Prep Baseball Report

The Case For No. 1

Shooter Hunt
National Crosschecker

In considering the top player in the class, a great deal of discussion went on as the PBR staff combed through multiple prospects with elite talent. The 2021 class is quickly approaching its draft year with players building stronger cases to be recognized as top players in the country. PBR’s commitment to remaining hyper-local with a boots-on-the-ground approach to scouting has allowed this list to expand by 100 players.

Below, the top 10 from the updated 2021 Overall Rankings are broken down by National Crosschecker Shooter Hunt, who builds a case for each as the top prospect.

For a look at the updated list that includes an expansion to 500 players from all across the country, click HERE

Tyree Reed OF / American Canyon, CA / 2021

The electricity that Reed brings to the diamond is impossible to miss, but even more so, his polish and current feel for hitting boosted him to the top spot in the updated 2021 Overall Rankings. Uber projectable at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds with an athletic frame that will almost assuredly hold more strength in the future, the Oregon State recruit’s left-handed stick will likely see an even bigger uptick in the power department in the future, though he already possesses some to the pull side now. Showcasing an ability to stick at a premium position as a left-handed hitter, there is plenty to like about him right now, and even more with regards to where he will end up. Tracking effortlessly from gap-to-gap, Reed’s glove only helps boost his stock as a prospect and his charisma on the diamond elevates his game, which is carried by quick-twitch movements and an advanced approach at the dish. Reed’s ability to change planes allows for firm contact from gap to gap, and he has shown impressive pitch recognition against frontline arms, which should allow for quick adjustments to be made in the future. There is still much to be decided before the MLB Draft in 2021, including when baseball will be played again, but one thing is for certain: Reed will enter the 2021 cycle as the top prep prospect.

/var/www/html/login/modules/Playerss/shortcodes.json not found

Christian Little RHP / OF / CBC, MO / 2021

At 6-foot-3, 195 pounds Little is about as close to how you draw it up when dreaming about a frontline starter, and has only demonstrated the ability to keep getting better since first emerging on the scene as a freshman. The Vanderbilt recruit’s fluid delivery and clean arm stroke provide for effortless velocity that is creeping into the mid 90s, and almost assuredly will be even higher come springtime 2021. Add to that, his feel for a slurvy breaking ball in the upper 70s and fading changeup, and Little has the makings of a frontline starter. The biggest critique for Little right now, to no fault of his own, is his right-handedness. The riskiest draft pick is a high school right-hander, but with low mileage and coming out of a storied St. Louis high school, Little has an excellent chance of hearing his name called early in June 2021.

Luke Leto SS / RHP / Portage Central, MI / 2021

Of all the players featured in the top 10, no player will be followed more closely this summer than Leto. The Louisiana State recruit stars as both a quarterback on the football team and forward on the basketball team, and with a shortened window in the spring, an extended look throughout the summer will be vital for professional scouts. Leto is a throwback, three-sport athlete, and his versatility extends to the baseball diamond where he can play all over. He has the arm strength to climb into the 90s on the mound, the speed to post a 6.5 60-yard dash, he has shown sub-2.0 pop times from behind the dish, and is listed as a shortstop. Through all the versatility that his athleticism provides, his left-handed bat stands out above all else. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder is built like a wide receiver, and has the power projection to go along with it. Still, being in a cold climate like Michigan and missing out on the fall due to football will definitely provide less looks, though scouts may not need much more should Leto have a strong summer, especially given the upside potential that he will have with more repetitions.

Jordan Lawlar SS / OF / Dallas Jesuit, TX / 2021

Stoic on the field, nothing appears to faze Lawlar when he competes. Whether working side to side defensively or battling from behind in the count, the athletic shortstop is unflappable, and already sports a maturity to his game that is rarely seen at his young age. There is currently some lean, defined strength throughout his 6-foot-2, 183-pound frame that will assuredly add even more over the next 12-plus months, which will only add to his already considerable power potential. What gives Lawlar the biggest boost as a prospect is his ability to stick at shortstop. He is instinctual with a quick first step in the field with clean glove-to-hand ability that is enhanced by what will likely grade out as a plus arm across the diamond. Crisp with attention to detail, there is no need for flash in Lawlar’s defensive game as he calmly makes plays, including difficult ones, look easy. He brings a plan to the plate for each at-bat, and exhibits no distress when hitting from behind in the count, as he has the ability to change planes and utilize the entire field. While his swing can appear to lack aggression, at times, the results speak for themselves, and Lawlar will most likely build an even stronger case as a premium prospect with advanced metrics uncovering even more to like about his potential future production.

/var/www/html/login/modules/Playerss/shortcodes.json not found

Brady House SS / RHP / Winder-Barrow, GA / 2021

House might be the most physically-gifted player in the class with a square-shouldered, 6-foot-3, 217-pound frame with defined strength in both the upper and lower half, and the power production to go with it. A two-way player with considerable upside in both, one of the big discussions when looking at high school prospects (upperclassmen) is separating the skills at each spot rather than combining the total of each half. Having said that, the Tennessee recruit grades out high no matter what he is doing on the field. At the plate, his raw power is astounding, and while the swing may be inconsistent at times, the power is undeniable. Currently getting plenty of time at shortstop, a shift to third base seems more likely given the big frame, but his athleticism is impressive, especially given the thick frame. On top of his work as a position player, House’s upside on the mound might be even more impressive. Up into the mid 90s with relative ease, House still looks like a shortstop on the mound, and if given time to concentrate on pitching alone, a big jump would be possible. House is easy to bet on as a prospect, and with a backup plan as a mid-90s right-hander on the mound, he clearly has lots to like with the tools he possesses.

/var/www/html/login/modules/Playerss/shortcodes.json not found

Izaac Pacheco SS / Friendswood, TX / 2021

Pacheco, a Texas A&M recruit,  is sure to be one of the most talked about prospects of 2021, and for good reason: he’s an athletic, 6-foot-3, 200-pound, left-handed power hitter. The big Texan from just south of Houston has a smooth stroke that works uphill through the zone with impressive lag that allows him to cover the plate including advanced strength to the opposite field. Pushing even higher as a prospect, Pacheco is more than suitable at shortstop at the high school level, and exhibits soft hands and strong throwing arm. That athleticism should allow him to blossom into an above average defender at third base as a professional. But the bat will carry him, and though there was some swing-and-miss present at times last summer, the power potential greatly outweighs it, and in seeing him enough over the next year, the hit tool will ultimately shine.

/var/www/html/login/modules/Playerss/shortcodes.json not found

Philip Abner LHP / 1B / Charlotte Christian, NC / 2021

In combing through each new class for the top prospects, it is of utmost importance to locate the top left-handed pitchers. They are greatly valued by professional teams with a clear track record represented in the draft. Abner will head into the draft cycle as the top lefty, though his fellow in-state southpaw, Josh Hartle (Reagan HS, NC), is close behind. A stocky, 6-foot-1, 215-pounder with some durable strength, Abner already possesses a power fastball with swing-and-miss traits that was 91-93 in February, early in the preseason in North Carolina. Spinning at 2400-2550 rpm, the ball jumps out of his hand with some late life at the plate. Exhibiting normal effort out front while getting extended towards the plate, Abner’s fastball makes for an uncomfortable at-bat, and it plays up even better thanks to a pair of impressive breaking balls. A hard slider that shoots across the zone at 79-81 and a curveball that tunnels the fastball with 1/7 shape and 2600-2890 rpm makes him easy to dream on, and given the advancements that he made over the past year, his upward trajectory appears likely to continue.

/var/www/html/login/modules/Playerss/shortcodes.json not found

Braylon Bishop OF / LHP / Texarkana Arkansas, AR / 2021

Bishop oozes athleticism and projection, and his powerful left-handed stroke gives him a chance to rise even higher over the summer. A dynamic player with twitch all over, his combination of bat speed, on-plane efficiency, and early connection combine with impressive hip rotation and torque to provide a smooth, powerful stroke that works uphill through the zone. The Arkansas recruit possesses a proportionally strong, 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame and is a 6.6 runner who may be able to start in center field early on. However, the power projection from the left side will ultimately make him valuable in any outfield spot. The enhanced measurables are likely to be very kind to Bishop, and should he continue to show well against the country’s top arms, there is a good chance he hears his name called early on Day 1 of the 2021 MLB Draft.

Marcelo Mayer SS / OF / Eastlake, CA / 2021

SoCal shortstops: there’s just something about the infielders coming out of southern California that makes them impossible to ignore year after year. With each new class, an immediate question to the PBR California crew is, “Who is the shortstop to know?” Mayer, a Southern California recruit, has emerged early on as the answer. While there are severals others in the top 50 from the Golden State who will also warrant high consideration in the end, Mayer’s fluid left-handed stroke, and ability to slow the game down at all times are both elite for the class and consistent with the norm of the heralded players before him. At 6-foot-3, 175 pounds, he is still filling out physically, but the quickness of the hands are already present, and the ability to get on-plane early with a heavy barrel stands out. Smooth in his approach defensively, there is a chance that Mayer ultimately outgrows the shortstop position, which is why he is not higher on this list at the moment, but the bat and overall feel for the game persist. Taking into account that Mayer was outstanding in 2019 at Eastlake, hitting in front of Minnesota Twins first-round pick 3B Keoni Cavaco, there is likely already a substantial track record that has been built by MLB teams on the young infielder. Overall, having shown well consistently in the past, it is Mayer’s future potential that will carry him as a potential top prospect moving forward.

/var/www/html/login/modules/Playerss/shortcodes.json not found

Andy Painter RHP / Calvary Christian Academy, FL / 2021

Looking like he’s just placing the ball in the mitt with a mid-90s fastball, Painter’s effortless velocity and polished delivery are sure to be attractive to scouts looking toward 2021, and are a big reason why he is the top prospect in Florida heading into the summer. At 6-foot-6, 210 pounds, the Florida recruit still shows signs of adding strength in the future, and the idea that he may be posting upper-90s fastballs in the spring of 2021 seems more likely than not. Driving the pitch downhill to the bottom of the zone, it is a higher spin offering with potentially the best command in the class. Wise beyond his years, Painter crafts a plan for each hitter, and utilizes advanced feel for a changeup that profiles well with the fastball to keep hitters off balance. The breaking ball is thrown for strikes with some depth, and while it is more of an average pitch now, Painter’s ability to process and make changes should allow for quick progressions down the line. Looking the part, Painter screams starter makeup, and should he show a greater propensity for swings and misses on the breaking ball throughout the summer, he could quickly become the top right-hander in the class.





Premium Content Area

This article is only available to PBRPlus Subscribers. If you wish to continue reading this article:

Login to the Subscriptions Website.
To purchase a NEW SUBSCRIPTION, please click here to go to our subscription products page.