With the fall season complete, it’s now time to unveil the first edition of the 2025 Five Tool 55 for the state of Texas, which is a class that is as strong as the top as any we’ve evaluated since the Five Tool 55 began in 2022. Putting together our initial edition for a class is an exhaustive, painstaking process that spans almost two months and countless hours and that’s not counting all the games watched during the spring, summer and fall. In the end, we filed internal reports on just over 250 players who were evaluated either by in-person looks or video in addition to supplemental information from high school and summer coaches, college recruiting coordinators and professional scouts.
In an ideal world, we see every single player in person, but that’s unrealistic for the rising juniors, although we did manage to see every single member of the 2023 Five Tool 55 in person before graduation. That’s the goal. As much as we’d love every player and every team to play in our summer events and also be able to cover the entire state’s high school season in every region and every game, that doesn’t happen and is impossible. However, a piece of this process we take great pride in is doing our best to fairly and accurate evaluate the state’s top prospects even if they don’t play in Five Tool summer events. For example, our first-ever list placed Jett Williams at No. 1. Jett Williams didn’t play in a single Five Tool event his final summer when we first began publishing our Texas rankings. Tomball catcher Cade Arrambide is the current No. 1 on our 2024 list. Arrambide has never played in a Five Tool tournament. Does that make it more difficult? Sure. But, as we’ve stated from the beginning, there is a margin of error associated with this rankings list, and any other, and we acknowledge that there are going to be misses. If you’d like to read more about our rankings process, you can click HERE and HERE.
(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.)
Unlike the 2022, 2023 and 2024 classes, the 2025 class in Texas has a lengthy list of prospects who could legitimately, especially with two high school seasons remaining, become the No. 1 rated player in the state. At the top, the class has it all – pure hitting; big power from the catcher spot; premier right-handed pitching; very projectable left-handed pitching; and maybe the best blend of physical projection and future tools we’ve seen from an infielder since we began publishing the Five Tool 55. Claudia Taylor Johnson (San Antonio) left-handed hitting infielder Kayson Cunningham debuts at the No. 1 spot for the 2025 class. We’ve seen Cunningham for two years and each time we’ve seen him he’s always hit. Always. He’s hit in high school, summer events, Area Code… against big-stuff and velocity… the list goes on. Among the most famous players in the country for years, Cunningham has strong makeup.
When around him, you’d never know people have been singing his praises from coast-to-coast since he was a freshman. But when he steps onto the field, his baseball instincts and joyous yet fierce competitiveness come alive. I’ll never forget Lake Travis intentionally walking him in a playoff game when he was a true freshman, and the look he gave its dugout as he made his way to first base with a confident stride. In addition to being one of the best pure left-handed hitters in the nation with at least a future plus hit tool and miniscule strikeout rates, Cunningham is also at least a plus runner with good instincts and has a chance to stick at shortstop long-term. His defensive footwork, actions and arm can get a little too loose at times, but he was the ingredients to develop into a shortstop with the athleticism to also profile in center field. While he doesn’t have the physical projection of other top prospects on the list, he’s among the safest bets in the nation to hit at the next level whether that’s Texas Tech or professional baseball.
Coming in at No. 2 on our debut list is Cinco Ranch left-handed hitting infielder Lucas Franco. There might not be a better example nationally of what scouts look for when projecting a possible first-round shortstop from the high school level. Franco has all the ingredients. At around 6-3, 170 pounds, Franco is an obvious physical projection candidate with the type of high-waisted frame that’s easily recognizable as one that will carry more strength in the future and could continue to grow, which means Franco is going to be evaluated by pro scouts in the future as the next big and tall shortstop we’re seeing more of at the MLB level. Get ready for Corey Seager to end up in national stories about Franco. Anyway, Franco moves fluidly and smoothly, especially for a young player his size. His defensive actions at shortstop and his internal defensive clock are both impressive and promising and he has the arm strength to stick at the position.
Offensively, professional scouts are already in love with his smooth, rhythmic left-handed swing with impact bat speed and barrel feel. I can’t blame them. I don’t think I’m being hyperbolic when I say it’s one of the best left-handed swings I’ve seen since I began at Five Tool. Already, Franco keeps a very steady head in the batter’s box with good weight transfer and posture through his finish, which gives all the indications that what he does is repeatable. His hands are both strong and quick and he gets the barrel to the baseball directly and efficiently. So, why isn’t he No. 1? Among the differences between Cunningham and Franco right now is the former has performed at a high level and consistently while the latter hasn’t yet; emphasis on “yet” and keep in mind we’re talking about high school players who have yet to play their junior seasons but are also high school players who have been in the national press for years, too. While Cunningham’s performance and mentality on the diamond have been consistently steady, Franco’s have been up-and-down, which includes several in-person looks this summer. If it all clicks and the performance follows, Franco is a surefire first-round pick out of Cinco Ranch.
Checking in at No. 3 on our debut list is Hebron right-handed pitcher Marcos Paz. A recent LSU commitment, Paz established himself as one of the best pitching prospects in Texas long ago. While his stuff fairly grabs a ton of attention, his best attribute might be his mental makeup on the mound. He’s like a Porsche SUV efficiently on cruise control down the highway and only rarely revving his powerful engine when he truly needs to. And don’t expect to ever get under his skin and create some road rage. A classic starting pitcher prospect with a strong, durable frame and the operation to get deep into games while holding his stuff, Paz couples his operation with a low 90s fastball that can reach the mid-90s and a sharp, low 80s slider that’s flashing as a plus pitch thanks to its spin and shape. Paz’s changeup is a true third pitch that compliments the shape of his fastball well and he throws it with fastball conviction, although his arm slot sometimes lowers to give hitters a heads up. But that’s the type of thing easily correctable, especially at the next level. He features a long arm swing in the back, but also notable strength and flexibility in his shoulders and good timing and rhythm on the mound. Paz doesn’t have the physical projection some other pitchers behind him do, but that’s because he already looks like a SEC starter on the mound and it’s not because he’s already peaked physically.
At No. 4 on the list is Dobie catcher and another LSU commitment, Omar Serna. Because if you’re the top catching prospect in Texas, chances are high you’re committed to LSU. Serna was about as impressive with the bat at Area Code as a rising junior could be. He hit two home runs with his first two swings in San Diego; the first one was a rocket he pulled when he timed good velocity and the second was a fly ball that carried over the right-center field wall after anticipating a first-pitch breaking ball. Some scouts are split on whether it’s a power-over-hit profile, but I lean towards the camp that it’s a real hit tool, too. Regardless, the raw power is a standout carrying tool and Serna also boasts a 70-grade arm behind the dish. In fact, he might end up being a sneaky good pitching prospect. Looking ahead to this point next year, the progress Serna makes defensively as a catcher will determine whether or not he’s a major MLB Draft prospect. Regardless, his hitting alone makes him one of the state’s top players and prospects.
Ridge Point’s Jack McKernan debuts at No. 5, and already has a decorated list of performance for a rising junior. He’s been a USA standout multiple times and made the recent 18U team despite being a 2025 prospect, stud varsity pitcher since his freshman season, one of the top circuit performers and he was outstanding at Area Code against the best of the best. McKernan reminds me some of former TCU star and Royals first-round pick Brandon Finnegan. An outstanding competitor, McKernan, who is a longtime Texas commitment, sits at 88-92 with his fastball that carries some weight towards home plate, making it a candidate to get pounded into the ground. He has advanced feel for and tremendous confidence in a true slider at 80-84 MPH that has late bite and racks up whiffs. Although he doesn’t feature it a ton, at least in my looks, McKernan’s changeup has potential to develop into an above-average third offering. At around 6-0 and 180 pounds, McKernan isn’t as projectable easily as some other top pitchers nationally, but good luck finding a better performer and left-handed slider. Plus, Major League Baseball is seeing more and more lefties, like Jesus Luzardo and Yusei Kikuchi, with his type of frame.
No player in the 2025 class improved his stock more during the fall than McKinney Body’s Brody Walls, another Texas commitment. A true two-way prospect who has athleticism on the dirt and a promising hitting profile, Walls elevated his profile as a pitching prospect significantly this fall with several electric performances. The righty carries his infield athleticism to the mound where he features a good, efficient delivery capable of easily generating velocity up to 94 MPH from a near sidearm slot that features plenty of arm speed. He spins both the fastball and breaking ball well, a slider that he’s shown feel for manipulating with lower velocity/more sweep and harder velocity/tighter break. Walls’ changeup, like McKernan, has major potential, boosted by his slot which helps create that natural feel for throwing the pitch. At around 6-0, Walls isn’t the most physically imposing pitcher and hitters are a bit surprised sometimes he throws as hard as he does because of his frame and how easy he operates. But if he continues on this path and grows just a little, I envision scouts discussing him like they’re currently discussing California prospect and Texas signee Levi Sterling, who has a lot of similarities to Walls.
Texas A&M commitment and Strake Jesuit prospect Cooper Fulbright is No. 7 on the list. If you asked me to pick a sequence of the three most impressive pitches from the Area Code Underclass Games, Fulbright would have been the pick. The right-hander threw an 84 MPH slider with 2901 RPM, an 82 MPH curveball with 3113 RPM and then a 94 MPH fastball in the same at-bat. Purely grading just those pitches alone and nothing else, that’s at least three future 60s. But we can’t grade just those three pitches: they’re excitingly tantalizing examples of Fulbright’s immense upside. Undersized at around 6-0, Fulbright is a good athlete who flies off the mound with some twitch to his movements and has a very quick arm. The big question for him moving forward – translating his athleticism to more strikes on the mound. At times, Fulbright’s control is erratic and his walk rate doesn’t reflect his athleticism and talent. But the pure stuff is about as good as it gets at this age.
Luke Billings, who recently decommitted from Tennessee, comes in at No. 8 on the debut list. A household name nationally for years and one of the most feared hitters in DFW since his first varsity at-bats at Prosper, Billings has a knack for pulling the ball hard in the air and creating loud impact. The right-handed hitter leverages his strength to create impact bat speed and has the hands to time elite velocity, although there are times when his swing gets a bit too long as he hunts loud impact. In big moments or against top competition, Billings typically rises to the occasion and seemingly welcomes high-pressure situations and top challenges. However, there are times when Billings plays down to the competition level with an inconsistent motor and his Five Tool summer numbers didn’t represent his talent. He hit just .191 and struck out 15 times in 69 plate appearances. But at Area Code, he homered, performed like a top talent and did the same this fall for the Rangers North Texas Scout Team after a very strong spring when he had to deal with a tough injury and still managed to perform like an elite talent. What makes Billings unique is he’s also a very talented pitcher with a true four-pitch mix, good delivery, feel for spinning two distinct breaking balls and a fastball that can reach the low 90s. Also, he has the defensive skill to profile all over the diamond – third base, outfield and catcher. If he went the catching route, he has the ingredients to become one of the top catching prospects in the nation. If we ranked him just as a pitcher, he’d still be a surefire Five Tool 55 selection in the top half of the list. Basically, he's able to impressively play any position on the field. Literally.
At No. 9 is Covenant Christian Academy shortstop and Texas A&M commitment Matthew Boughton. Boughton played up an age level, which will be important with pro scouts begin doing work on this class because Boughton is old enough to be a member of the 2024 class, with the Stix 2024 Scout and hit .346 with three homers in 30 plate appearances. He appeared to add some more strength this fall and is impacting the ball with more strength and tapping into his impressive, functional athleticism even more; and when I say “impressive” let’s not undersell it because Boughton won the 4A TAPPS state title in the high jump and long jump, which is almost unheard of for a high school baseball player. And he also can throw down dunks on the hardwood. Boughton boasts impressive future tools across the board with both the arm strength and athleticism to profile as a shortstop prospect. At Area Code, the game sped up on Boughton some and showed where the growth in his prospect status can occur – more defensive reps against high-level competition and more consistency on the dirt.
Rounding out the top 10 is Johnson City left-handed pitcher and outfielder Johnny Slawinski. A longtime Baylor commitment, Slawinski is a good athlete who has thrown strikes forever. There’s depth to his arm path, but Slawinski has a natural understanding for creating good timing in his delivery and leverages his athleticism well. His sophomore season stats were truly unbelievable. He finished 11-0 with a 0.38 ERA across 74.1 innings with 165 strikeouts, just 16 walks and a .103 batting average against. Yes, 2A hitters were completely overmatched, but Slawinski, who is around 6-1 and 170 pounds, followed that with his second-straight dominant summer on the circuit doing what he did in the spring – fill up the zone with four pitches, beat hitters in the zone with his 87-90 MPH fastball and perform as well as anyone in the state. In addition to possessing a distinct curveball and slider, the projectable lefty turns over his changeup to create life to the pitch and racks up whiffs against righties. As Slawinski matures and adds strength to a frame that isn’t done growing, added strength to his lead leg should help support increased velocity and he could soon sit 88-92 MPH from the left side with perhaps the best control in the state. Although he doesn’t quite have the height, Slawinski reminds some of Cooper Williams - with similar mound makeup, too - at this same stage and Williams is now ranked No. 2 in the state and a major MLB Draft prospect. While there are other pitchers with brighter flashes and more impressive stuff in short bursts, Slawinski has routinely thrown complete games with ease and a surefire starting pitcher at the next level. As one coach of a top summer team said, "we couldn't hit that guy." So far, no one has.