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The Updated 2024 Five Tool Texas 55

The summer season, which manages to be both long and short at the same time, is now in the rearview mirror, which means it’s time to update the 2024 Five Tool Texas 55. Following the high school playoffs, we immediately shifted to the Five Tool schedule, which featured great evaluation opportunities like the AABC Don Mattingly World Series, Connie Mack events, College Championships, Five Tool World Series and more. Additionally, we covered the Texas Scouts Association All-Star Game and the prestigious Area Code Games for the second-straight year, which is an excellent way to get a final scouting look at top prospects and close the book on summer events. 

Considering the list hasn’t been updated since its December 2022 debut, a lot will change because we’ve now seen a high school season, summer season and have received feedback from professional scouts, who have now shifted their entire focus to the 2024 class following July’s MLB Draft. Since this is the third class we’ve ranked, many readers are already familiar with our lists and our process. If you want to read a primer from years ago, click HERE. Basically, we take a true scouting approach – evaluating the tools, in-person evaluation, projecting players as professional prospects and also standout college players – to our process but also cross-reference our opinions with college coaches and professional scouts. While we want our list to be our list, there is an element of reporting that’s part of the recipe because we can’t be everywhere at once and it would be silly not to seek feedback from the professionals who do this for a living. 

(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 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.)

Before giving detailed thoughts on the new top 10, CLICK HERE for the updated 2024 Five Tool Texas 55:

For the second-straight year, Cade Arrambide, who terrorized opposing district pitchers during the spring, put on a show at Area Code. The LSU commitment from Tomball High School mashed two homers, ended the event as the Player of the Week, and hit .667/.727/1.556 with one strikeout across 11 plate appearances. A right-handed hitting catcher, Arrambide again showed the ability to get to his plus raw power, never looked overmatched at the plate and has a plus arm behind the dish. While his catching skill and physical profile need to continue improving, his performance made No. 1 an easy pick because the tools have been obvious for a long time. 

Coming out of the TSA All-Star Game at Minute Maid Park, I thought I liked Bryce Navarre a little more than Cooper Williams as the best left-handed pitching prospect in the state (at that point I had yet to see or hear about Dasan Hill pitching in the summer). Then Area Code happened, and no player from Texas boosted his stock as much as Williams, who is No. 2 on the updated list. 

In 4.0 innings, the Alvin product gave up just two hits and punched out eight against a loaded Brewers lineup with no walks. Working quickly and easily – I’m not sure his breath or heart rate ever elevated - with a good demeanor, the lanky, 6-4, 175-pound lefty attacked with his fastball (88-94 MPH and around 2300 RPM), effectively mixed in his “sweepy” curveball (73-78 MPH) and showed a plus changeup (81-84 MPH) that eliminated possible platoon splits. Williams didn’t touch 94 MPH in the first and then work at a lower velocity; he was able to get to it in the fourth inning, too. I like the delivery, the way the arm works, the makeup and the fastball played up. The only thing preventing him from being No. 1 in the state is feel for spinning a breaking ball, but he’s able to get the pitch to break in a way that can still get called strikes and occasional whiffs. If the spin improves and the velocity continues to tick up, he could position himself as a backend day one/very early day two MLB Draft prospect. 

Coming off a spectacular spring season, Casan Evans’ summer started a bit slow because of some forearm inflammation. But the right-handed pitcher and LSU commitment returned to the mound during the AABC Don Mattingly World Series as he geared up for Area Code and Marucci Elite Texas Dunn’s final events. Area Code provided some flashes of dominance – the changeup/splitter in particular was dynamite – along with some signs of rust and a long spring followed by the summer. At the Baseball Factory All-American Game, Evans, No. 3 on the list, struck out the side and was up to 96 MPH and looked more like the pitcher who was No. 1 on our debut list. 

I remain a big believer in Evans’ feel for pitching/executing his stuff. I’ve seen him sink fastballs; throw 95 MPH; show a slider and curve (curve is the breaker of choice now that can be thrown harder for shorter break); fine-tune his changeup into a dynamic weapon; and show his impressive athleticism with a Jeter-esque jump throw across to first from the third base line. He has a long track record of performing and I’m excited to see what another offseason does to his consistency. 

An excellent three-sport athlete from Brock High School, Sawyer Strosnider created a buzz among scouts – and a startling and perhaps terrifying sound if anyone was inside – at Area Code when he shattered a window during batting practice with a vicious bomb off a building beyond the right field wall. By the time Area Code ended, Strosnider was in a groove offensively and showed his extra-base pop and wheels like we saw routinely in Five Tool events this summer. He hits with the knob first and the barrel follows with quickness and strength thanks to his hands; he also does a good job of keeping his weight back and head steady as he strides towards the pitcher and processes what he’s seeing. 

When you list his tools and consider his athleticism (runner-up in state for high jump; all-region basketball player), you describe a top prospect who could become one of the best in the nation if he isn’t already. I think Strosnider, a TCU commitment, has a chance to play center field, which would boost his already impressive profile even more. On the mound, he touched 91 MPH with a three-pitch mix and would be a Five Tool 55 prospect as a pitcher only. But he’s poised for stardom as a position player. 

At the high school level, it’s rare to find a player who is as good of a bet to stick at shortstop long-term as Wyatt Sanford (Frisco Independence) is. He makes in-and-out and infield work a must-watch attraction because of his skill, fluidity, and actions. He’s a good athlete who moves around the field with an athletic bounce and has the arm strength – and ability to easily throw from multiple angles – for the position. 

If he would have hit at a very high level at Area Code, following a very impressive AABC Don Mattingly World Series, he probably would have left San Diego as one of the most discussed prospects and the top player in the state because he was probably the best defensive shortstop at Area Code. Still, scouts are optimistic the swing and added strength could make the No. 5 prospect on our list a surefire MLB Draft prospect this spring and with good reason. The left-handed swing and bat-to-ball ability are promising. Like many players on this list, he needs to add strength and prove he can impact the baseball. 

On the big stage in San Diego, Braylon Payne, No. 6 on the list, helped himself with MLB scouts. By the end of the tournament, he was taking some of the best at-bats on the Rangers team, squaring up the baseball and he nearly hit a grand slam. I was also encouraged to see Payne do less guessing (his swing can sometimes get top heavy and unusually rigid for a good athlete) and more diagnosing in the batter’s box against elite high school stuff. And I thought his swing was noticeably better compared to our last look at the TSA All-Star Game. 

While Payne’s plus-plus speed garners a lot of attention, he’s proven this summer he’s sneaky strong (hit a ball 95 MPH at Area Code; hit a pitch 103 MPH at TSA All-Star; and hit a ball off the tee 101 MPH at Twelve Scout Day) with an ability to impact the baseball with a barrel that carries some weight and a barrel that he athletically gets to pitches even when he’s not balanced or getting his best swing off; it reminds me a lot of last year Area Code member and former Texas Twelve/Corpus Christi Ray standout Jack Bell. The arm is probably a 50 on the scouting scale with some room to improve and he obviously has enough athleticism and foot speed to grow into center field, although it does require positive projection. Long story short: I think Payne is a more consistent/refined swing and approach away from taking off like a rocket ship up scouts’ lists this spring.

Among the biggest bummers about the summer season was not getting another look at Flower Mound outfielder Sam Erickson, who, to my knowledge, didn’t try out for Area Code even though he would have been a surefire selection. Fortunately for us, Five Tool covered his high school season extensively and saw him show countless times he was the best hitter in the state during the playoffs; it was nearly impossible to get him out, and he routinely smashed extra-base hits with more than a few clutch knocks. A very strong and physical right-handed hitter, Erickson, No. 7 on the list, can mash homers, but I’m most impressed with his feel for the strike zone, diagnosing what he sees and whiffing/striking out at a very, very low rate. 

Erickson has maybe the best ability in the class to put the barrel on the baseball – no issues timing velocity so far - and it’s a simple operation at the plate thanks to his strength. He does a good job of clearing his hands through the zone as his barrel follows with good accuracy to deliver some extra-base damage. And he definitely taps into his strength when he swings. I compare him to Tyler O’Neill because he hits bombs, steals bags, runs well and looks like he could be a bodybuilder if baseball doesn’t work out. The bat gets all the attention, but he’s also a good runner with arm strength and athletic enough to celebrate a double with a backflip. 

So, why isn’t he higher? The industry values left-handed hitters (they’re going to have the platoon advantage more often) more than right-handed hitters and Sanford’s defensive ability at shortstop is rare for a prep prospect. But there is a good chance Erickson is simply so good he pushes towards the top of the list once scouts get around to seeing him in the spring. If someone told me he needed to be No. 3 on the list, I wouldn’t strongly disagree.

The top uncommitted prospect in the state and one of the best in the country comes in at No. 8. Jason Flores (Naaman Forest) has one of my favorite deliveries in the class and is a good bet to throw quality strikes now with promising command in the future. His breaking ball, which might be a true slurve even though that label has fallen out of favor in recent years, is a high-spin offering with tight, sharp break that can miss bats. I do think in the future Flores could possibly use two distinct breaking balls because he can clearly spin breaking stuff. 

Regardless, he can sit comfortably at 92-94 MPH and bump his fastball up to 96 MPH like he did at Area Code, and his firm changeup has promise as a future average or better pitch. There are times when Flores’ fastball plays down a little bit and I my educated guess is that sometimes his fastball shape makes it more visible for hitters – there is a lot of natural run but the carry isn’t great and too similar to the run, making it easy to see. But given he’s still relatively new to pitching and can spin the baseball, that’s likely an easy fix at his next developmental stop. From what I observed and heard about the 6-2, 210-pound right-hander, I really like the mound makeup. Oh. By the way. He probably has plus raw power as a hitter, led DFW in batting average as a junior and can play infield, too. I think his future is on the mound, though. 

By now, it seems like Nolan Traeger has played in three Area Code Games, Team USA for like 10 years and has been a standout prospect forever. He’s been a household name for a long time and while some very famous young players stagnate or fall off, Traeger is proving to be everything everyone thought he could be. Young for his class, the TCU commitment and Concordia Lutheran prospect has beloved makeup, infectious leadership behind the dish, good plate skills and is a good bet to stick behind home plate.

Once Traeger, No. 9 on the list, gets stronger, he’s going to unlock a level of game power we haven’t quite seen yet that should make him one of the best catcher prospects in the nation. I just don’t know if that comes as a senior or in college. He’d likely admit his Area Code hitting performance wasn’t stellar with an unusual number of strikeouts (I think his eye is so good that sometimes he spits on borderline pitches that are balls and gets rung up), but I remain optimistic about his swing and all-around profile as a catching prospect. And the makeup is a good one to bet on. I think most scouts would have him higher on this list because he’s a left-handed hitting catcher with a good chance to stick behind the dish and is young for his class, and he’s a good candidate to “click” this spring if he has more “wow!” moments with the bat. He kind of reminds me of how Jace LaViolette, another hitter who had a patient approach with a good eye, entered his senior season before exploding at Tompkins. 

Coming in at No. 10 on the list is Boswell shortstop and Texas A&M commitment Sawyer Farr, a switch-hitting, 6-5 athlete. Like Sanford, Farr needs to add a significant amount of strength to boost his scouting profile among professional evaluators, which showed at Area Code. But he’s also a 70-grade runner with impressive body control and movements for a young player his size. And although a couple of tough plays got the best of him on the dirt, he also made two standout defensive plays and I’d give him every chance to stick at shortstop because he has the arm to stick there, too. 

Over the course of our many years seeing Farr, he might have been one of the most productive hitters in Five Tool history. Seriously. He’s always performed in Five Tool events and done so against top competition. It’s a contact-over-impact hitting profile right now. However, that profile does include bat-to-ball skill and plenty of room for growth. Like Sanford, there’s a chance Farr really takes off this spring if he shows up with added strength. 

READ: The rest (11-55) of the updated 2024 Texas Five Tool 55

READ: The “Next 55” for the 2024 Class

Dustin McComas
Senior Editor