The 2023 Five Tool 55: Continuing With the Rankings (22-12)

We’ll continue the inaugural Five Tool 55 for the 2023 in Texas with players No. 22-11 (Click HERE for players 55-45, HERE for 44-34 and HERE for 33-23). 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 of the entire list, ending with No. 11-1 on Monday night, 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. Let’s continue:

 

No. 22 – Aidan Smith – OF – Lovejoy

During our premier 16U event, Smith smacked two homers and finished with a .357/.438/.786 slash line. From the right side, the ball jumps off his bat to all parts of the field and there is a lot of projection remaining. Smith moves well out of the batter’s box and covers a lot of ground defensively, showcasing a very well-rounded skill set; he profiles as a guy who could have average or better tools across the board, making him one of the top prospects in the state. 

No. 21 – Nikolas Sanders – C/CIF/OF – La Vega

Sanders possesses perhaps the best blend of torque in his swing and power from the right side in the class. A physical masher, Sanders uses loose hands and a leg kick to unleash some noticeable bat speed and juice in the batter’s box. He doesn’t get cheated, either. Right now, Sanders profiles as a catcher but a move to a corner infield or outfield spot is the likely move years from now. In the meantime, the Texas commitment is one of the best power bats in the state and showed some nice athleticism on the football field this year.

No. 20 – Caden Mitchell – C – Celina

A two-sport athlete who catches one of the state’s best pitching rotations, Mitchell flashes a strong, accurate arm behind the plate (pop times in the 1.8-1.9 range) with some present catch-and-throw skill and athleticism. The load/timing can create some swing-and-miss occasionally, but there’s a chance for some pop from the left side to accompany real catching skill. Not only does Mitchell, committed to Illinois, catch some of the state’s best arms in high school competition, he also does it on the select level too. 

No. 19 – Conner Bennett – C – Oak Ridge

Speaking of catching one of the best high school rotations, Bennett does that at Oak Ridge. An early commitment to Vanderbilt, Bennett has shown a 1.90 in-game pop time and has a good chance to stick behind the plate. Undersized, Bennett moves energetically and well for his pitchers and his short, direct, simple swing gets his bat on path and on time. He’ll likely never be a power guy from the right side with the stick, but there shouldn’t be too much swing and miss in his profile. 

No. 18 – Weston Moss – RHP – Oak Ridge

The third Oak Ridge player to make the list, Moss, a Texas A&M commitment, is firmly in the mix to emerge as a top 10 overall prospect and looks like one of the premier right-handed starting pitchers in the state. In the rankings, he begins a cluster of high-upside, very interesting right-handed pitchers who are all bunched together. A lanky, 6-4 righty, Moss has a quick arm, which creates a fastball that can jump on hitters and he’s already showing a sharp curve with feel for a change. 

No. 17 – Ty Baker – RHP – Second Baptist

Baker was one of Jim Schlossnagle’s first commitments when the former TCU head coach made the move to Texas A&M. Purely by coincidence, I watched Baker pitch more than any 2023 pitcher in the class. And every time he executed his stuff, showed signs of command with the fastball, threw all three pitches – fastball, change, curve – for a strike and looked like an advanced pitcher with projection. 

As for the velocity, I saw it bump 90 MPH; even when he worked in the mid-80’s, he still racked up outs without even breaking a sweat. In 13.0 innings at Five Tool events, he finished the summer with a 0.00 ERA. I’m confident the velocity will continue to tick up. 

No. 16 – Jaquae Stewart – 1B – Sinton

Stewart, committed to Houston Baptist, is the best pure left-handed hitter in the 2023 class currently. Will that change? I don’t know. But I do know he can flat out hit and I’ve seen 100 MPH in-game exit velocity with a wood bat, too. Stewart hit .457 in 35 Five Tool at-bats and drove the ball to all parts of the field. 

Yes, he does play defensive line in football for a reason – his current build does limit him to first base. However, he’s more athletic than most assume, which showed on the mound when he was up to 87 MPH; his glove at first base is definitely good enough to remove any discussion about a bat-only player. 

No. 15 – Tarris Murray – OF – Prestonwood Christian Academy

A switch-hitter with intriguing power, Murray’s tools come to live during competition. Watch batting practice only and you’re left wanting a little more. Watch him in games and you’re blown away. A plus-plus athlete who plays running back and participated in the Junior Olympics in track, Murray flies around the diamond and looks like a million bucks in a uniform. As he’s matured, his hit tool has gotten better; if that trend continues, he’s going to be a top 10 player. 

No. 14 – Noah Bentley – RHP/UTIL – Celina

The starting quarterback during the fall, Bentley projects as a future Friday night ace for Oklahoma. His impressive athleticism shows on the mound where a quick finish out front to his arm action helps create some angle to his heather. A very competitive strike-thrower with a promising slider, Bentley was very impressive during Five Tool events and at Area Code and tossed a no-hitter during the high school season with an absurd 15 strikeouts. His delivery features a bit of an unorthodox front foot placement, but he’s an excellent athlete who has no issues at all repeating an otherwise simple delivery. 

No. 13 – Brayden Randle – SS/INF- Rockwall

There probably isn’t a better pure baseball player in the class than Randle. He might not have as loud of tools as some other guys on the list, but he is an elite ‘gamer’ who maximizes what he has, which is more than enough talent to be one of the best players in the country. A great thinker on the diamond, Randle has a knack for showing up in huge moments offensively and defensively, plays very hard all the time and is a force on the bases thanks to his quickness, instincts and aggressiveness. There’s a lot of ‘it’ about this young player.

No. 12 – Barrett Kent – RHP – Pottsboro

Committed to Arkansas, Kent established himself long ago as one of the top right-handed pitchers in the 2023 class. With arm strength showing in the heater, a hard slider/cutter with some glove-side command and a changeup that occasionally flashes, Kent has the makings of a weekend starter in the SEC. A tall pitcher with plenty of room to fill out through his lower half, Kent possesses one of the most promising three-pitch mixes in the state and a track record of performing.

Tune in tomorrow for the final portion of the 2023 Five Tool 55 – Nos. 11-1.

Dustin McComas
Senior Editor
Five Tool Baseball

©2021 Five Tool Baseball.

All rights reserved. Privacy Policy.

About. Contact.

Director Login | Login / Register

Five Tool Baseball