Five Tool 55: Making a Case for These Players to Move Up the List

 

We’re not ready to give our Five Tool 55 rankings a complete update. That will happen once the high school season ends. But Drew Bishop and I combined have already seen over 90 high school games this season and we have seen players who we strongly believe need to move up the rankings list.

First things first… Rockwall Heath’s Jett Williams will remain No. 1 ranked player in the final 2022 Five Tool 55 update when it is completed after the season. Williams, who debuted at No. 1 on our first-ever list, is again starring for one of the top teams in the state and is showing an improved run time with raw power that continues to play in games. Yeah, he might be 5-9 on a good day, but good luck finding a better list of tools and makeup from a prep infielder that impacts winning consistently. Oh, he can flat out hit, too.

For this exercise, Drew and I chose two players each from the 2022 and 2023 classes we’ll make a strong case to move up the rankings list and listed two 2024 players we’ve seen live who we believe need to be on the first 2024 list. Let’s get to it:

2022 Class

Kaeden Kent – INF – Lake Travis (Texas A&M signee)
Current ranking: No. 22

A model of consistency in all areas during the summer, Kent has shown zero signs of slowing down as the leader and best player for one of the state’s top teams. Hitters hit and that’s what Kent is – a hitter. The left-handed hitter’s bat never takes a game off and he eats, sleeps and breathes baseball. I’ve seen him three times during high school action after seeing him countless times in the summer and he’s lined rockets all over the yard each time.

It shouldn’t be a surprise the son of a former MVP carries himself with the competitive fire of a future big leaguer. Physically, he’s going to fill out and add strength at the next level and his gap-to-gap power could grow into a few more long balls. Defensively, he handles shortstop well at the high school level and will be able to play second or third base collegiately without issue. Each time Kent is on the diamond, he takes nothing for granted and never wastes a pitch. It’s rare to find a prep hitter with a true standout hit tool and that’s why Kent needs to move up in the rankings. – Dustin McComas

Rylan Galvan – C – Sinton (Texas signee)
Current Ranking: No. 41

At No. 41 on the list, I admit we have Galvan rated lower than others. That needs to change. Physically, Galvan is in outstanding shape and although he’ll have the occasional swing-and-miss issue at the next level, his bat and body are college ready right now. A good case is often made by baseball people smarter than I that bat speed is critical – perhaps the most critical thing – to hitting production and upside/projection. Galvan’s bat speed is as good as anyone in the state and unsurprisingly, he creates some excellent exit velocity.

I admit projecting prep catchers is a bit of a blind spot, and I bet if you polled every area scout in Texas, I’d bet catcher would be listed as the most difficult to project. It’s really tough because of the demands and because there aren’t many who can truly catch well enough to do it professionally. That said, Galvan’s arm is plus and he’s in such great shape with the physical gifts to move around well behind the dish that I think he’s going to be able to do it in college if he continues to work on his skill. Because he’s a guy who can go play infield when he’s not catching and his bat stands out so much, he’s a heck of a prospect even if he eventually moves off the position as a pro. Again, to truly catch as a professional means clearing a very, very, very high bar. – Dustin McComas

Jack Livingstone – RHP – Lovejoy (Texas Tech commitment)
Current ranking: Unranked

Livingstone has exploded onto the scene this spring throwing two no-hitters and noticeably improving some past control concerns. With a frame that will continue to add weight, Livingstone’s athleticism, quick arm, and competitiveness have catapulted him to what should be a high ranking in our final 2022 Five Tool 55. With his late cutting fastball and two-seamer, batters are unable to get a comfortable look in the box. A player that he reminds me of quite a bit from a body and movement profile would be former big league closer Tanner Scheppers. – Drew Bishop

Tavion Vaughns – OF – Cedar Hill (Oklahoma signee)
Current Ranking: 20

Vaughns was a guy that impressed me in my first live look against Waxahachie. His strength and speed were well-documented going in but his feel for the game and defensive polish have me stating my case for him to move up in the final rankings. Armed with every tool a player can have, Vaughns’ polish impressed me immensely. He got good jumps, took good routes and threw accurately when tested. If he ends up in Norman, he will have a chance to be an early impact player for the Sooners. A guy that I watch play (and have always had in fantasy leagues) that Vaughns reminds me of would be Starling Marte; a lot of power and speed in his game. – Drew Bishop

2023 Class

Jaquae Stewart – 1B/LHP – Sinton (Houston Baptist commit)
Current Ranking: 16

Let’s get this out of the way: Stewart is the best 2023 left-handed hitter in Texas. I first saw Stewart at Rice during the summer of 2021 when he used a wood bat to smack extra-base hits all over the yard with 100 MPH exit velocity. And each time I’ve seen him since, he’s done the same thing – hit with juice to all fields and the best combination of natural hitting feel and ability to put the barrel on the ball in the class.

An underrated athlete who also stars on the mound and on the football field during falls for Sinton, Stewart could be an above-average or better defender at first base that might be able to play a corner outfield spot at the next level. He reminds me of current Cleveland Guardians 1B/OF Josh Naylor, who was selected No. 12 overall in the 2015 draft. Then, Naylor was listed at 6-1, 225 pounds but he’s now listed at 5-11, 250 pounds. Naylor had plus-plus raw power grades coming out of high school and I don’t think Stewart is going to have that attached to his report. But it could be a future 60 hit and 60 raw power. And he’s already getting to the power in games with plus makeup, too. – Dustin McComas

Tristan Russell – SS – Cypress Woods (Florida State commit)
Current Ranking: 32

We can’t be everywhere and see everyone, but seeing Russell in person reminded me there is nothing that can truly replicate evaluating a player in person. It allows you to see a lot of the little stuff like body language, handling the speed of the game, heartbeat in tense situations, and leadership. A really skilled player who is a legitimate switch-hitter and shortstop, Russell’s talent is undeniable. But it was his willingness to want the baseball on defense and the bat on offense in the biggest moments that won me over even more. And the junior’s baseball clock works at an advanced quickness. – Dustin McComas

Aidan Smith – OF – Lovejoy (Mississippi State commit)
Current Ranking: 22

A guy I will fight for to move up in the rankings is Lovejoy 2023 outfielder Aidan Smith. The tools are loud and make it obvious why reigning national champions Mississippi State jumped all over him early. For me, Smith has shown athleticism in centerfield this season and has proved he has power to all fields. He barrels the ball at a very high rate and profiles a lot like former Mississippi State first-rounder Hunter Renfroe. – Drew Bishop

Hank Howard – RHP – Vista Ridge (uncommitted)
Current Ranking: Unranked

Another guy I really like in the 2023 class is Vista Ridge 2023 RHP Hank Howard. Fresh off a complete game shutout of Round Rock, Howard brought his ERA down to 1.50 with 57 strikeouts in 46.2 innings of work. A good athlete that plays outfield and first when he isn’t pitching, Howard uses his athleticism to repeat his delivery on the mound, flashing a swing and miss curveball and moving the fastball to both sides of the plate with ease. Howard reminds me of a young Lance Lynn with his repertoire and workhorse body type at that age. – Drew Bishop

2024 Class

Casan Evans – RHP/UTIL – St. Pius X – (Uncommitted)

I’ve seen Evans twice and he’s dominated both times. What’s most impressive about the tall, athletic right-hander isn’t the stuff, though. Make no mistake, the stuff – heater up to 94 MPH with some signs of command/execution; feel for different breaking balls that can get whiffs; changeup capable of swings and misses against lefties – is really, really freaking good, especially for his age. Evans’ most impressive quality is he has an advanced feel for how to pitch, like going to more of a sinking fastball to his arm side against right-handers when I saw him against Concordia Lutheran.

Early leader for No. 1 player in Texas for 2024? I think so. – Dustin McComas

Jake Neely – RHP/UTIL – Clark (Uncommitted)

Speaking of advanced pitching feel for sophomores, I’ve seen Neely twice and he checks that box, too. Up to 91 MPH when I saw him in February, the uncommitted right-hander has a good feel for spin and has the makings of a legitimate four-pitch mix with a clean, simple delivery and good arm path. The second time I saw Neely, he was thrown into the game cold coming off first base and despite not having his best stuff, competed very well against one of the best teams in the state. Undoubtedly, Neely is one of the top 2024 pitching prospects in the state. – Dustin McComas

Pearson Riebock – INF/OF – Rockwall (uncommitted)

A guy that will for sure be in our first version of the 2024 Five Tool 55 is Rockwall’s Pearson Riebock. The athletic left-handed hitter profiles to be a middle of the field player who could find a home at a number of spots. Having pitched, played CF, 2B, and 3B so far when I have seen Rockwall, Riebock may end up at short when Brayden Randle graduates. He has a knack for making things happen in big moments and has more growing to do if he follows in his brother Barrett’s footsteps. – Drew Bishop

Park Prater – LHP/OF/1B – Argyle (uncommitted)

Another 2024 I am confident will find himself in our first 2024 Five Tool 55 rankings is Argyle’s Park Prater. A legitimate two-way player, Prater reminds me a lot of Waxahachie’s Jared Thomas, although probably a year ahead of where Jared was in his physical development. A skilled player already, you can really see some special talent in his wiry frame that will continue to progress as he gets stronger. The extra-base hits Prater hits into the gap currently could start leaving the yard as he matures. On the mound, he possesses a swing and miss breaking ball while moving the fastball to both sides of the plate and up in the zone to rack up strikeouts. Park will be a fun one to watch as he matures and fills out. Big-time prospect. – Drew Bishop

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