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CREAM OF THE CROP
(Potential First Round Targets)
Background: The top prep talent in the country, Witt took home Gatorade’s Player of the Year honors in addition to being the lone high school player selected as a semi-finalist for USA Baseball’s Golden Spikes Award this spring. Witt has been on scout radars for the better part of the last three years, routinely showing loud tools at various showcase and tournament events. After showing some swing-and-miss tendencies at a couple events on last summer’s showcase circuit, Witt reestablished himself as the clear top high school talent in the class between a productive October showing in Jupiter and a sparkling performance with USA Baseball’s 18U club in November, where he paced the club in nearly every offensive category, slashing .576/.615/1.121 during the nine-game tournament.
Notes: Witt is a legit five-tool player, projecting as a plus defender with a plus arm at the six-spot. Even as the Texas prep product fills out and likely sees a decrease in foot speed, he has the athleticism to maintain at least average speed at maturity if not a tick more. In the box, the Oklahoma commit shows at least plus raw power during BP and could grow into true double-plus pop. While there have been swing-and-miss concerns in the past, most evaluators consider him a cerebral enough hitter – and talented enough batsman – to make the necessary adjustments to grow into at least an average hitter, long term. He gets top shelf grades for make-up. The upside is that of a franchise shortstop and perennial all-star capable of impacting the game in all facets. Trevor Story fits well as a middle-of-the-road comp.
Background: Abrams started off last summer turning heads with a very impressive showing at Perfect Game’s National Showcase in June and settled in as a consensus potential top 10 target by the time the spring rolled around. The Alabama commit has shown well in spring action and is poised to come off the board very early on Day One of the draft.
Notes: Abrams boasts elite speed and a chance for a plus hit tool, projecting as an impact table setter. While slightly undersized, the speedy middle infielder shows good bat speed and impressive pop with a chance to reach 12-15 home runs per year at maturity. Defensively, Abrams handles short adequately but is not an instinctual talent there, at time struggling with footwork. He’s likely athletic enough to stay up the middle on the dirt – be it at short or second base – and could easily shift out to center field where he could develop into an impact defender thanks to his ability to cover huge swaths of grass. Abrams is in play in the top five picks and is all but certain to find a home in the top half of the first round.
Background: After a breakout sophomore year for UNLV in which Stott slashed .365/.442/.556 the young shortstop put together an inconsistent performance with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team last summer, getting out of sync in his lower half and struggling to drive the ball with consistency. He bounced back in a big way this spring, slashing .365/.486/.599 over 58 games while walking 55 times and swiping 16 bags over 281 plate appearances.
Notes: Stott appears to have tightened his physique between the summer and his junior spring, in addition to making some tweaks to his swing that have resulted in better timing and barrel control, producing more consistent hard contact. He has a chance to hit for at least average power at the next level and has the feel and comfort in the box to grow into an above-average hit tool, as well. Defensively, Stott shows instinctual footwork and better mobility than one would expect from a thicker-built talent. Paired with good reads off the bat and solid lines, Stott is able to handle the six-spot admirably and has demonstrated a high level of comfort making strong throws across the position as well as on the run. He isn’t an impact defender, but looks the part of a future big league shortstop and should also be able to handle second base or third depending on team need. He should fit comfortably in the first round come draft day.
Background: A three-year starter for the Wolfpack, Wilson took a big step forward offensively this spring, slashing .361/.450/.703 and launching 16 home runs in 240 plate appearances. A rough showing last summer with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team led some evaluators to question the ultimate ceiling of the bat, but Wilson seems to have quelled some of those fears with his admirably consistent 2019.
Notes: Wilson doesn’t stand out as an impact talent in one particular aspect of the game, but does nearly everything well, projecting to an average hit tool with a chance to knock 12-to-15 home runs a year at maturity while racking-up plenty of doubles. He’s an below-average runner with solid instincts on the bases but limited ability to impact via stolen bases or stretching an extra bag. In the field, Wilson shows solid reads and soft hands but the range is average and there is some question as to whether or not he will be able to stick at the six-spot long term as the game speeds up. Were he to shift to second base his bat should play well and the glove may even grade out a tick above average. He fits well somewhere in the back half of the first round and it would be a surprise for him to stlip past the comp round.
Background: An Auburn commit, Henderson has steadily built up his draft stock over the past 11 months with solid play, improving power and increased physicality. He showed particularly well during Under Armour’s All-America Workout last summer at UIC and again in Jupiter as part of the Astros Scout Team/Elite Squad.
Notes: Henderson displays quick hands and natural loft in his left-handed stroke, driving the ball capably to all fields while showing good feel for the barrel. He shows a high level of comfort in the box and could emerge as a legit above-average hit and power guy at maturity. Defensively, he continues to handle shortstop and should have no issue doing the same at the hot corner should team need or increased bulk ultimately land him at third base. He’s a very good athelete and an above-average runner at present who should maintain at least average speed as he continues to fill out his frame. Henderson is a step behind Witt and Abrams but comes with big upside and would be a nice get anywhere in the back-half of the first round.
BEST OF THE REST
(Potential Day One Targets)
Yordys Valdes, SS, McArthur (Hollywood, FL): Valdez is an intriguing pop-up guy out of South Florida, committed to Florida State. While he’s no slouch at the dish, he’s garnered attention this spring for his glovework. Valdes is a no-brainer to stick at short, with glove and arm that both elicit 60 grades from evaluators. It’s less clear whether he’ll be able to hit enough to stick in the lineup. A switch hitter, Valdes has a contact-oriented approach but lacks the present strength to drive the baseball.
Connor Walsh, SS, Niceville (Niceville, FL)| Video): A 70-runner, Walsh has some of the best speed in the draft and ran a 6.25/60-yard dash at PG National last June. He’s got some bat speed, and the swing is compact and direct to the ball, capable of running balls into the gaps. Athletic and projectable at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, Walsh may eventually outgrow the position. He’s got enough arm for the hot corner, though it’s unlikely he’ll hit for enough power to profile there. He’s committed to Mississippi.
Dilan Rosario, SS, Leadership Christian Academy, (Guaynabo, PR) | Video| Video 2): Although Matthew Lugo owns the distinction of the top player from Puerto Rico in this draft class, Rosario is regarded as the better defender up the middle. He ranges well to either side, with soft, quick hands and an above average arm with accuracy and carry across the diamond. At the plate, there’s length in the swing and he lacks impact power. He’s committed to USC.
Tyler Fitzgerald, SS, Univ. of Louisville| Video| Video 2): Highly regarded out of Rochester High School (IL), Fitzgerald got immediate playing time in Louisville, playing third base in deference to Devin Hairston but he struggled to bat .200 with almost no power. Now a junior, he’s taken strides at the plate, slashing .338/.413/.523 with seven homeruns and leading the Cardinals with 60 RBIs. He’s a fluid defender up the middle with sound footwork and balance. He hit pretty well with wood over the summer in the Cape Cod League, hitting .298/.370/.415 over 43 games.