Major League Baseball’s amateur draft is scheduled to begin on Sunday, July 17. As such, this presents as good of a time and as good of an opportunity as any to address the upcoming draft class. Below, you’ll find the pre-draft top 30 — that is, 30 players who we deemed worth including based on their combination of potential and expected draft slot. (The player ranked No. 5 might not go fifth overall, but they should go somewhere in the range.)
These rankings are formed based primarily on conversations with scouts, analysts, and other front office types, as well as firsthand observations and historical data.
A lot has changed over the last several months, but if you’d like to compare the list below to the preseason edition, then click here. Remember, this is merely a snapshot of the present attitudes and evaluations on these players. Let’s get to the rankings.
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1. Druw Jones, CF, Wesleyan HS (GA)
Jones, whose father Andruw is a borderline Hall of Famer, was in the running for the top spot entering the spring. He’s since emerged as the industry’s preferred choice. It’s not hard to understand why. He’s a good to great defender at a premium position who could finish his development arc with five plus or better tools, including both components of his bat. Indeed, he has the kind of projectable frame and handspeed that should allow him to add muscle and power as he matures. Jones might end up losing a little speed as a result, but he’s believed to have the instincts and innate feel for the position that should enable his game to remain lush with secondary value. There’s legitimate All-Star potential here, and he’s worthy of the No. 1 pick, even if he ends up going No. 2 or No. 3 instead because of the Orioles’ financial strategy.
2. Brooks Lee, SS, Cal Poly
Lee might have the best feel for the game of any prospect on this list. (If not, then that distinction goes to Termarr Johnson.) He’s a coach’s son and a switch-hitter who should be good from both sides (especially the left). He struck out in fewer than 10 percent of his plate appearances this season, all the while showing a good feel for the zone and for quality contact. Defensively, he’s not the most athletic individual, and his arm is in the average-to-tick-above range. That combination usually makes scouts cast doubt on someone’s ability to remain at the six, though Lee’s aforementioned wherewithal and the recent optimization of defensive positioning has them open to the idea that he at least starts his big-league career at shortstop. Lee has had back issues in the past that have caused him to miss time, and it’s possible that will impact his standing with some more risk-averse organizations. So it goes. He should still be selected in the early going, and perhaps even first overall.
3. Jackson Holliday, SS, Stillwater HS (OK)
Holliday is another top prospect with big-league bloodlines working in his favor. His father Matt made seven All-Star Games over a 15-year career, and his uncle Josh is the head coach at Oklahoma State (where he’s committed to play in the unlikely event he attends college). Holliday hasn’t coasted on his name or his connections; he spent the past year getting himself into better shape, and improving his offensive game. He’s no longer pulling off pitches as frequently as he had in the past, and he’s more open to using the whole field. His explosiveness allows him to smoke almost anything thrown over the plate, and he can run and throw well, too. There’s a real chance he’ll remain at shortstop, which, with his offensive upside, makes him a justifiable top-three pick.
4. Termarr Johnson, 2B, Mays HS (GA)
Johnson was the top player on CBS Sports’ board entering the spring, and a few evaluators argued he should’ve remained there. He still has a hit tool that one veteran scout graded as an 80 — meaning, in layman’s terms, as good as it gets — and surprising power. The downfall for Johnson is (and was always going to be) his defensive value. He’s likely just a second baseman, and there’s always reluctance in taking high school second basemen for obvious reasons; they have less margin of error than shortstops or other up-the-middle players as it pertains to moving down the defensive spectrum. Oh well. Johnson is going to hit, and hit a lot, and he’s going to do it while displaying one of the best feels for the game in the class. He was uncommitted to a college in the spring, but has since thrown on an Arizona State cap. It seems highly unlikely that he ever suits up for the Sun Devils.
5. Elijah Green, OF, IMG Academy (FL)
Green is a fascinating and polarizing prospect, a walking example of bimodal distribution who seems to inspire forecasts invoking only his left- and right-tail outcomes. To hear most scouts tell it, he’s either going to make several All-Star Games, or he’s going to wash out before becoming arbitration eligible. His boosters point to his near-elite power and speed combination, as well as his potential to play center field despite being listed at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds. (This is where we note, to little surprise, that his father Eric played in the NFL.) Conversely, Green’s critics say that his game needs a lot of refinement for him to max out his tools, and that his extreme swing-and-miss tendencies will cause him to deviate, from being a red-hot chili pepper to not, more frequently than John Frusciante. He’s going to be selected early because perceived ceilings as high as his don’t come around often; then again, perceived floors as low as his don’t, either.
6. Cam Collier, 3B, Chipola College (FL)
Carl Jung once wrote that myths were the earliest form of science. Over the last decade, the draft has offered an example of how the unconscious and conscious can be bridged. Age-relative performance has always felt like an obvious positive indicator for future success, but it wasn’t until relatively recently that teams other than the iconoclasts heavily weighed a player’s age in their draft analysis. That development prefaces the rise of Collier, who was born weeks after the 2004 presidential election. (Or, for those who prefer matters of greater global significance, a couple of days before the release of World of Warcraft.) Collier offers more than an excuse to say, “I’m getting old,” of course. He’s shown an aptitude for making quality contact and for commanding the strike zone, and scouts believe he’ll offer more power in time. His arm is strong enough to envision him sticking at third base for the long haul, too, and it doesn’t hurt that his father Lou played in parts of eight big-league seasons. Just don’t make the mistake of confusing him as being his father; after all, Jung also wrote that “the privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
7. Kevin Parada, C, Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets have produced three first-round catchers since 1993: Jason Varitek, Matt Wieters, and Joey Bart. Parada is certain to become the fourth. He’s always hit despite an unusual pre-swing stance that sees him lift his front elbow to his nose and drape the bat the length of his spine, his barrel dangling down around belt-level until he begins his operation. That remained true this season, as he homered 26 times and nearly posted a 1-to-1 walk-to-strikeout ratio in 60 games. Parada’s ball-tracking data, predictably, supports the notion that he could develop into a middle-of-the-order hitter with the potential for more pop than country radio. He’s not as promising behind the dish, but he’s improved enough there for scouts to see him as a tolerable option to begin his career. (Sidenote: expect his value to skyrocket when the automated ball-strike system is introduced to the majors.) He’s likely to come off the board early, perhaps even within the top five.
8. Jett Williams, SS, Rockwall-Heath HS (TX)
Williams, a Mississippi State commit, has more helium than any other prospect in the draft. Some evaluators have said they see him as the second-best prep hitter in the class (no small compliment given the names ahead of him on this list), thanks in part to a hit tool that could reach double-plus status. Williams is listed at just 5-foot-8, but he’s strong and athletic and the combination of his effective swing and fast bat could allow him to generate average in-game power. There are questions about where he’ll end up defensively, and not every team is fond of drafting high-school players who they feel are physically maxed out. None of that is going to prevent Williams from coming off the board early; several teams in the teens have been identified as big fans of his, to the point that it seems unlikely he’ll be on the board come pick No. 16.
9. Jace Jung, 2B, Texas Tech
Jung’s surname is pronounced like “young,” as in, Jace is the younger brother of Josh, a third-base prospect with the Rangers who was the No. 8 pick in the 2019 draft. Jace should come off the board in the same neighborhood thanks to an impressive combination of offensive skills. He has an excellent feel for the strike zone and for making contact, a combination that allowed him to walk 17 more times (59) than he struck out (42). Scouts believe he has plus raw strength, though they’re skeptical it’ll play as such in-game because of his hit-over-slug mindset. Whatever his philosophy, he’ll go as far as his bat will take him; he’s a below-average fielder, even at the keystone, who’ll need to be positioned well to avoid giving back runs with his glove.
10. Gavin Cross, OF, Virginia Tech
The Hokies haven’t had a player selected in the first round since Joe Saunders in 2002. Cross, who is projected to become an above-average hitter and a fine right fielder, will end the decades-long drought. He trended in the right direction this season in all the pertinent areas. At the plate, he improved upon his strikeout and walk rates while increasing his power output; in the field, he slid to center and fared better than expected for someone who is slated to play right field as a professional. There’s not much chrome to his game, but his offensive skill set should make him a welcomed addition for whichever team lands him in the back of the top 10 or in the early teens.
11. Brock Porter, RHP, St. Mary Prep (MI)
History suggests drafting a prep right-hander in the first round is akin to hitting on 17 in blackjack: sometimes it works, but most of the time you’re going to lose. Teams keep doing it anyway, drunk on the misguided belief that they (and possibly they alone) can discern the Daniel Espinos and the Andrew Painters from the Tyler Koleks and the Kohl Stewarts. Porter figures to be the first prep righty off the board this summer, likely just outside of the top 10 picks. He’s a Clemson commit with a large, lanky frame and two potentially devastating pitches: a fastball that has been clocked into triple digits, and a changeup that would be the best in the class if not for Dylan Lesko. (He throws two breaking balls as well, though his pro team might ask him to park the curveball.) If you’re looking for a downside, Porter will likely always have to rely more on his raw stuff than his pinpoint location. He can throw strikes, but achieving above-average command could prove to be difficult for him given his mechanics: not only does he have a long, whip-like arm action that sees his elbow creep to the shoulder line, his head also jerks at release. Teams are perfectly fine with stuff-over-geography profiles, especially nowadays, so it shouldn’t matter much.
12. Dylan Lesko, RHP, Buford HS (GA)
Lesko underwent Tommy John surgery in April, pushing him down a hair compared to where he would’ve ranked otherwise. Presuming he makes a full recovery, he has all the right ingredients to become an above-average starter, including the requisite size, athleticism, command, and arsenal depth. His top offering is his changeup, which one veteran scout tabbed as the best pitch he’s ever seen from a high-school arm. Lesko isn’t just smoke-and-mirrors; his fastball has been clocked into the upper-90s and he imparts good spin on the pitch thanks to a high release point. If there is a potential bugaboo with his arsenal, it’s his breaking ball. Though a Trackman darling, some evaluators worry that the pitch features too much depth, and that big-league hitters will notice the hump out of his hand and spit on it (relative to their younger counterparts). Lesko should go early enough to bail on his Vanderbilt commitment.
13. Cooper Hjerpe, LHP, Oregon State
A player’s draft stock is often subject to forces beyond their own talent and will. A decade ago, Hjerpe would’ve been classified as a reliever, and perhaps even a left-handed specialist, based on his unorthodox release point and his heater-heavy arsenal; these days, he’s viewed as a fairly safe starting pitching prospect. Ain’t it funny how times change? Anyway, he throws from a sidearm slot after stepping slightly closed, creating some crossfire effect in the process. Stuff-wise, he relies on a low-to-mid-90s fastball that downright bumfuzzles hitters thanks to the marriage between its rise and his flat vertical approach angle. His top secondary pitch, a sweeping slider, plays well off the heat while his changeup has shown enough promise to think he’ll be able to neutralize righties. Hjerpe (that’s “jerp-ee,” for those wondering) pounds the zone and he should be able to ascend the ladder quickly. It would come as a surprise if he’s still on the board at the time of the 20th pick.
14. Zach Neto, SS, Campbell
Campbell has produced one first-round pick in its history, with that coming back in 2019 when the Rays popped right-hander Seth Johnson. The Fighting Camels could have two players selected in the first this summer, with Neto standing out as the surest bet. He’s a well-rounded player who found the Big South to be a Little Challenge. You can choose your own most impressive statistic: is it that he nearly homered more times (15) than he struck out (19); is it that he did record as many stolen bases as strikeouts; or is it that he had a walk-to-strikeout ratio exceeding 2.0? Neto hits the ball hard and at a good angle, and he receives compliments for his general knowhow. If there are blemishes to his game, it’s that he faced weak competition and that he’s unlikely to become more than a second-division shortstop.
15. Chase DeLauter, OF, James Madison
DeLauter, our preseason No. 2, is a polarizing prospect. All he’s done throughout his college career, including a stint in last summer’s Cape Cod League (essentially a proving ground for small-school players), is hit and hit some more. He slid down boards because he started the season off with some of his worst games, and they just so happened to come against the best pitchers he faced all year. It didn’t help matters that he later fractured his foot and missed the rest of the campaign. Mind you, he still hit .437/.576/.828 with seven more walks than strikeouts in 118 plate appearances; he still displayed a strong eye and above-average pop; and he still looked like a defensive asset in a corner. If there’s one other common gripe about DeLauter, beyond his weak quality of competition, it’s the unusual footwork he displays at the plate. His back foot tends to kick out, creating an odd scissoring aesthetic. Clearly it hasn’t hampered him much to date, and we suspect a model-based team will overlook it and happily take an accomplished performer with five average or better tools with a mid-first-round pick.
16. Robby Snelling, LHP, McQueen HS (NV)
In addition to being a well-regarded baseball prospect, Snelling used to be ranked by 247 Sports as a four-star linebacker recruit. He’s since hung up his pads to focus exclusively on baseball (though his Twitter display name still includes “OLB,” meaning outside linebacker), a decision that should soon pay off. Snelling is, predictably, big and strong with a fastball that touched 97 mph late in the year and a feel for spin. He doesn’t have a picturesque delivery by any means, but his strike-throwing has improved and scouts are confident that his innate strength and athleticism will enable him to make adjustments, both inside and outside of games. Snelling will need to nurse a changeup if he wants to take the next step. He’s rumored to have fans who select in the teens, suggesting he’s not going to make it to LSU’s campus as a student.
17. Justin Crawford, OF, Bishop Gorman HS (NV)
Yet another draftee with a big-league father, Crawford’s father Carl played in the majors for more than a decade and made four All-Star teams along the way. Comparing the two is lazy, but there is some validity to the thought. Crawford has a feel for hitting and near-elite speed; he just needs to get stronger in order to maximize his potential. He has an outstanding commitment to LSU, so you might say that he’ll need to go fairly high in the draft to justify fore-geauxing it. (We’re sorry.)
18. Daniel Susac, C, Arizona
Susac’s brother Andrew as a second-round selection in 2011 who has since appeared in parts of six big-league seasons. Twosac, if you will, would appear to have fair odds of accruing more service time based on his plus or better strength and his improved defense. There are two things to know about Susac’s offensive game: one, he likes to swing the bat; two, he likes to lift the ball. The former stands out as a potential problem, as he posted an ugly 2.26 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The latter? The latter is fine and allows him to leverage his aforementioned muscle. Defensively, he has a strong arm and good reason to root for the implementation of the automated ball-strike system. Susac seems likely to be the second catcher drafted this year thanks to his offensive potential. His window should open sometime in the teens.
19. Jacob Berry, 3B/OF, LSU
Berry has changed locations twice in the past year. First, he followed coach Jay Johnson from Arizona to LSU; next, he started playing the outfield to ease concerns about his defensive value. It didn’t work. Scouts contend that he lacks the hands and the feet to be a tolerable defender anywhere on the diamond. (One even compared Berry to Seth Beer, who was held as a conscientious objector to defense when he was drafted 28th overall in 2018 out of Clemson.) That wouldn’t matter too much if Berry’s offensive upside was considered ironclad, but multiple evaluators warned that his underlying exit-velocity data suggests his power potential has been overstated. Some team is going to draft him much higher than this ranking based on his (admittedly good) topline collegiate results and the perception that he’ll be a quick-moving middle-of-the-order force. For his sake and theirs, here’s hoping they’re right.
20. Cole Young, SS, North Allegheny HS (PA)
Back in the spring, a scout predicted to CBS Sports that Young would eventually develop into a top-10 pick if he honored his commitment to Duke. It seems unlikely that he’ll step foot around the Duke Chapel anytime soon, but whatever prayers he’s sent up about being drafted early — say, in the top 20 — should be answered. Young is a well-rounded player who lacks both a carrying tool and an obvious flaw. He minds the zone and he has doubles power at the plate (though his exit velocities hint at untapped strength), and in the field he displays good footwork and an above-average arm. He’s unlikely to become a star-level contributor, the way some of his prep peers in this class might, but that shouldn’t prevent him from becoming a solid contributor.
21. Brandon Barriera, LHP, American Heritage HS (FL)
Barriera, who ended his season early to evade the injury bug that had snacked on most of the pitching class, could be the second prep lefty off the board. (IMG’s Jackson Ferris appears to be his stiffest competition.) He has a fast arm and multiple high-quality secondary pitches, but some scouts have developed a case of the collywobbles with regards to his size (he’s listed at 5-foot-11) and fastball. He generates good velocity on his heater, yet the shape of the offering plays into the zone and may cause it to be less effective than the sum of its parts. That combination has led some to conclude that his relief risk is higher than it may appear at first glance. Some team is still likely to select Barriera before the conclusion of round one.
22. Thomas Harrington, RHP, Campbell
Campbell isn’t far down the road from Raleigh, home of the band American Aquarium. They have a song that proclaims the harder you work, the luckier you get; it’s not true, not as often as it should be, but it’s a nice thought and it makes for a good tune. It could be the anthem for Harrington, who originally joined the roster as a walk-on. He’s since grinded his way to low-90s velocity and the Friday night slot in the Camels’ rotation. His labor was rewarded with good fortune this spring in the form of the scouts that flocked to town for Zach Neto. Those scouts were delighted with what they saw, assessing that Harrington could achieve two plus secondaries, in his slider and his changeup. In an interesting twist, luck may end up precipitating more hard work for Harrington. One evaluator expressed the belief that he’ll need to add sink or spin to his fastball to maximize its utility; having his name called by an organization fluent in pitch design, then, would be a good draw that could have long-term benefits. Harrington has seemingly never minded a good sweat, and you have to imagine he won’t start now if it can keep him in a big-league rotation for the long haul.
23. Gabriel Hughes, RHP, Gonzaga
Hughes is a big, physical power pitcher who this season improved his velocity (he can touch into the upper-90s) and his control and who has a good slider. There is some relief risk here should his past wildness return (he had previously walked a batter every other inning in his collegiate career) or if he can’t improve his changeup. The pitch has decent action, but he’s too prone to getting underneath the ball, as opposed to working through it, for evaluators to have confidence in its effectiveness.
24. Carson Whisenhunt, LHP, ECU
Whisenhunt entered the spring ranked by CBS Sports as the top collegiate arm in the class. Part of that was because of the flood of injuries suffered elsewhere, and part of it was because he projected as a mid-rotation starter with upside. Alas, Whisenhunt then suffered a peripeteia in the form of a failed performance-enhancing drug test that cost him his season. He made his first start in the Cape Cod League last weekend in an effort to remind teams that he exists. Whisenhunt at his best throws a low-to-mid-90s fastball with carry; a good changeup; and a curveball whose innate traits offer promise. A team who believes there’s more to be unlocked here, either with his velocity or his breaking ball, could take him and his fresh arm in the first round.
25. Kumar Rocker, RHP, Tri-City Valleycats
Dear aspiring prospect writers, when in doubt, listen to your cowardly heart and rank the class’s most famous player in an inoffensive spot; that way, whichever direction the wind blows, you’ll get to enjoy the breeze. Rocker, who previously suffered from overexposure, was absent from most of this year’s cycle after the Mets failed to sign him following his selection at No. 10 overall in last year’s draft. He resurfaced recently in the Frontier League, running his fastball up to 99 mph and overwhelming indy-league hitters with a 70-grade slider. Heraclitus said that no man steps in the same river twice, for neither he nor the river are the same. Even if Rocker was the same — and he’s not, if only in age — the river has changed. The industry was already skeptical about him because of his lagging changeup and the potential command and durability concerns created by his mechanical deficiencies; now, there’s also the matter of last summer’s post-draft physical that caused the Mets to bail. We have to write that it does feel silly to obsess over what could go wrong with Rocker’s arm in a draft where almost every other top pitcher already has an elbow zipper. We’re guessing some team will come to the same conclusion and select Rocker in the mid-to-late first round.
26. Justin Campbell, RHP, Oklahoma State
Evaluators have identified Campbell as one of the biggest (and, um, tallest given his 6-foot-7 listed height) potential benefactors from the rash of injuries in this class. He likely would have been viewed as a second-round choice had everyone stayed healthy; instead, he could slip off the board late in the first. Campbell might be most easily described as a stock back-of-the-rotation starter. He’s more than capable of throwing strikes, and he understands the craft well enough to leverage an arsenal that’s overflowing with 50- and 55-grade pitches. The concerns with Campbell are that he may lack an out pitch, and that he doesn’t have as much athleticism as someone like, say, Michael McGreevy, the 18th pick in last year’s draft. So long as the team adding Campbell keeps their expectations in check, he could be a quick-to-rise type.
27. Jordan Beck, OF, Tennessee
Beck is the lone member of Volunteers, the best regular-season team in college baseball this year, to crack the top 30. (High-energy center fielder Drew Gilbert came close and flamethrowing reliever Ben Joyce is one of the biggest wild cards.) He receives the nod thanks to a tool box that could contain four above-average or better grades at maturation. The best component of his game is his raw power, as evidenced by his .583 slugging percentage and sky-high exit velocities. The worst, unfortunately, is his hit tool. He struck out in 34 percent of his trips to the plate last summer in the Cape Cod League, and his .296 average ranked 10th among the 11 Volunteers with 100-plus plate appearances. A team who believes they can help Beck make more consistent contact, or who simply believes his other tools will allow him to overcome his blemishes could pop him as early as the middle of the first round.
28. Eric Brown, SS, Coastal Carolina
Brown is a divisive prospect, with evaluators split on whether or not he’s worthy of a first-round pick. (The rumor du jour links him to a team who picks late in the first.) Those who like Brown overlook an unusual pre-swing setup, in which he extends and elevates his arms and then points his barrel toward the third baseman as he begins his load, and are instead able to focus on his production and compelling combination of contact, power, and plate discipline. He hit .282/.375/.436 at the Cape Cod League last summer and .330/.460/.544 this spring, all with supporting ball-tracking metrics. Brown’s boosters also see him sticking at short, making him a well-rounded player and a good candidate to become the first Chanticleer to ever go in the first round.
29. Dylan Beavers, OF, Cal
The way Beavers cuts off his swing is reminiscent of longtime Phillie Chase Utley. Rest assured, the comparison ends there. Beavers sandwiched two monster seasons at Cal around a crummy summer that saw him scuffle in the Cape Cod League and with Team USA. He continued to showcase his big-time pop this spring while reducing his strikeout rate and upping his walk rate, but his swing-and-miss tendencies — especially against breaking balls — are too prevalent to think that he’ll avoid a power-over-hit profile. Though Beavers has the athleticism to handle center in the short term, his jagged routes make him a better fit in a corner. His stock has been on the rise, meaning a team will likely press their luck near the end of the first round with the hope that they can coach up his hit tool enough to keep his strikeout rate tolerable.
30. Owen Murphy, RHP/INF, Riverside-Brookfield HS (IL)
Murphy, a right-hander and shortstop with a commitment to Notre Dame, is our “hunch” pick this year. Shohei Ohtani’s success has caused teams to think new thoughts about the viability of two-way players, but our guess is Murphy will store away his bat after he turns pro. (Carson Williams, Spencer Schwhellenbach, and Masyn Winn are recent two-way players who shed the label after draft day.)
Murphy has a simple, mature delivery and a flat release point that enhances his low-to-mid-90s fastball when he elevates it in the zone. His dogged competitiveness and his above-average athleticism fuel our suspicion that he’ll take a step forward once he prioritizes pitching; if and when that happens, look for him to work on nurturing his changeup and on tightening and speeding up his slurvy breaker. Provided a team is as optimistic about Murphy, he could go late in the first round.