although he isn’t likely to grow into much more power in the future. And while he has terrific defensive instincts and solid hands, some scouts believe he’ll eventually have to move to second base simply because a player with twitchier defensive tools will push him off shortstop in any given organization. Smtih’s size, lack of standout tools and medical history limit his upside in the draft, but SEC shortstops who hit—and hit lefthanded—tend to be drafted high, regardless of their tools. Smith’s track record in the Cape Cod League, where he hit .382/.478/.513 in 22 games in 2017, also adds to his profile. Smith is a high-floor player who should fit somewhere early on Day 2, at the latest.
Hess knows what it’s like to hear his name called on draft day, as this June will be the third time he has been selected. He was a 35th-round pick of the Braves out of high school and a 36th-round pick of the Yankees last year as a draft-eligible sophomore. He’ll be taken much higher this year, even after a year that has been a little disappointing. Hess impressed last summer with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, as he developed his rarely used changeup into a potentially fringe-average pitch. But heading into his junior season. Hess pulled a groin muscle, then suffered a second, different groin injury that forced him to exit an April 12 start against Missouri after only 13 ineffective pitches. After his second injury, the Tigers moved Hess back to the bullpen, where he had been extremely effective as a freshman. Following an impressive relief appearance against Florida, that was expected to be his new role, but an injury to freshman Cole Henry forced LSU to return Hess to starting on Friday night. Switching back and forth just reinforced the belief among many scouts that Hess is best suited for a relief role. He’s battled control problems over longer stints, has a head whack in his delivery and his high-intensity approach seems to help him thrive in pressure-packed relief appearances. A slight cross-fire in his delivery also helps him hide the ball. At his best, Hess has two devastating plus pitches with a mid-90s fastball that has touched 98 mph and a hard but sometimes inconsistent power slider. But his fastball and breaking ball are generally less impressive when he’s starting, which leads to the belief among a number of scouts that you’d rather have Hess try to attack hitters for an inning or two rather than work as a middling back-of-the-rotation starter. If he did move to the bullpen in pro ball, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him eventually touch 100 mph with a plus slider. As a starter, he’ll have to improve his below-average command and control.
Doughty is a well-rounded player, but his lack of present power will make it tough for teams to decide whether they want to buy him out of his commitment to Louisiana State. The Tigers have a history of taking well-rounded players like Doughty, developing them, and watching them turn into even better draft picks after a few years in college. Doughty will likely end up at second or third base in pro ball, but he shows excellent instincts and good hands to go with a plus arm and average range. He’s an average runner and is capable of playing almost anywhere other than shortstop, catcher or center field. At the plate, Doughty shows above-average hand-eye coordination that leads scouts to believe he could end up as an above-average or even plus hitter. The questions revolve around whether he’ll develop above-average power. Right now, he has below-average power. Some evaluators see him developing significantly more power as he gets older and stronger thanks to his hitting ability, while others see it as more likely that he’ll never develop more than average pop.
As a draft-eligible sophomore in 2018, no team came close to matching Watson’s asking price and he fell to the Red Sox’s final pick in the 40th round. This year, Watson is likely to hear his name called in the third or fourth round because of his wide array of tools. He’s a plus defender in center field (some scouts grade him as a 70 defender) with an average arm. He’s also a 70 runner who was 10-for-10 on stolen base attempts as of mid-May. He’s been one of the focal points of LSU’s offense for the past three seasons, hitting better than .300 in each of his three years in Baton Rouge while living up to the billing as the next in a long list of successful LSU center fielders. Watson also has some limitations, however, including an arm bar in his swing that makes him vulnerable to committing to his swing early. He can turn around a fastball and posts excellent exit velocities when he squares a ball up, but he struggles to recognize and hit breaking balls and he currently hits a lot of ground balls, which explains his relatively modest power numbers. He’s likely a fringe-average hitter at best, which limits his likely ceiling, but as a center fielder who can run, Watson provides value at a premium defensive position.
Scouts and front offices are going to have a difficult time figuring out what to do with Harris, as he’s continued to show projection and promise this spring but also missed time with a minor arm injury. When he has pitched, he’s been inconsistent. At his best, Harris has sits 88-93 mph with a more consistent curveball that he’s commanding better than he did last summer. Harris’ fastball has above-average movement, and he generates some deception from his long, loose arm action and high three-quarter delivery. His 11-to-5 curveball will flash plus potential, although it’s not a consistently average pitch yet. He displayed feel for a mid-80s changeup last summer with some arm-side fade, but he hasn’t had much reason to use it against high school hitters this spring. The biggest concern for Harris is his inability to maintain his stuff consistently. After getting a late start, his stuff has started to back up, and he’s been sitting more in the mid- to upper 80s in recent outings. A New Orleans signee, Harris is long, lean and projectable, so there is plenty of reason to think that the best is yet to come.
After a strong summer, McDaniel looked like one of the best prep pitching prospects in Louisiana. In addition to featuring a 92-95 mph fastball, he showed the ability to spin both a curveball and slider. But during the spring, McDaniel had to be shut down with a sore elbow. He tried to return, but when he did his velocity dipped into the upper 80s and he didn’t have the same control he had shown before he was shut down. The injury clouds his status and makes it a little more likely he’ll make it to Mississippi. If he does, there’s a chance he’ll be throwing even harder in a few years.
Peterson has some of the best stuff in the Southeastern Conference, but you wouldn’t know it by his statistical performance. When he’s locked in, Peterson can attack away with a 92-97 mph fastball and an above-average 83-85 mph slider. Optimistic scouts can dream on Peterson’s slider eventually becoming a plus pitch, but his fastball is relatively straight. Too often, Peterson is not locked in. He has a tendency to hang a breaking ball or leave a fastball over the heart of the plate. It’s a little puzzling and Peterson’s 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings are less than what would be expected for a power reliever. There is still plenty of potential in Peterson’s talented right arm, but a team picking him will be counting on getting more out of him in the future.
With Sam Houston High School’s (Lake Charles, La.) season on the line, Meeks came one double short of throwing a perfect game in the Louisiana 5A state semifinals. It was a nice glimpse of Meeks’ promise. He has a projectable 6-foot-4 frame and sits 89-93 mph with a loose arm and plenty of athleticism. Some scouts aren’t thrilled with his arm action, but others seem less concerned about it. He flashes an average breaking ball, but only inconsistently. Meeks is signed with McNeese State. Most clubs would be OK with him improving his stuff over the next few years in college, but there are enough who are intrigued that he could be a solid Day 2 pick. He should add more velocity over the next few years.
Most scouts expect Milazzo to make it to Louisiana State, where they also expect he’ll show himself to be one of the better defensive catchers in college baseball. He brings a grinder’s mentality to the position and he loves to use his plus arm, back picking baserunners whenever they stray a little far from the bag. He’s a polished receiver for a high school catcher and he loves to work with pitching staffs. But the track record of great glove, light bat catchers is very erratic, which is one of the reasons he’ll probably make it to school. Milazzo projects as a below-average hitter with well-below average power thanks to timing issues and less than average barrel feel. He’ll have to show improvements at the plate to escape a future backup catcher profile.
Travinski has some very loud tools. His 70-grade raw power is some of the best in the high school class as he posts outstanding exit velocities with a powerful righthanded stroke. He has a plus arm as well. Travinski has also improved his body in the past year, but still has a lot of work to do behind the plate. He can get long in his transfer. He blocks balls in the dirt well, but he needs to catch the ball deeper, as he sometimes fights the ball when receiving it. If he makes it to Louisiana State he could be a first base/catcher who racks up plenty of home runs.
A cousin of San Francisco 49ers great and Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott, Todd Lott was a 20th-round pick of the Reds coming out of high school. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound righthanded hitter has a lot of power potential, displaying plus-plus raw power in batting practice, but he’s struggled to fully translate that into games. His eight home runs this season doubled his career total from his first two seasons, but he still managed just 18 extra-base hits this year. He did hit .332/.395/.502, however, and he started drawing more walks after posting a 30-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio as a sophomore. Lott has to hit because he’s a first baseman/left fielder who is below-average at both spots.
Much like Jake Mangum, Duplantis decided to turn down signing as a late-round pick (19th round to the Indians) to become an all-time great for Louisiana State. At the end of the Southeastern Conference tournament he was three hits shy of tying Eddy Furniss’ school career hits record. Duplantis has worn No. 8 for the past two years, the number given to LSU’s team leader. Being an LSU star is also a family tradition. His mother Helena was a heptathlete and volleyball player for the Tigers. His father Greg was an all-American pole vaulter for LSU. And his brother Mondo set the NCAA pole vaulting record with a 19-foot, 8 ¼ inch leap this year as a freshman for LSU. Duplantis is a great college player and he is an above-average runner, but he profiles as a backup outfielder in pro ball thanks to below-average power. He has a compact lefthanded swing which helps him project as an above-average hitter. He is an above-average defender in a corner, although his fringe-average arm is stretched in right field.
14. Thomas Wilhite, RHP, West Ouachita HS, West Monroe, La.
Source: HS • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 200 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Louisiana State
15. Silas Ardoin, C, Sam Houston HS, Lake Charles, La.
Source: HS • Ht: 5-11 • Wt: 180 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Texas
16. Wes Toups, OF, E.D. White HS, Thibodaux, La.
Source: HS • Ht: 5-9 • Wt: 160 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: LSU
17. Shane Selman, OF, Mcneese State
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-11 • Wt: 198 • B-T: R-L • Commitment/Drafted: Red Sox '18 (39)
19. Reeves Martin, RHP, New Orleans
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-8 • Wt: 180 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted
20. Collier Cranford, SS, Zachary (La.) HS
Source: HS • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 175 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Louisiana State
21. Hunter David, C/1B, Southern University
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 215 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted
22. Bryce Tassin, RHP, Southeast Louisiana
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 212 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted
23. Saul Garza, C, Louisiana State
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 229 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Cardinals '17 (31)
24. Carson Maxwell, 3B, Mcneese State
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 215 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted
25. Brendan Cellucci, LHP, Tulane
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 201 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted