Cole Tucker was selected with the 24th overall pick in the 2014 MLB draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of Mountain Pointe High in Phoenix. Now six years later, another Tucker has a legitimate shot of being a first-round selection.
Cole’s brother Carson is a senior shortstop at Mountain Pointe and is one of the top prep players in the 2020 MLB draft class. Carson will have a chance to embark on a professional career in June and already is considered a top-100 prospect entering the spring, according to MLB.com.
Despite having to follow his brother, who made it to the major leagues with the Pirates last season, Carson isn’t putting pressure on himself to live up to his brother’s success. Instead, he’s motivated to improve his skills in hopes of having a strong senior season of high school baseball.
“I used it to my advantage,” Carson Tucker said. “It motivates me more. Of course I want to be better than him. I want to do everything better than him. It started when we were younger with little, stupid games around the house. I just want to be better and compete at his level. He’s made it to pro ball and to the majors, and I want to be that guy and the best I can be.”
Carson is skilled and possesses a high ceiling, making him a desirable and intriguing draft prospect. He’s leaned on his older brother for advice throughout the early stages of the draft process and on what to expect in the pro ranks, if he’d bypass his commitment to the University of Texas at Austin and sign with a major league team this summer, he said.
“There is a whole lot of different things you have to look at depending on where you are picked or how much money you’re offered or whether the college route is better,” Tucker said. “Any way that he can help me helps because he’s been through it. Any way that he can help me to put me in the better position to be on TV or in ‘The Show’ and doing my thing is my main goal, whether that’s college or straight out of high school.”
Tucker, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound shortstop, hits from the right side of the plate with an upright stance. He has a short, compact swing and consistently barrels up pitches.
Defensively, he has all the tools to stick at shortstop long term. He has the agility, arm strength and a quick release to make all the necessary throws required at shortstop.
“I think my consistency in the game offensively and defensively is my biggest strength,” Tucker said. “Defensively, I feel like I make the routine plays, and I can make some crazy plays with my athleticism. I feel like I have the skills to be an everyday big league shortstop in the future.”
After his junior season, Tucker had a busy summer competing on the showcase circuit. He played in the Perfect Game National Showcase, MLB High School All-Star Game in Cleveland and the Area Code Games. Besides those three events, he also attended the inaugural PDP League, which is a three-week, invite-only developmental event put on by MLB and USA Baseball at IMG Academy in Florida.
The PDP League features 80 of the top prep players in the country. The event allows the players to compete in a high-level environment that resembles the pro ranks while receiving instruction from former professional players.
Once he was done with the showcase circuit, Tucker turned his attention to the offseason and improving his strength and speed. He currently is more of a gap-to-gap hitter but believes with time, he can add muscle to his frame and improve his power-hitting ability, he said.
Tucker’s top priority is to remain consistent in all facets of the game, and he hopes with his work this offseason that he can have a strong showing this spring.
“I don’t try to be the cool power guy and yank everything because I don’t feel that helps you in the long run,” Tucker said. “I do pull balls and have the juice when I need it, but I think staying simple and consistent is important.”
In about six months, Tucker will have to decide between turning pro or attending Texas, which boasts the top-ranked recruiting class in 2020.
Tucker verbally committed to Texas over Arizona State on Sept. 30, 2018 and signed his national letter of intent Nov. 13. Although playing in his home state was attractive, Texas stood out to Tucker, he said.
“It’s a winning program,” Tucker said. “They have a great history. I fell in love with Austin and the place is sweet. The coaches are amazing. I just thought it was a perfect fit for me to get better and win a national championship over there.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for five years. He’s interviewed 191 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.