Featured Photo, Jarred Kelenic (Waukesha West (Waukesha, Wisc.))
Nick J. Faleris and Burke Granger provide their preseason follow lists by position for the 2018 MLB Draft Class. For purposes of these lists, players fall into three categories: Top Follow (Potential Day One — Top 2 Rounds), High Follow (Potential Top 5 Rounds), and Follow (Potential Draftee/More Information Needed). Players are shifted from early designation on the pref list to a more specific “suggested slot/suggested investment” during the spring, leading up to draft day. These should be viewed as loose groupings at this point in the process. For purposes of these lists, the “Follow” category does not contain all players being tracked by 2080 Baseball.
Top Follow (Potential Day 1)
Kelenic is a true five tool talent, bringing upper-90s velocity from the outfield, plus to plus-plus run times in the field and in the showcase settings, and the potential to grow into plus hit and power tools in time. Already a physical talent, Kelenic has maintained his speed and flexibility while increasing his strength, giving him an up-the-middle projection defensively to go with a potential middle-of-the-order bat. He is a Louisville commit.
Greyson Jenista, OF/1B, Wichita State Univ.
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/210 B/T: L/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 6m
Jenista slashed .310/.391/.401 this summer on his way to Cape Cod League MVP honors. Though he has more “swing and miss” than his Wichita State teammate Alec Bohm, Jenista offers a more balanced portfolio of tools, including above-average-to-plus arm strength and speed to go with plus or better raw power.
Travis Swaggerty, OF, Univ. of South Alabama
Ht/Wt: 5’11”/180 B/T: L/L Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 20y, 9m
Swaggerty was a catalyst for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team last summer, slashing .328/.449/.406 while swiping six bags in seven steal attempts. He has the range hold down center field at the next level and his gap-to-gap pop should be enough to allow his high contact hit tool to effectively play.
Thomas helped set the table for USA Baseball’s gold medal 18U squad last September, slashing .361/395/.389 and going a perfect five-for-five in stolen base attempts over the nine-game WBSC World Cup. The arm is below-average, but his range and feel in the outfield give him an excellent chance to hold down the eight-spot, long term, and he’s worked to stay even more direct to contact at the plate, helping to add even more pop to an already solid offensive profile.
Despite struggling some at the plate with the Collegiate National Team, McCarthy raked in his brief nine-game stint on the Cape with Harwich, slashing .387/.441/.613 over 34 plate appearances. He profiles similarly to Alek Thomas (above), showing a below-average arm but good speed and instincts in the field to go with a gap-to-gap bat.
One of the more tooled-up talents in this year’s crop of outfielders, Gray struggled to perform consistently on the showcase circuit last summer. Even so, the Ole Miss commit flashes impact potential across all facets of the game, and particularly with his impact glove, arm strength, and burgeoning power.
Connor Scott, OF/LHP, Plant (Orlando, Fla.)
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/185 B/T: L/L Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 8m
A collection of untapped upside at this point, Scott shows potential for plus power at the plate while recording sub-4.1 home-to-first times from the left side. He’s still a work-in-progress in the outfield, but his athleticism and raw arm strength should give him a chance to stick up the middle at the next level. He is a Florida commit.
Siani showed a quality glove in center field with USA Baseball’s 18U National Team to go with a plus arm and above-average to plus speed. At the plate, the Virginia commit regularly puts together quality at bats and shows an ability to drive the ball to all fields.
Nicholas Schnell, OF/RHP, Roncalli (Indianapolis, Ind.)
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/180 B/T: L/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 2m
One of the top talents in deep 2018 Indiana crop, Schnell shows a plus arm and plus speed on the grass while implementing a loose and handsy swing at the plate that produces hard contact to all fields. He’s also a prospect on the bump, and could play both ways if he makes it to campus in Louisville.
Tanner Dodson, RHP/OF, Univ. of California – Berkley
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/180 B/T: B/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 1m
Dodson could emerge as a Day 1 talent both on the mound and as a switch-hitting center fielder. He slashed .365/.461/.500 for Wareham last summer on the Cape while putting together quality at bats and playing a solid center field.
High Follow (Potential Top 5 Rounds)
Zach Watson, OF, Louisiana State Univ.
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/166 B/T: R/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 20y, 11m
A draft-eligible sophomore, Watson raked his way through an abbreviated stint in the Northwoods League last summer, slashing .342/.422/.605 over 10 games. He’s an above-average runner with above-average pop.
Jimmy Herron, OF, Duke Univ.
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/195 B/T: R/L Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 10m
Herron boasts a balanced profile anchored by plus to double-plus speed and a patient approach at the plate. He makes up some for his below-average arm with plus range and efficient routes in the outfield, and could be a steady riser with a strong performance this spring. He slashed .338/.443/.481 on the Cape last summer for a talent Orleans squad.
Alex McKenna, OF, California Polytechnic State Univ.
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/200 B/T: R/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 20y, 9m
One of the more consistent performers for Y-D last summer, McKenna slashed .298/.346/.403 for the perennial Cape power while providing added value as a steady glove and heady runner. He won’t turn 21 until late summer and has room in his frame and swing to add to his present average power.
Jake Mangum, OF/LHP, Mississippi State Univ.
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/185 B/T: B/L Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 3m
Mangum is among the best defensive center fielders in the class, wielding double-plus speed and near-prescient breaks to go with impressive closing ability and glove work. He has good feel for the barrel but below-average playable pop at present, as well as an at-times overly aggressive approach.
Preston Hartsell, OF, Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, Calif.)
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/205 B/T: L/L Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 10m
The Southern Cal commit has plus speed and good whip in his barrel, making him a potential threat both at the plate and in the field at the next level. His reads and routes are still developing but the overall skill set points to a future in center field.
Jameson Hannah, OF, Dallas Baptist Univ.
Ht/Wt: 5’10”/185 B/T: L/L Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 20y, 10m
Hannah has potential to develop into a plus power/speed talent, though there is still work to be done with respect to his approach at the plate. He has a high foundational value thanks to his glove and base running, giving his offensive profile some time to gel.
Ryder Green, OF, Karns (Knoxville, Tenn.)
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/195 B/T: R/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 17y, 11m
Green has emerging power from the right side thanks to good strength, some bat speed and natural lift. The Vandy commit is an athletic and physical defender with above-average speed and a chance to stick in center, long term.
Basiel Williams, OF, Ponchatoula (Ponchatoula, La.)
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/180 B/T: B/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 5m
A Mississippi State commit, Williams shows a loose, line drive stroke from both sides of the plate and plus-or-better speed out of the box. He can chew up grass in the outfield and shown flashes of an above-average glove.
Jack Herman, OF, Eastern Regional (Vorhees, N.J.)
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/185 B/T: R/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 8m
Herman is an above-average runner with a borderline double-plus arm in the field to go with big time pull-side pop and an ability to carry the opposite field gap. The Maryland commit could rise quickly up draft boards if his power continues to blossom this spring.
DJ Artis, OF, Liberty Univ.
Ht/Wt: 5’10”/190 B/T: L/L Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 2m
Artis grabbed Player of the Year honors in the Big South last spring, slashing .359/.532/.552 as the table-setter for Liberty. He has an advanced approach and the potential to grow into a top-of-the-order bat at the next level.
Antoine Duplantis, OF, Louisiana State Univ.
Ht/Wt: 5’11”/180 B/T: L/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 9m
Duplantis is a talented up-the-middle glove with an aggressive approach both in the field and at the plate. He’ll flash above-average raw power but needs to put together more consistent at bats in order for that pop to play more effectively in games.
Parker Meadows, OF/RHP, Grayson (Loganville, Ga.)
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/195 B/T: L/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 7m
The Clemson commit is a plus-or-better runner on the bases and shows good feel out in center field. His offensive skills are still developing, but there is some bat speed and power potential that should start to emerge once he gets more consistent in his launch and bat path. His brother, Austin Meadows, is a highly touted prospect in the Pirates system.
Follow (Potential Draftee)
Daniel Amaral, OF, Univ. of California – Los Angeles
Edmond Americaan, OF, Chipola College (Fla.)
Xavier Bussey, OF, Garner (Garner, N.C.)
Richard Cunningham, OF, Baylor Univ.
Rook Ellington, OF/SS, McCracken County (Paducah, Ky.)
Dylan Enwiller, OF, Univ. of North Carolina
William English, OF/RHP, Detroit Western International (Detroit, Mich.)
Cody Farhat, OF, Texas Tech Univ.
Christian Franklin, OF, Rockhurst (Kansas City, Mo.)
Jawaun Harris, OF, Rutgers Univ.
Kyle Hess, OF, Donegal (Mount Joy, Penn.)
Korey Holland, OF, Langham Creek (Houston, Texas)
Kyle Isbel, OF, Univ. of Nevada – Las Vegas
DaShawn Keirsey Jr., OF, Univ. of Utah
Jaylon Keys, OF, Southern Mississippi Univ.
Dillon Lifrieri, OF, Wilton (Wilton, Conn.)
Max Marusak, OF/SS, Amarillo (Amarillo, Texas)
Josh McLain, OF, North Carolina State Univ.
Preston Pavlica, OF, Grand Canyon Univ.
Brennan Reback, OF, Central Arizona College (Ariz.)
Jacob Rhinesmith, OF, Western Kentucky Univ.
Lyon Richardson, RHP/OF, Jensen Beach (Jensen Beach, Fla.)
Johnny Rizer, OF, Texas Christian Univ.
Cole Roederer, OF, Hart (Santa Clarita, Calif.)
Alerick Soularie, OF, San Jacinto College (Texas)
Kennie Taylor, OF, Duke Univ.
Zac Taylor, OF, Univ. of Illinois
Isaiah Thomas, OF, The Benjamin School (Palm Beach, Fla.)
Vinny Tosti, OF, Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa, Calif.)
Cabera Weaver, OF, South Gwinnett (Snellville, Ga.)
Cody Wilson, OF, Florida Atlantic Univ.
Matt Wong, OF, College of Southern Nevada (Nev.)