Create Account
Sign in Create Account
High School  | Rankings  | 12/4/2023

Class of 2028 Ranking Movers

Jheremy Brown     
Photo: Striker Pence (Perfect Game)
Full Class of 2028 Rankings

“Any time we release an initial ranking for the class coming off of their 13u summers, 2028s in this case, it can’t be overstated enough just how much these are going to change not only by the time they are seniors in high school, but most likely in the next update a mere month or two from now.”

I had the sentence above written as I originally planned on doing this article post-initial release of the ’28 rankings but now post-first update, let’s take a look at some of the risers instead as most of the top-10 remained the same, though there were two new entrants. Along with checking in on the small shakeup within the top-10, we’ll also break down some of the bigger risers within the top-50 of which there was plenty. 

And for those who say “why are you ranking kids so young?”, why not? These players are talented far beyond belief compared to your average 13u player and put in just as much work as the players at the 17u level in terms of training and traveling a summer national circuit, so why not just familiarize yourself with some of these names and track their progress over the next handful of years?

Jump back to the 2020 13u National Showcase, the first time we held the event, and amongst the top graded players you’ll see plenty of familiar names including one of the top prospects in all of baseball in San Diego Padres catching prospect Ethan Salas, one of 5 players who earned a 9 and Carter Smith, a two-time Select Festival alum who recently committed to Michigan for football as a 4-star recruit. 

Undoubtedly things are going to change. Bodies continue to transform, skills are refined, players pop up who are still playing locally, others will inevitably join the class from the 2029 group while others will move up to the 2027 class, should 2024 crop serve as any indication of things to come, as the long-term picture becomes a little clearer. 

The initial rankings drop had a national list of 75 players and has since jumped to 120 names, led by a now three-time Select Festivaler in Dexter McCleon Jr., a top of the class athlete with 6.8 speed, outstanding bat speed and an upper-80s fastball. Luke Esquivel, co-MVP of this year’s 13u Festival and 13u National Pitcher of the Year, and Reggie Marshall are the lone two commitments in the class (Esquivel to LSU, Marshall with Louisville) as they gave their verbal prior to rule change, though come August 1st of 2027 these player’s phones will be ringing off the hook from schools all around the country.

TL;DR: these rankings will change and yes they’re young, but enjoy the talent that’s already been identified following a busy 13u circuit for the Class of 2028.

Joel Vargas, OF, San Diego, Calif.
New Rank: No. 3 | Prior Rank: 16

Vargas quite literally hit his way into the 13u Select Festival this past summer after strong performances on the circuit and 13u National Showcase and nothing has changed since he arrived home from Knoxville. The San Diego native continued to show off a balanced and fluid right-handed stroke, consistently putting the barrel to the baseball and doing so with way more authority than you might think. He’s plenty athletic in the outfield as he moves around with looseness, but there’s no doubting what he’s capable of doing in the batter’s box as we’ve seen over the past year and it’s a big reason for his rise all the way up to No. 3 in the nation. 

Striker Pence, RHP, Corona, Calif.
New Rank: No. 10 | Prior Rank: 15

It’s a smaller jump of just five spots for Pence and though he’s listed as a primary third baseman, the upside on the mound is far too loud to ignore or put on the backburner. Cracking into the top 10, the 6-foot-3 Pence possesses one of the biggest fastballs in the class as he pumped 89 mph this fall, a mark that continues to climb in nearly every outing. Even more scary for opposing hitters is the continued refinement he shows on the mound, pounding the strike zone at a steady clip while mixing in a hard, late biting slider in the upper-70s for whiffs. 

Anthony Huaranga, SS, Nutley, N.J.
New Rank: No. 26 | Prior Rank: 41

Wherever he ends up playing on the diamond -he’s also been up to 83 mph on the mound- it’ll be Huaranga’s left-handed swing that’ll be leading the way at the forefront of his prospect profile. A known name heading into the 14u National All-State Games, the New Jersey native clearly took his game to the next level while in Texas as he couldn’t get out if he tried, sending hard barrels all over the field while collecting a multitude of extra-base hits. The physicality on his 6-foot frame plays as the ball jumps off of the barrel with authority to both gaps while whipping the barrel through the zone with an effortless stroke. 

Drew Jackson, LHP, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
New Rank: No. 31 | Prior Rank: 46

Jackson was a consistent performer on the circuit last summer for the TG DBacks, showing some of the better pitchability and overall feel for spinning the baseball. Jump to this fall however and the velocity is starting to climb from that 81 mph mark to 83 mph pretty steadily, bumping upwards of 85 mph at the National All-State Games. Facing off against a loaded SoCal lineup that was chalk-full of high-end talent, Jackson worked 5 innings, a span in which he struck out 10. There’s no doubting the velocity will continue to climb as he should be sitting in the mid-80s come summertime which’ll pair well with a curveball that has long been a difference maker as he spins it with authority, generating solid shape through the zone. 

Isaias Torres, 3B, Oviedo, Fla.
New Rank: 33 | Prior Rank: HF

Torres launched himself up the rankings with a strong showing this fall, jumping from a High Follow to No. 33 in the country and as he continues to add strength to his long 6-foot-2 frame, it’s a mark that might only continue to jump. Not only does he have the size, but his left-handed swing is already proving to play at a high level as we saw in West Palm during the WWBA Freshman event where he played up an age group and still managed to hit .500 with 6 knocks, one of which was a no-doubt blast to his pull side, helping him gather some of his 10 RBI on the week. He’s also an accomplished arm on the mound, already up to 84 mph with consistent performances across the circuit, making him a true two-way threat this upcoming summer. 

Anthony Frausto III, LHP, New Braunfuls, Texas
New Rank: 44 | Prior Rank: 71

Players develop at different times and that jump, especially in velo on the mound, can come at any moment, something we saw with Frausto during the National All-State Games where he comfortably sat in the 82-85 mph range with his heater from the left side. Of course, a lefty working into the mid-80s at 13 is enough to draw up interest but when you factor in the life, angle and overall ease of the operation, Frausto should continue to put up impressive performance after impressive performance. The jump in velo was a considerable one when you look at his numbers from the 13u National Showcase, but also a testament to the work he’s put in since while also providing some foresight on things to come. 

Sam Smith, OF, Portland, Ore.
New Rank: 47 | Prior Rank: 74

Smith isn’t the most physical of players yet, but given his age, it’s something that’ll certainly come and doesn’t inhibit what he brings to the table already. Jumping up the board roughly 30 spots, the left-handed hitting Smith brings all the components to the table that you look for in a young leadoff hitter, from the foot speed (7.17 60-yard at the 13u National) to the solid bat-to-ball skills, already showing a sound approach while also generating some leverage in his stroke. It's a repeatable swing and he looks to put the ball in play, something he’s done regularly while showing his athleticism to the outfield with sound actions nad a strong arm. 

Liam Skeen, RHP, Big Stone Gap, Va.
New Rank: 48 | Prior Rank: T1000

Skeen doesn’t have nearly the track record like most of the other players within the top-50 and if not for his September outing in Sanford, the top velocity on his profile would’ve read as 67 mph from 2021. That said, it’s safe to say Skeen has developed some since ’21 as the fastball worked comfortably in the 84-86 mph range en route to striking out 8 over a pair of appearances. There’s a lot to like, from the simplicity of his operation to the arm speed and quality shape to the breaker,  and if what he showed in September is a sign of things to come, then he’ll be a name to watch for sure this summer.