MLB Draft Profile: Slade Caldwell, OF

January 27, 2024

Outfielder Slade Caldwell (5-9, 186) is the epitome of a spark-plug. He’s bottled energy and it radiates to those around him. He is a Future Stars Series alum having participated in multiple FSS events including the 2023 Main Event and the 2024 Showdown, among others. Caldwell is a senior at Valley View High School in Jonesboro, Arkansas, aiming to bring a state title to the Blazers this spring. He was the Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year in 2023 as a junior and was named a Third-Team High School All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as well.

Slade Caldwell is a 100 makeup on a 20-80 scale. He is a gamer. He is a winner. He asks questions. He’s humble. Not afraid of a challenge. Guy hunts for a game.ย — Jeremy Booth, Stars Series president of baseball operations, on Slade Caldwell

Caldwell is committed to play baseball at Ole Miss. He’s also a distinguished running back having run for 772 yards and five touchdowns as a junior in 2023.

Track Record


Caldwell has been a dynamo on the high school scene for two-plus summers. In 2023 as a junior at Valley View, Caldwell hit .512 with five home runs. He drove in 31 runs and scored 54 runs himself. Once on-base, he’s a menace for the opposition with an appetite for taking the extra base by any means necessary.

His production isn’t limited to high school league play either. In 2022 as a high school sophomore, Caldwell posted a .419 on-base percentage participating in the Team USA National Team Development Program. He carried that success into 2023 as a junior where he slashed .280/.514/.320 across Area Code Games and MLB’s Prospect Development Pipeline. All these showings against the top talent the country has to offer. Across all tournaments last summer, Caldwell slashed .291/.500/.364 with twice as many walks as strikeouts.

Unfortunately, Caldwell’s 2023 summer ended earlier than he anticipated after breaking a bone in his lower leg in a rundown on the base paths. A fitting end to the year for a guy who lives to create chaos for the opposition. He has since fully recovered and is moving as good as ever.

Tools

Caldwell is the prototype table-setter for any lineup. He features an incredibly quick bat with fast hands and a slasher approach that plays to both gaps. There’s ambush power to the pull-side too. He may eventually flirt with 20-homer output at the next level. Game power is unlikely to ever be Caldwell’s calling card, but his powder-keg frame and twitchy actions will eventually lend toward some over-the-fence production.

Offensively, Caldwell is a polished hitter with a discerning eye and a willingness to take the free pass. He’s an on-base machine as is evidenced by his .514 OBP mark in 2023. Once on base, it’s full speed ahead with an ever-present green light. Caldwell’s enthusiasm to steal a base is palpable. It’s a quick first step and he’ll go hard into the bag.

Caldwell can go get it in the field and projects an above average centerfielder early in his career. He may eventually shift to left field if/when a more rangy defender forces him to slide over. The speed really plays, as does his baseball IQ and understanding in routes to the ball. While arm strength will likely never be a strength of Caldwell’s it’s also not a detriment to his game. It meets the expectations for centerfield and left field at the next level.

This is a player that can impact the game on both sides of the ball.

Draft Standing (Floor/Ceiling)

At time of publish, Caldwell is ranked No. 25 on the FSS PLUS Top 300 board for the 2024 MLB Draft. That said, he is scheduled to jump up the board in a soon-to-come pending update. The tools, track record, makeup and floor all fit that of a future first-round outfielder. Should the game power take a step forward this spring, Caldwell has Top-10 pick upside, especially among model teams who target up-the-middle preps. Scouts liken the profile to 2022 Astros first round pick Drew Gilbert and/or Diamondbacks 2019 first round pick Corbin Carroll.

What’s Next

Caldwell enters the spring of 2024 with few things to prove to scouts. His size and stature will undoubtedly be a talking point among evaluators, so unlocking even another half-grade in terms of game power would go a long ways toward his draft stock. It’s very difficult to poke holes in Caldwell’s overall game offensively. Among the 167 draft-eligible high school hitters on the FSS Plus 2024 Draft Board, Caldwell ranks 8th in on-base percentage. His six percent whiff rate on breaking balls ranks No. 2 overall. His 16 percent chase rate and 16 percent overall whiff rate both border on elite. It should come as no surprise he posted an impressive 11 percent strikeout rate last summer. It’s Top-10 pick tools if his game shifts up half-a-gear.

Given Caldwell’s relentless high-motor approach to the game and limitless appetite on ways to improve, one would expect his production jumps into another tier this spring. Once in professional ball, Caldwell could move quick and may end up the first prep from this class to arrive to the big leagues.


Joe Doyle
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