The 2023 Five Tool 55: Continuing with Nos. 44-34

We’ll continue the inaugural Five Tool 55 for the 2023 in Texas – click HERE for players 55-45 – with players No. 44-34. If you missed our primer to explain the process and address some frequently asked questions, click HERE. 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. 44 – Mason Gerrard – RHP/INF – Lake Belton

Will he be a hitter or pitcher? I don’t know because he’s really good at both right now. Gerrard is one of the most explosive athletes in the 2023 class and easy to recognize on the diamond because his highlight reel includes homers, grand slams, diving catches at shortstop, and loud stuff from an athletic delivery on the mound. A commitment to Baylor who plays for GPS Legends on the select circuit, Gerrard showed one of the quickest arms of any pitcher during the Mattingly World Series, which meant he was playing up an age level.

Would I be surprised if he’s sitting in the low 90’s, bumping 95-96 MPH? Nope. A little birdie compared Gerrard to former GPS Legends flame-thrower Justin Lange, who was selected No. 34 overall in the 2020 MLB Draft after touching 100 MPH his senior season.

No. 43 – Samson Pugh – OF/INF/RHP – Lake Creek

Pugh is truly a do-it-all player who currently plays all over the infield, outfield and has been up to 92 MPH off the mound. And the right-hander could do all those things at the next level. Simply, Pugh is a winning baseball player who is capable of impacting the game in every way possible. A competitive, tough player with a slow heartbeat on the diamond, Pugh has a knack for performing and hit .429 for Texas Twelve during Five Tool competition. He’s currently uncommitted.

No. 42 – Uriah Walters – SS – Rock Hill

Walters made a name for himself with some loud performances – .413/.591/.587 in 60 Five Tool plate appearances, and that doesn’t include some great fall performances – for the Dallas Patriots and is a standout shortstop capable of sticking at the position with an impact bat. From the right side, Walters shows some pull-side juice with a short, quick swing and athletic rotation, but he utilizes an approach capable of spraying the ball around the field too instead of selling out only for power.

After he kept hammering the ball in the fall, it wasn’t a surprise to see Dallas Baptist make a move and secure his commitment.

No. 41 – Hayden Morris – RHP – Oak Ridge

A commitment to Texas, Morris is a 6-6, maybe 6-7, right-hander who features a relatively easy, simple and clean delivery. Observers don’t need much time to dream on a velocity jump, especially in college. Morris possesses the feel for manipulating and spinning his breaking stuff, but the hard slider is probably going to pair best with his angle and fastball. As he continues to mature and grow into his big frame, a reasonable bet is more strikes will come too. Morris also plays some hoops as well.

No. 40 – Logan Simmons – RHP – Silsbee

On the right day, you’d see Simmons pound the strike zone with a fastball that plays a tick up and keeps hitters guessing or missing with a changeup he confidently executes and a curveball that flashes with above-average potential. Why I like him is on a bad day, I think he still competes, throws strikes and gets his team some quality innings.

Simmons has a thick, strong build with an arm action that doesn’t feature much length thanks in part to his shorter limbs. There’s a hint of natural deception in his delivery. He doesn’t possess the elite upside of some other right-handed arms in this class, but he’s a good bet to be a quality starting pitcher at the University of Houston. Simmons pitches for the Beaumont Gladiators when he isn’t firing strikes for Silsbee.

No. 39 – Sam Myers – OF – Cypress Woods

A TCU commitment, Myers profiles as a future top-of-the-order left-handed bat in college. I’ve seen him as fast as 4.10 down the line and the outfielder has a natural feel for controlling the barrel and covering the plate with a high rate of contact. The frame is definitely on the smaller side, but with his plus, maybe plus-plus speed and glove that plays in center field often for Texas Twelve, he’s one of the state’s top outfielders.

No. 38 – Cooper Strawn – RHP/3B – Farmersville

An Area Code selection, Strawn is a physical, strong, hard-throwing right-handed pitcher who has been up to 93 MPH and has flashed the ability to spin two different breaking balls (I think the slider profiles better). The standout pitch could be the changeup, which is capable of generating some really ugly swings and misses thanks to its life and he’s willing to throw it to righties too.

Currently uncommitted, the Dallas Tigers standout does fight his control on occasion. However, there’s no denying the stuff is loud and he performed solidly for the Blue Jays Scout Team this fall. He’s good enough with the bat to make you seriously wonder if he could do both at the next level, but pitching is the heavy favorite.

No. 37 – RJ Ruais – LHP/OF – Celina

Another talented two-way player, Ruais likely ends up on the mound at Baylor. An excellent competitor with a track record of performance and winning, the lefty challenges hitters with his fastball, curve, and change and is unafraid to throw strikes. And hitters don’t seem to pick up the ball well out of his hand, allowing his fastball to play up especially once he establishes a bat-missing changeup.

In the batter’s box, Ruais has a pretty left-handed swing and has proven capable of lifting the ball out of the park.

No. 36 – Hudson Hamilton – RHP – Grand Oaks

Perhaps the most intense competitor on the mound in this class, Hamilton toes the rubber with a fire burning within that fuels a strike-throwing approach. With a simple delivery, he’s touched 90 MPH and has a solid feel for spin with a hard breaking ball. A commitment to Texas, the right-handed pitcher could be a future leader in Austin and is the type of tone-setter who could profile as a future Friday night arm.

No. 35 – Brayden Buchanan – C/RHP – Vandegrift

A talented signal caller on the gridiron for a winning program, Buchanan’s athleticism and competitiveness show behind the plate and in the batter’s box on the diamond. He’s an interesting right-handed pitcher with a curve that can really flash, but his future is likely with the catcher’s gear on.

Already, Buchanan is showing some receiving ability with good, athletic posture and catch-and-throw skill. It’s really hard to find high school players who could legitimately catch and hit at the next level. Buchanan could be one of those players.

No. 34 – Nehomar Ochoa Acosta – OF/RHP – Galena Park

My first in-person look at Ochoa resulted in scanning my scout book a couple times to make sure I was watching the right guy in the 2023 class. A physical, imposing presence, Ochoa showed his Venezuelan pride by swinging a wood bat painted like the country’s flag, which he used to send bombs flying into the trees beyond left field at Premier Baseball in Tomball.

As I’m typing out this report, it’s making me wonder if this young man should be higher. He, from the right side, touched 92 MPH at a Five Tool Scout Day event and he’s so young he could be in the 2024 class. Our looks have been primarily as a hitter, and the hands, with a late trigger, work very well and he has one of the best feels for creating barrel path and impact in the class. Does he have top 10 overall in the state upside? Absolutely. Ochoa is committed to Houston.

Tune in tomorrow as we continue our countdown with Nos. 33-23. 

Dustin McComas
Senior Editor
Five Tool Baseball

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