Baseball America released two separate stories on Wednesday as it relates to the highly-anticipated upcoming 2023 MLB Draft, one detailing 13 players whose stock is on the rise, and then an expanded rankings, looking at their top 300 players in the upcoming class.
Alumni of the New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series figure prominently in both.
Tommy Troy, who impressed scouts and development staff at the 2019 International Week event, has gone on to establish himself as sure-fire first rounder in July, and is considered by BA to be one of three players in that position who are currently trending upwards. Simply stated in the piece, “Troy has proven to simply be a very good hitter,” and is up to 16th in their overall Top 300. The Stanford junior is currently batting .347 in his first 12 contests this season, with six multi-hit games already under his belt
As you’d expect, Dylan Crews remains in the top spot, followed by Wyatt Langford, Crews’ LSU teammate Paul Skenes, Chase Dollander and Max Clark to round out the top five.
However, past Crews and Troy, there are a bevy of players who have come through the Future Stars Series scattered across the Top 300.
52) Cooper Pratt
Baseball America notes that, “over a 668-pitch sample, Pratt has just a 12% overall miss rate and 17% chase rate. He consistently makes good swing decisions and he almost never misses on pitches in the zone, where his miss rate falls to just 6%.” Pratt was one of the breakout stars of the most recent Main Event, hitting a no-doubt home run deep into the bullpen at Dunkin Donuts Park in Hartford, and continued to shine against some top international arms in the inaugural Caribbean Classic. The Mississippi commit draws comparisons to one of the top prospects in all of baseball, Gunnar Henderson, and could continue to climb into the first round.
60) Joseph Gonzalez
A member of the World Team at the unfathomably loaded 2019 International Week event, Gonzalez retired both Crews and Troy in a lengthy outing at Game 2 at Fenway Park. Although a lingering injury may affect his draft stock, Gonzalez is a top-two round talent who has made several appearances on the international stage, and BA notes he “pitches in the 90-92 mph range and has touched 93 and throws a low-90s slider and low-80s changeup.”
96) Levi Wells
Just spotlighted in the most recent college alumni update, Wells has been excelling at Texas State as a starter after transferring out of Texas Tech, where he was largely used out of the bullpen. Between that and a Cape Cod League stint, the 2018 standout of the FSS National Tournaments has seen his stock rise dramatically, using a “92-93 mph fastball that touches 97 at peak, a hammer curve in the upper 70s with fantastic downward bite and a mid-80s slider that gives hitters more of a horizontal-breaking look” according to BA, as well as a changeup.
135) CJ Kayfus
On a Scorpions team that had Crews, Drew Romo, Zac Veen and Michael Brooks to name just a few, Kayfus has still managed to emerge in a big way. A member of the 2019 All-National Tournament Team, Kayfus was described by the FSS scouting staff at the time as a “solid baseball player period,” and has done little to dispel that perception since, hitting .355 with five homers and 15 RBI in his junior season at the University of Miami as he continues to unlock his power that BA writes “could boost him up boards given his strong pure hitting ability and contact.”
151) Nazzan Zanetello
Zanetello attended a Future Stars Series regional combine, and the Arkansas commit has established himself as a versatile option for teams early on the second day of the Draft with defensive prowess both at shortstop and in the outfield. BA notes that he has “plenty of upside thanks to a super projectable frame, solid bat speed and impact defensive ability at multiple positions,” not to mention well above average speed; Zanetello ran a 6.3 60-yard dash back in Kansas City in 2021.
153) Zion Rose
Rose is a player who will likely rise further up these boards as the Draft process evolves, with a physical frame behind the plate that doesn’t hamper his mobility. A Louisville commit, Rose opened eyes at both the Main Event and Caribbean Classic with the Future Stars Series — BA correctly notes that “Rose has a high-effort style of play on the field that endears him to scouts and coaches” — and has a bigger than average toolset for most true catchers, with solid receiving skills, impressive power as well as a plus runner.
162) Boston Baro
Baro has had more big moments with the Future Stars Series than you can count, including an incredible two-way performance for Trombly Baseball at the most recent National Tournament, as well as a big home run at the Caribbean Classic following his well-deserved invite to the Main Event at Fenway Park. The UCLA commit is a gamer, and “has the actions to stick at shortstop and solid arm strength as well, which could increase as he adds strength to his frame” according to BA.
165) Jeffrey “Mac” Heuer
A Texas Tech commit, Heuer was absolutely dazzling at the Main Event and Caribbean Classic, consistently sitting in the low to mid 90’s with a heavy fastball that comes out easily from his big frame. Already listed at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, there’s little room for projection physically, but Heuer is a power arm that should translate well at the pro level whether he chooses to go that route now, or honor his commitment and wait a few years.
169) Nolan McLean
McLean passed on a deal with the Baltimore Orioles in last year’s Draft, instead electing to return to Oklahoma State as a two-way player. A member of the Dirtbags at the 2019 FSS National Tournaments, most evaluators see his future on the mound, and he’s held a share of the NCAA D1 lead in saves early on this season with an overpowering high-90’s fastball that helps cement that type of role for him in a big-league organization sooner rather than later.
178) Luke McNeillie
There is an interesting projection play in McNeillie, who is listed at 6-foot-3, but just 165 pounds, and already sits in the lower 90’s. Identified as a “strike thrower who hits his spots” by FSS scouts, the Florida commit already has a plus curveball and solid idea on how to pitch under his belt. A velo spike as he potentially adds to his frame could move him up significantly before July.
192) Francesco Capocci
A teammate of McNeillie’s, Capocci is a two-way player who likely profiles best as a pitcher, with low 90’s velocity that he put on full display with the Future Stars Series at a Georgia Bombers Scout Day. The UNC commit uses a “fastball is a high-spin offering that comes from a higher, three-quarter arm slot and he primarily uses a 12-to-6 curveball in the upper 70s with hard spin and finish at its best. Capocci has occasionally mixed in a mid-80s short-breaking slider as well as a mid-80s changeup that he needs to develop more feel for” according to BA, who also notes that he’s one of the older high school players in the class, which may make him more enticing for a big-league club.
194) Jake Brown
Brown is a well-decorated pitcher on the travel ball circuit, which includes a start at Fenway Park at the most recent Main Event. The lefty Louisiana native is an LSU commit, and may end up there if he doesn’t climb up draft boards given what it would still take to sign him, but has an extremely huge upside with a fastball/slider/changeup mix that he utilizes very effectively.
219) Roc Riggio
Riggio is a hustle-first infielder who won over Future Stars Series scouts and development staff with his non-stop effort and dedication to his craft even after earning invitations to top events. The undersized grinder was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers back in 2011, but instead elected to honor his commitment at Oklahoma State, where he’s hit .311 and shown impressive power with five home runs. As BA notes, “Riggio is undersized but solidly filled out and can put a thump in the ball, with his home runs going mostly to the pull side and straightaway center field.”
222) Kyle Henley
Henley is a very athletic outfielder with a commitment to Georgia Tech. FSS scouts believe he can stick as a center field with both his instincts and elite speed that has seen him run 6.2 60-yard dash times with ease. BA writes he “has solid bat speed and quick hands that drive the ball to the opposite field well, and impressed development staff after his invite to the most recent Main Event, reaching base four times in seven plate appearances.
224) Kurtis Byrne
A member of the National Team at International Week in 2018, in which he hit the game-winning, two-run double in Game 3, Byrne has since gone on to play his college ball at TCU, where he earned Honorable Mention All-Big 12 honors last year. The Cape Cod League All-Star is listed by BA as “an average defender with an average arm, but blocks the ball well and corrals balls in the dirt.”
290) Zane Adams
One could make a strong argument that Adams is severely underrated thus far in most 2023 MLB Draft Rankings, these included. A projectable lefty at 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds with an Alabama commitment, Adams was up to 93 MPH this past year for the Future Stars Series, where scouts praised him for how he challenges hitters, identifying him as a future pro LHP. Like McNeillie, if he’s able to add to a somewhat lean frame and gain a tick or two of velo that comes with that, he becomes a far-more likely candidate to rise up draft boards and sign with a team that drafts him.
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