On Monday, a list of the Top 10 college prospects for the 2018 Draft was unveiled. Now it's time to take a look at the high school crop.
By all accounts, it's a very strong group, adding to a class that Jim Callis rightfully described as potentially the strongest in quite some time. There is a ton of upside both on the mound and at the plate from the prep set, with both quantity and quality, with perhaps a little more ceiling coming from the arms.
"I think this is an extremely deep and talented high school Draft," one scouting director said. "I think there's a combination of both. There's a lot of intriguing position players, and there's a ton of power arms. I do believe there will be some guys come next spring who are not yet in elite status, but who will be pushing into that group."
As usual, it was a very busy schedule for scouts and high school players alike on the summer showcase circuit. Beginning not long after the Draft, players attended many of these events: Perfect Game National Showcase, USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars, Under Armour All-America Game, East Coast Professional Showcase, Area Code Games and the Perfect Game All-American Classic. Even right now, USA Baseball is holding its 18U Team Trials in Minneapolis as it prepares for competition, with nearly all of the players in the Top 10 below, not to mention many who just missed this list, competing for a spot on the official roster that will play in the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in September.
1. Brice Turang, SS, Santiago HS (Corona, Calif.)
Turang entered the summer as perhaps the best player in the class, high school or otherwise, and he didn't do anything to diminish that evaluation. He's shown he can definitely stay at shortstop, while also proving adept at moving over to second if needed. Turang has an advanced approach at the plate, with power to come, and his speed plays on both sides of the ball.
2. Ethan Hankins, RHP, Forsyth Central HS (Cumming, Ga.)
Hankins is considered by many the top high school arm heading into 2018 after multiple impressive summer showcase performances. He's shown a mid-to-upper-90s fastball and a much-improved power breaking ball, with the ability to command both effectively. One scouting director said Hankins reminded him of a young Gerrit Cole.
3. Kumar Rocker, RHP, North Oconee HS (Bogart, Ga.)
If Hankins is No. 1 among arms, Rocker is 1A. He is pure power, and it's easy gas. All summer, Rocker has been in the 94-98 mph range, with a really good slider thrown in the upper-80s.
4. Matt Liberatore, LHP, Mountain Ridge HS (Glendale, Ariz.)
While he doesn't have the "wow" stuff of the power righties above him, Liberatore does have an above-average fastball, a solid changeup and a good breaking ball. And he commands all three, with perhaps the best pitchability in the class.
5. Jarred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha (Wis.) West HS
Kelenic might be the best pure hitter among high schoolers in the 2018 class, with an advanced approach at the plate and power that he tapped into on occasion over the summer. He's a good defender with a strong arm in the outfield as well.
6. Will Banfield, C, Brookwood HS (Snellville, Ga.)
While Banfield didn't consistently swing the bat well over the summer, he has shown power, especially to the pull side. Banfield's defense has been plus at every stop, though, with the best catch-and-throw skills in the class.
7. Nolan Gorman, 3B, Sandra Day O'Connor HS (Phoenix, Ariz.)
While there are some holes in his swing that will be watched carefully in the spring, Gorman's power is legitimate, showing up in home run derbies and in games. He also has a very strong arm from the left side of the infield.
8. Ryan Weathers, LHP, Loretto (Tenn.) HS
The son of former big leaguer David Weathers, Ryan could very well be the top southpaw in the class when all is said and done, joining prep lefties like Brady Aiken, Kolby Allard and MacKenzie Gore as top of the Draft contenders. Weathers has a very good three-pitch mix, with more in the tank to come.
9. Mason Denaburg, RHP/C, Merritt Island (Fla.) HS
Denaburg is a two-way player, behind the plate and on the mound, but he stood out with his pitching all summer. He's up to 95 mph with his fastball and works in a solid curve and a changeup as well. If Denaburg were to focus on the mound, he could really take off.
10. Nander De Sedas, SS, Montverde (Fla.) Academy
The infielder really impressed with the bat all summer, showing easy power from both sides of the plate along with a good approach. De Sedas might not be a shortstop long-term, but he should be able to stay on the dirt in the future.