We’re nearing the finish line – Nos. 5-1 will be released Friday – and placing these players on the list proved more difficult the closer the list moved towards No. 1. If you missed our previous rankings and our primer that provided background for the process, click these links below:

RANKS Nos. 55-36
RANKS Nos. 35-16
EXPLAINING THE FIVE TOOL 55

A good case can be made the guy below is the top pitcher in the state and could have been as high as No. 2 on the list. Regardless, I don’t think it would surprise anyone if he ends his high school career ranked No. 1…

No. 6 – Chase Shores – RHP – Midland Lee

Once upon a time not long ago, Shores was a lanky pitcher heading into his sophomore season who couldn’t break 85 MPH. Now, the big right-hander has touched 97 MPH and creates an uncomfortable look for righties thanks to his low three-quarters and borderline sidearm arm slot. 

 

Shores is still growing into his tall frame with long levers. The arm works quick, especially considering his size, but he’s still learning how to execute and finish stuff out front, particularly his breaking stuff; it’s not at all an uncommon battle for young pitchers, especially more physical and/or tall ones. While the breaking stuff and fastball command to the glove-side will be the types of things professional evaluators fixate on this high school season to determine if Shores is a future millionaire out of high school, Shores is still a really, really good pitching prospect regardless and blessed with elite gas. More MPH are probably coming, too.

 

At the end of the day, a pitcher who can get to that velocity on the mound with some athleticism present is a big, big deal, especially if the breaking stuff flashes occasionally and the changeup is an actual part of the process. Shores is committed to Oklahoma State, but let’s be honest: hopes he shows up in Stillwater shouldn’t be high.

No. 7 – Justin Vossos – INF – Ridge Point

By the end of the summer, area scouts were paying very close attention to the top-of-the-order bat for Texas Twelve Maroon 2022. The MVP of the Five Tool AABC Don Mattingly World Series after posting a 1.536 OPS with just one strikeout across 28 plate appearances, Vossos quickly and loudly emerged as one of the best players in Texas and hit .440/.525/.860 across 61 plate appearances in Five Tool events. 

 

He can run (4.05 down the line on a bunt attempt); he can hit; he’s shown some ability to impact the baseball to all parts of the field; he’s athletic and quick; he has a competitive makeup and promising instincts; and he could play all over the diamond defensively. I actually think he has a chance to stick at shortstop if the consistency with the glove/footwork can improve to help the quickness and athleticism stick out more; with a plus arm, he’s a middle-of-the-diamond player somewhere. 

 

As Vossos continues to mature and fill out through the upper half, the bat will stand out even more. Regardless, he played his way into being a guy who should be on every area scout’s watch list the upcoming season and was routinely the best position player for one of the premier select teams in the country. Vossos is another member of the loaded Texas A&M recruiting class.

No. 8 – Travis Sanders – SS – Copperas Cove

Sanders certainly passes the eye test with a good, athletic build with projection remaining and clean, athletic actions on the diamond. A well-rounded player who would rate average or better in all areas, Sanders is another middle infielder scouts will have on watch lists this high school season after a strong summer, which included some standout moments against elite velocity at Area Code. Unfortunately for Sanders, it seems he’s always on summer teams or at events with so many other shortstops, which often pushes him to another position. However, the way his body, glove and feet work with a plus arm suggests he has a chance to play the position beyond high school. 

 

Right now, Sanders’ bat might be a tad more power than hit because there’s a lot of moving parts in the swing, particularly the hands. That said, the right-handed infielder drove the ball out of the yard at an impressive rate this summer and showed he could get his swing off against big-time stuff, even if there was some swing-and-miss present. Another talented and well-rounded infielder with projection, add Sanders to the list of players who could move closer to the top of this list in a future update. 

No. 9 – Kasen Wells – OF – Smithson Valley

Wells made a strong case this summer as one of the best pure hitters in the state and nationally. From the left side, Wells has a natural feel for the barrel, covers the plate well, and showed a consistent ability to put the bat on the baseball at a high level. And out of the box, I had him 3.94 down the line and his speed shows up offensively and defensively. Some guys look like they can roll out of bed, drive to the park and go 2-for-3 with a walk. He’s one of them. 

 

Defensively, Wells plays center field at a high level and isn’t just a fast guy covering ground; there is some feel for reads, breaks, routes and how to play the position. If there is an area Wells can improve noticeably, it’s probably his arm, which is probably below average to average currently. 

No. 10 – Cole Phillips – RHP – Boerne

Phillips emerged this summer as one of the premier starting pitchers in Texas and the nation, which was rewarded with a roster spot at Area Code, an invite to the Prospect Development Pipeline League and a spot at USA Baseball’s trials. Well put together at 6-3, the right-hander’s fastball explodes out of his hand with some noticeable carry and sizzle through the hitting zone. Currently, Phillips features two breaking balls, but goes to the harder more often; both the slider and hook have flashed occasionally and he’s beginning to throw a straight changeup – recently published a video with a new grip – more often that has some promise.

 

But the fastball is the calling card. He was up to 96 MPH during Area Code tryouts and there’s more in the tank to come. I’m expecting the control and command to continue trending positively and if the breaking stuff can be executed more often, he’s yet another player who could end up at No. 1 when this list is published a final time ahead of the 2022 MLB Draft. Phillips is currently uncommitted and there’s a long line of suitors trying to land him.

No. 11 – Anthony Silva – SS – Clark

Hey, another talented shortstop with a solid all-around skill set. Silva’s glovework allowed him to quickly emerge as one of the state’s top infielders at a young age and he’s continued to improve his total game. A member of the Texas Rangers Area Code team, Silva is a baseball junkie who steps onto the field and wants every grounder hit to him and to be a part of the action. 

 

Although he’s not a standout runner, 4.5 times down the line, the TCU commitment’s current mobility and quickness, along with the way his feet and hands harmoniously work, allow him to play shortstop at a solid level. Could he outgrow the position? I suppose it’s possible because he already has some present size, but if he does end up in college, it would be a surprise if he’s not an impact shortstop for TCU. If you want the image of what a solid, good infielder in Texas looks and plays like, Silva might be the best example. 

No. 12 – Ben Abeldt – LHP – McKinney Boyd

With a crossfire look from the left side on the mound, Abeldt presents a very difficult look for left-handed hitters, especially because he routinely throws strikes and can land his breaking stuff.

Despite his crossfire approach with his front foot landing outside the first base side of the rubber, Abeldt has shown an ability to get the fastball over to his glove side. The lanky lefty controls tempo well, showcases an easy delivery, and shows some arm speed in his finish. 

 

During Five Tool’s Summer Collegiate League, the TCU commitment didn’t give up a run across 7.0 innings with 13 strikeouts and just three walks. The makings of a four-pitch mix are present as Abeldt has shown two different breaking balls and a changeup. 

No. 13 – Trenton Shaw – LHP/1B – Prestonwood Christian Academy

A true two-way talent with some juice in the batter’s box from the left side, I think I like Shaw more on the mound where his fastball shows noticeable carry and life, particularly with his angle driving the ball down in the zone. He’s filled out considerably the last year and particularly with a big, powerful lower half. That said, Shaw repeated on the mound and showed the type of athleticism and arm speed capable of getting a look at starter. 

 

Taking big hacks to do damage is part of Shaw’s resume, and it would be a shame if he doesn’t get to hit and pitch at Oklahoma State because he could legitimately do both at a Big 12 level. A foot injury cut Shaw’s summer short and hopefully he’s back on the diamond this fall. 

No. 14 – Max Belyeu – OF – Aledo

A broken rib robbed Belyeu of a chance to establish himself as the best outfielder in Texas. With a power-hitting, hit-first corner outfield profile, Belyeu packs a punch from the left side and looks the part physically. He’s probably never going to be known for his glove or speed, but he moves and plays the outfield well enough. When he’s healthy, this guy can hit with the best of them nationally. 

No. 15 – Jace LaViolette – OF – Tompkins

It’s a treat to watch the 6-5 LaViolette glide around center field with impressive athleticism, quickness, speed and instincts. Often, young position players with his size and length can look awkward in their movements. LaViolette doesn’t. At all. And he showcases his hoops background in his movement. 

 

I watched Texas Twelve Maroon 2022 play a lot and LaViolette’s bat wasn’t in motion a ton. Part of that was the pitching not challenging him with strikes and part was his very patient, sometimes passive approach. There’s no doubt when LaViolette adds leverage to his swing by using the backside instead of being led too much with his frontside, he can swing the stick right up there with the best and most powerful hitters in the country.

 

If he finds more consistency with a more aggressive bat put in motion more often, he’ll rocket up this list and will attract plenty of scouts and crosscheckers this high school season because his all-around potential is as high as any position player in the state. Regardless, his glove is going to play well and Texas A&M could get a day one impact player.

 

We’ll conclude the Five Tool 55 release with our list of players who just missed the cut, our follow list and will end with the release of players 5-1 on Sunday night. 

 

Dustin McComas – Follow me on Twitter
Senior Editor
Five Tool Baseball

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