The 2018 MLB Draft is in the books and while most experts are calling it a success for the Royals, there’s no time to rest in the midst of this rebuild. The boys in blue aren’t finding much success on the big stage this season but a silver lining could be the fact that they will have the opportunity to add a top of the line prospect come next June; part one will explore the best high school hitters in the class:
- CF – Jerrion Ealy, 5-10 192 lb., Carthage, MS – I’m not going to come out and say Ealy will be Bo Jackson…I’m not going to do it. But the two-sport standout has some ELITE tools that may remind some of the former Royals All-Star. Double-plus speed (6.19 60 yd), a powerful throwing arm (96 mph from the outfield) and plus raw power, it’s certainly a skillset that scouts will be lining up to witness over the coming year. He doesn’t posses the frame of Bo Jackson, but he’s compact and muscular which makes him a bit easier to project from a physical standpoint. The swing will need some re-tooling and a college commitment to play baseball and football at Ole Miss might keep him from 1/1 consideration but he’s worth monitoring.
- MIF – Bobby Witt, Jr., 6-1 185 lb., Colleyville, TX – Witt is an ELITE prospect that’s been on the radar for sometime now. Likely to have average or better tools across the board and the ability to stick up the middle in professional ball will keep his stock high. Witt is a quick and fluid defender at short stop that has the arm strength to move to third if necessary. He also projects to be a major asset on the base paths, recently turning in a 6.4 sixty yard dash at PG National. His ability to barrel the ball and stick at a premium position has his draft stock soaring. With his victory over Rece Hinds in the High School Home Run Derby, Witt may already be answering the biggest question mark in his game. With increased power numbers, he’ll avoid the same tumble that saw Brice Turang fall out of the top 10 in the 2018 draft. Definitely in the mix for a 1st overall selection.
- COF – Riley Greene, 6-2 190 lb., Oviedo, FL , – Greene currently grades out with one of the best hit tools in the entire draft (best of the HS ranks) and it’s easy to see why. A fluid stroke from the left side, he constantly barrels the ball no matter what pitch you throw, regardless of the count. The stance is reminiscent of a left-handed Lorenzo Cain. He has a broad base but doesn’t feature quite as much of a leg kick or recoil during his follow through. While he doesn’t have elite present power, his frame will hold more weight as he matures so the projection for plus pop is there. He’s not as “quick-twitch” as some of the other top outfielders in this class and is likely to play a corner spot, but he’s certainly not a liability in the field. Like Witt, it’s easy to see Greene growing into his body this Winter and garnering 1/1 attention with some added pop.
- MIF/CF – CJ Abrams, 6-2 182 lb., Alpharetta, GA – Abrams is another great athlete that profiles up the middle at the next level. The Alabama commit is a plus to double plus runner with an elite 10-yard split. He’s been clocked at 91 mph throwing across the diamond, which could improve as his body matures. Although he’s listed at 182 lbs, the ball jumps off his bat and he does a great job barreling up the ball. Abrams normally plays short stop but I’ve heard at least one scouting outlet suggest a long term fit in center field. He’s shown well on the summer circuit causing his stock to rise. The profile as a premium up the middle defender that will set the table at the top of the line up is definitely one worth tracking.
- CIF/COF – Rece Hinds, 6-4 210 lb., Niceville, FL – Raw Power. It’s the first and last thing I think of when I hear the name Rece Hinds. Hinds might have more holes in his game than anyone else on this list, but the upside is there to be an every day middle of the order bat. He’s listed as a short stop in high school but I don’t think there’s any chance to stay there at the next level, which is fine because his bat will play anywhere on the field. Most likely he’ll slot in at a corner infield spot although his arm strength does make me think right field would be a decent possibility. If he wants to stick at third he’ll have to refine his footwork. There is still some swing and miss to Hinds’ game, but like Nolan Gorman in the 2018 draft Hinds should easily slot somewhere in the first round.
Honorable Mentions: OF Hylan Hall, SS Nasim Nunez, UT Cade Doughty, C Logan Tanner, and INF Tyler Callihan.