The 2020 Draft is still 10 months away, but the player pool already has scouts getting excited. It could be the most talented since 2011, when Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer, Anthony Rendon, Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez and George Springer went in the first 11 picks and Mookie Betts and Kyle Hendricks among others emerged from later rounds.
"For multiple years, people have been talking about the 2020 Draft being strong," a National League scouting director said. "There doesn't seem to be a clear-cut Adley Rutschman at the top but in terms of sheer depth, especially with pitching, it's going to be very, very good. It's fairly balanced between college and high school."
In 2019, both the college (Oregon State catcher Rutschman) and high school (Texas prep shortstop Bobby Witt Jr.) crops had clear No. 1 prospects who maintained that status all year long and eventually went 1-2 to the Orioles and Royals. While the 2020 high school class doesn't have a Witt and is thin in middle infielders, it's much deeper in pitchers and outfielders than the 2019 prep group.
With the showcase circuit done for the summer, we present an updated ranking of the 15 best high school prospects for next year's Draft. Outfielders Pete Crow-Armstrong and Dylan Crews were the lone prepsters among our way-too-early projected top 10 picks back in June, but both have seen their stock slip after disappointing summers. While high school right-handers are an extremely risky demographic, a pair of them are generating a lot of buzz right now.
1. Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio (Texas) HS
Kelley was in the discussion for best high school pitcher at the beginning of the summer and cemented his spot atop this list with a dominant three-inning performance at the Area Code Games, where he worked from 94-98 mph while striking out six in three innings. He generates premium velocity with ease and has a quality changeup he'll throw in any count, though his low-80s slider could use more consistency.
2. Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit HS (Portland, Ore.)
Abel would have ranked No. 1 on this list if his stuff didn't dip slightly in August, though that's somewhat understandable because he spent three weeks at the Prospect Development Pipeline League in June while Kelley skipped that event. Abel's more projectable than Kelley at 6-foot-5 and 185 pounds, has a fluid delivery that yields plenty of strikes and shows flashes of three plus pitches (93-95 mph fastball with downhill plane, 82-86 mph slider, deceptive 86-88 mph changeup with tumble) when he's fresh.
3. Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny HS (Imperial, Pa.)
Hendrick clearly has established himself as the top high school position prospect at this point, pounding the ball all summer and showing the best bat speed and raw power in the class. He'll need to get better against offspeed pitches but he fits the right-field profile perfectly with his huge left-handed pop and strong arm.
4. Nate Savino, LHP, Potomac Falls (Va.) HS
Overshadowed by Kelley and Abel more than he should be, Savino stacked up consistent performances throughout the summer. He works at 91-94 mph and reaches 96 mph with his fastball, is making progress with a slider that should become at least a solid pitch and also shows feel for a changeup.
5. Ed Howard, SS, Mount Carmel HS (Chicago)
Easily the top shortstop and one of the best defenders in the prep class, Howard has fluid actions, plenty of range and the arm to make all of the necessary throws. He's developing as a right-handed hitter and should hit for solid average with similar speed and decent power.
6. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard-Westlake HS (Studio City, Calif.)
Crow-Armstrong had asserted himself at the top 2020 high school prospect by performing well on the 18-and-under U.S. national team as a part of a lineup that included five 2019 first-rounders, but his stock has taken a hit after he skipped the PDP League and didn't stand out later in the summer. He's still a definite center fielder, though the consensus is that the lefty hitter's tools may be more average-to-solid than plus.
7. Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock (Calif.) HS
Tyler is on course to join his father Steve (the No. 6 overall pick in 1993) as a first-round pick after capping a strong summer with a banner performance at the Area Code Games. He barrels the ball repeatedly and produces high exit velocities as a left-handed hitter, and while he needs work as a catcher, he's athletic enough to play third base or an outfield corner if he has to change positions.
8. Dax Fulton, LHP, Mustang (Okla.) HS
Fulton rivals Savino as the best left-hander among the high schoolers, operating with a 90-93 mph fastball and showing a better breaking pitch (curveball) and a bigger frame (6-foot-6, 220 pounds) that still has projection remaining. He walked off the mound with elbow discomfort at last week's 18-and-under U.S. national teams trials, so he'll have to resolve health questions in the spring.
9. Drew Romo, C, The Woodlands (Texas) HS
Romo is a potential Gold Glover behind the plate with soft hands, advanced receiving skills, a strong arm with a quick release plus a high baseball IQ. While he can't match Soderstrom's offensive upside, he's a switch-hitter who has shown offensive improvement this summer, especially from the right side of the plate.
10. Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek HS (Port Orange, Fla.)
Veen showed some frustration and expanded his strike zone when pitchers started working around him in August, but before that he was one of the best all-around hitters on the showcase circuit. He has a smooth lefty swing, uses the whole field with projectable power and even flashes some plus speed that could allow him to stay in center field.
11. Blaze Jordan, 3B, DeSoto Central HS (Southaven, Miss.)
Jordan is one of the more famous 2020 high schoolers after reclassifying from the 2021 class and winning the High School Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game. He has some of the best right-handed power and bat speed available, though he swung and missed a lot during the summer and most scouts believe he'll wind up at first base.
12. Carson Montgomery, RHP, Windermere (Fla.) HS
Montgomery was electric at high-profile events, sitting at 92-94 mph while striking out the side during a perfect inning at the Under Armour Game and dealing at 96 at the Perfect Game Classic two weeks later. He also misses bats with a low-80s slider and commands his pitches better than most prepsters.
13. Victor Mederos, RHP, Monsignor Pace HS (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
Mederos won MVP honors at the Under Armour Game after needing just 13 pitches to spin a perfect frame while striking out the side, including the next two players on this list, Robert Hassell on an 82-mph slider and Crews on an 85-mph changeup. While he may be physically mature, he sits at 92-94 mph and can hit 96 with his fastball and earns plus grades for both his slider and curveball.
14. Robert Hassell, OF, Independence HS (Thompson's Station, Tenn.)
Hassell shined in the inaugural PDP League, displaying pure hitting ability with at least average raw power, not to mention solid speed and the skills to play center along with the arm strength for right. He wasn't as effective offensively later in the summer when his left-handed swing got too uphill when he focused on trying to launch balls.
15. Dylan Crews, OF, Lake Mary (Fla.) HS
At the outset of the summer, Crews was billed as a potential right-handed version of Riley Greene (drafted No. 5 overall by the Tigers in June), a Florida prep outfielder who should hit for average and power while improving his athleticism. But he endured a rough summer as his approach got out of whack and he rarely made consistent contact.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.