A group of the most talented high school players in the country will soon head to Bradenton, Fla., to participate in a prestigious baseball development program hosted by Major League Baseball and USA Baseball. In the weeks leading up to the event, several of those players have been celebrated with a touch of pomp and circumstance in their hometowns.
Beginning late April and concluding this week, MLB and USA Baseball have embarked on a nearly 40-stop tour around the United States to recognize around half of the 80 participants of the inaugural Prospect Development Pipeline League, a premier development and showcase experience for high school baseball prospects based in the United States.
The first stops on the tour took place in Florida and California, followed by New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Texas and Oregon. MLB and USA Baseball representatives presented the players with their official PDP League jerseys, with their classmates, friends and family watching.
The PDP League, which will be held from mid-June through early-July at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, is an invitation-based development opportunity for approximately 80 of the top high school baseball players eligible for the 2020 MLB Draft.
The players who participate in the PDP League will receive hands-on tutorials from some of the most well-known names in recent Major League history. A few weeks ago, MLB announced that Ryan Howard, Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones and Barry Larkin will help coach the kids.
The PDP League will be a primary identification opportunity for USA Baseball's 18U National Team, slated to compete in the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup in Busan, South Korea, in early September.
Additionally, the league will be a feeder for a new MLB All-Star High School Prospect Game for the best high school baseball players, taking place in Cleveland as part of MLB’s All-Star Week festivities in July.
The following is a sampling of the dozens of players feted with jersey presentations, with scouting reports from USA Baseball:
Alex Freeland, INF, Cape Coral, FL -- Freeland, who has committed to the University of Central Florida, is a dynamic middle infielder who has the ability to change the game in multiple ways. He can move around the infield, has above-average instincts and a strong arm. He's a switch-hitter with skills from both sides of the plate.
Jackson Miller, C/INF/RHP, New Port Richie, FL -- Miller is a super utility player with the ability to catch, play corner infield and contribute on the mound from a low three-quarter slot. He was a member of the 2017 15U National Team that was named co-champions of the COPABE Pan American ‘AA’ Championships in Cartagena, Colombia. Miller had a 0.00 ERA over three appearances in the Pan Am Games. He is committed to Wake Forest.
Timmy Manning, LHP, Fort Lauderdale, FL -- A Gold Medalist on the 2018 COPABE U-18 Pan-American Championship team, Manning possesses a low 90s fastball and a devastating curveball. With a loose, quick arm and the ability to move the ball around the zone, he keeps hitters off balance. Manning has committed to the University of Florida.
Chase Davis, OF, Elk Grove, CA -- Davis is a dynamic athlete with game-changing ability at the plate and on the bases. The University of Arizona commit shows the ability to move across the outfield covering ground, feel for taking good routes and a plus arm.
Michael Brown, 1B, Vacaville, CA -- Brown has plus bat speed and above-average raw power that makes him a force at the plate. A potential middle-of-the-order hitter, he also shows smooth actions at first base.
Jackson Phipps, LHP, Dallas, GA -- Phipps sports a low 90s fastball and attacks the zone with his entire mix, with swing-and-miss stuff. The South Carolina commit is considered one of the top left-handed pitchers in the 2020 class and will have a great opportunity to show his stuff this summer.
Kyle Teel, Mahwah NJ -- Teel, a left-handed-hitting catcher, is one of the most athletic and energetic backstops in the 2020 class. The University of Virginia commit, lauded for his unending energy, hails from one of the most baseball-rich areas in the Northeast.
Josh Shuler, OF, Suwanee, GA -- Shuler, a left-handed hitter who has committed to South Carolina, roams the outfield well and brings a physical presence to the batter’s box. With the ability to hit the ball line-to-line, he has an opportunity to wreak havoc on opposing pitchers.
Corey Collins, C, Suwanee, GA -- Collins is an athletic catcher with the ability to play other positions. What stands out is his ability to change the game with one swing of the bat. With present home run power, Corey is another athlete who has a chance to stand out this summer as one of the best hitters in this class.
Masyn Winn, RHP/INF, Houston TX -- Winn is a legitimate two-way threat, touching the mid 90s with a devastating slider on the mound and the ability to move around the diamond defensively. Winn, a 2017 15U Gold Medalist, batted .522 with 12 hits, four doubles, one triple, eight RBIs and two stolen bases. He also made three appearances on the mound, pitching to a 1.80 ERA with seven strikeouts over five innings.
Tanner Witt, Houston, TX -- A two-way, two-sport athlete, Witt, who also plays volleyball, has a low 90s fastball with high carry. He also shows the ability to play the left side of the infield. Witt is a 2017 15U Gold Medalist, batting.400 with five doubles, one triple and six RBIs in the COPABE Pan-Am Championships.
Drew Romo, C, Houston, TX -- A switch-hitting force behind the plate, Romo, an LSU commit, is not only one of the top catchers in the 2020 class but one of the top prospects overall. Romo shows gap-to-gap power from both sides with the ability to leave the yard. A 2018 18U Gold Medalist, Romo batted .458 with three doubles, one homer and 10 RBIs in eight games for the Gold Medal group.
Travis Sthele, RHP, San Antonio, TX -- Sthele, a University of Texas commit, sports a low to mid 90s fastball with the ability to run it up higher on occasion. He pairs that fastball with a wipeout, swing-and-miss breaking ball and also shows the ability to throw that pitch for strikes.
Luke Boyers, OF, San Antonio, TX -- Boyers, a switch-hitting outfielder, puts pressure on the defense with his legs and shows good bat-to-ball skills, consistently finding the barrel. A primary center fielder, Luke shows the ability and athleticism to move around the outfield. He is a TCU commit.