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2019 MLB Draft Preview: Outfield

Taking a closer look at the Top 50 OF in the 2019 MLB Draft class.

NCAA BASEBALL: Mississippi State at Vanderbilt
JJ Bleday
George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2019 MLB Draft now less than one week out, we thought it was time to start looking at each position and the top players who will be available there in this class. We have started at the infield, are finishing up the position players today with the outfield, then getting to left and right handed pitchers in separate pieces.

Note that these pieces will not all be equal, as there are just so many more guys at certain positions that deserve to be talked about (outfield, right handed pitchers), while you have other spots where the depth is not very strong behind the top guys (first base, second base).

It’s also worth noting that if a player you are expecting to see is not listed at a particular position, they could be listed at another position. One example of this is at first base, where Michael Busch will be found- rather than the outfield.

This is not the best class of outfielders, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of upside to be found in this draft. In fact the issue is that all of the upside this year happens to come with question marks- and some significant question marks at that, particularly in terms of guys with hit tool concerns. This should be a class where a team like the Braves can easily come away with a pair of quality outfield prospects, especially if we see an outfielder come off the board early with that ninth overall pick.

Top 20 Prospects

1.JJ Bleday, Vanderbilt

A top performer in the SEC already, hitting .368 with a 1.005 OPS as a sophomore and following it up with a strong Cape Cod League, JJ Bleday was seen as a future first round pick this spring. Then came the power, as Bleday hit .346 with a 1.209 OPS, but most importantly saw his extra base hit total climb from 10 to 35- including an NCAA leading 25 homers. Bleday is the Trevor Larnach of this class, but has a more well rounded tool set.

The thing that makes Bleday so promising is in addition to his feel to hit, big power, strong defense, he’s shown a great ability to come up big in key situations. Bleday is a winner who thrives in big spots, and teams like the Marlins could really use that.

2.Corbin Carroll, Washington HS

If not for Bobby Witt Jr., it would be Corbin Carroll as the top prep hitter in this class. Carroll is an athletic, slightly undersized center fielder with a great hit tool. Carroll has an amazing feel for hitting, knowing how to handle himself in the box and put the barrel on the ball and drive it. Carroll also adds an element of speed, helping to earn him comps to the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Benintendi.

The biggest weakness previously was his lack of power, but Carroll drives the ball thanks to his hit tool and it helps his power play more than what his frame may suggest. Carroll is probably a .300 hitter with 15-20 homers, a ton of doubles and triples, and 20+ steals.

3.Riley Greene, Florida HS

Another candidate for best hitter in the high school class is Riley Greene, who brings a polished hit tool with power projection. Greene has a long track record of hitting against good pitching, and that potentially plus plus hit tool with future plus power makes him a very attractive option among that top tier of players in this draft, despite the fact he’s going to be limited to playing in the corner outfield defensively.

4.Hunter Bishop, Arizona State

A former Washington football recruit and brother of Seattle Mariner Braden Bishop, Hunter Bishop is one of the players with the loudest tools in the draft. Bishop has put up some crazy numbers this year- 22 homers and a 1.274 OPS with 11 steals, but he’s also got major question marks.

Bishop did very little his first two years in Tempe, hitting a combined 10 homers. He then started the year on fire this year to break out and move up draft boards, but has slowed down considerably in PAC 12 play and has been striking out a ton. He’s also got a very much below average arm, limiting him to left field despite his athleticism.

Bishop is interesting for sure, and the tools are hard to ignore. The thing with him is you don’t know what you’re getting, whether it’s the 22 homer guy from this year, the 10 homer guy from his first two years, or even a guy prone to hot and cold streaks like we’ve seen this year. He’s very high upside, but Bishop is a bit of a lottery ticket.

5.Maurice Hampton, Tennessee HS

Another toolsy player in this class is Maurice Hampton, one of the best athletes in the draft. The problem with the outfielder from Memphis is the fact he’s also a four star cornerback recruit in the LSU football class and that cloud his signing status, especially after the Kyler Murray situation last year.

Hampton is actually a better hitter than most tooled up two sport guys, though has some refinements to make in the box, and brings at least average power. His speed is a legit plus plus grade and it really helps him both on the bases and in center field. There’s also the possibility his skills take a major jump should he give up football and concentrate on baseball 100% for the first time. A team taking Hampton will love the upside, but he’s not without risk.

6.Kameron Misner, Missouri

Kameron Misner is a big, athletic prototypical right fielder, in the Jason Heyward mold. Unfortunately Misner, who started the spring hot and moved up towards the Top 10 early in the spring went cold and has fallen down the board considerably since. Misner is a high upside player with the ability to do it all, of course with a high strikeout rate. He’s a bit of a boom or bust prospect, but he’s got the ability to hit for some average and plenty of power, use his speed on the bases, and be a strong defender with a big arm in right.

7.Trejyn Fletcher, Maine HS

Trejyn Fletcher reclassified into this class earlier this spring, and the five tool prospect out of Maine was a late addition to many boards. This multi sport athlete has very loud tools, particularly his plus graded power, run, throwing, and center field defense. Fletcher will need to refine his hit tool a bit, but his athleticism and aptitude for the game provide hope that he will be able to do that. His athleticism and arm are so good that he’s got a future on the mound if a team chose to go in that direction, but it is clear that the most upside comes as a hitter. It’s worth noting that he’s a Vanderbilt signee, so he will need to be drafted high enough to buy him out of college.

8.Sammy Siani, Pennsylvania HS

The brother of Mike Siani, the Reds overslot fourth rounder from last year is a very good prospect himself. The brothers are totally different prospects as it’s Sammy with the better hit tool and some pop in his bat. I’ve seen them both play, and thought it was Sammy’s bat that played better...but the rest of Mike’s tools that stood out more. In fact Mike is a center fielder, while Sammy is likely destined for left in the future. Like his brother teams will be in on Sammy early and have to buy him out of a solid college commitment.

9.Jerrion Ealy, Mississippi HS

If Hampton isn’t the best athlete in this class, then it’s Jerrion Ealy, the top recruit in the Ole Miss football recruiting class. Ealy probably has higher upside as a future center fielder with a plus arm, plus plus speed, and significant power- but he’s also got some hit tool concerns that hurt his profile a bit. Like Hampton, Ealy would benefit from committing to baseball full time for the first time ever, but until then has some signing concerns because of football. Ealy also has the Mississippi prep hitter track record working against him- though the recent success of Austin Riley is starting to give the Mississippi prep hitters some hope of changing that narrative in the future.

10.Michael Toglia, UCLA

UCLA’s middle of the order threat Michael Toglia has followed up a sophomore year with a 1.037 OPS and 35 extra base hits with a junior season that has seen him post a 1.007 OPS and 33 extra base hits so far. The Bruins star is a polished hitter with plenty of power, but he’s prone to some cold streaks thanks to the swing and miss in his game. Still this is a guy with big power and a long track record of success with the bat in the PAC 12 Conference, which helps calm some of the fears about the strikeouts. Toglia is a good athlete, but he may not be able to handle the outfield longterm, and there are some who think he will need to move to first base defensively- but the bat plays at either position.

11.Matt Wallner, Southern Miss

One of the more interesting players in the draft is Southern Miss standout Matt Wallner. The two way star has been productive since stepping onto campus, hitting at least 16 homers and posting an OPS of at least 1.092 in each of his three years on campus. As if that’s not enough, Wallner was a top reliever for the Eagles in 2017, but struggled in that role in 2018 before focusing on hitting in 2019 due to a forearm injury.

Wallner started the season a little higher up the boards, but a slow start to the season- particularly a rough showing against Mississippi State, dropped him down the boards a little. He’s since moved back up, but that slow start only added to the questions about his hit tool. It’s also worth noting that his plus arm in right field hasn’t been quite the same this year, and it may have something to do with his forearm injury, but should the arm return his big arm and solid athleticism make him an excellent defensive right fielder.

12.Chris Newell, Pennsylvania HS

I was recently at a Chris Newell game and wrote him in depth here. He’s a very interesting hitter, but the rest of his game is what really stood out for me going up against Jack Leiter. He’s a Virginia signee, so signability can become an issue.

13.Jordan Brewer, Michigan

A first year JUCO transfer had a big year in his D1 debut, posting a 1.040 OPS with 18 doubles, 12 homers, and going 19 for 23 in the stolen base department. Brewer is a high level athlete already, and his year at Michigan has helped him to take the next step forward with his power. Brewer does have some swing and miss, but has kept his strikeout rate mostly under control compared to others with swing and miss concerns. This plus plus runner with a plus arm should be a strong defender in center, adding to his value.

14.Dominic Fletcher, Arkansas

An undersized 5’9”, 175 pound center fielder has been a key producer in all three years in Fayetteville. Fletcher has at least 10 homers in each year for the Hogs, and this year has added 22 doubles, to go with a .320/.383/.551 slash line. Fletcher does have some swing and miss which is a concern, striking out a career high 19.0% of his trips to the plate this year. Still he’s a three year producer in the SEC with the tools to be a strong outfield defender in wither center or right.

15.Brenton Doyle, Shepherd

Brenton Doyle is a Division 2 star with loud tools. He’s a speedy, athletic prospect with a strong arm giving him a good shot at sticking in center, and has shown an ability to use that plus speed on the bases. Doyle has a track record for hitting in D2, and even showed well with the wood bat in the Coastal Plain League last summer, together with plus raw power. There are some questions about his hit tool, particularly against better competition- but those concerns tend to follow D2 players.

16.Kyle Stowers, Stanford

Kyle Stowers had a very good sophomore year, and followed it up by standing out in the Cape Cod League last summer. Stowers then started this spring very slow, before getting unbelievably hot and getting his stat line to nearly equal his 2018 numbers. Stowers is a big, athletic right fielder with some power from the left side and a history of production at the college level. He has his concerns, mainly swing and miss and a well below average arm, but he’s a solid bat first prospect.

17.James Beard, Mississippi HS

When you first hear the name, you may be thinking of the famous chef and the awards named after him, but this James Beard can fly. Beard has true 80 speed, and should be an above average to plus defensive center fielder as a pro. The reason he’s moved up this spring is because his bat has taken a real step forward, both in terms of his hit tool and the fact he’s shown a little more pop. Beard isn’t going to be a power threat, but with his bat speed he should be able to put the ball in to the gap often to take advantage of his 80 grade tool. Beard is still raw and has the Mississippi prep hitter profile working against him, but the upside is huge and the fact he’s got a legit 80 grade tool will make someone bite. It’s worth noting that Beard is a JUCO commit, so if taken early enough a team should be able to sign him.

18.Glenallen Hill Jr., California HS

The son of Glenallen Hill is a 5’9” 170 outfield prospect with athleticism and bat speed that attract scouts. He’s not the biggest, but regularly hits the ball hard due to his bat speed- though his hit tool is raw and comes with plenty of swing and miss. There is some hope that with further reps in a pro system he could improve the hit tool. Hill is a prep shortstop that projects best in the outfield as a pro thanks to his plus speed, but some think he could be a good fit for second base. His athleticism and bloodlines will make Hill an intriguing Day 2 pick.

19.Bryant Packard, East Carolina

Bryant Packard is one of the best college sluggers in the draft. He dominated as a sophomore, hitting 14 homers with a 1.133 OPS, and followed that up by strong showings with the wood bat in the Cape Cod League and the US National Team. Packard’s power is down this year, as he’s got just six homers- but his extra base hit total has only dropped from 30 to 25 and counting. In addition Packard has shaved nearly three percent off his strikeout rate(18.5% to 15.5%) while adding four percent to his walk rate(12.0% from 8.0%)- so there have been some positives for Packard this spring. He’s a bat only prospect with a below average run tool and limited defensive value, but the bat should play.

20.Jake Sanford, Western Kentucky

Like Brewer, Jake Sanford is a JUCO transfer that produced in a big way in his D1 debut. With plus or better power, Sanford has racked up a .402/.488/.828 slash line with 19 doubles, 22 homers. He does have some swing and miss and will need to jump up in level of competition, leading to some concerns about how the hit tool will play at the next level. Due to his below average defense limiting him to left field, his bat has to carry him, and that leads to a lot of pressure on the bat to produce. Still there is reason to like the bat.

The Next 30 Guys:

21.Emanuel Dean, California HS

22.Joshua Mears, Washington HS

23.Thomas Dillard, Ole Miss

24,Will Robertson, Creighton

25.Dasan Brown, Canada HS

26.Jake Mangum, Mississippi State

27.Zach Watson, LSU

28.Hylan Hall, Florida HS

29.Jasiah Dixon, California HS

30.Hudson Head, Texas HS

31.Erik Rivera, Florida HS

32.Christian Johnson, Mississippi HS

33.John Rave, Illinois State

34.Peyton Burdick, Wright State

35.Burle Dixon, California JUCO

36.Blake Sabol, USC

37.Jason Hodges, Illinois HS

38.Matthew Barefoot, Campbell

39.Will Brennan, Kansas State

40.Wil Dalton, Florida

41.Justin Tejeda, Florida HS

42.Andre Tarver, Georgia HS

43.Damone Hale, California HS

44.Matt Gorski, Indiana

45.Kevin Strohschein, Tennessee Tech

46.Levi Usher, Iowa JUCO

47.Tucker Flint, Rhode Island HS

48.Michael Dixon, California HS

49.Chase Murray, Georgia Tech

50.Bobby Zmarzlak, Connecticut HS

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