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Tournaments  | Story  | 12/8/2022

PG/Rawlings Finest in the Field: 2026

Tyler Russo     
Photo: Perfect Game
Perfect Game/Rawlings Finest in the Field: 2023 | 2024 | 2025

Pos. Name High School Hometown State
P CJ Sampson Tomball Tomball Texas
C Brady Murrietta Orange Lutheran Yorba Linda Calif.
1B Ryan Harwood Casteel Chandler Ariz.
MIF Alex Harrington Cathedral Catholic San Diego Calif.
MIF Grady Emerson Argyle Argyle Texas
3B Keon Johnson First Presbyterian Day Macon Ga.
OF Deion Cole Etowah Acworth Ga.
OF Brady Harris Trinity Christian Academy St. Augustine Fla.
OF Lorenzo Laurel Marjory Stoneman Douglas Coral Springs Fla.
UTL Rouselle "Rookie" Shepard Faith Lutheran North Las Vegas Nev.

Pitcher: CJ Sampson, Tomball High School (Tomball, Texas)
It’s obviously hard to gauge what a pitcher’s defensive impact on the diamond looks like, but if there’s anyone that does a ton of things right, it’s Sampson. If you start with the pure ability to throw strikes, nobody does it better as he walked just FOUR hitters in 66 innings with over 100 strikeouts, down from his six walks in 50 innings last year. Add in the fact that he’s also a legit high-end Division I prospect as a left-handed hitting infielder, and this becomes an easy choice.

Catcher: Brady Murrietta, Orange Lutheran (Yorba Linda, Calif.)
A young backstop committed to the University of Texas, Murrietta has all the components to not just stick behind the dish at the highest level, but give serious defensive impact. He’s very flexible in his crouch and receives good arms well as a result and the catch-and-throw skill is among the best we saw in this class on a regular basis. There’s athleticism that shows across the entirety of the profile and the components here are what you look for in a young catcher.

First Base: Ryan Harwood, Casteel High School (Chandler, Ariz.)
It’s tough to gauge the first base position at this age, given a lot of these players have yet to be pigeonholed into being one, but Harwood is the top primary in the country right now and even he has a good bit more versatility than it. He’s a good athlete with very explosive tools, having shown arm strength in the low-90s around the diamond already, and his overall handle of the game paired with the athleticism/components give him a chance to be a true impact defender.

Middle Infield: Alex Harrington, Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, Calif.)
Harrington brings about as much energy to the game as anyone in the country and it certainly translates to his defensive impact. He’s an extremely high-end athlete who runs a 6.41 in the 60-yard right now, and that athleticism really translates to his lateral range and quickness at the premier position, and he’s got great balance/hands. There’s plenty enough arm for the left side as he still projects to a ton more long term, and the overall actions are just crisp and high-end.

Middle Infield: Grady Emerson, Argyle High School (Argyle, Texas)
It’s been clear for a few years now that Emerson does a ton of things right, and he’s been very impressive on the defensive end at a number of stops. The profile starts with the bat as he’s shown one of the prettier left-handed swings in the country with highest-level barrel skills, but he does it while playing a premier position at shortstop. It’s good range paired with high IQ at the spot and excellent glove work while the arm plays well from there now and projects great.

Third Base: Keon Johnson, First Presbyterian Day (Macon, Ga.)
Johnson has the overall athleticism and feel for the shortstop position, but for the sake of this and what his long-term projection may be, he slots in at third base. He was the 14u Player of the Year for what he has done as a whole on the circuit, starting with the bat, but he’s got a shot to be an impact defender on the left side. He’s got a big arm, good glove, excellent range and balance through the process and his capabilities in game action showed up all year long.

Outfield: Deion Cole, Etowah High School (Acworth, Ga.)
Cole has been one of this classes’ top prospects for some time now and his versatility on the defensive end certainly contributes alongside the big bat. He’s another higher-end athlete in every facet and he makes a lot of things look easy. He’s moved to being a primary outfielder and is very fluid out there with arm strength into the upper-80s, but he can also still hold his own on the dirt and even can pick it a good bit over at first base if he’s needed to fill in there.

Outfield: Brady Harris, Trinity Christian Academy (St. Augustine, Fla.)
Manning the center of the outfield on this list, Harris might be the best defensive outfielder in the country when you consider the entirety of the profile out there. It’s as comfortably a true center field profile as any right now with quality run times, efficient routes and good reads off the bat that allow the quickness to play into even more gap-to-gap range. While he glides and has high defensive IQ, he’s also got upper-80s arm strength that has climbed fast the last year.

Outfield: Lorenzo Laurel, Marjory Stoneman Douglas (Coral Springs, Fla.)
You’re not going to find a bigger arm or really more explosive athlete maybe ever at this age than what Laurel has shown us on the diamond. He’s 6-foot, 175 pounds and can put balls out of the yard with consistency, but the arm strength up to 95, yes you read that right, that he showed at the 14u National Showcase is absurd. He’s an easy mover in the grass with clean routes and is a good enough runner right now to get to balls but the arm is what’s really the weapon out there.

Utility: Rouselle "Rookie" Shepard, Faith Lutheran High School (North Las Vegas, Nev.)
It’s no surprise that Rookie is on this list somewhere as he’s the top prospect in the class and it isn’t necessarily the tools that jump out, it’s the all-around feel for the game that does. He’s a really talented left-handed hitter with highest level barrel skills, but his versatility has taken a really big step up defensively. He plays the dirt at a strong level with good range, hands and a balanced process, but he has started playing behind the dish a bit, like he did in the Festival, and has really held his own back there with good receiving skills and his high-level leadership.