Picks to Click from 2023 Five Tool 55
By now, you’ve probably read or heard us discuss how deep and talented the 2023 class is in Texas. In particular, both the “just missed” and follow lists include players who are especially intriguing and poised for breakout seasons to increase their profile even more. We wanted to highlight current members of the 2023 Five Tool 55 we believe could shoot up the rankings list, too.
Yeah, you might be saying, “these guys are already really good and highly rated.” And you’d be correct. But it’s fun for us to plant a flag in the ground for a few guys and explain why we believe they’re poised to realize more of their potential and improve their profiles even more. Obviously, we’re not going to pick the highest rated guys currently and instead focused more on the guys towards the middle and bottom of the list. Five Tool Scouting Director Drew Bishop and I put our heads together and selected five of our favorite “picks to click” during the upcoming high school season from the 2023 Five Tool 55.
Dustin’s Picks to Click
Easton Winfield – 3B/C – Alvin
Summer Team – Banditos
— ✭Five Tool Texas✭ (@FiveToolTexas) June 24, 2021
I’m going to go way out on a limb here: usually guys who hammer the ball everywhere they play keep hammering the ball. It’s like Newton’s Law of Hitting, or something like that. Anyway, Winfield, a physical and strong left-handed hitter, had big-time performances everywhere he played this summer and drove the ball out of the yard with a wood bat. Additionally, he showed quality pitch recognition and selection in the batter’s box and his impact from the left side didn’t come with a big strikeout rate attached. A standout football player too, Winfield does a good job of tapping into his strength and staying centered and balanced with his swing while creating the type of angle that can drive the ball in the air.
Landon Bowden – LHP – Hallsville
Summer Team – 5 Star Performance National
Commitment – TCU
All eyes on me 😈 pic.twitter.com/ki114IA5lg
— Landon Bowden (@Landon_Bowden_) March 9, 2021
If we’re ranking players solely on hair, Bowden might be No. 1 on the list. Credit TCU for making a move early to secure his commitment because Bowden isn’t as “famous” as many other pitchers in the state. But he could emerge as the best 2023 lefty in the state. He has that type of potential because he’s already throwing three pitches for a strike, executing his stuff, performing at a high level consistently and shows athleticism throughout a simple, easy, repeatable delivery.
Bowden also appears to have a strong lower half and stable front leg; he has noticeable knee flexion at plant, after utilizing a big leg kick he sometimes toys with to throw off hitters’ timing, and is able to straighten that lead leg before twirling an active back leg around towards third base to finish the delivery with his head and shoulders still directed towards home plate. As for the stuff, the fastball will continue to add velocity, the short curveball flashes occasionally and the changeup could be a standout swing-and-miss pitch against righties. It’s easy to bet on this type of physical projection, athleticism and current ability to control and command pitches from the left side.
Mason Gerrard – RHP/INF – Lake Belton
Summer Team – GPS Legends
Commitment – Baylor
— ✭Five Tool Texas✭ (@FiveToolTexas) July 7, 2021
Anytime I hear someone with a pro background toss around a Justin Lange comparison it’s hard to contain excitement. The Padres selected Lange No. 34 overall in 2020 after his velocity made a huge jump his senior season. Gerrard has the ingredients to follow a similar path, although it would be unfair to him to expect that type of development at this point. The right-hander is a strong, explosive athlete who shows that strength and athleticism on the mound with a strong lower half to help support pelvis rotation and a quick arm.
He’s also a talented hitter with juice from the right side and the athleticism to play shortstop in high school. But I really like the upside on the mound with a future heater that should be plus and a sharp breaking ball that flashes plus.
Nehomar Ochoa Acosta – OF/RHP – Galena Park
Summer Team – Trosky Texas
Commitment – Houston
— ✭Five Tool Texas✭ (@FiveToolTexas) September 26, 2021
Watching the way Acosta’s hands position themselves and work in the batter’s box and watching the path his bat takes is a treat. The ball flies off the bat of this physical, right-handed hitting outfielder and does so fairly easily. It’s rare to see guys routinely hit line drives that outfielders completely misjudged because of how hard they’re hit. Acosta can hit for power but the paths his barrel takes through the hitting zone suggests he’s going to hit for average, too. Oh, he also touched 92 MPH from the right side during a Trosky Scout Day. So, we could be talking about an outfielder with above-average or better future power, hit and arm grades. That’s a guy poised to emerge as a major dude nationally.
Tarris Murray – OF – Prestonwood Christian Academy
Summer Team – Canes National
Commitment – Oklahoma
Triple from my Left! pic.twitter.com/WkEk6Dzy2D
— Tarris Murray (@TarrisMurray) March 6, 2021
A plus-plus athlete with a decorated background in track as a youth and impressive football tape as a running back, Murray has the type of physical build that could sell uniforms. A switch-hitter, Murray made major gains as a hitter over the last year. Interestingly, his batting practice sessions won’t typically blow anyone away. However, he gets into the games and his skill and natural ability to play and compete energizes and elevates his tools to a loud level.
Yes, he’s rated No. 15 on the list currently, but his total package suggests he could push to become a top five player in the state and one of the top outfielders in the nation. The unfortunate thing for opposing pitchers is he’s seemingly just scratching the surface of the type of impact hitter he could become.
Drew’s Picks to Click
Davis Rivers – C – Waller
Summer Team – Five Star Performance
Commitment – Abilene Christian
— Five Tool Baseball (@FiveTool) June 15, 2021
A catcher on an upward trend that I expect to have a big year is Waller’s Davis Rivers. With giant power from the left side and a big arm, Rivers immediately jumps out at you when you see him play. The more you watch him, his intangibles begin to show up through his leadership behind the plate and competitiveness. Rivers shows athleticism and more than enough power potential to play 1B if you need to give him a break behind the plate.
Logan Myers – IF/OF – Arlington Martin
Summer Team – United Baseball Club
Commitment – UT Arlington
— ✭Five Tool Texas✭ (@FiveToolTexas) June 17, 2021
Newly committed Logan Myers is poised for a big spring. With his commitment to UT Arlington behind him, I expect Logan to put up big numbers for the Warriors. At 6’2 195, Myers is athletic enough to play SS past high school but will be versatile enough to find the field at a number of spots to get his lineup in the bat. To go with a powerful bat, Myers has plus arm strength and a good feel for the game.
Uriah Walters – SS – Rock Hill
Summer Team – Dallas Patriots
Commitment – Dallas Baptist
— ✭Five Tool Texas✭ (@FiveToolTexas) October 30, 2021
Walters has a chance to make a major jump for Prosper Rock Hill as we head into the spring season. As a returning varsity player, Walters has made major strides since finishing the 2021 high school season. Every time I saw him he appeared more confident and has grown since the middle of the summer. At SS things come easy for him with a quick release from multiple angles and good footwork. Having shown power this summer on multiple occasions, I expect Walters to continue to progress in that department as he continues to add strength to an athletic, wiry frame.
JM Long – 3B – Texarkana Pleasant Grove
Summer Team – Five Star Performance
Commitment – Texas Tech
From the farthest reaches of East Texas, JM Long will follow in a long line of big-time players that play their college ball out west. The Texas Tech commit is the next guy in a long line of star 3B that hit in the middle of the lineup for a winning program. Known as an elite defender, Long has an easy swing and just knows how to hit. With an advanced approach and an understanding of how to hit, if Long sees enough pitches this year I think he will hit double digits for the Hawks as they look to get back to Austin.
Noah Bentley – RHP – Celina
Summer Team – Dallas Tigers
When people that have worked with multiple MLB All-Stars tell you that someone reminds them of Cade Cavalli, you listen. QB1 for Celina has tons of projection in what is already a durable frame with a feel for pitching. A member of the Area Code team, Bentley throws the fastball downhill to both sides of the plate and has a short, quick slider. As the Dallas Morning News’ returning First-Team Utility player, I expect Bentley to strike out triple digit batters throwing to Caden Mitchell (Illinois commit) and put up big numbers at the plate.
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