Prep Baseball Report

2018 PBR Draft 100

By Nathan Rode
National Supervisor

The 2018 MLB Draft is eight months away. With the summer showcase circuit complete and the fall season winding down, it’s time to take an early look at the current high school draft class. One look through the 2018 PBR Draft 100 and it’s easy to see why this class is receiving high praise. It has depth and the pitching crop is particularly strong.

The PBR Draft 100 ranks the top high school prospects eligible for the upcoming draft, including players outside of Prep Baseball Report’s coverage area of 36 states. This list is compiled after months of seeing games across the country and conversations with scouts and college recruiters.

Sitting atop the initial ranking is LHP Matthew Liberatore (Mountain Ridge HS, AZ). An Arizona recruit, stands at 6-foot-5, 185 pounds with a long, lean and projectable frame. From a high-3/4 slot, he can sit in the low 90s with arm-side life and he locates his whole arsenal well. He can spin a curveball, showing 1/7 shape with depth at 72-75. He also shows feel for a fading changeup that looks like a fastball out of his hand and sits 82-85. He earned MVP honors at the Under Armour Game after allowing just one base runner and striking out five, as the game went into extra innings. He followed up that performance with a spot on Team USA’s 18U squad and won a gold medal at the WBSC World Cup, going six innings and getting the win in the clinching game.

At No. 2 is SS Brice Turang (Santiago HS, CA), who has long been considered one of the top prospects in the 2018 class. He has big league bloodlines as his father, Brian, played two seasons for the Seattle Mariners. Turang’s entire game is polished and he is an excellent defender, showing the range, hands and arm to stick at shortstop. He takes a professional round of batting practice, peppering the opposite field and hitting hard line drives back up the middle. He is committed to Louisiana State.

Libeartore, Turang and RHP Ethan Hankins (Forsyth Central HS, GA) all have a strong case to be the No. 1 prospect in the class. Liberatore is a polished yet projectable southpaw and Turang has the all-around toolset, but Hankins is the most electric of the bunch. His athleticism allows him to keep his 6-foot-6, 211-pound frame and delivery under control. He works at a breakneck pace and will vary his tempo at times, really messing with hitters’ timing. On top of that, he delivers an explosive fastball from a low-3/4 slot that ranges from 91-96 with plus life through the zone. A Vanderbilt recruit, Hankins’ breaking ball can get loose and slurvy in the mid 70s, but it showed improvement by the end of the summer. He also mixes in a changeup in the low 80s.

Holding down the fourth spot is OF Jarred Kelenic (Waukesha West HS, WI), who figures to be the third Wisconsin native in three years to get picked in the first round after SS Gavin Lux in 2016 and OF Jeren Kendall in 2017. A Louisville recruit, Kelenic has excellent strength packed into his 5-foot-11, 190-pound frame that consistently produces loud contact and plus power from the left side. However, he’s not just masher, as his barrel stays in the zone a long time and he can drive the ball to all fields. Kelenic runs a 6.6-second 60-yard dash and shows good range in center field, but he could shift to a corner spot further down the road. He would profile just fine in right field with his bat and above-average arm.

At No. 5 is C/RHP Mason Denaburg (Merritt Island HS, FL), a legitimate two-way prospects. Standing at 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, he has easy pull power from the right side and is athletic in the field, moving well as an outfielder and behind the plate. His body control and flexibility would allow him to become skilled at receiving in the future. The arm strength he shows defensively translates to the mound, where he may have more upside. Pitching from a simplified windup, the Florida recruit runs his fastball up to 96 and sits in the 91-94 range with riding life and some sink. His breaking ball can vary at times, but at its best, it’s a hard slider at 77-80. He also mixes in a changeup with sink and fade at 82-85.

Rounding out the top 10 are RHP Slade Cecconi (Trinity Prep, FL), SS Nander De Sedas (Montverde Academy, FL), OF Alek Thomas (Mount Carmel HS, IL), 1B Triston Casas (American Heritage HS, FL) and RHP Cole Wilcox (Heritage HS, GA).

A Look At The Top 10

Rank Name State School Class Pos Commitment
1 Matthew Liberatore AZ Mountain Ridge 2018 LHP Arizona
2 Brice Turang CA Santiago 2018 SS Louisiana State
3 Ethan Hankins GA Forsyth Central 2018 RHP Vanderbilt
4 Jarred Kelenic WI Waukesha West 2018 OF Louisville
5 Mason Denaburg FL Merritt Island 2018 C Florida
6 Slade Cecconi FL Trinity Prep 2018 RHP Miami
7 Nander De Sedas FL Montverde Academy 2018 SS Florida State
8 Alek Thomas IL Mount Carmel 2018 OF Texas Christian
9 Triston Casas FL American Heritage 2018 1B Miami
10 Cole Wilcox GA Heritage 2018 RHP Georgia

Click here to view the full list.

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