Updated 2017 Florida Rankings: Risers

By Doug Freeman
Florida Scouting Director

With the summer in full swing, we’ve updated the Class of 2017 rankings and now take a look at some of the biggest risers. The most noticeable is the new No.1 player, SS Brady McConnell (Merritt Island HS, FL). McConnell moved to No. 1 from 38. The big jump is directly related with the fact that the tools and athleticism he has always shown have now began to lead to production and offense during the game. He is consistently swinging the bat well against high-end arms while showing some present gap-to-gap power with more to come as he fills out. He can run the 60-yard dash in 6.4 seconds and has shown a strong arm, topping out at 90 mph across the infield, while showing above average range and hands with the ability to stick at short. With consistent play, expect McConnell to stick at No.1 and be very high on some draft boards going into the fall.

Following McConnell on the way up the board is C Zach Jackson (Haines City HS, FL), who moves up to No. 8 in the state. A Florida recruit, Jackson is a 6-foot-3, 215-pound catcher who has shown good actions behind the plate with a low, flexible set-up and quiet, strong hands. Jackson was consistently around a 1.95-2.02 pop time with a quick transfer. At the plate, the left-handed hitter stands tall and relaxed. Jackson has good rhythm, quick hands and a slightly uphill path that creates pop to both sides of the field. He consistently finds the barrel, has hit high level pitching and continues to looks the part.

Next of the risers is RHP Jack Leftwich (TNXL Academy, FL), who moves up to No. 9 from the No. 70 spot. The big move is not only thanks to the improvement of fastball velocity, which is now in the 91-92 mph range, touching 94, but also the noticeable physical difference as he has put on a solid 20 pounds. Leftwich has a loose, easy arm action and projects to continue the upward trend in velocity. Not only has the fastball improved, but the slider has started really taking shape with tighter spin and better command at 78-81 mph. He is showing the ability to throw it for a strike as well as out of the zone for a swing-and-miss pitch.

Following Leftwich is another righty who has seen his velocity jump as well in Garrett Hunter Ruth (Buchholz HS, FL), who moves up to the No. 23 spot. Ruth is very athletic and projectable with an over-the-top arm slot and quick arm that produces a fastball in the 91-92 mph range and has topped out at 95 mph. While there is still room to clean a few things up, Ruth has one of the quickest arms in the class and projects well down the road as he continues to develop. He also showed an 80-81 mph slider and an 80 mph changeup that will also continue to develop as he logs more innings. Ruth is very projectable and it would not be surprising to see him make another jump as we get into the fall and spring.

Finally, the last big mover in the updated rankings is RHP/SS Freddy Tarnok (Riverview HS, FL), who moves up from No. 49 to the No. 24 spot in the 2017 class. At 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, the South Florida recruit has a wiry build with sneaky strength, long limbs and plenty of room for continued physical development. On the mound, he works exclusively out of the stretch, with an over-the-top slot, length on the backside and a deceptively fast arm. He generates lots of swings and misses with 90-91 mph fastball that has natural late, hard cut on his four-seamer, and occasional sharp sink on a two-seamer. Both fastballs have similar velocities. He also flashes an occasional 75-76 mph curveball with sharp 12/6 bite. Positionally, Tarnok moves well for his size, evidenced by his 6.99 60. At shortstop, he shows reliable hands, fields the ball deep and throws with solid carry across the infield. Offensively, he shows pull-side pop with quick hands, though he can get a little long at times, but is athletic and tends to find the barrel. His raw athleticism makes him a very interesting two-way talent and has led to him rising up the board.

CLICK HERE for the entire 2017 updated rankings