The 2023 Five Tool 55: The Final Portion of the List (Nos. 11-1)

The final release is here. It’s time to unveil who is No. 1. 

We’ll conclude the release of the inaugural Five Tool 55 for the 2023 in Texas with players No. 11-1. If you missed our primer to explain the process and address some frequently asked questions, click HERE and also HERE for general thoughts about the 2023 process. Also, following the release, we’ll also release a list of players who just missed the cut and also a follow list of players who stood out and will be closely monitored by college programs this spring. Cutting the list of players to 55 wasn’t as easy as I hoped and that meant plenty of good players being left off the list. 

Click HERE for “follow” list

Click HERE for “just missed” list

Click HERE for players 55-45

Click HERE for 44-34

Click HERE for 33-23

Click HERE for 22-12

Let’s find out who tops the list:

No. 11 – Jerson Martin – C/UTIL – Chisholm Trail

Finding young players who possess the skill capable of catching at the next level is more rare than most observers think. A guy who could catch and do it with an impact bat? It’s like finding a unicorn. Martin could become one of those unicorns. An impressive athlete who moves well down the line, Martin has enjoyed tremendous strides the last calendar year as his talent has blossomed and his skill has created extremely bright flashes both defensively and offensively. 

Defensively, catching-and-throwing behind the plate comes naturally to Martin and his agility and athleticism make him an intriguing backstop. With the bat, the right-handed hitter shows some strength, bat speed, and a balanced swing with a head that barely moves as he whips the barrel through the zone. With an all-around talent base and skill set, Martin has the tools to emerge as one of the nation’s best prospects. And if it’s not as a catcher, Martin’s bat and athleticism can help him transition fine elsewhere. He’s committed to Wichita State.

No. 10 – Jason Bodin – RHP – Orangefield

Like Martin, this is a bit of a bet on upside because the flashes are so special but the consistency isn’t quite there yet. That said, these guys are, again, juniors and Bodin, like Martin, does a lot of things naturally that are extremely intriguing. For instance, Bodin, a Texas A&M commitment, can naturally spin the baseball at an advanced level, giving him a fastball and curveball that can overwhelm hitters while racking up swings and misses. The changeup is promising too and with present length, Bodin has plenty of projection remaining. His arm works quickly and his stuff is very lively. There are better strike-throwers ranked behind him, but the upside here is special. 

No. 9 – Dillon Lester – C – Deer Park

Regarded as one of the best defensive catchers in the state, Lester showed some promising in-game power this fall by blasting multiple homers during one of our fall events. He’s not as physical as catchers Martin and Caden Mitchell, but he packs some strength into his medium frame. The Oklahoma commitment is a good bet to continue catching at the next level thanks to his athletic, natural movements behind home plate, strong arm and skill. Some swing and miss does accompany a swing geared to impact, but as long as the pull-side impact continues to show, it’s a fine trade off. Plus, Lester does show a knowledge of when to cut his swing down and think with pitchers. 

No. 8 – Jakob Schulz – LHP – Memorial

The most consistent pitcher in the 2023 class, Schulz posted a 0.60 ERA across 15 Five Tool innings and was named the Most Valuable Pitcher of the 2021 Pudge Rodriguez World Classic. A physical strike-throwing machine with no problem repeating a simple delivery, Schulz had no problem racking up strikeouts with a fastball that sat comfortably in the upper 80s. 

The left-handed Vanderbilt commitment routinely threw his curveball and changeup for strikes, the latter standing out the most because of how it played off his heater. Because of the way Schulz’s hands work out of his glove and his arm action, there’s some deception in the delivery, which allows the fastball to play up a little. While Schulz doesn’t possesses the upside of pitchers like Bodin, he has perhaps the highest floor because he’s already proven capable of executing his stuff and you don’t need to dream to envision easy, low 90’s velocity in the future. 

No. 7 – Kendall George – OF – Atascocita

Schulz’s teammate in the summer with Texas Twelve, George is one of the fastest players in the nation. And he reminds everyone watching consistently because no one in the 2023 class does a better job of utilizing 80-grade speed (3.43 down the line on a drag bunt) than the Arkansas commitment. 

With an offensive approach from the left side geared towards patience and contact, George gets on base at a very, very high rate and once he reaches first, it’s almost impossible to prevent him from reaching third. He understands he’s better off putting the ball in play than swinging and missing with a search for more power, which can lead to a swing that at times looks like it’s selling out for contact only. Regardless, George will grow into more strength and his hands/wrists, along with his approach, suggest some gap-to-gap liners should be a part of his future swing.

A member of the Five Tool All-Summer Team, the Houston area standout hit .450 across 60 plate appearances with 24 runs and 15 steals. He performed strongly at the prestigious Area Code event and hit .444 with a .545 on-base percentage, two doubles and two steals. If the center field defense trends positively, it’s possible George finishes high school with true 80-grade speed and plus defense at a premium position. 

No. 6 – Minjun “MJ” Seo – RHP/INF – John Paul II

A baseball junkie obsessed with working on his craft and in tune with the newest development trends, Seo is a true two-way talent who established himself long ago as one of the top players in the state. I like him more on the mound currently and although there’s effort out of a medium frame that doesn’t possess much projection, Seo also possesses a natural ability to spin and manipulate the baseball. He also attacks hitters with a quick, strong arm and a heater that’s touched 95 MPH with some angle despite the shorter frame with short limbs. 

A very good competitor, Seo also shows feel for throwing a fastball, breaking balls and changeup for strikes with the chance to rack up whiffs. I’m betting on the changeup to end up at least above average and it already terrorizes lefties. Offensively, Seo’s short, quick, right-handed stroke is performing well and his strong mental approach to the game keeps him from being overwhelmed and getting out of his comfort zone. Seo shows promising defensive actions at shortstop, but he probably profiles best in the future as a second baseman. 

Some of the profile is a tad confusing; you wonder how it all works out of that frame with that effort on the mound. However, we sometimes can make evaluation too complicated. Simply, what Seo does works and it’s working as a hitter and as a pitcher. He throws really hard. He has a chance for an above-average or better changeup and has promising feel for spin. He performs. He hits. And he’s a heck of a baseball player. Plus, there’s no doubt he’ll continue to put the work in and push himself. A one-time Arizona commitment, Seo committed to LSU following Jay Johnson’s move from Tuscon to Baton Rouge.

No. 5 – Brayden Sharp – LHP/OF – The Woodlands 

Depending on who you talk to at the professional level, Sharp is either the most intriguing left-handed pitching prospect in the state or a future outfielder that gives off some Jared McKenzie vibes. Fittingly, Sharp is committed to Baylor, where McKenzie is currently a left-handed hitting stud. What isn’t up for debate: Sharp is an athletic, strong, legitimate two-way talent with the type of shoulders and frame that strongly suggest he’ll continue to fill out noticeably. 

A plus runner and plus athlete, Sharp’s tools as a position player are all-around impressive. While the glove might not profile in the middle, it could be strong in the corner with the makings of an above-average or plus arm to accompany the speed. Sharp’s left-handed swing is showing gap-to-gap power with signs of more impact to pull the ball over the wall. On the mound, the lefty’s fastball often shows some natural life. His athleticism shows in his delivery and there’s some natural feel for spin with the breaking ball. Basically, it’s easy to bet on this type of talent base and skill set. 

No. 4 – TJ Pompey – SS – Coppell

There are certain young players who simply look like future pros. Pompey is one of them thanks to his tall, long, lean frame and smooth, confident defensive actions at shortstop. After seeing him pitch for the Blue Jays Scout Team this fall, I’m confident the arm will be plus at shortstop and he could end up profiling as a plus defender at that premium position. 

In the batter’s box, the Texas Tech commitment showed more pull-side power this fall and as he matures, that should continue to show even more. If his feel for hitting keeps progressing positively, there won’t be an infielder in the state who will be scouted more heavily his senior year.

No. 3 – Mason Bixby – RHP – Johnson

Bixby’s fastball is so good he doesn’t need to throw any other pitches to dominate high school hitters. Seriously. It’s that good. And it’s not good because he bumps something like 98 MPH. Actually, he works more in the 89-93 MPH range right now, although there is certainly a lot more in the tank to unleash as he gets older. It’s so good because the way the ball comes out of Bixby’s hand creates the type of heater that batter’s can’t see and catchers can barely catch. Maybe I’m caught up a little in the moment here, but I think there’s a true chance Bixby’s fastball gets some future 80 grades when he’s a senior. 

From a 6-6 or 6-7 frame with a high waist, the big, long, tall right-hander naturally creates impressive fastball shape and angle. And the heater jumps out of the hand in part because of an easy delivery reminiscent of a guy getting his warm-up tosses in before the inning begins. Unfortunately for high school hitters, Bixby’s cutter/slider is flashing with promise too and there’s no reason to think a changeup won’t be a future average pitch.

You’re probably saying, “Well, with this report, why isn’t this guy No. 1 on the list?!” Well, there are two main reasons why and you’re about to read those players’ reports. That said, I do truly think Bixby has No. 1 upside in this class, which might seem like blasphemy to some given the No. 1 player’s current status in the evaluation community. Bixby is committed to TCU.

No. 2 – Travis Sykora – RHP/SS – Round Rock

Speaking of tall right-handed pitchers with big-time fastballs, Sykora already touches the upper 90’s with an explosive heater. He pitches like a hard-throwing pitcher – unafraid to include some effort and simply challenge hitters with gas, especially up in the zone. At times, Sykora’s fastball shows some natural arm-side tail and the spin profile is promising. Committed to Texas, the Round Rock prospect couples his power heater with a hard, 83-85 MPH slider and has a splitter/split-change that occasionally joins the strikeout party, too.

Sykora’s power doesn’t stop on the mound, though. He has plus raw power at the plate and can put on a majestic show in batting practice. A big athlete, he’s not yet able to consistently get to that power or the hit tool yet, but the potential is present to create some of the loudest right-handed contact in the class. He plays shortstop well at the high school level, although third base, where he played at Area Code, fits his physical profile best. That said, Sykora undoubtedly possesses first-round upside on the mound.

No. 1 – Blake Mitchell – C/RHP – Sinton

My first day at Five Tool resulted in my first look at Mitchell. He came out of the bullpen, bumped 94 MPH with angle and life from a quick arm, and flashed a 60 curveball. I thought to myself, “if they’re all like this, this is the best job in the world.” It still is the best job, but they’re not all like Mitchell. He’s different.

Mitchell checks pretty much every box you hope a prep catcher does: physical; agile, athletic; strong, accurate arm; receiving skill; catch-and-throw ability; 1.90-1.98 in-game pop times; promising hit and power tools; makeup. We’re discussing a prep catcher who could be selected in the first round of the MLB Draft. That’s rare. And he’d also be one of the top right-handed pitchers in the state, too. The LSU commitment pitched 22.0 innings during Five Tool competition and finished with a 0.00 ERA, 31 strikeouts and nine walks. He also hit .483.

If there is one area to nitpick, Mitchell does swing and miss at an elevated level from the left side, but he’s also routinely faced some really, really good competition as a member of USA program teams, Area Code and more. If the swing and miss frequency drops and the hit tool trends the right way, it’s going to be really difficult for anyone to find something about his game that grades worse than average on the professional scale, putting him firmly in the mix as the top prep catcher in the country. 

Reminder: later this week we’ll release a “just missed” list of players who were just outside the Five Tool 55 and also a follow list of other standout players we evaluated during the process.

Dustin McComas
Senior Editor
Five Tool Baseball

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