As high school baseball is starting to get going across the country in most regions, with some states actually heading into the playoffs, it all means the summer circuit is right around the corner. Over the next several weeks we will look at the top-ranked players at each position, in each class, while also taking a look at some gut-feel players that could be big risers. With players having more access to individual development, things will undoubtably change at a rapid pace in the early months of the Perfect Game schedule. This provides a good look at some of the top performers coming into 2021 who look primed to continue dominance or make their mark on a national level.
Class of 2022: Catchers | Corner Infield
Class of 2023: Catchers | Corner Infield
Class of 2024: Catchers | Corner Infield
Class of 2025: Catchers
Vaughn Neckar, 3B, (Calif.)
PG Events: 7
Key Stats: .321-1-11/12 K in 8.2 IP in ‘21
Short Story: Already physically imposing for a 14-year-old at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Neckar is one of the more impressive two-ways to pop already on the national circuit, climbing up to No. 20 in the latest ’25 rankings update. Right now it’s a flip of the coin depending who you ask as to where his future home may ultimately be as Neckar is already running his fastball up to 86 mph, but also shows a quick and powerful right-handed swing that has helped him collect eight extra-base hits already this spring.
Big Moment: Prior to his showing at the California Workout Camp, Neckar had done just two PG events in his career, though his name was already circulating as one of the tops on the West Coast. Jump to the end of his performance in Irvine and the talent was readily clear as he was up to 84 mph with his fastball as part of a three-pitch mix while showing some of the aforementioned power in his round of BP as well.
Bold Prediction: The 2025 class has some legitimate two-way players who college coaches will be honing in on over the next couple of years and Neckar is quickly establishing himself as one to know. His fastball velocity is already up from that showing in Irvine, bumping 86 mph in each of his last two outings, already punching out 12 in 8 2/3 innings of work.
Dayson Griffis, 3B, (Ga.)
PG Events: 17
Key Stats: .460/.562/1.375 PG career slash
Short Story: Griffis is similar to Neckar above, in that time will tell where he ultimately calls home, already excelling with the bat as his career slash suggests, but also brings an eye-opening arsenal to the bump. Currently ranked No. 26 in the country, Griffis is comfortable in the dirt, moving around with balance while possessing obvious arm strength, working in the mid- to upper-80s, both across the diamond as well as on the mound. Offensively he remains short to the ball and incorporates his physical strength well, generating some pop off the bat with even more to unlock.
Big Moment: Griffis has continued to build off each subsequent appearance at PG events, his most recent a four-inning performance at the 14u Florida Elite in which he punched out eight and worked comfortably in the 82-85 mph range with sinking life. Despite his age, Griffis is already showing three pitches for strikes as he lands his breaking ball for strikes and turns over a quality changeup with mimicked arm speed.
Bold Prediction: His career numbers across the board, on both sides of the ball, stand out and given his success early this circuit season, there’s little reason to believe things are going to change. Playing for one of the top 14u clubs in the country once again this summer, the young Georgia native will have plenty of opportunities to showcase his talents on the big tournament stages.
Kaemyn Franklin, 3B, (Okla.)
College Commitment: Oklahoma
PG Events: 3
Key Stats: .500/.538/1.205 slash to open 2021
Short Story: Franklin was one of the first players in the 2025 class to give his verbal commitment to a collegiate program, deciding to stay close to home with the University of Oklahoma, who has done an excellent job recruiting young talent as of late. At 6-foot-2, 155 pounds, Franklin has near limitless projection and looks to be one of the next big talents from a storied high school program in Broken Arrow.
Big Moment: Franklin may not have that one big moment just yet in his PG career per say, given his relatively short track record in PG events, but he’s rostered for several this tournament and has already taken advantage of the ones we’ve seen him in early this spring. He earned All-Tournament Team honors from the 14u Florida Select for both pitching and hitting, putting his quick right arm on display as he was up to 83 mph before hitting an impressive .667 at last month’s Super Regional NIT event.
Bold Prediction: There’s not much to be bold about as the talent is evident, given he has already committed to a major Power 5 program. But like some of the others we’ve talked about both last week and in this article, Franklin will look to leave his mark on the national scene this upcoming summer and reaffirm his lofty No. 37 ranking in the country.
Donavan Jeffrey, 1B, (Va.)
PG Events: 13
Key Stats: .417/.516/1.099 slash in 2021
Short Story: Just in case you miss Jeffrey out on the field with his physical 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame, you’ll quickly notice him after a single swing or two in the middle of the order, and he knows how to utilizes his physicality and whip the barrel through the zone. Power is the name of his game, but don’t think he can’t handle the barrel either, driving the ball with regularity to all parts of the field. He also moves around the bag well, playing either corner infield spot with balanced and under control actions.
Big Moment: It’s still early, but it looks like Jeffrey has upped the ante with his offensive performance early this spring, already going two-for-two in all-tournament team nods, hitting .364 and .462, respectively. Perhaps it was the Fall Atlantic Coast Showcase where he was able to truly break out, connecting for consistent loud contact, both in BP and live action.
Bold Prediction: Jeffrey, currently the top-ranked first baseman in the country, will only further tap into his power potential at the plate. Last season he connected for two long balls and if the barrel accuracy he has shown thus far in 2021 remains a constant, he should be depositing a couple more souvenirs over the fence.
Evan Hankins, 1B, (Va.)
PG Events: 11
Key Stats: .383-3-41, 1.210 OPS in ‘20
Short Story: There’s nothing short about Hankins, who already stands at a hulking 6-foot-4, 200 pounds and he’ll only get stronger by the time he graduates high school. Offensively, he looks the part of a middle-of-the-order threat, and he has the production to back it up as the young Virginia native is coming off a big 2020 circuit. Despite his size, he moves around the first base bag well with athleticism and has also been up to 82 mph on the bump.
Big Moment: His entire 2020 summer season. Rather than pick one moment, we’ll lump the whole summer together as he hit an impressive .383 with three home runs and 41 RBI en route to earning 13u First Team All-Tournament honors. The big left-handed stick looks to impact the baseball with every pass through the zone and when he connects, the ball jumps off his barrel as hard as anybody in the class.
Bold Prediction: Hankins’ swing is geared to hitting for power and given that he’s 15 pounds stronger than he was at last summer’s inaugural 13u National Showcase, you should expect to see the ball jump even harder this circuit.
Kelvyn Paulino Jr, 3B, (N.C.)
PG Events: 22
Key Stats: .450-4-54, 17 stolen bases in ‘20
Short Story: Just look at the stats. Paulino is a career .438 hitter in Perfect Game events and that’s not an inflated number due to a minuscule number of at-bats as it’s quite the opposite, logging 131 of them last summer/fall alone. He gets the barrel through the zone well and there’s obvious hand-eye coordination as well as sound actions on the other side of the ball, manning the hot corner with clean hands and carry on his throws.
Big Moment: There was rarely a tournament where Paulino wasn’t on the all-tournament team, picking up eight such honors last summer, which speaks to his summer as a whole. He showed well with the stick at last year’s 13u National Showcase, putting an extended and leveraged path on display, already showing some impact strength to his pull side with wood, perhaps a precursor to this summer’s action.
Bold Prediction: Paulino is now listed at 6-foot, 175 pounds, up an inch or two and some 15-20 pounds from the 13u National, and that added strength and length should show up in his offensive firepower as we already know he can handle the barrel.
Ethan Porter, 3B, (Calif.)
PG Events: 13
Key Stats: .323 career hitter, 20 K in 11.2 IP in ‘21
Short Story: Porter has showed off some two-way potential both last season and early this spring, already striking out 20 in just over 11 innings of work while running his fastball up to 84 mph, sporting cut action to it. It’s with the bat however that Porter has made perhaps his loudest impression, showing intriguing strength off of the barrel from both sides, with the left-handed swing quickly catching up to the right side, something he just brought into action within the last year.
Big Moment: The 14u Vegas Super Regional NIT event at the beginning of the month possessed a talented field but that didn’t slow Porter down by any means on either side of the ball. Logging five innings on the mound for the Canes West, Porter punched out nine and allowed just two hits while topping out at 84 mph. Offensively the Californian hit a robust .636 with a pair of triples while driving in 11 runs, setting the stage for what could be an impressive summer season.
Bold Prediction: The left-handed swing will continue to make big strides for Porter, especially given that a majority of his reps this year will come from that side of the plate as dictated by the opposing arm. Both the offense and his abilities on the mound will continue to play at a high level, especially if the velocity keeps climbing like it has early this spring.
Kade Kisz, 3B, (Ga.)
PG Events: 25
Key Stats: .399 career hitter, .378 to open ‘21
Short Story: Since 2018, .348 is Kisz’s lowest career batting average over his Perfect Game career, a span that covers over 200 at-bats at a high level while serving as one of the top hitters on a loaded East Cobb Astros club. Kisz, a strongly built 6-foot, 170 pounds, picks up hits by the handful in a tournament setting, showing a refined and balanced approach at the plate with solid bat-to-ball skills as he works the ball around to all fields while living on a linear plane.
Big Moment: Kisz took home MVP honors from the Spring Season Opener this past February, slashing an impressive .545/.643/1.643 in the tournament en route to finding himself atop the Top Performers leaderboard as well. With two doubles, a triple and seven RBI, Kisz will look to use that performance as a spring board into a loud and productive summer.
Bold Prediction: Kisz already shows the type of feel for finding the barrel you don’t always find at the 14u level and it’s only a matter of time before those doubles start carrying over the fence. Already rostered for several high level events, we’ll be seeing plenty of Kisz as he’s a pivotal piece on a talented East Cobb roster.
Zach Strickland, 3B, (Calif.)
PG Events: 7
Key Stats: 17 IP/31 K in ‘21
Short Story: Listed as a primary switching-hitting third baseman who has already connected for a few doubles this spring, the athletic Strickland brings athleticism and ample arm speed to the mound, showing big upside on the mound. Strickland has already logged 17 innings this spring, a span in which he has struck out 31, walked just eight and scattered seven base hits while running his fastball up to 88 mph, one of the better heaters in the class at this point. In his last five tournament appearances dating back to June of 2020, Strickland has seen a consistent spike in velocity each appearance: 78 mph to 82, 83, 86 and most recently 88 mph.
Big Moment: It’s hard to ignore what the ultra-projectable 6-foot, 145-pound Strickland did in Irvine at the SoCal Showdown as the right-hander went five innings of one-hit ball, striking out 12 while issuing a pair of walks. He was in complete control from the first pitch of the game, firing fastballs in the 83-88 mph range with running life to his arm side while mixing in both a changeup and curveball throughout.
Bold Prediction: Strickland will continue to swing it at the plate and let his athleticism play in the infield, but he’ll continue to establish himself as one of the top arms in the country throughout the summer. With the low-effort release and overall simplicity of his operation, Strickland is nowhere near reaching his ceiling.
Names to Know
Fabian Gomez, 1B, (Calif.)
A long, lean, and loose left-handed stick, Gomez really opened some eyes during his round of batting practice at the NorCal Workout Camp, providing a glimpse of what’s to come as he continues to fill out his 6-foot-1, 155-pound frame. He does a nice job of getting the barrel extended out front, shifting his weight through with balance while working to the gaps with back spun line drives, showing the starting blocks of a potential big-time power bat.
Max Murray, 3B, (Fla.)
Murray plays for the storied Orlando Scorpions program, meaning we’ll have plenty of chances to watch him develop over the next handful of years. Already physically built at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, Murray shows intriguing juice from the left side of the plate, but maybe even more potential on the mound given the looseness and ease of which he operates, generating nice life on his fastball which currently works in the low-80s.
Luke Craddock, 1B, (Va.)
Craddock made the trip down to Fort Myers for the 14u Main Event Showcase and quickly put his right-handed strength on display, both during his round of BP as well as with his in-game swings. Listed at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, the young Virginia native swings with plenty of intent, staying short and direct to the ball with intriguing jump off the barrel to the middle and pull-side parts of the field.
Bleau Kennedy, 3B, (Tenn.)
Kennedy is another strongly built, physical corner bat, already listed at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds and he shows the ability to unlock that strength on both sides of the ball. A right-handed hitter, Kennedy generates plenty of bat speed through the zone, showing jump off the barrel while working to all fields. There's also arm strength to his profile as Kennedy was up to 84 mph this past December at the 14u Main Event Showcase.