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These are the 10 best high school hitters in this year’s Draft



These are the 10 best high school hitters in this year’s Draft

Last week, we dug into the strength of the 2024 Draft class when we ranked the top 10 college hitters. This week, we’re staying in the batter’s box but turning our sights to the prep ranks.

The high school hitters don’t measure up to the more advanced college bats, but there’s certainly talent to be had. There are a pair of prepsters who can play shortstop and could very well land in the top 10 in Konnor Griffin and Bryce Rainer, who top this list. There’s some depth here, including some more intriguing middle infielders who are potentially rising into the bottom half of the first round.

1. Konnor Griffin, SS/OF, Jackson Prep, Flowood, Miss. (No. 9)
Gatorade’s National High School Player of the Year, Griffin has the highest ceiling in this Draft as a potential 30-30 guy who could be a plus shortstop or a Gold Glove center fielder — and oh yeah, he can push his fastball to 96 mph as a right-handed pitcher. Some clubs do have concerns about how well his swing will play against big league pitching.

2. Bryce Rainer, SS, Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif. (No. 10)
Rainer entered the spring as a potential two-way player, then took a huge step forward as a position player right out of the gate. The best player at USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational, he’s a left-handed-hitting shortstop in the Corey Seager mold, and some scouts think he’s the best pure hitter in the prep class.

3. Slade Caldwell, OF, Valley View HS, Jonesboro, Ark. (No. 22)
Though he’s just 5-foot-9 and 182 pounds, Caldwell can make an oversized impact on the game with his advanced hitting ability, sneaky pop, well-above-average speed and quality defense. Gatorade’s Arkansas High School Player of the Year in each of the last two seasons, he set a state record with 170 career steals.

4. Theo Gillen, SS/2B, Westlake HS, Austin, Texas (No. 27)
Slowed by shoulder and knee issues the last two years, Gillen is finally healthy and may be the best all-around hitter in this year’s prep class. He has a sweet left-handed swing, a disciplined approach and plus raw power, though his long-term defensive home is a question.

5. Kellon Lindsey, SS, Hardee HS, Wauchula, Fla. (No. 30)
After missing the summer showcase circuit because of injury, Lindsey was a huge pop-up player from his small Florida high school early this spring. He’s close to an 80-grade runner with the chance to have a very solid all-around set of tools that are sharpening as the former quarterback focuses on baseball only.

6. Wyatt Sanford, SS, Independence HS, Frisco, Texas (No. 35)
The son of Chance Sanford, who played briefly in the big leagues in the late 1990s, Wyatt is one of the best defensive shortstops in this Draft. He also makes good swing decisions, has increased his bat speed as he has gotten stronger and can make things happen with his plus speed on the bases.

7. Carter Johnson, SS, Oxford (Ala.) HS (No. 40)
Because he’s an Alabama high school shortstop with a strong build, Johnson naturally elicits comparisons to Gunnar Henderson. While he can’t match Henderson’s athleticism, Johnson is a mature hitter with 20-homer potential who probably will end up at second or third base.

8. Tyson Lewis, SS, Millard West HS, Omaha, Neb. (No. 46)
No Nebraska high school position player ever has been drafted in the top two rounds, but Lewis could sneak into the first. He’s driving the ball more consistently than ever and uses his solid to plus speed aggressively on the bases, though he may move to second or third base in the future.

9. Dante Nori, OF, Northville (Mich.) HS (No. 47)
Nori is one of the oldest prep players (19 years, 9 months on Draft Day) in this class, but he also features some of its best all-around tools. The son of Minnesota Timberwolves assistant coach Micah Nori, he has a disciplined all-fields approach to go with well-above-average speed, plus defense in center field and solid arm strength.

10. Braylon Payne, OF, Elkins HS, Missouri City, Texas (No. 52)
As a speedy center fielder from the southern half of Texas, Payne gets compared to Kendall George, the Dodgers’ top pick (supplemental first round) a year ago. George is faster, but Payne has plus-plus speed, is more aggressive on the bases and has more impact potential at the plate.

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