10 players to watch at the MLB Draft Combine, from the top high school hitters to a switch-pitcher

These high school and collegiate prospects have the chance to improve their draft stock this week in Phoenix

PHOENIX — The fourth annual MLB Draft Combine begins Tuesday at Chase Field. More than 300 of the best draft-eligible players will descend upon Phoenix over the course of the week to participate in a series of on-field workouts, medical evaluations, strength and conditioning assessments, and interviews with club personnel.

Here are 10 players who have had especially interesting spring seasons and whom I’ll be watching closely during their time at the combine.

Wetherholt is the only one of the eight elite college players atop this year’s draft class expected to be in attendance this week in Phoenix. In a way, it makes a lot of sense: The month-plus that Wetherholt missed due to a hamstring injury in the middle of his junior season put him behind the eight-ball relative to the seven other top-pick contenders, all of whom were healthy and putting up outrageous statistics this spring. In turn, Wetherholt arguably has the most to prove among that top tier.

While Wetherholt returned in April and hit well down the stretch for a Mountaineers team that reached the super regionals, it doesn’t seem like he did quite enough to recapture his preseason status as one of the favorites to be selected first overall by the Guardians. At the same time, it’s possible that the teams picking at the top are willing to look past Wetherholt’s missed time and buy into the supersonic talent that was on display during his sophomore season. All of which is to say: Even if he doesn’t participate in on-field workouts, the Draft Combine could prove to be especially important for Wetherholt, for both teams’ assessment of his medicals (namely, his history of hamstring injuries) and the behind-the-scenes interviews that could launch him back toward the very top of the draft, rather than the back half of the top 10.

After Griffin appeared to separate himself atop the prep class by the end of last summer, Rainer closed the gap over the course of this spring, most notably with a standout showing at the National High School Invitational in April. Now you can easily find talent evaluators who tab Rainer as the top high school player available, lauding his ability to stick at shortstop and an advanced hit/power combination that has been proven against a far greater level of competition than what Griffin faced in Mississippi. Still, no one can deny Griffin’s star-level tools, which emphatically manifested in a downright dominant senior season that earned him Gatorade’s National High School Player of the Year award.

Another fascinating dynamic with these two is their somewhat opposite trajectories as potential two-way players. Rewind six months, and it was Rainer who was being seriously discussed as a possible pitcher or two-way player at the next level, thanks to his smooth delivery and improving repertoire, while Griffin’s standout athleticism seemed to have him ticketed for a future as a position player. Fast-forward to the Draft Combine, and Rainer, after elevating his offensive game this spring, is listed as only a shortstop, while Griffin is one of just a handful of prospects designated as a two-way player. I’d still assume that Griffin views himself as a shortstop through and through and that the vast majority of teams would draft him as such, but the willingness to designate himself as potentially more — with perhaps an openness to a future on the mound if hitting doesn’t work out — is compelling.

It’s extremely difficult to predict which of these two will come off the board first on July 14 or exactly how early they’ll hear their names called. While neither is expected to participate in any of the on-field workouts in Phoenix, I’m eager to see how they handle the spotlight as the presumed co-headliners of the prep class — and as two of the biggest names in attendance, considering the relative lack of high-profile college stars.

For a player such as Morlando, the Draft Combine isn’t as much an opportunity to boost his prospect stock as it is a chance to reestablish it. At points last summer (and for several years prior), Morlando was considered alongside Griffin and Rainer as one of the more promising hitters in his class, with a mature, left-handed approach as well as impressive raw power. However, Morlando was unable to maintain that high standard into the spring, with the power he has always shown in batting practice not showing up in games as much as scouts would like and with growing questions about his athleticism and ultimate defensive home.

Suddenly, Morlando’s commitment to stay near home and play collegiately at the University of South Carolina has become a lot more interesting. Previously projected to receive a signing bonus that would be extremely difficult to pass up, Morlando has fallen far enough that it could end up being a difficult decision between signing pro and heading to school. Some in the industry believe that high school players attending the Draft Combine are signaling an intention to go pro, but you can find several high-profile prep combine attendees in recent years who ended up making it to campus. Either way, the Draft Combine could provide one last chance for Morlando to reposition himself into the late first-round mix and/or get a better sense from the teams interested of whether he’ll be getting drafted high enough to forgo a potential future in Columbia.

Like Morlando, Sirota entered this spring as a strong candidate to hear his name called somewhere in the middle of the first round. And as with Morlando, an inconsistent spring has made that possibility a lot less likely with the draft less than a month away. It’d be a stretch to call Sirota’s season a bad one — a .986 OPS with more walks than strikeouts and 19 steals is stellar — but it’s also fair to say he failed to capitalize on the significant momentum he had built with his monster sophomore campaign (1.149 OPS, 18 HR).

In a conference without the same level of pitching as faced by his peers in the SEC and ACC and in the über-offensive environment that is Division I baseball in 2024, many projected Sirota to go absolutely bonkers en route to another All-American campaign and a possible early first-round selection in July. Instead, he hit just .252 with one home run through his first 29 games and didn’t really heat up until the final month for a Northeastern team that didn’t qualify for the NCAA postseason. Sirota is now expected to go later on Day 1, likely somewhere in the second round. As with Morlando, the Draft Combine should afford him a stage to remind teams why they were so excited about him in the first place.

A former wide receiver for the Hawkeyes turned fearsome fireballer with scattershot command, Brecht’s junior season was, fittingly, a wild ride. Stuff has never been a question for him, dating to his senior year of high school, when his high-end velocity sparked serious interest from MLB teams, which he promptly rejected due to his fierce commitment to play football and baseball at Iowa. He arguably wields the most electric stuff in college baseball, with a fastball up to 100 and a vicious, upper-80s slider.

With Brecht ditching the gridiron after his sophomore year, the hope was that he could start to polish his high-powered arsenal and fill up the zone more consistently. Though his first few months were ugly and his season walk rate was a less-than-stellar 14%, Brecht got notably better down the stretch. He completed seven innings in five of his final six outings, albeit for a much-hyped Iowa team that disappointed collectively, which kept those final starts relatively out of the spotlight. Brecht is not expected to throw at the Draft Combine, but he will be one of the bigger names in attendance from the college ranks, and I’m looking forward to hearing him talk about the progress he has made since switching to baseball full-time, even if the results weren’t always there during the season.

Every year, there are a handful of prep players who launch themselves out of relative obscurity and into first-round consideration over the course of their senior seasons. Lindsey is this year’s most prominent example. It’s not that he hails from some remote corner of the country where he flew under the scouting radar before exploding up draft boards this spring; Lindsey played quarterback and shortstop for his high school team just an hour outside of Tampa, which doesn’t exactly scream “low-profile.”

But injuries limited his participation on the showcase circuit last summer, which made it much more difficult to foresee the level of breakout he delivered this spring. As one of the fastest players in this year’s class, Lindsey’s exceptional athleticism started to translate to every part of his game as his focus moved to baseball full-time, and the results have followed. Can he continue to demonstrate these burgeoning skills at the Draft Combine and elevate his stock even further? I’m excited to find out.

If Lindsey elevated his stock the most among prep prospects this spring, Cijntje has a case as the biggest riser among collegiate prospects. This is an especially intriguing trajectory, considering that Cijntje has been well-known in scouting circles and even among casual fans for quite some time, thanks to his unique ability to pitch competitively from both sides.

Cijntje, who grew up in Curacao before moving to Miami as a teenager, is a draft-eligible sophomore due to his having turned 21 last month. It was just two years ago that he was being evaluated as a high school prospect. In fact, he made an appearance on the mound at the 2022 Draft Combine in San Diego. Cijntje then chose not to sign with Milwaukee after the Brewers selected him in the 18th round, leaving teams eager to see how he would develop in Starkville and whether he would continue to pitch with both hands.

While the switch-pitching has continued to some degree, the reason Cijntje is now considered a likely first-round pick is the huge leap his stuff took from the right side this spring, with a heater that now touches 98 mph and a hard slider that creeps into the low 90s. A dearth of attractive options in the second tier of college pitchers has helped Cijntje’s strong season with the Bulldogs catapult him into Day 1 discussions. As for his presence at the Draft Combine, I’m curious to find out if teams are still considering Cijntje as a switch-pitcher and how passionate he is about continuing to pitch from both sides in pro ball.

At last year’s Draft Combine, two high school outfielders — Brandon Winokur from California and George Wolkow from Illinois — stood out during their batting practice sessions, with each registering exceptionally high exit velocities while launching homers well beyond the fences at Chase Field. While they were relatively well-known from their spring seasons, their combine showings unquestionably helped elevate their standing relative to their peers, with both exhibiting a level of strength that could be considered more pro-ready than that of other high school prospects who might need a few years to develop that kind of power. Come the draft, Winokur garnered a $1.5 million bonus from Minnesota in the third round, and Wolkow signed with his hometown White Sox for $1 million in Round 7.

If you’re looking for a prep bat who could make similar noise during BP this year in Phoenix, keep an eye on Kale Fountain, a massive third baseman from Nebraska whose raw power is about as good as it gets in this year’s high school class. Fountain’s thunderous, right-handed juice was on full display earlier this year at the annual Super 60 showcase in Illinois, where he registered the highest average and maximum exit velocity among position players in attendance.

The Draft Combine will be a much larger stage for Fountain to perform on, and it’s an opportunity for him to raise his profile. Doubts about his ability to make enough contact to consistently get to his pure power, as well the likelihood of him sticking at third base long-term, have him currently slated as a third- or fourth-round prospect, rather than a slam-dunk Day 1 pick. But it’s not difficult to imagine a team believing in the overall package enough to sign Fountain away from his commitment to LSU. Otherwise, he could head to Baton Rouge, where he’d be primed to be one of the more intriguing freshmen in the country in 2025.

I’m going a bit off the board with this last name, as Elliott didn’t throw a pitch this college season and thus caught my eye when I saw he was included on the list of Draft Combine participants. One of the top high school arms in the state of Mississippi for the 2021 MLB Draft, Elliott opted to uphold his commitment to Ole Miss, a decision that paid off in epic fashion. Not only did he become one of the most effective starting pitchers in the SEC as a freshman, but he also did it on a team that went on to win the national championship, with Elliott pitching into the seventh inning of the clinching game in Omaha. With sharp command of a low-90s heater paired with an excellent changeup, Elliott appeared destined for stardom, and he spent the following summer pitching for Team USA alongside some of the top amateur prospects in the country, including Paul Skenes, Dylan Crews and Wyatt Langford.

Then, as pitchers tend to do, he got hurt. Elliott made just two appearances for Ole Miss as a sophomore before ultimately getting Tommy John surgery in May 2023, which also wiped out the entirety of his junior season in 2024. Despite his having barely pitched since 2022, Elliott’s age (21) inherently indicates him as draft-eligible this summer, and the fact that he is attending the Draft Combine suggests his intention to start his pro career rather than return to Oxford and reassert his prospect status with another spring season against SEC competition. That’s perhaps bad news for the Rebels, but it’s an exciting proposition for MLB fans, who could see a healthy version of Elliott reemerge in pro ball in the not-so-distant future. While it seems awfully unlikely that we’ll see Elliott participate in bullpen sessions this week, his medical reviews and interviews with teams could go a long way toward putting his once high-profile name back on the map.