Written By: Zack Silverman
Follow Him on Twitter: @ZackMatt4
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Just like with the pitchers from the 2020 Draft, more hitting talent is heading to college than ever before. In this case, there are actually a ton of catchers between Georgia Tech’s Kevin Parada, UVA’s Kyle Teel, Arizona’s Daniel Susac, and Georgia’s Corey Collins. In addition to Miami’s Carlos Perez, who just missed the “others” section. Another running theme here is power. As only two of the twelve names profile for anything less than above average raw power.
Parada and LSU’s Dylan Crews are the clear headliners here. Lower down on the list, I see Cayden Wallace and AJ Shaver being interesting sleepers to keep an eye on. By conference in the 17 listed, the SEC leads the way with six names including two of the top four. While Arizona was the only school to bring on multiple hitters on the list. Between the hitters and pitchers list, Miami and Arizona are tied with three names apiece. Though I’d easily call the Miami crop the best one.
1. C Kevin Parada – Loyola HS [CA] -> Georgia Tech
Atlanta is a long way from Kevin Parada’s home in Los Angeles. But if you’re looking for a school with track record behind the plate, Georgia Tech is the way to go.
Parada will look to be next in a long line of Yellow Jacket catching talent extending from Jason Varitek and Matt Wieters to, more recently, 2018 Giants second overall pick Joey Bart and 2019 A’s fourth round pick Kyle McCann. If anything, Parada brings a big time bat. It’s not as flashy as Bart’s, but it’s certainly more balanced than McCann’s. He combines naturally above average raw power with an advanced hit tool that has enabled that power to play up in games and which made him one of the more consistent performers on the prep circuit.
This spring, he started off especially hot and might have hit his way into 1st Round consideration. But his commitment to Georgia Tech remained firm and he effectively priced himself out of the 2020 draft.
Defensively, he’s a bit more of a work in progress. As he doesn’t show the soft hands and natural agility behind the plate that teams look for. But he should still be good enough to catch at least in school. Very few question his bat. As he should be able to jump into the Yellow Jacket starting lineup as a freshman, whether that’s behind the plate or somewhere else like first base or DH. A good shot to be one of the ACC’s better bats over the next three seasons. So the development of his glove will likely determine whether he cracks the first round.
2. OF Dylan Crews – Lake Mary HS [FL] -> Louisiana State
Dylan Crews formally removed himself from the 2020 draft beforehand to cement his commitment to LSU. Joining Virginia’s Kyle Teel and South Carolina’s Brandon Fields in doing so.
LSU is no stranger to big recruits making it to campus and brought on a big bat in Cade Doughty last year. But Crews could be an even bigger get.
Playing out of the same suburban Orlando high school that produced Rockies infielder Brendan Rodgers in 2015, Crews put his name on the map early in his high school career and has long been a staple in first round conversations. However, an up and down summer, in addition to an unremarkable, shortened senior year, pushed him more into the second round range.
Crews clearly believes that he possesses a first round bat, and he’s off to prove it in Baton Rouge. He naturally produces a ton of raw power from a lightning quick right handed swing, and he has tapped that power against high level pitching for a long time. However, this past summer, he really tried to show it off. That led to some swing and miss and overall uneven performance. Crews is at his best when he stays within himself and lets his strength and bat speed send the ball deep. When he does stay within himself, he shows an above average hit tool.
He’ll look to refine his approach at LSU and get more consistent, and if he produces in the SEC like he’s capable of, he could return in 2023 a first round pick. I could easily see Crews as one of the SEC’s most productive hitters over the next few seasons.
3. OF Chase Davis – Franklin HS [CA] -> Arizona
I think more people expected Nick Yorke to make to campus at Arizona than Chase Davis. But Yorke’s surprise 1st Round selection in the 2020 draft to Boston was enough to pry him away from Tucson. Davis ended up effectively pricing himself out instead.
Throw in Daniel Susac, and you have a couple of big Sacramento-area bats coming in to replace the departed catchers Austin Wells (Yankees, first round) and Matthew Dyer (Mets, fourth round).
Davis is a power hitting outfielder with plenty of lean muscle packed onto his 6’1″ frame. Deploying his quick hands into explosive bat speed from the left side. Right now, the main flaw in his profile is a significant bat wrap that causes his swing to start with the head of the bat pointed towards the pitcher, making his swing a lot longer than it needs to be.
Against high school pitching, his bat speed was more than enough to make up for that. However, some of the premium arms on the showcase circuit were able to exploit that and overall he’s a fairly streaky hitter.
At Arizona, he has both the power and feel for the barrel to develop into one of the better hitters in the Pac 12, but his success might hinge on how well the Arizona coaching staff is able to smooth out that bat wrap. To me, it’s reason to envision him showing a future average or even above average hit tool, because if he can succeed with the bat wrap, who knows how well he could hit without it.
Eliminating that “who knows” with big production in the Pac 12 could turn him into a first round pick. But further inconsistency could have the opposite effect. Davis also has a plus arm and enough range to be an above average defender in right field. Perhaps even a center fielder in college ball depending on who the Wildcats have in the outfield.
4. OF Enrique Bradfield – American Heritage HS [FL] -> Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt put together the best outfield recruiting class I’ve ever seen. Between Robert Hassell, Pete Crow-Armstrong, and Enrique Bradfield. And while Hassell (Padres) and Crow-Armstrong (Mets) both went in the Top 19 picks of the 2020 draft. Bradfield made it through and will end up in Nashville..
One of the fastest players in the 2020 draft class. He has a chance to be a true leadoff bat that sets the tone for the next few seasons of Vanderbilt lineups.
A very skinny kid at a listed 6′ and 155 pounds. Bradfield is an old school type with very little power to speak of. Instead, he likes to slap the ball around the field and use his plus-plus wheels to do the rest. Though he’s not a pure slap hitter in that he has shown the ability to drive the ball if he wants to. I don’t see him ever getting close to average power. But with a loose left handed swing and natural feel for the barrel, I could definitely see Bradfield knocking plenty of doubles and triples at Vanderbilt. While running into a couple of home runs here and there. He’ll also wreak havoc on the basepaths and be a handful for SEC catchers. Aided by the likely high on-base percentages he’ll put up.
It’s hard to see him projecting as a true first round pick just due to the lack of power. Three years of production in the SEC to prove his hit tool is for real could get him close. Defensively, I probably don’t have to tell you that he’s a true center fielder.
It’s always hard to break through and find playing time at Vanderbilt. But I don’t expect him to take too long to be at least ready for full time duties in the SEC.
5. SS/3B Drew Bowser – Harvard-Westlake HS [CA] -> Stanford
Bowser was actually only the second best prospect on his Los Angeles high school team for the 2020 draft behind Mets first rounder Pete Crow-Armstrong. But he has a shot to be one of the better hitters Stanford has brought on in recent years. Bowser is a power hitter that generates a lot of torque from a sturdy 6’3″ frame and a powerful right handed swing. Regularly putting on a show in batting practice.
While his power hasn’t played up as consistently in games, it’s definitely trending in the right direction. As he has tightened up that right handed swing and let his power come naturally rather than selling out.
A shortstop in high school, he’s probably a third baseman in pro ball due to his fringy range. He may be able to stick at the position in college depending on what the lineup looks like around him. If a better defender does push him to third base, he’ll be above-average there and an asset for the Cardinal. Bowser was trending up as a hitter before the season shut down, so it will be interesting to see how ready his bat is for the Pac 12 when his freshman season begins. Either way, by the time he’s a sophomore, I’d expect him to be putting up big numbers.
6. SS/3B Yohandy Morales – Braddock HS [FL] -> Miami
Miami brought on two of the top four incoming high school pitching prospects on my previous list. Now they’re on the board with the sixth best incoming hitting prospect as well. To make things even more fun for Hurricanes fans, all three of Victor Mederos, Alejandro Rosario, and Yohandy Morales, plus another top recruit in catcher Carlos Perez, attended high school in Miami-Dade County.
Morales is a big power hitter who was trending up in the spring. More efficiently channeling his natural strength and leverage into game power. He’s a big guy at 6’4″ that can really put a charge into a baseball. Though up until recently, he had a lot going on in his setup/swing that often led to some swing and miss. If he can maintain the adjustments he made in the shortened 2020 draft season that saw him calm down that setup, he could be the anchor of Miami lineups for the next couple of years.
Morales, like Bowser, played shortstop in high school. But he’s probably more likely to end up at third base even in Coral Gables. The loss of shortstop Freddy Zamora (Brewers, second round) and infield recruit Sammy Infante (Nationals, comp round) helps Morales’ chances. Though Miami is such a hotbed for talent that someone will inevitably rise up and push Morales to third base.
Still, he has a chance to be solid average there and given how much he could hit, it won’t really matter where he ends up defensively. Evaluators will be watching closely to see if he can bring that quieter approach to college ball. If he demolishes ACC pitching like he is capable of, we could be looking at a high pick in the 2023 draft.
7. C Kyle Teel – Mahwah HS [NJ] -> Virginia
Like Dylan Crews, Kyle Teel formally removed his name from the 2020 draft during the spring. So you may not have seen him on many top prospects lists when he could have cracked the top 100.
Nobody recruits out of the Pennsylvania/New Jersey area better than UVA. Teel will hope to follow 2016 first rounder Matt Thaiss on the New Jersey to UVA catcher to MLB pipeline. He will fit right into the Cavaliers’ lineup as a well-rounded, disciplined player with the ability to play from day one.
Teel doesn’t have huge physical tools. But he’s an agile defender behind the plate with soft hands who is actually athletic enough to play the infield if needed. With further refinement in college, he could make himself into a well above average defensive catcher. With the bat, it’s a balanced profile with a loose left handed swing. Some sneaky power, and a consistent hit tool that will enable him to handle ACC pitching.
He probably won’t post eye popping offensive numbers like Thaiss. But he’ll be a better defender and he’ll likely be very consistent. Continuing to bulk up and add impact to his overall game could put him in a really nice spot for the 2023 draft.
While NC State’s Patrick Bailey has more power than Teel will likely end up with. The fact that he went 13th overall without eye popping numbers shows the value of good defensive catchers who can hit.
8. OF Jace Bohrofen – Westmoore HS [OK] -> Oklahoma
Though Oklahoma lost shortstop recruits Bobby Witt Jr. to the Royals and Ed Howard to the Cubs in back to back in round 1 of the 2020 draft. They landed a very solid outfield bat this year in Jace Bohrofen.
While he doesn’t have one standout tool like many of the other names on this list, Bohrofen brings a broad baseline that. At the very least, will make him a very productive player at the college level.
I love the looseness and natural whip in his left handed swing, and his above average feel for the barrel enables him to make very consistent hard contact. For now, the power is pretty ordinary.
As he bulks up, he has the swing type and natural projection in his 6’2″ frame to profile for average or even slightly above average power in pro ball. Back at the college level, I see him pretty easily playing up to at least above average power with metal bats and against Big 12 pitching.
His feel for the game should enable him to slot right into the Oklahoma lineup from day one. While he’s more of a corner outfield profile for pro ball, he could stick in center field for the Sooners. Scouts were moderately underwhelmed by the tools he shows at this point. So three years of production in the Big 12 in addition to the chance to grow into some real power could change that in a big way come 2023.
9. 3B Cayden Wallace – Greenbrier HS [AR] -> Arkansas
Arkansas lost two superstar hitters to the 2020 draft in outfielder Heston Kjerstad (Orioles, second overall) and Casey Martin (Phillies, third round). The returns of catcher Casey Opitz and infielder Robert Moore, plus a huge incoming freshman bat in Cayden Wallace, should keep the Razorbacks’ lineup humming at a high level. Wallace is yet another power hitter who can really, really smoke the baseball. Posting exit velocities up there with the best in the class.
His swing could use a little bit of mechanical refinement to help him get more loft and extension. Which could help him tap even bigger power. The hit tool will take a little more projection. As he has shown plenty of feel for the barrel in his high school career but since the barrel isn’t in the zone for long, he can swing through hittable pitches at times.
He’ll be an interesting project for the Arkansas coaching staff. One that has had plenty of success with these types of hitters in the past.
Given how deep the Arkansas lineup is, I’m not sure if he’ll be able to crack the lineup from day one. But I expect him to work his way in rather quickly and he could be a legitimate impact hitter sooner rather than later. A shortstop in high school, he’ll likely end up at third base in college. Where his strong arm and quick instincts should make him solid average there.
10. C Daniel Susac – Jesuit HS [CA] -> Arizona
Joining Chase Davis on his way from Sacramento to Tucson will be Daniel Susac. The younger brother of MLB catcher Andrew Susac.
Daniel will be a huge get for a Wildcats team that just lost both of its star catchers in Austin Wells (Yankees, first round) and Matthew Dyer (Mets, fourth round). Giving him the chance to start full time immediately. Overall, Susac is a very solid all-around player with solid tools, but nothing that stands out at present.
He generates above average raw power from a big, 6’3″ frame that he has shown the ability to tap in games. A switch hitter, his long arms and legs can put some length into his swings at times. Though he has shown the ability to make adjustments.
His strength is apparent behind the plate with a strong arm. But he’s not the most athletic back there and is still smoothing out his overall defensive game. Together it should profile well in college, where he could hit in the middle of the Wildcats lineup. Refining everything down into a more consistent product could really help his draft stock.
He’ll want to work quickly, because his May birthday makes him a year older than his peers in his class. He’ll be both age-appropriate and eligible for the 2022 draft as a sophomore.
11. C Corey Collins – North Gwinnett HS [GA] -> Georgia
Corey Collins was trending up when the shutdown happened, and some scouts believed he had a chance to hit his way into day one consideration with a full season. What was pro ball’s loss could ultimately become Georgia’s gain, as they’re bringing on the top incoming catcher in the SEC.
Collins, like many of the names before him on this list, is a power hitter with a big, strong 6’3″ frame that produces a lot of leverage from the left side. However, he wasn’t really seen much on the showcase circuit and therefore scouts didn’t really know what to make of his hit tool. So that makes him a great candidate to go prove it in college.
Some scouts who have seen more of Collins think his hit tool could be at least average. Which would make him a really valuable player not only for the Bulldogs but in pro ball, but again, he has to prove it. Behind the plate, his defense is typical of high school catchers. With a strong arm and decent blocking/receiving skills in need of refinement. Collins has a chance to shoot up boards Patrick Bailey style with a strong career in Athens. Either way, he’s a huge get for that Georgia program.
12. OF AJ Shaver – South Lake HS [FL] -> Florida State
AJ Shaver was one of the last late risers up the board in this weird 2020 draft cycle. His rise came too little too late to divert him away from heading to Florida State. He has a very quick right handed swing that produces some nice, natural raw power that he can tap naturally without selling out. Though his aggressive approach has limited him at times against higher level pitching.
Not just a power hitter, Shaver is also a plus runner that deploys his speed well on both sides of the ball. Giving him another dimension with which to impact the game. While his hit tool is a bit uneven, that’s more due to his approach than due to a lack of ability to find the barrel. Calming down his approach a bit at Florida State could help him improve his stock in a big way.
Shaver was beginning to make those adjustments this spring and some regional evaluators are buying into the improvement. If he continues trending in this direction at FSU, Seminoles fans might have found themselves their next big offensive prospect.
SS Cade Horton: Norman HS [OK] -> Oklahoma.
3B Tanner Witt: Episcopal HS [TX] -> Texas.
These guys were more prominently featured as numbers five and seven on my pitchers list. (Where I covered the Top 12 Undrafted High School Pitchers from the 2020 Draft headed to college). But they’re going to hit at school as well. So the Big 12 has a couple of big time two-way prospects coming to town.
Horton, who is also a quarterback, generates some nice raw power from the extension he gets on a fairly explosive right handed swing. Though his hit tool needs some work. His football athleticism plays well on the diamond, and he should stick at shortstop at least through his college career. With fellow Oklahoma commit Ed Howard signing with the Cubs in the first round, the spot is there for him to claim on days where he’s not pitching.
As for Tanner Witt, he’s not quite the hitting prospect that Horton is. But he still shows big raw power from a 6’6″ frame. Those long arms help him really put a charge into the ball when he gets extended, but the bat isn’t quite as explosive as other power hitters in the class. And he might struggle a bit with Big 12 pitching.
While I would pick Horton to strike out Witt. And Witt to strike out Horton in any future Big 12 match ups. I think Horton would be just a little more likely to pick up a hit off Witt than the other way around. Witt also doesn’t bring the same defensive value as Horton, looking like he’ll be limited to first base.
SS Cole Foster, Plano Senior HS [TX] -> Auburn
OF Slade Wilks, Columbia Academy [MS] -> Southern Mississippi
3B/RHP/QB Nolan McLean, Garner Magnet HS [NC] -> Oklahoma State
SS Colby Halter, Bishop Kenny HS [FL] -> Florida
OF Mario Zabala, International Baseball Academy [PR] -> Florida International
2020 Draft: Top 12 Undrafted High School Pitchers
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