These '24 Draft-eligible prospects stood out at PDP

July 5th, 2023

Ahead of Sunday’s beginning of the MLB Draft, there is rightfully a lot of focus on names like , , and . But some corners of the industry already have eyes on 2024.

The Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League wrapped up earlier this week after 100 of the best high school players convened at the showcase at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.

The event is designed to evaluate those rising prep seniors as part of the selection process for the U18 World Cup set to be held in Taiwan from Aug. 31 to Sept. 10. But it’s also an opportunity for scouts to see some of the best talent from across the country on the same field across an abbreviated six-game schedule.

These were 10 of this year’s PDP League standouts:

1. Derek Curiel, OF, Orange Lutheran (Calif.) HS
The Golden State native arrived in Cary with a reputation for his ability to cover the strike zone well from the left side and his at least plus speed. Both skills showed up on the elevated stage. The LSU commit led all PDP League participants with six steals (in six attempts) and finished 5-for-15 (.333) with a triple and five walks for Team Gray. That willingness to press the issue with his wheels could make him a great fit in the modern game designed to increase movement on the basepaths.

2. Carter Johnson, SS/2B, Oxford (Ala.) HS
There were only three homers hit all week between the four sides. Johnson accounted for two of them. The left-handed slugger showed the quality bat control that’s already getting him attention from scouts, and while his raw power wasn’t the biggest from the PDP League, that ability to find the barrel with an easy swing certainly helped him pack a punch.

3. Konnor Griffin, OF/RHP, Jackson Prep (Miss.) HS
Arguably the toolsiest member of the class, Griffin got to show out in a variety of areas in Cary. Despite going 2-for-9 at the plate, he still reached base in half of his plate appearances thanks to four walks and a hit-by-pitch, as he showed an unwillingness to expand the zone from a stance that looks a bit like Kris Bryant’s. He also tied for second in league play with four steals and showed off a cannon of an arm from the outfield. Griffin struck out three and allowed one earned run from the mound, but his best chances as a pro are to play every day.

4. Michael Mullinax, OF, North Cobb Christian (Ga.) School
The switch-hitting outfielder went 4-for-10 (.400) with a triple and struck out only once all week, highlighting his ability to see the ball well out of the hand, stay back and explode through the zone with good bat speed. (He might be a tad better hitting from the right side, where his triple came from on Day 1.) His wheels put pressure on the defense and serve him well on the grass too, which should keep his stock high heading into next year.

5. Slade Caldwell, OF, Valley View (Ark.) HS
Standing just 5-foot-9, Caldwell already draws some comparisons to Corbin Carroll as a shorter outfielder with both bat and foot speed. The left-handed slugger can be tough to pitch to at that size, as PDP League pitchers can attest to; he went 4-for-12 (.333), tied for the event lead with five walks and struck out only once all week. Already a Gatorade Player of the Year winner in Arkansas as a junior, Caldwell headed to Cary with plenty of momentum and left with it too. The only glaring improvement needed might be his decision-making on the basepaths, as he went 0-for-3 in steal attempts despite his plus running ability.

6. Hayden Federico, INF/OF, West Monroe (La.) HS
The switch hitter has a short stroke from both sides of the plate that helps fuel contact (especially of the line-drive variety), and he lived up to that reputation in PDP League play. Federico went 5-for-10 (.500) with three walks and no strikeouts for Team Navy. His .615 on-base percentage led PDP League participants who got at least double-digit plate appearances. A quarterback back home, the Mississippi commit uses his athleticism on the base paths (three steals) and as a versatile defensive option (shortstop, third base, outfield).

7. Charlie Bates, 2B/SS, Palo Alto (Calif.) HS
Federico wasn’t the only PDPer to go 5-for-10 during the week. Bates put up the same line, adding a double, three walks and a stolen base for Team Light Blue. A left-handed hitter, Bates employs a leg kick to help drive the ball, but generally stays on time and showed an ability to hit velocity in Cary. Power will likely be the last thing to come from the Stanford commit’s 6-foot-2 frame.

8. David Shields, LHP, Mt. Lebanon (Pa.) HS
This year’s PDP League event was generally light on standout pitching, but one arm that caught attention belonged to this Pennsylvania southpaw. A quarterback back home, Shields looked loose and athletic on the mound, touching the low-90s with his fastball and confounding some hitters with his low-80s slider. Shields struck out six and allowed only one hit over three scoreless innings during his two appearances for Team Navy. The Miami commit only turns 17 in September and reclassified to 2024 to accelerate his timeline.

9. Lazaro Collera, RHP, Florida Christian (Fla.) HS
One of the pleasant surprises of the showcase, Collera turned a few heads as a 6-foot-6 right-hander with a low-90s fastball, a pair of breaking balls, a vertical curveball he can drop in for strikes and a more horizontal slider. Given that mix of size and present stuff, there’s hope that even more velo is coming as Collera matures. The Miami commit struck out four in three hitless innings but struggled some with control, walking four.

10. Kolt Myers, INF, St. John’s Country Day (Fla.) HS
The son of former Phillies and Astros reliever Brett Myers, Kolt showed a different skill set from the family – one that can really hit. The Florida commit went 5-for-11 (.455) with two walks and two steals for Team Red. He also moved around defensively, spending time at first base, second, third and the outfield, but like his dad, he has the arm for the hot corner. Myers stays quick to the ball as a right-handed hitter, which helps fuel his ability to pick up knocks in bunches.

Others of note

Bryce Clavon is a quarterback with Power 5 offers but flashed potential on the diamond with two triples and four steals. A shortstop back home, his future defensive spot remains up in the air as he got looks at second and the outfield. … Catcher Cade Arrambide struggled some at the plate but showed why he’s one of the best defensive catchers in the class by throwing out four of seven attempted basestealers. … Trey Gregory-Alford helped his stock with a low-90s fastball and impressive low-80s slider from a 6-foot-5 frame. He struck out four over three innings for Team Light Blue. … Levi Sterling had one of the best pitching lines (4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K) and looks easy throwing the ball from his 6-foot-4 frame, though his lack of stellar velo gives some evaluators pause. … Sticking with the same first name, catcher Levi Clark made a push as a potential first-round pick after going 5-for-14 (.357) with a triple. He has impressive arm strength from behind the plate but threw out only one of six would-be base stealers in PDP League play.