CARY, N.C. -- For years, USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars has served two purposes simultaneously.For the hosts, it's the first step in determining the next 18-and-under National Team, which this year will be competing in the COPABE U-18 Pan-American Championship in Panama in late November. For the scores of scouts
CARY, N.C. -- For years, USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars has served two purposes simultaneously.
For the hosts, it's the first step in determining the next 18-and-under National Team, which this year will be competing in the COPABE U-18 Pan-American Championship in Panama in late November. For the scores of scouts in North Carolina this week, it's a major stop on the summer showcase circuit to evaluate the best high schoolers for the 2019 Draft class.
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The 80-plus prep prospects will thus be trying out to represent their country and play for another gold medal while also working to improve their standing on 30 teams' follow lists for next spring. The TOS historically has been chock full of future first-rounders. Just take a look at last year's rosters; a total of 10 players who made the final 18U team that won gold last year were taken in the first round: Jarred Kelenic (No. 6, Mets) was the first selected, followed by Ryan Weathers (No. 7, Cardinals), Matt Liberatore (No. 16, Rays), Brice Turang (No. 21, Brewers), Anthony Seigler (No. 23, Yankees), Triston Casas (No. 26, Red Sox), Mason Denaburg (No. 27, Nationals), JT Ginn (No. 30, Dodgers) and Ethan Hankins (No. 35, Indians).
This year's event officially began Monday with workouts for the four teams, Brave, Free, Pride and United. There are two games a day scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, followed by an additional workout day Friday. The gold and bronze medal games Saturday will be broadcast live on USABaseball.com and MLB.com. Here are 10 players to keep an eye on as the event, and the rest of the summer, wear on, with their Tournament of Stars teams in parentheses:
1. Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Colleyville Heritage, Texas (Free) -- Five-tool potential with the ability to stick at shortstop long-term.
2. CJ Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity, Ga. (Pride) -- Premium athlete with plus speed and a plus arm, giving him the chance to play shortstop with serious offensive upside.
3. Riley Greene, OF, Hagerty, Fla. (United) -- Perhaps the best pure hitter in the class, a left-handed batter with power and a plus hit tool who will profile well in an outfield corner.
4. Brennan Malone, RHP, Porter Ridge, N.C. (Brave) -- Electric right-handed arm with a fastball sitting in the mid-90s and an outstanding breaking ball.
5. Hunter Barco, LHP, The Bolles School, Fla. (Brave) -- Big, strong lefty with mid-90s heat, a slider and a changeup, all of which he can command well.
6. Carter Young, INF, Selah, Wash. (Brave) -- Played well for Team USA as an underclassman last year; switch-hitter who can run, hit and play a number of positions.
7. Matthew Thompson, RHP, Cypress Ranch, Texas (Pride) -- Projectable right-hander with a fastball that touches mid-90s to go along with an excellent breaking ball.
8. Jonathan French, C, Parkview, Ga. (Free) -- Strong and athletic backstop with good pop times, ability to hit.
9. Jerrion Ealy, OF, Jackson Prep, Miss. (Pride) -- Extremely toolsy outfielder with plus speed and raw power.
10. Glenallen Hill Jr., OF, Santa Cruz, Calif. (Pride) -- Son of the former big leaguer, with tools aplenty, including speed and raw pop.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.