Name: Zac Veen
School: Spruce Creek HS, Port Orange, Florida
- Fangraphs THE BOARD: 5
- MLB Pipeline Top 200: 7
- Baseball America Top 500: 7
- Keith Law’s Big Board (The Athletic): 5
Zac Veen has been a baseball rat his entire life. He started hanging around varsity baseball practices at Spruce Creek High in his hometown of Port Orange, Florida when he was six years old. When he officially joined the team in 2017, Veen wasn’t regarded as a significant prospect during his freshman and sophomore years, due mostly to a lack of strength in gangly his 6’4”, 160lb frame. As a sophomore, he was even relegated to the B squad on his travel team. All that changed last year, as off-season spent working out with current Orioles CF and Spruce Creek alum Austin Hays and collegiate players from nearby Stetson university allowed Veen to put on 30lbs of muscle. He went on a power binge during his junior season, including hitting a bomb off Matt Allen, the #1 prep pitcher in last year’s draft class, and moved himself from fringe prospect to potential first rounder. This year, he was one of the few high schoolers to get to play in front of scouts before the season was shut down, and he used the opportunity to flash even more power and to separate himself as the top prep hitter in the class. He’s committed to play ball at Florida, but there’s essentially no chance he makes it to campus.
Veen is a student of the game, and coaches and workout partners rave about his inquisitiveness, baseball IQ, and work ethic. Hays notes that he was routinely outworking pros and high-level college athletes in the gym as a 15-year-old. By all accounts, he has the mental tools to squeeze every drop out of his huge physical talent.
Physically and in terms of his play style, Veen earns comps to Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich. He has the ideal body for a power hitting outfielder, with broad shoulders and long limbs. He looks slim at his current 200lbs, and there’s room for more good weight on his frame. He’s considered a very good but not spectacular athlete by evaluators, and he’s currently a plus runner with an above average, accurate arm from the outfield. He’ll likely lose a step as he fills out, necessitating a move from center field to right, but he should be a good defender there and should hit more than enough for that, or any, position.
Veen’s offensive calling card is a pretty, left-handed swing, starting in a low, wide stance and using his whole body to generate rotational force and explode his hands through the zone, finishing high over his shoulder. His hands are loose and the whole swing looks fluid and natural. He has a natural uppercut that allows him to barrel balls in the air and get to all of his plus power. Scouts note that he has some swing and miss in his game, but his hit tool should play as above average or plus anyway because of his excellent eye for the zone (voted the best among high schoolers in the class by scouting directors surveyed by Baseball America) and ability to make high quality contact. There are other high school players who might narrowly edge him as a pure hitter (Tennesee center fielder Robert Hassell) or have slightly more raw power (Pennsylvania right fielder Austin Hendrick), but Veen is in a tier by himself because he’s among the best at all aspects of hitting, with no holes in his offensive game. He has all the tools post good batting averages with excellent walk rates and power production, allowing him to hit cleanup in a good MLB lineup some day. This video shows him doubling off the top of the wall and homering in back to pack at bats during a showcase last summer, using what appears to be a wood bat.
Keith Law describes Veen as offering “the best combination of probability and upside among high school hitters”, while Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen picks Veen as having the highest ceiling of any player in the draft. As a high schooler, Veen is naturally riskier than college hitters who have long track records against good quality pitching and is also farther away from the majors. He appears to be about as safe as a player in that demographic can get, though, while still possessing sky high upside.
If the Jays want a potential superstar for the latter half of the 2020s and are willing to accept the risk and the longer timelines to get some impact out of this high of a pick, Veen would be an excellent choice. Veen is the only prep player to be linked to the Jays in mock drafts at Baseball America, Fangraphs, MLB Pipeline or The Athletic (Keith Law). The Royals, who have the #4 pick, are rumured to be taking either Veen or Gonzalez unless one of Spencer Torkelson or Austin Martin slides unexpectedly. On the At the Letters Podscast, Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline reports that the Jays are likely to take Veen if he’s on the board at pick #5.