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CREAM OF THE CROP
(Potential First Round Targets)
Background: A three-year starter in Nashville, Bleday missed some time last season with an oblique injury and didn’t provide much over the fence pop upon his return. He began to tap into the power over the summer, however, where he slashed .311/.374/.500 with five long balls in the Cape Cod League. The power surge continued this spring, as Bleday earned SEC Player of the Year honors, smacking 26 bombs that presently leads the country.
Notes: Bleday brings an appealing mix of hit and power to the table, with above average strike zone awareness, and the ability to barrel balls to all fields. He’s been incredibly impactful with the stick, posting a .402 ISO as 47% of his hits have gone for extra bases. The ball jumps off his bat, garnering double plus raw power grades from evaluators that he frequently taps into during games. Not just a one-dimensional slugger, Bleday has a plus arm in right field, deterring runners from taking the extra base. Though not a burner, he’s got fringe average speed and he runs the bases well. The track record with wood, immense power, and defensive value are all indicative that he will be one of the first players off the board.
Background: Carroll utilized the showcase circuit to bolster his stock more than any prep player in the country, culminating with a strong showing as a member of the USA Baseball 18U team. Playing for his country, Carroll slashed .500/.615/1.000 with three homeruns and nine stolen bases in just eight games, as Team USA rolled to a gold medal in the Pan-American Championships.
Notes: Carroll brings a diverse set of tools to the table. He’s got an advanced approach at the plate, rarely chasing out of the zone and he sprays line drives to all fields. While it’s unlikely he’ll develop more than average power, he’s got wiry strength packed into his compact frame, and he can punish mistakes over the fence. At least a 70 runner, Carroll ran a 6.33/60 at PG National and is capable of producing sub-4.00 home-to-first run times. Once aboard, he’s aggressive on the basepaths, with instincts to match. He gets excellent reads in center, with closing speed to chase down balls in either gap, and his fringe average arm is enough to make the necessary throws in center. Though he’s committed to UCLA, Carroll appears primed to come off the board in the top half of the first round.
Background: Bishop is uber-athletic, and nearly elected to pursue a D1 football career as a wide receiver before ultimately choosing baseball. While the potential was evident over his first two years on campus, the results were inconsistent, evidenced by a 30% strikeout rate last spring that he carried with him to the Cape Cod League. Despite the raw power potential, Bishop didn’t hit for much pop last year either (5 HR/.157 ISO). An overhauled approach in the fall has led to a power surge in the spring, as Bishop slugged 22 homeruns, with 56% of hits going for extra bases.
Notes: Bishop’s carrying tool is his light tower power, drawing double-plus grades from evaluators, and he gets to that pop in games. He started the season as if he were shot out of a cannon, with the performance tapering off a bit during the Pac-12 schedule. While he cut down on the strikeouts year-over-year, there’s still enough swing and miss to limit the future hit tool at 50. An above average to plus runner, Bishop has been timed at 4.05-to-4.15 down the line. His actions are raw in centerfield, but the athleticism and speed suggest he’ll be able to stick.
Background: Greene entered the draft cycle with a reputation as one of the better hitters in this high school class and did nothing to dissuade supporters throughout a consistently strong summer on the showcase circuit. Although Greene is committed to Florida, he’s long been considered a top 10 pick, making it unlikely he sets foot in Gainesville.
Notes: When he’s dialed in, Greene has one of the prettier left-handed strokes you’ll see in a high school hitter, with plus bat speed and a swing path conducive to elevate and celebrate. Commencing with a wide stance and his hands even with his back shoulder, he maintains a still head with a minimal load before unleashing havoc in the zone. He has excellent strike zone awareness and demonstrates better pitch recognition than his prep peers. He’ll occasionally frustrate evaluators by swinging through hittable pitches, but he’s demonstrated enough skill against quality pitching to mitigate those concerns. Though he adequately mans centerfield for his high school team, below average range and a fringe-average arm likely limit him to left field or first base as a professional. With an appealing mix of hit and power, Greene’s bat will profile regardless of his future defensive home.
Kameron Misner, OF, Univ. of Missouri
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/213 B/T: L/L Age (as of 2019 MLB Draft): 21y, 5m
Background: A foul ball off the foot cut Misner’s season short last year, costing him the summer as well. Strong performances in the fall and early spring propelled him into the first-round discussion and two months ago he looked like a top 10 pick. He struggled in conference play, however, slashing just .222/.353/.315 with just two of his homeruns coming against SEC opponents, subsequently dropping his draft stock.
Notes: Misner’s season has been filled with the three true outcomes, drawing a bunch of walks (54), logging a bunch of strikeouts (56) with 10 long balls. Without much protection in the Missouri lineup, teams were careful in how they approached the left-handed hitting slugger. The result of equal parts sheer strength and above average bat speed, Misner owns some of the best raw power in the class, but evaluators would like to see him tap into it more often in games. When evaluating the hit tool, he has excellent strike zone awareness, but some length in the swing is a contributing factor in the high strikeout numbers. Though he wouldn’t be described as a quick twitch athlete, he’s moves very well for a big man; a plus runner underway. He holds down center field for the Tigers, but profiles well as a power hitting right fielder where his arm would be an asset.
BEST OF THE REST
(Potential Day One Targets)
Maurice Hampton (RF, Memphis Univ. (Memphis TN) | Video): One of the best athletes in the draft class, Hampton is committed to LSU as both an outfielder and a four-star defensive back on the gridiron. Splitting time at the highest level in two major sports, there is some corresponding rawness in Hampton’s game on the diamond. Hampton has plus bat-speed, raw strength and torque that translates into attractive power potential. At least a plus runner, he ran a 6.44/60 at PG National. The football scholarship likely makes Hampton a difficult sign.
Matt Wallner (RF, Southern Miss. Univ. | Video | Video 2): The Eagles all-time leader in homeruns with 58 and counting, Wallner packs thump in his left-handed stroke, and he’s slashing .338/.462/.655 in his storied collegiate career. He struggled in a brief stint with the Collegiate National Team last summer, but he played better during his time on the Cape. Wallner uses an all-fields approach at the plate, with good plate discipline. He has remarkable raw power, an easy 70 the scouting card. A former two-way player, Wallner has a plus arm that profiles well in right field.
Jerrion Ealy (OF, Jackson Preparatory (Jackson, MS) | Video | Video 2): Like Hampton, Ealy is a two-sport star, as he’s committed to Mississippi for both baseball and as a five-star running back. He’s perhaps the fastest player in this class, having logged a remarkable 6.13/60-yard dash at PG National to kick off the draft cycle. Ealy puts on a show in batting practice, using lightening quick hands and bat path that is direct to the ball to drive the ball out of the ballpark with regularity. He didn’t consistently square live pitching in games over the summer, however, and that trend continued into the spring. He profiles well in centerfield, where he’s instinctual with a plus arm. The two-sport commitment adds leverage to Ealy’s negotiating situation.
Jordan Brewer (OF, Univ. of Michigan | Video): A junior college transfer from Lincoln Trail (IL), Brewer burst on the scene in Ann Arbor, slashing .342/.402/.609 with 12 homeruns in route to earning Big Ten Player of the Year. Brewer shows five-tool ability, with a compact right handed stroke capable of driving the ball out of the park. Brewer plays right field for the Wolverines in deference to centerfielder Jesse Franklin, but he should be able to slide over as a professional. He’s got a plus arm, with good accuracy and carry to each base. He’s a plus to double-plus runner, consistently producing run times in the 4.11-to-4.16 range from the right-handed batters box and he used the wheels to swipe 19 bags this season.
Kyle Stowers (OF, Stanford Univ. | Video): Stowers turned heads with a loud summer on the Cape, slashing .326/.361/.565 with six homeruns. After a slow start this spring, he got hot down the stretch slashing .336/.388/.569 against Pac-12 opponents, with five homeruns. He made tremendous strides with his bat-to-ball skills, cutting his strikeout rate in half year-over-year. When he’s on, Stowers rotates well, generating torque that produces plus raw power from the left side. The rest of the tools are solid average across the board. He’s previously seen time at first base, but he’s adequate in the grass and should be able to stick in an outfield corner as a pro.
Sammy Siani (CF, Penn Charter (Philadelphia, PA): The brother of 2018 Reds fourth rounder Mike Siani, Sammy isn’t the prodigious defender his brother is in centerfield, but the hit tool is more advanced than Mike’s was at this stage in his development. Sammy has a fluid left-handed stroke, direct to the ball with average power potential. He’s an average defender in centerfield, with a corresponding average arm and above average speed on the bases. His brother was a tough sign away Virginia, needing second round money to forgo the commitment. Sammy is committed to Duke, and it’s unclear if signability is a concern.
Dominic Fletcher (OF, Univ. of Arkansas | Video | Video 2 | Video 3): A Second Team All-SEC performer, Fletcher is slashing .312/.378/.526 with 10 homeruns, leading the Razorbacks on a deep postseason run. Compact but strong at 5-foot-9, 188 pounds, Fletcher can impact the baseball, especially to the pull side with average power potential. The question surrounding Fletcher is how much he’ll hit as a professional, as there’s drift in the swing and he’ll periodically struggle with pitch recognition. He’s an above average defender in centerfield, reading the ball well off the bat and displaying excellent first step quickness, though he’s a fringe average runner.
Zach Watson (OF, Louisiana State Univ. | Video | Video 2 | Video 3): Though he was a draft eligible sophomore last season, it was evident that Watson was returning to Baton Rouge for his junior season, and he slid to the 40th round (Boston). He played well in a stint with the Collegiate National Team over the summer, hitting .280 over 14 games, while leading the team in runs (7) and stolen bases (2). Watson has plus bat speed, with surprising pop for his size and a pull centric approach. He’s an above average defender in centerfield, and his plus speed is an asset both in the grass and on the bases.
Bryant Packard (LF, East Carolina Univ. | Video): Packard hit for average and power as a sophomore, slashing .406/.462/.671, with 14 homeruns and continued to swing it well with wood bats in the Cape Cod League. He didn’t replicate the pop as a junior, but still showed above average feel to hit. A left-handed hitter, Packard sprays line drives to the opposite field as well as anyone in this class. As an outfielder, a below average arm will limit him to left field, with first base being an option as well.
Chris Newell (OF, Malvern Prep (Malvern, PA) | Video): A Virginia commit, Newell was an Under Armour All-American last summer, flashing plus raw with smooth left handed stroke. He’ll periodically struggle with both pitch recognition and zone awareness, leading to questions about the hit tool. A good defender, he’s got a decent shot to stick in center field with requisite arm strength (average) and enough speed (average) to run down balls in the gaps.
Trejyn Fletcher (OF, Deering (Portland, ME) | Video): Fletcher participated in several events over the summer, but did so as a member of a deep 2020 class before moving back to Maine and reclassifying as a member of the 2019 class. The late move within the draft cycle, paired with the unforgiving Northeast weather detrimentally impacted the number of decision makers that could get in to see the toolsy outfielder. A Vanderbilt commit, Fletcher gets high marks for his athleticism, plus arm and plus speed. His bat speed and strength are conducive above average raw power, perhaps more as he continues to develop, but there are some corresponding swing-and-miss concerns.
Will Robertson (RF/LF, Creighton Univ. | Video): Robertson plays his home games in TD Ameritrade Park, which is notorious for suppressing the long ball, but he still manages to find the seats with regularity. His swing path is designed to generate loft, and the left-handed hitter creates tremendous torque in driving the ball to the pull side. He performed well with wood bats in the Cape Cod League last summer, frequently an indicator of future success in pro ball, hitting .300 and finishing among the league leaders in RBIs (28). Defensively, he profiles in a corner, with left field being a better fit than right due to an average arm, and limited range.
Thomas Dillard (OF, Univ. of Mississippi): A switch hitter, Dillard is a little more fluid from the left side but shows above average power from either side. While he’s more power than hit, he’s made strides with the bat. He has feel for the strike zone, and has successfully cut down on his strikeouts each season. He saw limited action behind the dish for the Rebels, but his future defensive home is likely in left field or at first base.
Erik Rivera (OF/LHP, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Gurabo, PR) | Video | Video 2): Rivera boasts impressive tools both as a power lefty bat and a hard throwing southpaw on the mound. There’s easy loft in the swing, but his cuts don’t generally track easily to pitch plane, limiting his contact band and leading to more empty swings than you’d like to see. He’s unrefined on the mound but can reach 97 mph with his fastball and has shown some feel for spinning a solid mid-70s curve that projects as a potential future above-average offering. There are starter traits here with a good chance for at least a nice 1-2 fastball/curve tandem that could play-up in relief.
Peyton Burdick (OF, Wright State Univ. | Video): Burdick put up silly numbers this season for the Raiders, slashing .407/.538/.729 with 15 homeruns, 24 stolen bases and 60 walks compared to just 35 strikeouts. Burdick has 60-grade raw power that frequently taps into during games. At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, he’s maxed out physically, but runs well for his frame. An adequate defender with an average arm, he profiles well in either corner.
Jason Hodges (OF/1B, Marist (Chicago, IL) | Video | Video 2 | Video 3): Though he won’t turn 18 until later this month, Hodges is 6-foot-3, 210 pounds with grown man strength right now. He’s got quick hands, with the ability to turn on balls on the inner half and deposit them into the left field bleachers. An Arkansas commit, Hodges is one of the better prep players in the Midwest, though he’s not often tested against elite talent. He performeds well in a showcase environment and bolstered his stock with a strong showing at the NHSI, a high visibility event against premium competition.