Where MLB scouts, college coaches, and top high school prospects meet.
player profile search
Mattingly WS: Players We're Excited to See

Focus now shifts from the underclassmen to the rising seniors. It’s AABC Don Mattingly World Series Week.

Set to begin Tuesday at 9 a.m. at the Z-Plex Sports Village in Melissa, Texas, the AABC Don Mattingly World Series will host 37 of the best 17U teams from Texas, the nation and even beyond. We’ll welcome teams from Canada and Puerto Rico, too, in addition to teams from California, Las Vegas, New Mexico, Kansas and more. With a berth to the Connie Mack World Series on the line, the excellent competition will present countless opportunities for top players to stand out.

Speaking of focus shifting, now that the final 2022 Five Tool 55 is completed and published, the rankings focus shifts to the 2023 class. Throughout the high school season, we were able to evaluate in person hundreds of 2023 prospects to gather more information for our next update, which will occur at the end of the summer.

Is the list outdated? Certainly. To be fair to myself and others, the moment a list is published chances are it’s soon outdated because players, especially at this age, are constantly changing physically, are improving their skill, and development and prospect outlook is never constant or stagnant. We wanted to get eyes on as many top 2023 players as possible during the high school season, and it obviously wouldn’t make sense to publish an update right before the AABC Don Mattingly World Series, a terrific event for evaluation, and before events like Area Code.

That said, we do know there will be some prospects who will make their debut during the next update or will make big moves up the list, including some players who we’ll get to see in person this upcoming week. Here’s a look at some of the prospects – emphasis on some because this list could be well over 50 and there are some obvious, huge names left off – I’m especially excited to see in person during the AABC Don Mattingly World Series.

Jack Bell – SS – Ray (Corpus Christi)

Bell created a buzz last summer at the 2021 Area Code games and elevated his game to a new level during his team’s deep playoff run this past season. After seeing Bell at Twelve Baseball’s scout day and taking the pulse of scouts, it’s becoming clear Bell could emerge as the best bet in the class to do two things: stick at shortstop with above-average defense at worst; hit. I’d like to see more of Bell in person, which will hopefully happen during the upcoming AABC Don Mattingly World Series, before truly planting my flag, but I have the feeling he’s emerging as a true defensive wizard at a premium position.

Late during the high school season, Bell added strength and it began to show in the way he impacted the baseball. That’s continued so far this summer, and he’s going to fill out more in the future, especially through the upper half. As the strength grows, the bat could really take off even more. As it stands currently, he’s a strong bet to make contact at a high rate and get on base.

Aden Howard – OF – Hebron

Drew Bishop raved about Howard after seeing a Hebron scrimmage and the switch-hitting DBU commitment went on to have an outstanding junior season, which has carried into a summer that included starring as a top player during the AABC Connie Mack qualifier against older competition. Howard has loud tools, could play all over the diamond, and is consistently turning impressive hitting tools into production. I can’t wait to see him during the AABC Don Mattingly World Series, and he’s a lock to be included in the updated 2023 Five Tool 55.

Ethan Mendoza – SS – Southlake Carroll

Mendoza’s lightning-quick hands in the batter’s box last summer caught my attention and so did his impressive bat speed from the right side but the production didn’t match the impressive swing. Well, the production matched the swing during the high school season, to say the least. Mendoza, committed to Arizona State, hit .406/.496/.660 with more walks (18) than strikeouts (10) for the 6A state champs and I’ve had more than a few people mention how much he stood out during the state tournament. And we liked the way his baseball mind worked on the dirt, too. I’m really looking forward to getting another in-person look at him and Stix Scout 2023 because he has all the ingredients to become one of the best infielders in the state.

Blake Julius – RHP – Mansfield Legacy

A tall righty with an easy delivery, especially for his size, and strike-throwing profile with strong stuff, Julius was selected to the Texas Rangers Area Code team this summer after a tryout that left scouts buzzing. A product of Mansfield Legacy and a longtime Oklahoma State commitment after emerging last summer, Julius has the makings of a big riser among right-handed pitchers in Texas.

Lane Sparks – OF – Brenham
Lucas Moore – RHP – Katy
JJ Kennett – C – Ridge Point

I saw all three of these Texas Twelve players during the season, and all three looked the part of top players in the state. Sparks and Moore are both currently uncommitted and I imagine a lot of college coaches will be paying close attention to them this week. The former looked like a standout center fielder defensively with promising hit tool and the latter can flat out pitch with two offspeed pitches that have both flashed plus in the past.

Tanner Wiggins – RHP/UTIL – Temple Christian

Um, hello.

That’s electric stuff from Wiggins, a tall, slender righty who will fill out more in the future and also plays in the middle of the diamond with catching in his background, too. The breaking ball is sharp, has missed bats and the fastball velocity keeps ticking up each time we see him. Very interesting arm.

Mason Gerrard – RHP/UTIL – Lake Belton

Gerrard is one of the many GPS Legends Puffer players I’m excited to see, but he tops the list because he’s recently started pitching again after not throwing during his junior season because of a shoulder injury. When Gerrard is right, he has some explosive stuff to go with a very promising physical outlook. At the plate, the athletic, physical right-handed hitter has some juice and can profile multiple spots defensively.

Connor Clark – MIF – Sherman

Clark was one of my “picks to click” from our 2023 Five Tool 55 “just missed” list and I’m excited to see him compete against some of the top competition he’ll see all season while playing for Texas Oilers 17U Hamblin/Hancock. There’s no doubt about the two-sport standout athleticism and performing very well with the bat this week would be a strong statement.

Dustin McComas
Senior Editor
Five Tool Baseball