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High School | Rankings | 1/29/2019

Beat goes on for No. 5 BTC

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: CJ Abrams (Perfect Game)

2019 Perfect Game High School Baseball Preview Index


No. 5 Blessed Trinity Catholic Titans (Roswell, Ga.)

State Association/League: Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Class AAAA/Region 7.
Head Coach: Andy Harlin (17th season as head coach).
2018 Results: 34-5 overall; 12-0 Region 7 champion; GHSA AAAA state semifinals.

Key Departures: C Griffin McClure (Belmont Abbey); 3B Mickey Skole (Lake Sumter CC); LHP Clark Dearman (Presbyterian).

Key Returners:
Sr. SS CJ Abrams (Alabama); Sr. RHP Will Macolino (Berry Coll.); Sr. LHP Eric Moore (Emanuel Coll.); Sr. OF Steele Chambers (Ohio St., football); Sr. RHP/INF Jake Smith; Sr. OF Ryan Davis; Jr. RHP/OF Trey Baker; So. RHP/CIF Derek (DJ) Radtke (Auburn).

Notable Matchups:
Feb. 13 at Walton; Feb. 20 at Lambert; Feb. 23 at Cartersville; March 7-9 vs. PG High School Showdown at Hoover, Ala.; April 3-6 vs. USA Baseball National High School Invitational at Cary, N.C.

 

… … …


IN HIS PREVIOUS 16 SEASONS AS THE HEAD COACH
at Blessed Trinity Catholic High School, Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame member Andy Harlin built a program that has become one of the most respected in the state of Georgia and now is getting the national attention it so richly deserves.

BTC has played for a Georgia High School Association (GHSA) state championship four straight years (2014-17) and won titles in 2014 and 2015; the Titans made it to the Class AAAA state semifinals in 2018, just as they did in 2013.

“It’s been a pretty good six-year run,” Harlin told Perfect Game during a recent telephone conversation. “It’s funny how all that works, because when the guys in front of you pave the road for you, nobody wants to be the one to have it drop off.

“We have a lot of seniors who are really good players, including a draft pick in there, and they were all down here 30 to 45 minutes early (for the first day of tryouts). When the young guys see that, it just kind of sets the tone, and I think each class just kind of wants to carry the torch.”

It looks as if the torch is going to be safely carried again this spring, and today the Blessed Trinity Titans are recognized as the No. 5 team in the 2019 Perfect Game High School Preseason National Top 50 Rankings.

This is a team led by senior CJ Abrams, a PG All-American shortstop and Alabama signee ranked as the No. 6 overall prospect in the class of 2019; he is the potential first-round MLB June Amateur Draft pick too whom Harlin referred to. The 18-year-old from Alpharetta, Ga., is a bundle of energy and exuberance who plays the game at a truly elite level.

“He’s like a 6-year-old kid out on the playground at recess; that’s how he plays,” Harlin said. “He’s just so loose and he just loves playing, and you can tell by just watching him; he gets here early, he’s a hard worker during practice.

“When you’ve got that kind of ability you can just beat high school guys because you’re physically better than they are, but he doesn’t take that road. He works very hard defensively, he works very hard offensively, and everything he does is 110 miles-an-hour; he’s an awesome, awesome kid.”

So how does Abrams fit into the fabric of this Blessed Trinity Catholic team, which also includes sophomore right-hander and Auburn commit Derek (DJ) Radtke (No. 151 2021)? Quite well, thank you, and Harlin feels like his core group of six or seven seniors he has coming back are more than capable of leading by example.

Many of them are two- or three- sport athletes – the school has won back-to-back Georgia state football championships and senior outfielder Steele Chambers has accepted a football scholarship at Ohio State – and they’ve all grown up playing various sports together since about the third grade. Harlin calls them “foundation layers.”

Blessed Trinity Catholic is retuning the PG High School Showdown again in early March, an event that the program has enjoyed a great deal of success at: the Titans won the title in 2018 after finishing as runner-up in 2017.The Showdown was held at the LakePoint Complex in Emerson, Ga., the last several years but this year is moving to the Hoover (Ala.) Met Sports Complex.

Harlin said that he was a little concerned initially about the team being able to make the trip to Hoover, but the school’s administration got behind the program and made sure it could be accomplished financially.

“Our kids love playing in it because it’s a first-class operation,” Harlin said. “The facilities, how everything is run as far as the event is covered both with teams and stories on individuals; how (PG) hits on everything blows my mind. It’s a great tournament, great competition.”

After the PGHS Showdown, the Titans return to Class 4A Region 7 play for about two weeks and then will make their first appearance at the USA Baseball National High School Invitational in Cary, N.C., April 3-6.

That invitation is another feather in the program’s cap because the NHSI is truly national in scope – Southern California’s Orange Lutheran HS has won the championship the last two years. The Titans will not be overwhelmed.

“We play the best teams in one of the best states for (high school) baseball,” Harlin said. “We play all the big guys down here, our region is really, really good … and playing in (the PG) tournament, we do it for that reason; there are lessons to be learned. We’re going to see great teams at the Perfect Game tournament and at the Cary tournament but we’ll be used to seeing really good teams.”

When Harlin brought this 2019 team together for the first time this school year, he really didn’t talk much about what the program has accomplished over the last six years especially. It can’t be totally ignored, of course – nor should it be – but all the national recognition and the outside noise that comes with it needs to be blocked out as much as possible.

“It comes down to playing a game … and our focus is on each other and things we have control over; that’s cliché but it’s really true,” he said. “We lock-in from day-one on being a very good fundamental team. We’ll address all the outside stuff but we have no control over that.”



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