Henry Davis, C, Louisville: Davis made the leap by hitting .370/.482/.663 this season with 15 home runs and seven more walks than strikeouts. The demand for two-way backstops always outpaces the supply, which is why Davis’ upside is intriguing. He combines a low whiff rate with a high average exit velocity at the plate, and he’s at least an adequate defender (with a strong arm) behind it. Some evaluators are concerned his strength-based swing won’t work as well against advanced pitching. Fair enough, but he’s the most accomplished collegiate bat in a class that doesn’t have many of them.
Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt: Leiter ranked No. 1 on the preseason list, and for good reason. He has a fastball that doesn’t take the stairway to heaven so much : plines in, hopping over bats on the way to the mitt. That effect is achieved by a combination of its innate “rise”; the flat plane his release point and stature create to the top of the zone; and its mid-to-upper-90s velocity. Scouts would like to see him become more consistent with his secondaries, but there is a belief that he’ll be able to turn at least one of his breaking balls, be it his curveball or his slider, into a trusty outpitch before long. Leiter is held as intelligent and hardworking, and perhaps that shouldn’t come as a surprise given that his father, uncle, and cousin all pitched in the majors.
Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall HS (OK): There are scouts who believe Jobe is the best pitching prospect in the class. He’s athletic and projectable, the way most prep arms are, but he’s more polished than his peers. His fastball-slider combination produces some absurd metrics on the Trackman readout, to the degree that some evaluators believe he’ll throw a pair of double-plus pitches at his peak. He’s also gained ground with his changeup, a key factor when projecting younger arms. With all that established, high-school right-handers tend to go later than their talent and upside demand because of their extreme attrition risk.
Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake HS (CA): His boosters within the industry believe that he’s the best player in the class: a potential 15-to-20-home-run-hitting shortstop who can deliver a good average and professional at-bats all the while. He isn’t a fast runner, yet the smoothness of his defensive actions enable him to appear as though he’s moving at a higher frames per second than the average prep shortstop. Depending on the extent of his projected power gains, he could finish his development with four plus tools (everything but the run), giving him a lofty ceiling that merits the top selection.
Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State: Cowser, who first impressed scouts by holding his own as one of the youngest members of Team USA, solidified himself as the second-best collegiate hitter in this class by batting .374/.490/.680 with 16 home runs, 17 steals (on 20 tries), and 10 more walks than strikeouts. Cowser’s power surge is notable, since it was one of the big questions for him entering the year. (He’d previously launched just eight homers in his first 328 trips to the dish.) Factor in how there are evaluators who believe he’ll begin his career in center thanks to his above-average speed and technique