We continue our coverage of the first edition of the 2025 Texas Five Tool 55 with commentary on players ranked 11 through 33…
(Note: Analysis and evaluation discussion is delivered from a scouting perspective; meaning, tools/talent/skill/physical traits are discussed with the MLB scouting scale and draft in mind. Obviously, each player on the 55 and the next 55 are outstanding players and prospects. The discussion isn’t meant to be in any way negative or overly critical, but realistic and honest as it relates to being evaluated and considered a top prospect. Many players at or near the top of the list could ask for a million dollars or more to sign – the final 2023 Five Tool Texas 55 included well over $10 million in signing bonuses for players in the top 10 - and those types of players are dissected endlessly by scouts.)
Minjae Seo (Hebron) and Aiden Barrientes (Katy) being ranked No. 11 and No. 12 respectively is perhaps the best example of how loaded the state is at the top and the depth of elite prospects. In previous years, these two would be slam dunks inside the top 10, and there isn’t much prospect difference between No. 5 and No. 12 on the current 2025 list. Seo’s curveball flashes as a future plus offering with quality shape and bat-missing depth and his changeup is a true, promising third offering that should help future platoon splits. At Area Code and again during the fall for the Rangers North Texas Scout Team, Seo bumped 94 MPH with his fastball, but typically settles in at 88-92 MPH. With one of the quickest arms in the class, Seo’s stuff and velocity should continue to improve despite not having the physical outlook as some of his peers. Where he can experience the most growth as a prospect is improved control and working deeper into games. As for Barrientes, he burst onto the scene this summer and can spin a breaking ball about as well as anyone in the state. A quick worker on the mound with a simple, up-tempo delivery, the TCU commitment is constantly on the attack and willing to challenge hitters. His approach is more control than command, but he has starter and strike-throwing traits present in his delivery. In addition to touching 92 MPH at Area Code with a hard curveball at 77-79 MPH he could manipulate (it looked like there is a true slider in the mix that he threw to lefties), Barrientes also showed an 81-83 MPH changeup with 1400 RPM that is going to give lefties major issues as it comes out of the same fastball arm speed and slot. He showed similar stuff in other in-person summer looks. Again, and I can’t reiterate this enough: both these righties are really good prospects who profile similarly to the No. 5 player on the list.
Coming in at No. 13 on the list is Galveston Ball’s Jonah Williams, the younger brother of former second-round pick Nick Williams and a five-star football prospect who is one of the best linebackers in the nation. Since he’s a major football prospect, Williams is a little bit of an unknown for the industry because of his limited summer appearances. What isn’t unknown: he’s 6-3, 200 pounds with impressive athleticism and runs 3.9 down the line from the left side with an outstanding motor. When he puts the ball on the ground in the infield, he’s a threat to beat it out every time and he has highlights of beating out balls hit to first base and second base. Williams hit .462 in the spring with just six strikeouts in just over 80 plate appearances, a true representation of his hand-eye coordination, competitiveness and bat-to-ball skill. Right now, his swing is more contact over impact with a path that tends to put the ball on the ground, but he’s such an impressive athlete that if he does begin to lift the ball in the air with his strength, there is plenty of raw power to tap into. Williams profiles in center field where his speed plays and although he didn’t throw many innings at Ball last spring, one college recruiting coordinator compared him to former LSU two-sport star and hard-throwing left-hander pitcher/outfielder Chad Jones. If it all clicks, Williams has No. 1 player in the state potential and some around Galveston believe he could emerge as a better prospect than his older brother. However, unlike older brother, Williams could end up being a football player first. Rivals.com rates him as the No. 10 overall player in the nation.
Dripping Springs two-way standout and Tennessee commitment Taylor Tracey’s (No. 14) spring season ended abruptly with a scary injury elbow injury. However, Tracey escaped with the best possible news – his bone connected to his UCL in his left arm/elbow broke but was able to heal on its own. He’s been hitting since the summer and played in the field some this fall. Additionally, Tracey is targeting a February return to the mound. An impressive athlete at 6-5 with a frame that he’ll continue filling into, Tracey can chase down fly balls with range in center field and whack homers from the right side. Pro scouts will likely view him as a left-handed pitcher first, though. Prior to the injury, Tracey could run his fastball into the low 90s with a promising delivery and changeup. A healthy spring could shoot Tracey up the list. A similar prospect to Tracey follows him on the list. Jackson Cotton, a Texas A&M commitment who will join Casan Evans and company at St. Pius X in the Houston area next season, is a major two-way player with impact athleticism both as a pitcher and hitter. Like Tracey, pro scouts will probably gravitate to the potential on the mound first especially if they catch the big curveball with bite on the right day.
Pearland had one of the deepest, most talented pitching staffs in the nation last season and Nico Partida, then a sophomore, emerged as the unquestioned star and one of the top performers in the state. An impressive competitor who plays the game with a slow heartbeat even in tense moments, Partida can throw an 88-92 MPH fastball, 70-74 MPH curveball and 76 MPH changeup for a strike consistently. He doesn’t quite have the pure stuff of the right-handers ahead of him on the list and doesn’t have much physical projection, but he does have a better track record of performance and is poised to become one of the most productive and decorated Texas high school baseball players in recent memory. And that matters. Additionally, Partida is a standout shortstop with impressive baseball instincts; he’s typically a step ahead of the action on the diamond and hits with promising barrel feel and a low strikeout rate. Partida is a longtime Arizona State commitment and scouts might like him more as an infielder long-term.
If not for a minor injury, Clear Falls left-handed pitcher and Texas commitment David Ramirez No. 17 on the list, might have emerged from this summer as one of the most discussed pitching prospects in the state. How good was Ramirez? He opened one game this summer with an immaculate inning and would have gone back-to-back immaculate innings if not for a hitter calling time in an 0-2 count with two outs, which led to a ball the next pitch. And this was after a spring where he helped lead Clear Falls to its deepest playoff run in school history. Ramirez isn’t an imposing presence on the mound, but he is a strike-thrower with a good delivery and creates velocity around 86-90 MPH that he can carry with a curveball that’s in the mix as the best hammer in the state. His changeup is coming along, too, and should profile as at least a future average third pitch with the fastball hand/arm speed to boost its effectiveness. With good mound makeup and a major track record of performance, Ramirez is one of the best bets in the class to hold his prospect status.
Holden Hering is the opposite of Ramirez. He’s a big, imposing, physical right-handed pitcher with loud stuff. However, unlike most young pitchers his age with his size – around 6-5, 225 pounds – Hering moves well on the mound with a low-effort, repeatable delivery that supports his easy velocity. As Hering continues to mature and grow into his frame, his strike-throwing should continue to improve because he keeps a steady head throughout his operation and doesn’t sell out for big velocity. That’ll continue to come naturally. Up to 90 MPH this summer, it’s easy to envision Hering sitting in the low 90s and touching something like 95 or 96 MPH as a senior and he already shows good shoulder rotation and flexibility. His true curveball around 75 MPH can miss bats with spin around 2300 RPM and his 80 MPH changeup plays well because his fastball occasionally carries some natural arm side run.
At No. 19 and No. 20 respectively is a duo of Stix 2025 Scout teammates and future SEC opponents: Carter Rutenbar (Midlothian Heritage) and Braxton Van Cleave (Mansfield). Rutenbar earned Most Valuable Catcher honors at the Pudge Rodriguez World Classic after an impressive all-around display. He has impact bat speed from the left side with plate skills, barrel control and can mash mistakes over the fence. Defensively, the Arkansas commitment moves well with a quick release and accurate arm to handle the run game; routinely, his in-game pop times have been in the 1.9-2.0 range. Quarterback of an 12-0 5A football team, competing comes naturally and easily to Rutenbar who carries himself with a quiet confidence and possesses future leader qualities. Teammate Braxton Van Cleave already looks like he could slide into the Kentucky lineup physically, but he’s not just an imposing outfielder with talent. Against top competition at both Area Code and the Texas Scouts Association All-Star game, Van Cleave showed he can hit and compete, too. In settings that could overwhelm young hitters, Van Cleave routinely made good swing decisions and made quality contact. More strength will accompany his impressive frame and the bat speed is already trending towards major power hitter levels. Like Rutenbar, Van Cleave was a quarterback this past season and although his team unfortunately ran into powerhouse DeSoto, rushing for 120 yards against that defense might be one of his best athletic feats to date.
Cayden Mitchell is a summer teammate of Rutenbar’s, and he’ll be a future college one, too. Another recent Arkansas commitment from the loaded Stix 2025 Scout squad who debuts at No. 29, Mitchell has all the ingredients, including impressive mental approach on the diamond, to develop into a well-rounded third baseman who can do a bit of everything. While we’re on the subject of mental approach and Stix 2025 Scout, there is no player who better fits “competitor” on that team, and maybe in the state, than right-handed pitcher Jaxon Rickert. Ranked No. 23 on the first edition of the 2025 Five Tool Texas 55, Rickert has dominated the summer circuit two years in a row, was a force in the playoffs for Mansfield Lake Ridge last spring and is the best example in the state of “he got that dog in him” on the mound. The righty is around 5-11 but crosses the white chalk and carries himself like he’s prime Roger Clemens. With advanced command of one of the state’s best sliders and a changeup that has made major progress, Rickert has stuff, too. A very good athlete, I’m betting on Rickert eventually making some long-term adjustments to create more efficiency and decrease the effort in his delivery, which hasn’t yet stopped him from being a near lock to throw deep into games.
For the South Texas Sliders this summer, Ty Powell (Fulshear) established himself as a major prospect to follow because he kept hitting everywhere he went. A projectable left-handed hitter who can run, Powell didn’t lack suitors before committing to Texas State. If Powell continues progressing at shortstop, his prospect status will continue to grow. I never was able to see Powell really let it loose as a runner despite watching a few games, but his football film as a defensive back shows plus wheels and excellent hips. Just behind Powell at No. 22 on the list is Wylie’s Tye Briscoe, a longtime Arkansas commitment. A two-way prospect who is known most for his work on the mound, Briscoe has been one of the hardest throwers in his class for years. From the left side, he can run his fastball up to 94 MPH and when he has feel for his slider, it’s a bat-missing pitch against both righties and lefties. Briscoe, like Cooper Fulbright, hasn’t consistently thrown strikes at the rate his delivery and athleticism suggest. Still plenty of time to continue refining his feel on the mound and if he does, he's an easy bet to move up the list.
A lefty who has filled up the zone each time we’ve seen him is Texas commitment and Prestonwood Christian Academy product Xavier Mitchell. A very skinny lefty around 6-2 and 160 pounds, Mitchell was very good in the summer after a strong spring and gave up just one hit in 4.0 innings at Area Code. He doesn’t throw with big velocity, but he’s routinely hard for hitters to barrel and while his curveball doesn’t possess top spin rates or shape, it gets top results with a developing changeup coming. As Mitchell gets stronger, his stuff should improve. On the MLB Breakthrough Area Code team with Mitchell was DBU commitment and Travis high school infielder/right-handed pitcher Jayden Blalack. A true two-way prospect, Blalack turned heads in San Diego with his impressive slider, competitiveness and fastball up to 88 MPH. He might be a better hitter and infielder, though. Blalack has one of the better right-handed swings we’ve seen in the class so far and it plays in games. Even if he has to move off shortstop to second base long-term, his hitting profile and speed make him a good bet to have an impressive career at DBU.
A couple of Texas commits are ranked No. 25 and No. 26: Reagan’s Kaleb Rogers and Summer Creek’s William Hill. Rogers, after not pitching much for a loaded Reagan squad, predictably popped this summer once college coaches put eyes on his athletic delivery, great arm, great frame and low-90s fastball with a strong breaking ball. Also a very talented right-handed hitting outfielder, Rogers should be in the middle of another really good season for Reagan. Hill has some of the best future hitting tools of any position player in Texas. He’s a plus-plus runner, good athlete and has a good right-handed swing that should continue to translate. His summer was up-and-down, but we’re betting on the tools and the swing to produce a huge junior season. Sticking with the Texas commitments and Texas Senators players: China Spring right-handed masher Dean Hannah, who played with Mitchell and Blalack on the MLB Breakthrough Series team at Area Code, checks in at No. 27. We might be underselling Hannah a little in the rankings because his right-handed swing is one of the best in the class – he has an impressive, natural ability to hit with balance and transfer his weight/energy in the batter’s box along with an efficient, good barrel path to the baseball. He can already hit for power and that’s going to continue to grow. While Hannah is probably a bat-first first baseman long-term and the lack of defensive profile makes him harder to rank higher on the list, he’s also a basketball and football player who moves with impressive fluidity for a young, 6-0, 220-pound prospect.
A couple of very athletic standout football players and outfielders check in at No. 32 and No. 33, respectively. Klein Cain switch-hitter and Texas A&M commitment Blaine Bullard is one of the state’s top hitters and profiles as a future top-of-the-order bat with his speed, plate skills and ability to put the bat on the ball. While Bullard is on the skinny side, Ed Small (Anderson) looks like he could suit up for the Longhorns right now. He’s been so good at football this spring that he’s received offers from the likes of TCU and SMU as a wide receiver. On the diamond, Small’s physical traits and speed really stand out and translate to success on both sides of the ball.
At No. 30 is recent Oklahoma commitment Luke McLeod, a very talented two-way prospect who could profile as a right-handed pitcher with a quick arm and good delivery or a skilled position player with one of the best outfield arms in the state and the ability to play shortstop or third base. McLeod is one of the state’s most impressive players physically and had a tremendous summer and fall, establishing himself as a feared right-handed hitter and good athlete. If you want an idea of how good Jailen Watkins (Sachse) is, look at his Five Tool profile page because you’ll see he’s been selected as Player of the Game an astounding 14 times. An impressive, twitchy athlete, Watkins possesses good all-around skill, noticeable baseball instincts and carries himself with immense confidence. He’s a legitimate candidate to stick at shortstop long-term because he has the arm strength (up to 90 MPH off the mound with true feel for spinning a quality breaking ball and racking up strikeouts) to accompany the hands, feet and athleticism. Even if he doesn’t, he can profile in center field or second base easily. As a hitter, Watkins creates surprising juice for a 5-8, 165-pound prospect and has the type of swing capable of pulling high fly balls over the fence in addition to smacking liners. Pound-for-pound, he’s among the most talented players in the state and is rated No. 31.