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The Five Tool Five (1/16/23)

If you find yourself in some true winter weather, today’s Five Tool Five could help warm you up because we’ve found some flame-throwers in Texas showing big velocity gains in preseason bullpens. Plus, we highlight a couple of hitters from California. 

What is the Five Tool Five? The short, succinct definition: it’s simply a look at five players who recently caught our attention. The long-winded, more detailed explanation: showcasing our coverage from around the United States and highlighting noteworthy baseball talent, skill, performances, news, uncommitted players who colleges should pay attention to and more. We plan to deliver a fresh Five Tool Five every Monday through Friday to help satisfy baseball fans’ hunger for coverage at the amateur level and welcome you to the home of what we believe is the best amateur baseball coverage you’ll find - 

I can’t imagine many hitters having comfortable at-bats against this guy… 

Matthew Millett hits 96 MPH in live at-bats

Before we get to the good stuff, let’s make something clear: live at-bats, especially in January, against 2024 right-handed pitcher Matthew Millett don’t look like a lot of fun. A Texas commitment from Lake Ridge High School, Millett throws very, very hard and it’s often not straight. Throw in that there’s a hint of effective wildness as he grows into his length, and I can imagine some jumpy feet in the batter’s box, especially since Millett popped 96 MPH in this video. 

This summer, we saw Millett, a talented hitter, too, up to 92 MPH multiple times in Five Tool events and at Area Code he was up to 93 MPH. All young pitchers typically add velocity just by maturing, but Millett was an especially easy bet because of his length, projection, and he was going to put the work in. Clearly, both things - work, maturing with age - are showing and the breaking ball flashed as a pitch that could tick up to a new scouting grade. Big junior year incoming for this pitcher. 

Another Grand Oaks arm who is throwing hard and is poised for a breakout season

While Millett is a famous name in the 2024 class, Marc Barnhard isn’t. Yet. The Grand Oaks right-handed pitcher is something we’ve been excited about since the end of the summer and we heard he was making a jump in the fall. Now, we have the video evidence to prove it. 

Not only is that an impressive 94 MPH - I’m told he sat 90-93 MPH during that bullpen session with a slider around 84 MPH - it’s 94 MPH from a very quick arm with good action and an athletic delivery that’s easy to bet on. Speaking of his athleticism, Barhnard had a nine-foot, three-inch broad jump before the summer, 35-inch vertical leap and can also run a 60-yard dash in the 6.9 range. The former Connecticut resident has physical upside, athleticism and might be just scratching the surface of what’s to come. If college coaches don’t know this name, they better add it to their lists. 

Under-the-radar 2023 pitcher could be diamond in the rough

Davenport High School (San Antonio, Texas) should have one of the best pitching staffs in 27-4A. We already know about tall right-handed pitcher and 2024 Texas State commitment Tobin Eschief, a Five Tool 55 member. Junior righty Tryston Rudewick impressed last season and should take another step forward in 2023. We should add senior right-hander Jacob Symon to the talented pitching mix because he’s showing some impressive gains. 

You can see in the photo Symon is showing off a 91 MPH fastball with 2248 RPM and 99% spin efficiency. So, this isn’t just a pitcher who is making gains with velocity; he spins the ball well, too. In addition to a whippy, quick arm, Symon shows leg strength and athleticism in his finish and the way he decelerates with impressive balance and control; it’s a free, fluid, relaxed delivery. A skilled player, Symon was also productive with the bat and was a playmaker last season as Davenport’s shortstop.

Athletic 2024 NorCal outfielder poised for big year

Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills, California) outfielder Brady Rea followed an excellent summer with an impressive fall and is poised for a big junior season. A Five Tool All-Summer selection who hit .552 in 29 at-bats, Rea hasn’t shown much whiff in his hitting profile with a swing geared for line drives and hard grounders. 

At 6-1, 190 pounds, Rea moves well and should continue to fill out into a physical prospect without sacrificing his quickness and athleticism. The uncommitted right-handed hitter plays a lot of center field where his talent has flashed impressively. But what might be most impressive is a 4.0 GPA. Rea was selected to participate in the Arizona Fall Classic Academic Showcase Game in September. 

A good example of what a “follow” player is

Labeling a player as a “follow” prospect at Five Tool isn’t quite the same as the way professional scouts use the term, but it’s similar. Basically, the player should be tracked because he caught our attention and could turn into a project. Typically, scouts will only use it for older players. In this instance I’m going to label 2026 Cruz Torres as a follow. 

Why? I’m a fan of that right-handed swing. For a 2026 prospect, that’s an impressive hack and his track record suggests he can hit and could develop into a notable hitting prospect as he matures. In particular, I like the way Cruz takes the knob of the bat towards the baseball with his barrel lagging behind before his quick, strong hands whip the barrel through with impressive quickness. An outfielder and talented pitcher, it’ll be fun to check on in Torres as his career progresses.

Dustin McComas
Senior Editor