Top 50 Prospects for 2016

Plenty has changed since the release of our first top 50 list, as you’ll find below, but there’s still no denying that this draft is top heavy, and full of players with very high ceilings and very high risks. Without further ado, let’s take a look at our first top 50 rankings of 2016.

  1. Riley Pint, RHP, St. Thomas Aquinas HS (KS)
    • Pint looked brilliant in his first start of his senior campaign, hitting 99 mph on multiple radar guns, and showing an above-average breaking ball.
    • Pint remains committed to LSU, but with the chance to be the first right-handed pitcher from the high-school ranks to go 1-1, it’s a safe bet that he signs with whoever drafts him.
  2. Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat HS (NJ)
    • At 6’6” and 220 pounds, the physically imposing Groome appears to be the consensus front-runner to be the first player selected this summer, and has shown great velocity (95-97 mph) to go with an outstanding breaking ball.
    • A Vanderbilt commit, Groome is up against some tough history: no left-handed pitcher from high-school has been selected in the top-five since 2002 (Adam Loewen).
  3. A.J. Puk, LHP, University of Florida
    • You wouldn’t know it from his unimpressive record (1-2 in seven starts), but Puk has actually had a decent start to the season. He’s held hitters to a .193 average, and is striking out more than 11 batters per nine innings.
    • Puk had a run-in with the law last year, but he’s kept his nose clean this season, keeping the focus on his mid-90s fastball that has scraped triple digits.
  4. Robert Tyler, RHP, University of Georgia
    • Finally healthy, Tyler is making a name for himself in his junior season. Through seven starts, he’s held batters to a .130 average, and is striking out close to 12 batters per nine innings. Both numbers rank him inside the top-15 among eligible starters.
    • Tyler flashed his premium stuff during his last start, a complete-game one-hitter in which he struck out nine.
  5. Corey Ray, OF, University of Louisville
    • Through 27 games, Ray leads the nation with 26 steals. That’s not his only trick though, as he leads the Cardinals in nearly every offensive category, including home runs (nine) and runs batted in (35).
    • Obviously, Ray draws rave reviews for his plus speed, but his arm strength and hitting ability also grade out above-average.
  6. Blake Rutherford, OF, Chaminade College Prep (CA)
    • A legit five-tool talent, Rutherford put on a show at the National High School Invitational, cementing his status as the top high-school position player.
    • Rutherford is part of a banner recruiting class for UCLA, a group that includes Mickey Moniak and Kevin Gowdy, top 50 prospects in their own right.
  7. Mickey Moniak, OF, La Costa Canyon HS (CA)
    • La Costa didn’t advance to the championship game of the Boras Classic, but it wasn’t for lack of trying on Moniak’s part. His three-run homer came two days after a five-RBI performance, both in consolation games.
    • As mentioned above, Moniak is committed to UCLA, but with several standout tools, including plus speed and above-average fielding ability, he won’t make it to campus.
  8. Connor Jones, RHP, University of Virginia
    • Jones will be trying to buck the trend of Cavalier aces that go on to have lackluster professional careers. It’s worth noting that no right-handed pitcher ever drafted from UVA has produced more than 0.7 career WAR.
    • Jones has carried over the momentum from his stellar run in the 2015 College World Series into his junior campaign, allowing a single home run in 47.1 innings, while holding batters to a .236 average.
  9. Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer University
    • Lewis has arguably had the finest start of any hitter in college baseball. He ranks second in the nation in home runs (12) and runs batted in (43), and his .843 slugging percentage and .426 batting average rank among the nation’s best as well. His .555 on-base percentage has been boosted by 33 walks in just 29 games.
    • Lewis has played centerfield in college, but as he continues to fill out his frame, he’ll likely shift to a corner spot, where his defensive value would increase.
  10. Mike Shawaryn, RHP, University of Maryland
    • Shawaryn already holds several school records, including career victories, but his 2016 campaign hasn’t gone as planned. Despite a more prolific offense, the right-hander has already taken a loss in three of his seven starts. He’s walking more batters, surrendering more home runs and he’s worried some with his lack of control, resulting in four wild pitches and eight hit batters.
    • When he’s on his game, Shawaryn flashes a low-90s fastball and an above-average changeup and breaking ball.
  11. Ian Anderson, RHP, Shenendohowa HS (NY)
    • Anderson will pitch alongside his twin brother Ben for Shenendohowa’s squad this spring, although it’s clear who the better prospect is. Ian throws in the low-90s and shows an above-average curveball and smooth mechanics.
    • A Vanderbilt commit, Anderson could be one of the few top prospects that actually honors his commitment to college.
  12. Buddy Reed, OF, University of Florida
    • This year’s UF squad is loaded and timely hitting has been the primary reason for their 27-3 start. Reed hasn’t had the flashiest start (.301/.392/.451), but he’s the glue that holds the lineup together. His 14 steals are almost more than the rest of the team combined and he’s one of just three Gators starters to have not committed an error in the field.
    • Reed’s tools grade out as slightly-above-average across the board, although his speed and defensive skills should set him apart from the rest of the college crop of outfielders.
  13. Josh Lowe, 3B/RHP, Pope HS (GA)
    • Lowe is this year’s top two-way prospect, and he’ll likely have teams waffling right up to draft day, over whether to put his mid-90s fastball on the mound, or gamble on his plus power potential at the plate.
    • Lowe is committed to Florida State, who has done a solid job of retaining a lot of their top recruits over the past decade.
  14. Nick Senzel, 3B, University of Tennessee
    • A consensus pre-season All-American, Senzel has already set career-highs in RBI, home runs, doubles and runs scored. His .384 average is second on the team, and he’s got twice as many walks (24) as strikeouts (12). His 37 runs scored are second best in the country.
    • Senzel is all bat, and while that bat is arguably the best in the 2016 draft class, he’s going to have a hard time finding a long-term position. He’s played mostly third this year, but he might be a better fit at second down the road.
  15. Alec Hansen, RHP, University of Oklahoma
    • Hansen has all the talent in the world, and is blessed with great size (6’7” and 235 lbs) and a blazing fastball (95+), but he’s never been able to put it all together. So far this year, he’s pitched to a team-worst 7.65 ERA in six starts and is walking eight batters per nine innings. Anyone looking for any positive news can point to his 12.6 K/9.
    • Hansen’s performance could cause a catastrophic drop in his stock if he can’t turn this ship around.
  16. Cal Quantrill, RHP, Stanford University
    • Quantrill has pitched just 18.2 innings over the past two years as Tommy John surgery robbed him of the majority of his college career. His recovery has gone swimmingly, however, and he should be back on the mound before the end of the year.
    • When healthy, Quantrill has tantalized scouts with a low-90s fastball, two quality breaking balls and an above-average changeup.
  17. Matt Manning, RHP, Sheldon HS (CA)
    • A two-sport star who excelled on the hardwood for Sheldon this year, Manning can now turn his attention back to the diamond, where he’s a first-round talent.
    • At 6’6” and 185 pounds, Manning will clearly need to bulk up, but he’s already throwing in the mid-90s. He’s committed to Loyola Marymount.
  18. Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Vanderbilt University
    • Sheffield should have been a first-round pick out of high school, but Tommy John surgery caused him to slip to the 13th-round. He honored his commitment to Vandy, where he’s emerged as the staff ace this season, racking up 60 strikeouts in 43.2 innings.
    • Sheffield’s brother was selected in the first-round in 2014, but there’s no denying Jordan has the better skill-set, including a mid-90s fastball and two above-average offerings in a changeup and breaking ball.
  19. Reggie Lawson, RHP, Victor Valley HS (CA)
    • Lawson is the epitome of “high-risk, high-reward.” He was pretty much just a fastball pitcher until mid-2015, but he now features an improving breaking ball to complement his low-90s fastball. Both offerings have been good enough to dominate the competition this year, and in his most recent start, he tossed a 10-strikeout one-hit shutout.
    • Lawson is committed to Arizona State.
  20. Delvin Perez, SS, International Baseball Academy (PR)
    • Perez has drawn favorable comparisons to 2012 top-pick Carlos Correa, not only for their Puerto Rican heritage and their similar abilities (good speed, big bat, plus power potential), but also for the fact that both were younger than the majority of their high-school counterparts on draft day
    • The only concern about Perez is that he might outgrow the position and be forced to slide over to third base. As the top-rated shortstop, expect his stock to rise rapidly as the year wears on.
  21. Will Benson, OF, The Westminster Schools (GA)
    • Another player with a ton of helium, Benson is a beast physically, checking in at 6’6” and 220 pounds. He’s drawn comps to another former Georgia stud prospect, Jason Heyward, although his raw power dwarfs that of the big-league veteran. Benson’s ceiling is as a 35-homer corner outfielder.
    • A highly sought after scholarship offer to Duke awaits Benson, whose current school boasts one of the largest endowments of any high school in the country.
  22. Daulton Jefferies, RHP, University of California
    • At six-feet and 180 pounds, Jefferies doesn’t fit the ace profile, but he sure is pitching like one. Despite missing his last start due to a leg injury, the right-hander still leads the nation with six victories. He’s allowed just six runs in 42 innings and has a 47/6 K/BB mark.
    • Like another diminutive right-hander, Sonny Gray, Jefferies can crank his fastball into the mid-90s and complements the pitch with an improving slider.
  23. Anfernee Grier, OF, Auburn University
    • Grier has been arguably the hottest hitter in the SEC this season, lighting up pitchers to the tune of a .442/.535/.692 line. Even more impressive, he’s nearly quadrupled his career home run total, and continued to show the above-average speed that, until this point, has been his calling card.
    • Power likely won’t be a part of Grier’s game at the next level, but it’s nice to see him showing the ability to drive some pitches out of the park.
  24. Kevin Gowdy, RHP, Santa Barbara HS (CA)
    • You’ll notice a trend between the high-school prospects who have an advanced feel for a secondary pitch and those that have just skated by on their blazing fastball. Gowdy is definitely the former, and he boasts one of the top changeups in the prep class.
    • In addition to his changeup and slider, Gowdy throws his fastball in the low-90s. Like Rutherford and Moniak, he’s committed to UCLA.
  25. Drew Mendoza, SS/3B, Lake Minneola HS (FL)
    • Another two-sport star, Mendoza also thrives on the hardwood. Baseball is his true calling, however, and he offers plenty of potential as a hard-hitting infielder. At 6’4” and 195 pounds, he’ll likely be forced from shortstop, his current position, to third base.
    • Mendoza should thrive at third, thanks to a cannon arm and quick reflexes.
  26. Nolan Jones, SS/3B, Holy Ghost Prep (PA)
    • Jones comes from a naturally athletic family: his brother should be an early pick in the NHL draft that takes place a few weeks after the MLB version.
    • Jones’ bat should carry him, and while there’s a chance he sticks at shortstop, he packs more than enough punch to fit at the hot corner.
  27. Austin Bergner, RHP, Windermere HS (FL)
    • Bergner has two strikes against him, a steadfast commitment to UNC, and an unorthodox delivery that makes most scouts cringe. When he’s spotting his pitches, though, he’s been nearly un-hittable.
    • Bergner’s fastball sits in the low-90s, but has seen 95-96 on occasion. He pairs the offering with one of the best breaking balls in the high-school crop.
  28. Chris Okey, C, Clemson University
    • Catchers are always a prime commodity, and it’s fairly common for one or more to sneak into the first-round, even when their talent doesn’t fit the profile. It’s hard to tell if that’s the case with Okey. On one hand, he’s done nothing but improve at the plate and in the field. On the other, he doesn’t have a standout tool, he’s just a solid all-around backstop.
    • He’s looking as good at the plate as he ever has, hitting .346 with five homers and a 19/23 BB/K mark. Behind the plate, he’s thrown out 27% of runners attempting to steal.
  29. Alex Speas, RHP, McEachern HS (GA)
    • Speas burst onto the scene last summer, showing arguably the best fastball among the high-school crop. While there are concerns about his control, he should still hear his name called early on the first day of the draft.
    • Speas switched his commitment from Mississippi State to Auburn, but it seems as though he’s intent on turning pro, so wherever he ends up, expect him to sign quickly.
  30. Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, University of Louisville
    • The 2015 campaign began with such promise for Funkhouser, but a late-season slide caused him to slip all the way to the 35th-overall pick. He spurned an offer from the Dodgers and decided to return for his senior season to boost his stock. Unfortunately, the plan hasn’t worked. He’s looked even more inconsistent than he did last year, walking 27 batters in just 42 innings.
    • Funkhouser’s collapse has been a shame, considering his talent, which includes a low-90s fastball and devastating slider.
  31. Logan Shore, RHP, University of Florida
    • Shore isn’t as sexy a prospect as his rotation-mate A.J. Puk, but there’s no denying he’s the more consistent starter. A year after posting a 2.55 ERA in 18 starts, he’s 5-0 with a 2.59 mark in seven outings. And his command is better than ever, as evidenced by his career-best 1.7 BB/9.
    • Shore thrives thanks to his above-average changeup, one that is arguably the best of any college pitcher eligible for this year’s draft. It pairs well with his low-90s fastball.
  32. Braxton Garrett, LHP, Florence HS (AL)
    • Garrett has been on team’s radar for quite some time, and while some fatigue may have set in, he’s going to be a day-one pick, thanks to a three-pitch repertoire that includes a fastball that has hit 93 mph, and a curveball that has made the majority of hitters on the showcase circuit look silly.
    • Garrett should be a relatively tough sign with a commitment in his back pocket to Vanderbilt.
  33. Nick Banks, OF, Texas A&M University
    • Banks entered the season as one of the most highly rated position prospects in this draft class, but his aggressive approach at the plate leaves much to be desired. He’s been able to quiet the doubters of late, with a strong surge that has boosted his batting average to .295 and his slugging to .534.
    • Banks has all the skills to be a five-tool talent, but his bat will be his carrying tool.
  34. Forrest Whitley, RHP, Alamo Heights HS (TX)
    • This is not the strongest year for the high-school class in Texas, and as such, their top pitching prospect checks in here at #34. Whitley seems the prototypical Texas fireballer, checking in at 6’7” and 250 pounds and in possession of a mid-90s fastball that ranks as one of the prep class’s best.
    • Whitley’s breaking ball leaves much to be desired, but he hasn’t needed much other than his fastball as he’s jumped out to a hot start this spring.
  35. Bryan Reynolds, OF, Vanderbilt University
    • There’s no denying Reynolds is a solid all-around player, but talk of him as a top-ten talent is widely exaggerated. He’s gotten off to another solid start in 2016 (.298/.436/.577), but without a standout tool it’s hard to rank him much higher than this.
    • Reynolds’ track record, however undeniable, has somewhat overshadowed his propensity to strike out at a very high clip (31% of his ABs in 2016)
  36. Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Stoneman Douglas HS (FL)
    • Luzardo comps well with another Florida standout, 2015 second-round pick Juan Hillman. Like Hillman, Luzardo is somewhat undersized, although he makes up for it with impressive pitching acumen.
    • Luzardo’s fastball checks in at 88-93 mph and has plenty of sink. He complements the offering with a strong curveball and an improving changeup.
  37. Ryan Boldt, OF, University of Nebraska
    • Boldt was a highly sought after prospect back in 2013, and he should be one yet again this summer. His bat has never been a question, but this year he’s been outstanding, slugging four homers while maintaining a .344 average. His speed, which has always graded out as above-average, has been better utilized this year as evidenced by a career-high 14 steals.
    • Boldt should be a standout defensively at the pro level, making him, at worst, a fourth outfielder with speed off the bench.
  38. Dakota Hudson, RHP, Mississippi State University
    • Hudson had 34 career innings under his belt before this year, but you wouldn’t know it from the way he’s pitched so far in 2016. Seven starts in, and Hudson has allowed just five earned runs. Batters are hitting .187 off of him, and he’s striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings.
    • Hudson’s fastball can tough 96-97 mph, but sits more comfortably in the low-90s. His money pitch, however, is a slider that has devastated hitters this season.
  39. Carter Kieboom, SS/3B, Walton HS (GA)
    • Arguably the top pure hitter in the 2016 high-school crop, Kieboom has a very high ceiling, although his long-term position is to be determined.
    • Kieboom comes from a baseball family: he has an older brother in the Nationals’ farm system and another playing for Georgia. Carter is committed to play at Clemson.
  40. Joe Rizzo, SS/3B, Oakton HS (VA)
    • Rizzo will get a lot of flack for his apparent lack of athleticism, but at 5’11” and 215 pounds, his game is all about his bat, which should offer the ability to hit for average and massive power.
    • Rizzo is currently playing shortstop, but it’ll be a massive stretch for him to stick there at the pro level.
  41. Eric Lauer, LHP, Kent State University
    • A two-sport in high school, Lauer turned down a 17th-round offer from Toronto to head to Kent State, where he’s been a true ace. This year, he’s been better than ever, posting a 1.19 ERA in seven starts. His 11.3 K/9 is tops among Kent State starters.
    • Lauer throws four pitches, and each is servicable, including his low-90s fastball.
  42. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Plum HS (PA)
    • Don’t expect Kirilloff to honor his commitment to Liberty, not with the power that oozes out of his bat. He’s no slouch hitting for average either.
    • The only thing holding Kirilloff back is his lack of a home long-term. He’s played some first base, but he’d be better suited to an outfield spot if he can manage to keep up athletically.
  43. Luis A. Curbelo, SS/2B, Cocoa HS (FL)
    • Another standout with the bat, Curbelo also offers plenty of defensive value, which should make him a highly sought after prospect on draft day.
    • Curbelo, a Miami commit, has great arm strength and enough range to handle shortstop.
  44. Cooper Johnson, C, Carmel Catholic HS (IL)
    • The high-school catching crop isn’t that impressive this season, although Johnson will appeal to any team looking for an elite-level defender with a bat to dream on.
    • Like most high-school catchers, Johnson would likely benefit from heading to college. He’s committed to Ole Miss.
  45. Zach Linginfelter, RHP, Sevier County HS (TN)
    • One of the more physically gifted prep pitchers, Linginfelter checks in at 6’5” and 225 pounds. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s, and right now it’s his only true weapon, leading many to think he might be destined for a bullpen role.
    • Linginfelter is committed to Tennessee.
  46. Cody Sedlock, RHP, University of Illinois
    • Sedlock pitched mostly in relief for the 2015 Illini squad that set all sorts of school records, but with the departure of Kevin Duchene and Tyler Jay, he moved to the rotation this season and excelled. Through seven starts, he’s 4-1 with 52 strikeouts in 43.2 innings.
    • Sedlock’s appeal is in his four-pitch repertoire that includes a low-90s fastball and a slider that grades out as slightly above-average.
  47. Heath Quinn, OF, Samford University
    • All Quinn does is hit, so it’s no surprise that he’s already knocked 14 home runs, tying the personal best he set last year. He’s also managed to keep his average up while drawing a team-leading 23 walks in 29 games.
    • Quinn has more speed than he’s shown, but there’s no question he’ll only go as far as his bat takes him.
  48. Matt Krook, LHP, University of Oregon
    • Krook has first-round talent, but he’s still showing some rust from Tommy John surgery, which kept him on the shelf for the past year. Through six starts, and 26.2 innings, he’s walked 21 batters. On the plus side, he’s also struck out 37.
    • Krook’s fastball sits in the low-90s, but he complements it with one of the better curveballs in this draft class.
  49. Zach Jackson, RHP, University of Arkansas
    • One of the top reliever prospects in the 2016 draft class, Jackson has also gotten off to an uneven start. He’s issued a team-high 18 walks in just 22 innings.
    • Jackson does have devastating stuff, including a fastball that can hit 97 mph and a hammer curve, as evidenced by his 11 K/9.
  50. Garrett Hampson, SS, Long Beach State University
    • Hampson has proved incredibly durable over the years, making 142 starts in the infield for Long Beach State. He’s shown several impressive talents, including above-average speed and hitting ability.
    • Hampson paces the Dirtbags with a .339 average and 16 walks and 12 steals.

One thought on “Top 50 Prospects for 2016

  1. Take a look into Virginia Three Sport Star, Brenan Hanife, East Carolina committ. Not famous because he played three sports and didn’t have time to hit the travel circuit. Genuine interest in this young man this spring.

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