CARY, N.C. -- The 2017 Tournament of Stars has now come to a close, with the Pride team beating the Free squad to win the gold medal game, 5-3, on Saturday afternoon thanks largely to a Jeremiah Jackson (St. Lukes Episcopal HS, Mobile, Ala.) three-run home run. In the bronze medal game played in the morning, it was a Tristan Casas (American Heritage HS, Pembroke Pines, Fla.) three-run shot that led the Brave to a 7-2 win over United.
Wins are all well and good, but the Tournament of Stars is all about evaluating players, both for USA Baseball's 18 and under national team and for the scores of scouts on hand for the week. For USA Baseball, the staff now has a strong idea of who will be on the 40-man roster (the official selection show is July 10) that will head to Minneapolis for team trials in August. That will determine the final 18 and under national team that will play in international competition in Canada this September.
For the scouting industry, it's just another step on the summer showcase circuit. There's the Under Armour All-America Game in Chicago on July 29, the East Coast Pro Showcase Aug. 1-4, the Area Code Games right after that and the Perfect Game All-American Classic. That, of course, doesn't include the Cape Cod and other college leagues going on this summer.
While USA Baseball has made its choices, performances at the TOS are just one piece in the ever-widening puzzle teams put together between now and next year's Draft. The general consensus was that this group of high schoolers was a particularly strong one, better than recent Tournament of Stars' pools overall. The pitching really stood out, but there were some outstanding position players as well.
The following is a Top 15 (with the players ranked 16-20 only mentioned by name) list based largely on performance during the week here at the National Training Complex, though overall prospect stock was figured in as well. Only Class of 2018 players were considered, though both Bobby Witt Jr. and Rece Hands, 2019 graduates, did excel.
1. Ethan Hankins, RHP, Forsyth Central HS (Cumming, Ga.): The 6-foot-6 right-hander threw three hitless innings and struck out four with a fastball that touched 95 mph consistently. More importantly, though, he showed a better breaking ball (though it still needs refinement) than he had shown previously.
2. Ryan Weathers, LHP, Loretto (Tenn.) HS: The son of former big leaguer David Weathers, Ryan has not done a ton of showcases in the past by design. He didn't disappoint here as the southpaw used a 92-95 mph fastball to put up four scoreless innings. Weathers has good deception in his delivery and a solid feel for pitching.
3. Jarred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha (Wisc.) West HS: Thought to be one of the best high school bats in the country, Kelenic wasn't particularly productive the first couple of days of the tournament, but then singled and homered on Thursday. He also plays a solid defense with a good arm in the outfield.
4. Kumar Rocker, RHP, North Oconee HS (Watkinsville, Ga.): Rocker was overpowering in his outing, striking out five over four hitless innings. His fastball, as expected, was 92-95 mph, and he reached back for more on occasion. But his breaking ball, a slider, was much better than had been previously advertised.
5. Brice Turang, SS, Santiago HS (Corona, Calif.): When you're considered the top player in the Draft class, it's very tough to live up to expectations. Turang's performance was so-so, but he did show an advanced approach at the plate, with some very good at-bats, and outstanding athleticism up the middle.
6. Jonathan Childress, LHP, Forney (Tex.) HS: Childress probably had the best breaking ball of the tournament, an outstanding curve that was responsible for most of the six strikeouts he racked up in his four innings. He commanded his 90-91 mph fastball well and mixed in some effective changeups as well.
7. Mike Siani, OF, William Penn Charter (Glenside, Pa.): Siani didn't swing the bat all that well, and that is a concern for some scouts, but he showed off his plus speed with three steals and his plus-plus arm from the outfield.
8. Anthony McNair-Seigler, C, Cartersville (Ga.) HS: McNair-Seigler can actually switch-pitch, but he stood out at the TOS as a backstop. He had a strong performance at the plate (he's also a switch-hitter) and also showed strong receiving skills behind it.
9. Will Banfield, C, Brookwood HS (Lawrenceville, Ga.): Banfield's performance didn't jump off the page, but he showed why he's considered a top prospect by doing everything -- at the plate and behind it -- well.
10. Simeon Richardson, RHP, IH Kempner HS (Houston): Richardson was athletic with a clean delivery, firing 90-93 mph fastballs and mixing in 76-77 mph breaking balls effectively over four innings of one-hit shutout ball.
11. Austin Wells, C, Bishop Gorman HS (Henderson, Nev.): Wells was impressive both at the plate, with a solid approach, and behind it, with quick pop times that allowed him to throw out a few runners trying to steal.
12. Slade Cecconi, RHP, Trinity Prep (Oviedo, Fla.): Cecconi opened eyes with some serious arm strength, touching 96 mph early in his outing. His slow curve is a work in progress, though there is some feel to spin the ball.
13. Adrian Del Castillo, C, Gulliver Prep (Miami): Not everyone loved his receiving ability, though he does have a strong arm, but he stood out more for his at-bats and his power from the left side of the plate.
14. John Ginn, RHP, Brandon (Miss.) HS: Not as "famous" as others in attendance, Ginn definitely put himself more firmly on the map by hitting 97 mph, the hardest thrown fastball of the tournament. His 83-85 mph slider was an effective secondary offering.
15. Alek Thomas, OF, Chicago Mount Carmel HS: It remains to be seen just what kind of pro prospect Thomas turns out to be, but the athletic outfielder committed to TCU for both baseball and football, impressed with his hit tool throughout the week.
The next five: Triston Casas, 1B, American Heritage HS (Pembroke Pines, Fla.); Elijah Cabell, OF, Winter Park (Fla.) HS; Mike Vasil, RHP, Boston College HS (Wellesley, Mass.), Cole Wilcox, RHP, Heritage HS (Chickamauga, Ga.); Lineras Torres, RHP, Beacon (N.Y.) HS