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RECAP: Texas High School Player Draft

It may have lacked the fanfare, months of over-the-top preview analysis and buzz of the NFL, MLB or NBA Draft, but the Five Tool Texas High School Player Draft made its return to the Five Tool Podcast earlier this week. And we’re fired up about it. As the high school season approaches, we enjoy the draft process because it’s a fun way to think about and discuss top players in anticipation of the upcoming season. We hope those listeners enjoyed it and didn’t take it too seriously. 

For our second annual Five Tool High School Player Draft, we added a couple new twists to spice up the draft: To start, we were both allowed two keepers from last year’s team along with a “steal” from the opposing roster before the picks started. On top of that, we each selected a position player and a pitcher from our “Just Missed” list as well as a pitcher and position player from the 2025 class. Both teams turned out absolutely loaded again, speaking to the depth of talent in the state and leading us to some really tough roster decisions. Next week on the podcast, we plan to conduct a Five Tool National High School Player Draft comprised of players outside the state of Texas. 

Drew and I will now review our rosters, the thought process behind selections, and provide some commentary. Additionally, we’ve each included another lineup of players who weren’t selected in the initial draft. We didn’t share that lineup prior to this piece. So, it will be interesting to see if we share some of the same players in the additional lineup.


Rounds 1-5

1. C/RHP - Blake Mitchell - Sinton (KEEPER)

2. 1B/LHP - Jaquae Stewart - Sinton (KEEPER)

3. INF - Brayden Randle - Rockwall (STEAL)

4. RHP - Barrett Kent - Pottsboro 

5. SS - Ethan Mendoza - Southlake Carroll

I started off with an incredible foundation for #TeamBish by bringing back Sinton stars Blake Mitchell and Jaquae Stewart from last year’s squad to lead the way both at the plate and on the mound. The Pirate and Twelve duo put up video game numbers last year and look poised to repeat in 2023 for head coach Adrian Alaniz. 

I used my steal on hometown spark plug Brayden Randle to ensure that all is right in the world. Last year, I got cute and was caught roster watching allowing Dustin to swipe him while I thought he was done at the position. I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice and landed a top of the lineup guy who handles good pitching on the big stage. 

To lead the way on the mound, I went with an arm that has the potential to be the first arm off the board from Texas when the draft rolls around this summer. Coming off a dominant Area Code performance, scouts will be flocking to Pottsboro this spring to get a glimpse at Barrett Kent. The big righty should be dominant and continue to climb up draft boards as the season wears on. 

Next, I completed my middle infield with arguably the best pure hitter in the state, Southlake Carrol's Ethan Mendoza. As the result of a physical jump and a professional work ethic, Mendoza’s natural skill and baseball IQ pushed him to the head of the class in the state for position players.

Rounds 6-10

6. LHP - Ryler Smart - Pearland

7. RHP/UTIL - Brayden Bergman - Plano East

8. RHP/UTIL - Aiden Sims - Forney

9. RHP/INF - Jack Frankel - Prestonwood Christian Academy

10. SS - Theo Gillen - Austin Westlake

In picks 6-10 I added some big-time arms and some real star power from the 2024 class. In Smart, I get a competitive bulldog on the mound who has stated his case as the best lefty in Texas. The Pearland product made a name quickly for himself early in the summer and had some of the biggest dogs on the block after him before committing to Tennessee. 

Bergman, a Baylor commitment, dominated last summer and garnered top billing as our top performer for the summer after not allowing a run and doing major damage with the bat. Along with Casan Evans, Dustin’s top pick, Sims (Texas A&M commit) and Frankel (Mississippi State commit) will have a chance to stake their claim on being the top right-hander in Texas. Both are known for not only their stuff, but their pitchability. 

With the pick of Theo Gillen, a Texas commitment, I grabbed a guy who has the potential to be the number one player taken in the MLB Draft at some point in his career. I am very interested to see him coming off injury this spring for Austin Westlake.

Rounds 11-15

11. SS - Wyatt Sanford - Independence

12. OF - Braylon Payne - Elkins

13. OF/RHP - Isaiah Castaneda - Pearland

14. 1B/C/RHP - Mac Rose - Rockwall

15. 1B - Cole Johnson - Lake Travis

With picks 11-15, I continued stockpiling a loaded roster with the addition of arguably the best 2024 defender in Wyatt Sanford and our top ranked 2024 outfielder, Braylon Payne. Sanford plays an effortless brand of baseball and is a guy that will have a chance to play short early in the SEC for the Aggies. Payne, committed to Houston, is a speedster who plays with a high IQ and is next to impossible to strikeout. 

Castaneda, one of the top uncommitted prospects in the country, is a baseball player who I felt comfortable could contribute to my roster on the infield, in the outfield, or on the mound. Mac Rose is a returner to #TeamBish and I love what he brings to the table from a leadership standpoint behind the plate and with the bat. The son of a coach, Rose plays an advanced level of baseball that contributes to winning in a number of ways, which will undoubtedly translate to McLennan at the next level.

Finally, Cole Johnson can man the first base and DH spot for me. A guy that just flat out hits, Johnson adds light tower power to a natural feel for hitting that will give him a chance to be a middle of the order bat early in Stillwater.

Rounds 16-20

16. OF - Dylan Schlaegel - Mansfield Legacy

17. INF/RHP - Brady Coe - Allen 

18. LHP - Kyle Bade - Plano

19. INF/OF/RHP - Luke Billings - Prosper

20. RHP - Marcos Paz - Hebron

To round out my roster, I got a collection of future stars at the college and potentially pro level as well. With Schlaegel I get a twitchy outfielder who has some juice and may find himself with a decision to make this summer when the draft rolls around. A compact athlete who does everything loud, Schlaegel’s name is starting to pop up on some draft boards as we approach the spring. He’s a DBU commitment. 

Fresh off his commitment to ACU, Coe is a gamer that I feel comfortable sticking anywhere on the infield and bringing him in to close out a game on the mound. Bade made a physical jump since the spring that produced added velocity as of late which will make him a nightmare for hitters this spring. Already a fearless competitor, his added velocity takes him from what was a probable reliever in college to a definite starting candidate in the Big 12 at Oklahoma State.

Billings and Paz add some real star power in the 2025 class for my roster and will provide me with a foundation into the future for #TeamBish. Billings, committed to Tennessee, is a do-it-all player that has the ability to change the game at the plate or on the mound. Paz, who already looks like a Friday night starter in the SEC, gives me a low heart rate strike thrower who can’t be rattled.

My only regret after finishing this draft is that we can’t settle the score on the field. #TeamDustin is loaded and I think people would pay to see a seven game series between these two teams. Dustin broke my heart again this year with a couple of his picks coming from my list of favorites in Aden Howard and Aidan Smith. The two DFW outfielders play the game the right way and are just a blast to watch play the game. 

Dustin, along with LSU, snagged quite the battery duo in Casan Evans and Cade Arrambide who have made their case to be the top arm and position player in Texas for 2024. He also made the most predictable pick in Five Tool draft history taking Kayson Cunningham as his 2025 position player and already solidifying a keeper for the 2024 and 2025 seasons. This, however, is done with good reason as Cunningham is an elite talent that stands out amongst the biggest stars in the country. 

This draft never fails to deliver in the entertainment category for Dustin and I even as we agonize over a handful of guys we would love to squeeze into the mix. In fact, that notion led us to create a third lineup. For a state loaded with talent, we will never have a shortage of players to evaluate and root for as we follow their careers well past Five Tool events and hopefully on to big league rosters.


Let’s get started with my two keepers and steal selection before my first couple of picks to give myself some potentially elite keepers next year:

Rounds 1-5

1. RHP - Travis Sykora - Round Rock (KEEPER)

2. OF/RHP - Nehomar Ochoa, Jr. - Galena Park (KEEPER)

3. OF - Kendall George - Atascocita (STEAL)

4. RHP - Casan Evans - St. Pius X

5. C - Cade Arrambide - Tomball

My first keeper selection was a no-brainer because Texas signee Travis Sykora is a flame-thrower who showed this summer he can actually pitch, too. He should be firmly in the mix as a day one MLB Draft selection. Next came my first tough decision: Ochoa or Brayden Randle? The tiebreaker proved to be Ochoa’s ability on the mound, where I’ve seen him up to 95 MPH in addition to being one of the best power hitters in the state capable of playing outfield well. I knew leaving Randle for Drew would allow him to receive the red-carpet treatment unlike last year when he was forced to park at the nearby gas station when going to Rockwall games. 

Using a “steal” selection on Kendall George, an Arkansas signee, is fitting because he might be the best combination of speed and athleticism in the entire country. Known for his legendary speed, George is also one of the toughest players to strike out in the country and will help turn my outfield into a no-fly zone. 

Since there is a keeper element to this draft, I knew I wanted to target a couple of elite 2024 prospects early. Evans, a recent LSU commitment ranked No. 1 on the 2024 Texas Five Tool 55, is a rare and advanced blend of standout stuff, pitchability, and athleticism. My roster is probably popular in Baton Rouge with Arrambide as my next pick. I’ll never forget seeing him hit a homer so hard at Area Code it knocked a branch off a tree in deep left field. I’ll also never forgive my phone for overheating, preventing me from capturing it on film. In addition to his plus raw power, Arrambide showed improved hitting ability and his strong arm behind home plate produces 1.9 pop times during games. 

Rounds 6-10

6. LHP - Zane Adams - Porter

7. OF - Aden Howard - Hebron

8. OF - Aidan Smith - Lovejoy

9. SS - Jack Bell - W.B. Ray

10. OF/LHP - Sawyer Strosnider - Brock

When in doubt, pick an elite arm. That’s what I did with the selection of Alabama signee Zane Adams, who has high upside and already possesses overpowering stuff. He was consistently impressive all summer, especially considering he was still recovering from an ankle injury. 

With George already in the outfield mix, I felt Drew left the door open for me to steal a couple of his favorites and build the most athletic, fast and talented outfield you’ll find anywhere. Selecting Aden Howard (DBU signee) and Aidan Smith (Mississippi State signee) back-to-back gave me three of the top 10 overall prospects in the state. Drew and I are both immense fans of the way those two play the game in addition to their obvious talent and skill. 

If you know me, you know how big of a fan I am of Jack Bell’s defensive ability at shortstop. The Texas A&M signee added strength to his upper half and can impact the baseball well; if the power keeps ticking up with more muscle, he could give MLB scouts a lot to think about when the draft arrives. 

I made up my mind that my utility positions were going to be filled with two-way talents and Sawyer Strosnider, a TCU commitment, is one of the best in the nation for 2024. The left-handed hitter and pitcher has plus wheels, plus athleticism, throws hard off the mound and emerged as one of the best pure hitters in the state this summer. 

Rounds 11-15

11. LHP/OF - Brayden Sharp - The Woodlands

12. INF - David Hogg II - Mansfield

13. LHP - Gavyn Jones - White Oak

14. INF - Austin Phillips - Sound Grand Prairie

15. OF - Matt Scott II - Klein Oak

Sticking with the theme of talented, left-handed, two-way prospects, Sharp was an easy choice. I like him more on the mound long-term, where he has immense potential with a fastball I’ve seen up to 95 MPH in person. Additionally, he’ll be one of the best left-handed hitters in the state. Hogg has some of the most exciting future tools in the 2024 class and can play all over the infield. I thought I would play him at third base until I decided to go with classmate and Area Code teammate Austin Phillips, who looks like a future above-average defender at the hot corner at worst and hit elite pitching well this summer.

When in doubt, take a talented pitcher. That’s what I did when selecting Texas Tech signee Gavyn Jones, who will be firmly in the MLB Draft mix. My designated hitter spot will be filled by Pudge Rodriguez Would Classic Offensive MVP, Matt Scott II. The Oklahoma commitment has tantalizing raw power and showed he could get to it this summer. 

Rounds 16-20

16. 1B - Boots Landry - Friendswood

17. C/1B - Landon West - Tompkins

18. RHP - Weston Moss - Lake Creek

19. SS - Kayson Cunningham - San Antonio Johnson

20. LHP/OF - Taylor Tracey - Dripping Springs

The last position in my lineup I needed to fill was first base. Texas A&M signee Boots Landry is a throwback, bat-first player at the position who is going to mash this season in the heart of one of the top lineups in the state. As we moved to the “Just Missed” list selections, West was an easy pick. He’s hit every time we’ve seen him, can hit for power and gives me some valuable catching depth. 

Moss was among the easiest picks I made. He’ll be a future Five Tool 55 member because he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery and we just need to see him back on the mound in game action again. But his recent bullpen video brought enough heat to set your phone on fire and he’s my pick to become this year’s JJ Goss, Josh Wolf or Matt Thompson - a prep righty from the Houston area who blows up and is selected on day one of the MLB Draft. 

Okay, now we arrive at the easiest pick I’ll make in Five Tool draft history: Kayson Cunningham as my 2025 position player. He has an advanced, tremendous feel for hitting with a plus hit tool, plus speed, ability to stick on the dirt at shortstop and is an excellent competitor with good instincts. I have the chance to keep him on the roster for two years? Outstanding. Great players make smart general managers. 

On the mound in the 2025 class I selected Dripping Springs left-handed pitcher Taylor Tracey. Truthfully, I could have selected the other projected member of the Dripping Springs rotation, 2025 flame-throwing right-hander Cooper Rummell. Tracey has advanced pitchability and can execute three pitches for strikes; he also possesses special long-term upside. 

Obviously, if you draft a team, you should like it. And I love mine. It doesn’t have a weakness. However, Drew did hurt me a few times, including when he immediately kept Jaquae Stewart, one of my favorite left-handed hitters I’ve ever seen. I was set to select Ethan Mendoza when he did, which made the decision to pivot to the top 2024 talents easy. Speaking of, getting Jack Frankel and Theo Gillen where he did is a steal because both players could emerge as the No. 1 prospect in the state for 2024. Braylon Payne and Isaiah Castaneda are both personal favorites and the latter is the perfect fit at the utility spot. 

Limiting a roster to just 20 players and just 18 from the 2023 and 2024 classes is extremely difficult, especially when sticking to a traditional lineup. It should go without saying there are outstanding players who aren’t on either roster. So, we both put together what a potential second team - again, we didn’t tell each other beforehand so there will be duplicates - for each general manager would look like:


C - Nolan Traeger - Concordia Lutheran (TCU commit)

1B - Trey Craig - Pantego Christian Academy (Texas A&M commit)

2B - Kyle Branch - Lovejoy (Oklahoma commit)

3B - Ryan Jones - Aledo (Texas Tech commit) 

SS - TJ Pompey - Coppell (Texas Tech signee)

OF - Pearson Riebock - Rockwall (Oklahoma commit)

OF - Caden Sorrell - Flower Mound Marcus (Texas A&M signee)

OF - Nathan Tobin - V.R. Eaton (Texas A&M commit)

DH - Tristan Russell - Cypress Woods (Houston signee)

UTL - Park Prater - Argyle (DBU commit)

UTL - Micah Kendrick - Rockwall (TCU signee)

UTL - Braden Regala - Wylie (ACU commit)

P - Cooper Williams - Alvin (Texas A&M commit)

P - Easton Tumis - Friendswood (Texas signee)

P - Alex Petrovic - Concordia Lutheran (Auburn signee)

P - Kannon Kemp - Weatherford (Oklahoma signee)

JM POS - Dasan Harris - Plano East (Oklahoma signee)

JM P - Paxton Terveen - Stratford (Texas A&M signee)

2025 POS - Matthew Boughton - Covenant Christian (Texas A&M commit)

2025 P - Xavier Mitchell - Prestonwood Christian Academy (Texas commit)

For my third team, I aimed to put together a good mix of production and projection. Starting on the mound I went with some VERY high upside guys who I think all have a jump they can make to put them in the elite category. Williams (2024 Texas A&M commit) has enormous upside while Tumis and Kemp both made jumps that may cause Texas and OU, respectively, to sweat out draft day in the summer. Petrovic can pitch and I think there is some major velocity in the tank for him. Terveen and Mitchell give me two lefties with strikeout stuff. Mitchell has a chance to be one of the elite arms in not only Texas, but the entire country as he continues to fill out and progress. Behind the plate I went with Petrovic’s Concordia Lutheran battery-mate Nolan Traeger.

On the infield I have some options and flexibility with Kyle Branch, TJ Pompey, Micah Kendrick, Ryan Jones and Tristan Russell. I could go a number of directions with guys and their positions and their offensive prowess. Pompey has MAJOR upside and could turn out to be the highest drafted infielder in Texas if he continues to be more consistent at the plate. Branch and Kendrick are both guys I feel comfortable playing anywhere on the infield because of their actions and baseball IQ. 

Russell is a guy who is better every time we see him and proved he could hit the best arms at Area Code this summer. Based on some pictures we have seen, it looks like he has continued to transform what was already a good body. He was simply too good to leave off this roster. Boughton is a flat out stud who will continue to benefit from playing up in the summer and has unlimited potential in the middle of the field.

In the outfield, I have a really good combo of speed and power. Riebock, Caden Sorrell, and Tobin (2024 Texas A&M commit) are all centerfielders that can run and have some juice at the plate. Park Prater is a legitimate center fielder who I plan to use on the mound as well. Fresh off his commitment to ACU, 2024 outfielder Braden Regala may be the fastest player in the state. Dasan Harris is a guy that proved he could hit good pitching in the fall and may find his way shooting up the 55 list with a good spring.


C - AJ DePaolo - Prestonwood Christian Academy (Vanderbilt commit)

1B - Nolan Traeger - Concordia Lutheran (TCU commit)

2B - Dondreone “Dee” Kennedy - Prestonwood Christian Academy (Texas signee)

SS - TJ Pompey - Coppell (Texas Tech signee)

3B - Tristan Russell - Cypress Woods (Houston signee)

OF - Caden Sorrell - Flower Mound Marcus (Texas A&M signee)

OF - Sam Myers - Cypress Woods (TCU signee)

OF -  Ace Reese - Canton (Houston signee)

DH - Garet Boehm - Hutto (Texas Tech signee)

UTIL - Park Prater - Argyle (DBU commit)

UTIL - Ridge Morgan - Westwood

UTIL - MJ Seo - Hebron (LSU signee)

P - Cooper Williams - Alvin (Texas A&M commit)

P - Diego Luzardo - La Porte (Houston signee)

P - Hudson Hamilton - Grand Oaks (Texas signee)

P - Easton Tumis - Friendswood (Texas signee)

JM POS - Trenton Buckley - Magnolia West

JM P - Paxton Terveen - Stratford (Texas A&M signee)

2025 POS - William Hill - Summer Creek (Texas commit)

2025 P - Cooper Fulbright - Strake Jesuit (Texas A&M commit)

This lineup is very left-handed heavy, which is part of the reason why I added right-handed asher Garet Boehm at designated hitter. Russell is a shortstop, but I’ve seen him play third base just fine and it allowed me to put him, Pompey and Kennedy in the same infield. Myers and Reese are among the best pure hitters in the state and Sorrell has maybe the most exciting blend of athleticism and tools of any outfielder. 

The catching will be shared by Traeger and DePaolo and I slotted the former in at first base because I’ve seen him do that before and it gets a really exciting bat into the lineup. Pitching to those two is maybe the most projectable lefty in the 2024 class and a trio of senior right-handers I love after seeing them in the summer. Once again, my utility spots are filled by talented two-way players who can contribute with the bat, on the mound and even defensively. 

Buckley and Terveen are both players I’m anxious to get a look at this spring. I think Matthew Boughton, Drew’s selection, is currently right behind Kayson Cunningham as the top 2025 position player prospect in Texas, but I wanted to balance my roster with another right-handed hitting outfielder. Hill has huge upside as a hitter and a great bet to become a beast. On the mound, Fulbright has some of the best upside of any pitcher in the 2025 class and already flashes a very strong, distinct four-pitch mix. 

Dustin McComas and Drew Bishop