Jaylen Payne (2025, Chandler, AZ)
It’s easy to be bullish on Payne’s hit tool as he performed at a high level in HS and on the tournament circuit. He hit an absurd .484 at PG events in 2023 as it’s such a loose and quick swing where there's some innate barrel accuracy there. It’s also a consistent aggressive approach where he is always on the hunt for pitches to drive early in counts. Then you take into account how he can manufacture hits with his above average speed/athleticism. Of any guys to possibly hit .500 on their senior circuit, Payne would be my guy.
EJ Mayer (2027, Sahuarita, AZ)
It’s hard to find many holes in Mayer’s bat as it's a real smooth, balanced and rhythmic left-handed stroke. In 2023, he hit .380 and in my looks there was minimal swing/miss or chase due to some consistent timing. He seems to always put together professional at bats and tends to find the barrel more often than not. It’s also a wiry frame that I expect to tap into some more power next summer where some of those deep flyouts he had could turn into more XBHs and possibly a few bombs.
Most Likely To Make a Velo Jump Into the Mid-90s in 2024:
Mason Russell, LHP, Queen Creek, AZ
Russell features one of the smoother operations you’ll see on the bump. The left-hander gets out the mound with balance and fluidity, seemingly creating velocity effortlessly. A clean arm action with arm speed present rounds out an impressive delivery. The fastball currently sits in the low-90’s but could very easily make that next jump into the mid-90’s range. Doing so could turn Russell into a highly sought after draft prospect next spring. -TH
James Whitaker, RHP/OF, Las Vegas, NV
Whitaker can provide intriguing power at the plate, but it’s the upside on the mound that gets him mentioned here. The right-hander features advanced arm speed that allows the ball to jump out of the hand. The heater has peaked at 93 mph up to this point, but there are likely a few more ticks there that should allow Whitaker to sit in that mid-90’s range. Continuing to add velocity could turn an impressive profile into an overpowering one quickly. -TH
Jack Lafflam (2025, Scottsdale, AZ)
Lafflam might be the arm I am most excited to watch next spring. It’s not that crazy to think he’ll make the jump into that 93-95 range by next summer as he was consistently in the low 90s at his Area Code Games outing and it’s a tall and wiry 6-foot-4, 170 pound frame that’s pretty easy to dream on. The operation is a loose and fluid one that generates some effortless armspeed and velo. Stuff-wise there are outlier qualities where his fastball has cut/carry shape and he pairs that with an upper 70s (2800+) hammer breaking ball. Besides being likely to reach the mid 90s next year, I think Lafflam has some serious top 50 national upside.
CJ Bott (2024, Scottsdale, AZ)
Bott is just a personal favorite of mine in the ‘24 class as there is a loose easiness to his starter operation. He was 90-92 this past July at PG National and touched a 94 at Area Code Games. He stands with a 6-foot-2, 185 pound frame that can hold for some more. I can easily see that with some efficient weight/strength gains that he can make a sneaky velo jump next spring and possibly touch more consistent 94s and maybe a few 95s. Bott also has a solid arsenal showing a swing and miss depthy/fading changeup that disappears below barrels and a quality slurvy breaker.
Most Likely To Back Up a Breakout in 2023:
Jackson Weber, C/SS, Phoenix, AZ
Weber burst onto the scene by posting an absurd .456/.515/.737 slash line this year. An advanced bat tool carries the profile. The hit tool stands out and power should only continue to get better as Weber gets stronger. There is run-producing upside that is already starting to separate Weber from his peers. Defensively, strong athleticism allows for Weber to handle duties behind the plate and play shortstop. It is a well-rounded profile with both a high-floor and high-ceiling upside. -TH
Joe Forbes, C, Peoria, AZ
Forbes has made his way into the Top-150 in the class of 2025 rankings this year and should only continue to climb. The backstop possesses strong tools on both sides of the ball and can consistently impact games. There is legit power upside at the plate and could profile in the middle of the order long term. Defensively, a strong arm and athletic actions can turn heads. The elements are there Forbes to put together yet another strong campaign next year. -TH
Ky Mcgary (2024, Phoenix, AZ)
Mcgary was one of my favorite ‘23s to watch on the circuit this year and it led to quite the rankings rise as he is going to enter 2024 as a top 100 player in the nation. It’s just outlier twitch and athleticism that you don’t see everyday. The bat was also consistent all summer long where he hit .400 at PG events and took some quality hacks at Area Codes as well. I wouldn’t be surprised with a combination of a strong spring season and a team being bullish on his athletic traits that he ends up a sneaky high draft selection come next summer. -JC
Caleb Danzeisen (2025, Phoenix, AZ)
Danzeisen’s PG World Series was one of the best tournament performances I took in and after it I became pretty convicted in his hit-tool. It’s a simple process for him at the plate where there’s good adjustability and barrel manipulation/accuracy. I have no doubt that he’ll hit for a high avg. this upcoming HS season, but I am interested to see if he taps into more power as well where it’s easy to project some with his physical 6-foot-2, 205-pound build. -JC
Most Likely To Lead the Region in Home Runs in 2024:
Drew Rogers, C, Tempe, AZ
Rogers will get his first taste of Arizona High School baseball this spring and should make some noise immediately. The Georgia Tech commit features a powerful, compact frame with plenty of strength present. That strength can generate massive power and post triple digit exit velocities often. Rogers should be the main driving force in the middle of a talented Hamilton lineup and should launch a fair share of balls over the wall. -TH
Ryan Harwood, OF/1B, Chandler, AZ
Harwood has long been ranked among the top hitters in the 2026 class, due to both an advanced hit tool and strong, powerful frame. While the over-the-fence power has not fully developed consistently during in-game action, it is just a click away. The combination of barrel feel, bat speed, and strength should lead to plenty of hard hit balls this spring and could very easily allow Harwood to challenge for the regional home run title. -TH
(2026, Queen Creek, AZ)
Reynolds is one of the more outlier type athletes in the ‘26 class where he can really move his physical 6-foot-2, 195 pound body. Where his athleticism and strength really shine is in the batter’s box where he really whips the barrel through exhibiting advanced bat speed and power because of some strong/twitchy hands and hips. He hit three bombs last HS season as a freshman and I’m expecting a significant jump next spring as a sophomore. -JC
(2025, Las Vegas, NV)
Bull might have the prettiest swing in the ‘25 class, and it was a swing that performed very well on the PG circuit. He slashed .390/.493/.593 that included strong performances at top national events. Besides the tourneys, it was also the BP show he put on at the PG All-Star Game that was a lot of fun to watch where he sent ball after ball towering over the RF wall showing an innate ability to lift to the pull side with natural carry and jump off the barrel. With some already present juice and a projectable frame that can still add a ton of strength, I’m expecting a large number of bombs next year. -JC