Texas 2022 Five Tool 55 Receives Update

Soon, the 2022 class will begin playing scrimmages and building towards its final high school season. After establishing our first Five Tool 55 ever following the summer season, we went back to the rankings board – or in this case, a finely manicured Google Sheet – to give the list a fresh update after the fall season. A few things before we present the list:

— If this list looked completely different with a ton of new names and big movement swings up-and-down, it would mean we screwed up royally the first time around. So, don’t expect a ton of movement. While the fall season provides another environment to see players, not everyone plays. Many players starred on the gridiron and others, mainly pitchers, took the fall off to rest and used the weight room to make noticeable gains. Penalizing anyone for that would be unfair and, to be frank, dumb.

— During fall competition we were able to see 28 of the 55 players listed below. Considering the circumstances, we consider that pretty dang solid. The events included numerous Five Tool events, Dodgers and Blue Jays Scout Team competition, and scout days. Additionally, we were able to continue building our list of scouting and coaching sources who have seen these players.

— Evaluating pitchers in the fall is difficult. On one hand, we saw some pitchers elevate their performances. On the other hand, we saw some with velocity down and clearly in offseason mode coming off the summer. Dismissing what was seen during the summer and previous high school season because of a single fall outing would be idiotic. Whatever happens during the upcoming high school season will carry much more weight than the fall. That said, it would also be silly to ignore some arrows clearly pointing up.

Alright, let’s get to the list followed by some added commentary about player movement (you’ll notice some of the big movers up the list noted with a GREEN color with their previous ranking highlighted in RED):

 

— The big riser on the list is Tomball Memorial outfielder Jeric Curtis. Yes, Curtis ran a 5.90 60-yard dash time, a time almost too fast to believe. I was there. It happened. And it’s not even the main reason why Curtis made a big jump from No. 23 to No. 3. Each time we saw Curtis, he was a better hitter. He was the best hitter on the field during the first Dodgers Scout Team game at Texas A&M; he hammered the ball routinely, including a deep homer, during the Five Tool Fall World Series; and he’s making physical gains, which are showing in the way the ball is coming off the bat.

Now rated as the top outfielder in the state, Curtis is poised to be one of the most heavily scouted players in Texas this season. And from what we’ve gathered about his competitive, energetic makeup, he’ll welcome that challenge.

— Another outfielder who made a move into the top 10 overall is Aledo’s Max Belyeu. Belyeu missed most of the summer with an injury, but showed no signs of rust when playing for the Blue Jays Scout Team. From the left side, Belyeu looks like one of the best bets to hit among any player in Texas and he’s getting to more game power.

— Rockwall-Heath infielder Jett Williams retained his spot at No. 1 overall and there wasn’t any debate. He’s the guy. I’m optimistic about his ability to play shortstop, which he’ll have a chance to do this season. But even as a second baseman, I think he’s a top 50 MLB Draft prospect and one of the best hitters in the nation. He followed some eye-opening performances in the summer with fall looks that met or exceeded very high expectations.

— The new member on the list is Cypress Ranch infielder/outfielder Christian Salazar. The Rice commitment was on the “just missed” list the first update and now makes his debut at No. 54. After seeing Salazar blast a mammoth homer deep into a cold night in late October and track down balls surprisingly well in center field, I can’t shake the Kiké Hernandez vibes.

Perhaps it was around the same time Hernandez was blasting bombs as a standout center fielder who used to play second base. Regardless, Salazar was an impressive performer during the summer and again showed some impressive pop from the right side with a slow heartbeat and noticeable baseball instincts.

Unfortunately, adding one player to the list means one has to be removed. It was a tough decision, but Atascocita outfielder Chase Sowell, rated No. 47 on the initial list, was bumped off the list and into the “just missed” category. A standout football player, Sowell recently committed to and then signed with Colorado to play football. Colorado does not have a baseball program. So, unless he is drafted and signs or transfers, Sowell’s baseball career will be on pause after the high school season. Do I believe in Sowell as a top talent in the state? Absolutely. The tools are loud. Is this taking the easy way out? No, I don’t think so. There’s a minimal difference between Sowell and numbers 45-55 and Sowell probably requires the most projection among that group, although he might have a higher ceiling than all of them if he sticks with baseball.

Note: Conner Weigman is committed to Texas A&M for football, but Weigman is rated higher than Sowell and there’s a non-zero chance Weigman plays baseball in college.

— Small tweak, but I came away extremely impressed by Easton Carmichael’s bat this fall and think his all-around package of skill and tools deserves No. 1 catcher in the state honors currently. But, again as we said when the first list was released, it’s extremely difficult to separate the catchers on the list.

— There’s a lot of buzz building around Clear Creek right-handed pitcher Collin McKinney, who showed scouts improved velocity and stuff this fall. I like how strong McKinney is out on his front leg and the physical build and arm action suggest he’s poised for a huge season. Initially, I thought there was a hint of relief risk in McKinney’s profile, but the more I see and hear, the more I think there’s big-time starter’s upside. He’s maturing physically and getting more comfortable with his big, physical frame and repeating his delivery with more fluidity. Additionally, Blake Binderup, a plus athlete especially for his size, threw more strikes in limited fall outings and is trending up.

Lefties Brandon Arvidson and Shane Sdao were both excellent during in-person looks this fall. Arvidson has added muscle and strength to his tall, long frame and Sdao’s fastball-changeup combo was arguably the best one-two punch I saw on the mound this fall.

COVERAGE FROM THE INAUGURAL RELEASE OF THE 2022 FIVE TOOL 55

PLAYER BREAKDOWNS No. 1 – No. 5

PLAYER BREAKDOWNS No. 6 – No. 15

PLAYER BREAKDOWNS No. 16 – 35

PLAYER BREAKDOWNS No. 36-55

“JUST MISSED” LIST

FOLLOW LIST

Visit our Podcast page and find episodes 3-9 for our initial rankings discussion.

Dustin McComas
Senior Editor
Five Tool Baseball

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