Texas, in all sports, is known as one of the foremost recruiting hotbeds, usually brimming with top talent that teams fight to secure. However, in the last couple of seasons, Texas talent has been lacking in comparison to its usual standard, with most of the talent from the state coming out of the college ranks rather than the usually-stacked prep level.
However, 2015 looks like it will be a different story. Any list of top draft prospects for the upcoming class will be peppered with Texan names, pitchers and hitters alike. Here is a look at some of the top players available in the Lone Star State who the Astros, or any other team, would be wise to take a look at.
Ryan Johnson, OF, College Station HS
Measureables - 6'3", 205 lbs.; 6.86 sec. 60 yd. dash; 92 MPH OF throw; 94 MPH fastball
A player who stands out on the back of his advanced hitting abilities and overall natural feel for the game, Johnson has a real chance to go in the top half of the first round in June with a strong spring. His strongest tool is his contact hitting, which is aided by his top-notch coordination and hand/wrist action. He has a compact swing that allows him to spray the ball to all fields, and he has a knack for getting the barrel to the ball- something that often can't be taught. He does a great job covering the plate and has the bat speed to catch up with velocity.
A solid athlete with a large frame, Johnson's combination of solid average speed and a plus arm make him a natural fit in right field. He moves very smoothly in the field, taking good angles and eating up space with long strides and his length. Johnson's plus hit tool, potential for above average power and big arm give him the look of a 3-hole hitter in the outfield with the potential to be a .300 hitter with upwards of 20 home runs down the line.
Mitchell Hansen, OF, Plano HS
Measureables- 6'4", 197 lbs.; 6.67 sec. 60 yd. dash; 93 MPH OF throw
A projectable athlete for scouts to dream on, Hansen brings some loud tools to the table that give him potential in all facets of the game. A quick-trigger hitter with above average bat speed from the left side, Hansen attacks balls with his hands and has power left in his frame, which still has room to fill out. Hansen is a plus athlete with great speed, fluid movement, and explosive actions.
His arm is already plus and could become even stronger down the line, meaning that, like Johnson, he is a natural fit in right field. Hansen looks very comfortable fielding balls in the outfield, and projects as a very strong defender. He is a 4.0 student, to boot. Hansen is more raw than Johnson, but is oozing with potential and will surely be a coveted commodity come draft day.
Doak Dozier, OF, Arlington Heights HS
Measureables- 6'3", 180 lbs.; 6.57 sec. 60 yd. dash; 92 MPH OF throw
A highly athletic outfield prospect with a pretty swing and tools to burn, Dozier could climb rankings if he can show some polish in the spring. He gets to the ball quickly at the plate with little wasted motion and projects to be a strong hitter for contact, and he has some serious projectability that will be attractive to scouts. With plus speed and a plus arm, Dozier is the type of player who could either be asked to emphasize his defense and contact hitting and handle center field duties, but teams will more likely see him as a corner outfielder who will be asked to add weight and, as a result, power to his game.
Trenton Clark, OF, Richland HS
Measureables- 6'0", 200 lbs.; Other data unavailable.
Something of an odd prospect, Clark brings a unique profile to the table that could make him a very productive major leaguer. On the shorter side and stoutly built, Clark nonetheless possesses plus speed and explosive athleticism and projects as a potential center or left fielder. His frame is maxed out but is powerful for his size, and he has the juice in his bat to hit for some solid power. He moves efficiently in the outfield, but his arm is not as strong as the other players mentioned so far. Clark's swing has some good and bad traits, with smooth upper body movement and great hands, but a choppy weight transfer that could hurt him against higher level pitching. He is somewhat reminiscent of Reds prospect Phil Ervin, and teams that value players with 1-2 very strong tools who can bring value in unorthodox ways, such as the Astros, could value Clark highly.
Lucas Wakamatsu, SS, Keller HS
Measureables- 6'3", 185 lbs.; 6.71 sec. 60 yd. dash; 85 MPH IF throw
A DFW area prospect with MLB bloodlines (he's the son of former player/manager Don Wakamatsu) and athleticism, Wakamatsu is the type of player that teams tend to value. Currently a shortstop, Wakamatsu may not make his long term home there, but could play another infield spot, most likely second base due to his less than ideal arm strength. A switch hitter, Wakamatsu stands out due to his offensive potential, as he projects to be able to hit for both contact and solid power. There could be a wide range of opinions on Wakamatsu based upon where teams see him playing defensively in the long term.
Beau Burrows, RHP, Weatherford HS
Measureables- 6'2", 200 lbs.
Though sometimes knocked for his less than ideal height, Burrows has more than enough size to be a long term starter, and the rest of his skill-set suggests he could make his home near the top of an MLB rotation. Incredibly polished with smooth mechanics and a compact build, Burrows generates easy velocity and shows an ability to pound the lower half of the zone with low to mid 90s heat, sitting around 93. Burrows shows both a slider and a curveball, of which the curve is the stronger pitch and flashes plus. He also throws a heavy 2-seamer and the potential for plus command. Though he does not come with the ideal size of some of the other top arms in the class, Burrows is likely the top prospect in the state of Texas and is in the running to be the first prep arm selected.
Luken Baker, RHP/OF, Oak Ridge HS
Measureables- 6'4", 240 lbs.
A Houston area product known for his Paul Bunyan-esque strength and size, Baker is a true two-way prospect known for both his explosive fastball and his plus-plus power as a hitter. The first note I put down when I watched Baker initially was "really big person," and he uses his size to his advantage. He has a Jameson Taillon-esque fastball that erupts from his hand, and hides the ball well and doesn't put too much stress on his arm in his delivery. Similar to Tyler Kolek last year, Baker relies heavily on his plus to plus-plus fastball, and shows the ability to get it over the plate. His command within the zone can wobble, and his secondaries are raw. Baker has a big swing as a hitter and his ability to hit for contact will be questioned, as will his ability to play the outfield long term. Despite his shortcomings, Baker has something that teams love on both sides of the ball- power- and it's some of the best in the class, both as a hitter and a pitcher.