High School | General | 3/3/2021

Preview: PG High School Showdown

Colton Olinger         Tyler Russo        
Photo: James Wood (Perfect Game)
PG High School Showdown Event Page

Bob Jones Patriots (Madison, Ala.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Max Soliz (C, 2021, 139)
Slate Alford (3B, 2021, 208)
Thomas Ballard (RHP, 2021, 500)
Gracin Wilson (SS, 2022, T1000)
JW Hopkins (1B, 2022, T1000)

The Patriots will once again lace up for this event as a member of our Preseason National Top 50, this time checking in at No. 40 and looking to improve upon their semifinal appearance a year ago. They have a pair of SEC-bound senior bats in Max Soliz (Arkansas) and Slate Alford (Mississippi State) who bring big-time offensive tools to the core, while a heavy dose of fellow seniors and juniors round out what sets up to be a deep lineup. Thomas Ballard, signed with UAB, slots in as the staff ace as he can run it into the low-90s already and should draw some attention when he takes the mound at the event. 

Buford Wolves (Buford, Ga.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Dylan Lesko (RHP/SS, 2022, 2)
Riley Stanford (OF/RHP, 2022, 17)
Brant Baughcum (SS, 2022, 172)
Treyton Rank (RHP, 2021, 341)
Jackson Gaspard (SS/RHP, 2022, 379)

Coming off a runner-up finish at this event a year ago, the No. 4 ranked Buford Wolves bring back one of the top rosters in the entire country and have a great chance to improve upon that finish. Junior Dylan Lesko (Vanderbilt), who threw a no-hitter at last year’s Showdown, is the top-ranked right-hander in the country and headlines a staff that also contains Riley Stanford (Georgia Tech), Treyton Rank (Florida State), Jackson Brockett (Nebraska) and a handful of two-way prospects. Lesko and Stanford play a big part on the offensive end too, and pair well in the lineup with guys like Brant Baughcum (Georgia Tech), Jackson Gaspard (Georgia Tech), Nathan Smith (Tennessee), Connor Sampers (Wofford) and Stan Zagrodnik (Wofford).

Carrollton Trojans (Carrollton, Ga.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Samuel Simpson (RHP, 2021, 320)
Garrett Madliak (C, 2021, 384)
Eli Runyan (LHP, 2021, 500)
Colton Cosper (LHP, 2021, 500)
Parker Willis (SS, 2021, 500)

Carrollton had an outstanding start to their 2020 season, with a perfect 13-0 record prior to the shutdown, and have picked up right where they left off here early this spring. The Trojans come to the Showdown with many of the same players they were successful with a year ago, which includes an experienced pitching staff led by seniors Samuel Simpson (South Carolina), Eli Runyan (South Alabama) and Colton Cosper (Mercer). Senior catcher Garrett Madliak (Georgia) brings good pop to the heart of the order while guys like Parker Willis (Southern Union State CC), the aforementioned pitchers, and numerous underclassmen give the lineup some athletic depth. 

Cartersville Hurricanes (Cartersville, Ga.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Micah Earwood (RHP, 2021, 500)
Davis Williams (SS, 2021, T1000)
Hank Smith (C, 2022, T1000) 

Cartersville is back at the Showdown again, and although they graduated near double-digit numbers from the team that made the playoffs here a year ago, they return a good chunk of the lineup’s core and all but one of the pitchers that threw innings in Hoover last year. Senior Micah Earwood (Georgia State) will serve as the staff ace once again after an outstanding year on the tournament circuit, while fellow senior Mason McBee (Coastal Alabama CC) and a multitude of junior arms should give them options on the mound. Curtis Bonner, Hank Smith and Parker McPherson all hit in the heart of the order at some point during last year’s tournament and they’ll be back looking to provide the same good production as they take on some familiar faces in the pool play round.

Central Red Devils (Phenix City, Ala.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Tyler Haines (RHP, 2021, 500)
Will Cannon (RHP, 2021, 500)
Jax Yoxtheimer (OF, 2023, High Follow)

Central has found their stride early this spring, off to a 10-0 start, and has been averaging over seven runs per game while holding their opponents to right around three. On the mound, senior right-handers Tyler Haines (Mississippi State) and Will Cannon (Georgia State) should each see a start for the Red Devils which should give head coach AJ Kehoe confidence as each of them posted a sub-1.00 WHIP over the summer on the travel circuit. Outfielder Jax Yoxtheimer is a projectable underclass prospect with plenty of length in his 6-foot-4 frame and the athleticism to play multiple positions defensively, which should be beneficial on a roster full of up-the-middle defensive talents. 

Chelsea Hornets (Chelsea, Ala.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Connor Ball (LHP, 2021, 500)
Brock Hill (RHP, 2021, 500)
Reid Gongwer (LHP, 2021, T1000)
Andrew Floyd (MIF, 2022, T1000)

Chelsea will come into the event with confidence in the top end of their pitching staff as Connor Ball (Alabama), Brock Hill (South Alabama) and Reid Gongwer (South Alabama) have all logged multiple starts for the Hornets. At the back end of the bullpen, junior Andrew Floyd appears to be the guy as he is comfortable challenging hitters with a mid-80s fastball that he is capable of running up to 89 mph. The experience of that group specifically should be very beneficial as they look to make a strong impression in their first High School Showdown appearance, but the overall experience of having a roster made solely of juniors and seniors is invaluable when it comes to winning games.

Cullman Bearcats (Cullman, Ala.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Brennen Norton (3B, 2021, T1000)
Hayden Stancil (SS, 2022, T1000)
Paxton Ponder (SS, 2023, T1000)

Cullman is returning to the Showdown for the fifth-straight year, now four years removed from their best finish back in 2017 when they took third place. The Bearcats come into this year's event with a trio of talented infielders of a variety of experience levels. Senior infielder Brennen Norton (Jacksonville State) brings plenty of versatility to the lineup as a switch-hitter with the ability to play all over the field and will be joined on the infield by junior Hayden Stancil and sophomore Paxton Ponder, who both have shown the capability to play up the middle of the diamond. Their roster is one of the bigger ones at the event which should give them plenty of options when it comes to lineup construction and who to go to in big spots on the mound.

Daphne Trojans (Daphne, Ala.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Jackson Howard
(1B, 2022, 500)
Eli Zielinski (LHP, 2022, T1000)
Dominick Castronova (RHP, 2021, Follow)

Daphne comes into the Showdown this year led by their younger talent with only three seniors on the roster, and due to last year's shortened season, this year's Trojan club will be gaining valuable experience at the Showdown. What they lack in terms of experience in a deep senior class they make up for in the talent of their junior class with 10 juniors on this year's roster. Junior Jackson Howard (South Alabama) will bring some juice to the lineup while left-hander Eli Zielinski (Belmont) has proven he can miss some bats working in the low-80s and running his fastball up to 85 mph. The athleticism of the group is what should be relied upon with some younger players likely stepping up and earning valuable playing time in an event of this caliber. 

Florence Falcons (Florence, Ala.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Grant Taylor (RHP, 2021, 193)
Zeke Bishop (3B, 2021, 500)
Cason Henry (RHP, 2021, 500)

Florence has gotten off to a hot start in 2021 with a perfect 4-0 record while putting up some impressive numbers. Through those first four games, the Falcons have scored 31 runs while hitting over .300 as a team and reaching base at over a .400 clip. It is a balanced attack with physical right-handed hitter Zeke Bishop (South Alabama) leading a strong senior class on the offensive side of the ball. On the mound, the Falcons have gotten contributions from six different arms thus far, having held opponents to a .197 batting average and surrendering only 10 runs to this point in the season. Seniors Grant Taylor (LSU) and Cason Henry (Miami) bring a great one-two punch to the top of that rotation with the former likely to be on a crash course with a start against the talented IMG Academy team in pool play. 

Hartselle Tigers (Hartselle, Ala.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Elliott Bray (RHP, 2022, 238)
Coleman Mizell (OF, 2023, 480)
Drew Cartee (OF, 2021, 500)
William Turner (LHP, 2022, 500)

Hartselle is off to a solid 3-1 start, having picked up impressive wins over good Bob Jones and Houston County teams in the early going. This year’s club has a solid mixture of upperclassmen and younger guys who are going to be key contributors both throughout the year and at this event. Senior Drew Cartee (Samford) should headline the offense and will be joined by talented sophomore Coleman Mizell (Alabama), among a multitude of others. However, their strength may be on the mound as juniors Elliott Bray (Auburn) and William Turner (Auburn) are among a deep mix of arms, with the latter coming off a summer where he struck out an impressive 54 in 37 innings.

Helena Huskies (Helena, Ala.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Brody Moss (SS, 2021, 500)
Ryan Storey (OF, 2022, 500)
Connor Martin (SS, 2022, 500)

Helena has been playing excellent baseball to start the season and will be an interesting team to keep an eye on this week in Hoover. Head Coach PJ Guy has a balanced club with a lineup that can hurt you from anywhere in the order. Defensively, they have a multitude of options up the middle of the diamond, relying on that athleticism to keep runs off the board while their pitching staff does a nice job making opponents earn their way on base. Brody Moss (Auburn) and a senior trio of junior college commits pairs well with the talented juniors Ryan Storey (South Alabama) and Connor Martin to lead the way on the offensive end while senior backstop Tyler Jon Santos handles the pitching staff. 

Hewitt-Trussville Huskies (Hewitt, Ala.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Riley Quick (RHP, 2022, 264)
Skylar Jones (RHP, 2021, 500)
Baker Green (C, 2022, T1000)

Hewitt-Trussville has a pretty impressive one-two punch at the top of their rotation that should give them a good chance at getting out of their pool. Senior Skylar Jones (Chattahoochee Valley CC) has great stuff and has already turned in two complete game efforts for the Huskies, allowing just two runs in his last 14 innings while junior Riley Quick has been just as impressive in his last couple of outings and has allowed only one run all year. Offensively, Baker Green brings consistency to the lineup while senior Trey Burrell (Grambling State) sets the table for an offense that has been able to produce runs in a multitude of ways so far this young season. 

Hoover Buccaneers (Hoover, Ala.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)

Walter Ford (RHP, 2023, 22)
RJ Hamilton (SS, 2023, 191)
Austin Cornelius (RHP, 2021, 500)
Evan Radford (OF, 2021, 500)
Lucas Steele (C, 2022, 500)

Hoover has a strong core with a young nucleus of exciting players. With the loss of most of the 2020 season, the only thing this young lineup is missing is experience, and with the recent progress Coach Adam Mosley has seen in his team he is hoping they can build upon some of their success and continue to find consistency on both sides of the ball. On the mound, Austin Cornelius (Jacksonville State), Marcus Locklear and Walter Ford (Alabama) will provide challenges for opposing offenses, while at the plate the aforementioned Ford will be a key contributor, RJ Hamilton (Vanderbilt) will set the table at the top of the lineup and the duo of Evan Radford (Southern Miss) and Lucas Steele (Samford) supply excellent pop in the three and four spots.  

IMG Academy Ascenders (Bradenton, Fla.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)

Elijah Green (OF, 2022, 1)
James Wood (OF, 2021, 4)
Jackson Ferris (LHP, 2022, 15)
Tommy White (3B, 2021, 17)
Mason Albright (LHP, 2021, 31)

IMG Academy, ranked No. 1 in the country to begin the year, is a regular at the Showdown and comes to the event this year with potentially their best roster ever, chalked full of high-end talent both at the senior and underclass levels. Four All-Americans lead the senior class with James Wood (Mississippi State), Tommy White (NC State) and Drew Gray (Arkansas) setting the core of the lineup while fellow senior Drake Varnado (Arkansas), junior prospects Elijah Green (Miami) and Blaydon Plain (Florida) and sophomores Stone Russell (Florida) and Brady Neal (LSU) give opposing pitchers absolutely no time off from top to bottom. They’re impressively just as deep on the mound with PGAA Mason Albright (Virginia Tech) leading the staff, followed by the likes of Jackson Ferris (Ole Miss), Benjamin Fiedler, and Davion Hickson (Florida State), among a multitude of others. They’ll have a big target on their back throughout the event, but undoubtedly have what it takes to continue the tear they’re on this spring and win another Showdown title. 

IMG Academy Black (Bradenton, Fla.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)

Aeden Finateri (RHP, 2021, 339)
Evan Appelwick (SS, 2021, 444)
Jackson Werth (SS, 2021, 500)
Sammy Contacos (C, 2021, 500)
Gunther Braendel (RHP, 2022, 500)

IMG Academy has an expansive pool of talent in their program each year and are able to field a number of teams, which includes the talented IMG Academy Black that they’ll bring with them to the Showdown once again. With a number of Division-I bound prospects, this isn’t your typical “second team” and they should have a good chance to get out of their pool. Senior Aeden Finateri (Georgia Tech) leads the way on the mound with fellow senior Jack Thunberg (New Orleans) and juniors Gunther Braendel (Miami) and Luke Ross (Minnesota) giving them a solid staff of primary arms. They’re solid offensively as well with seniors like Evan Appelwick (Indiana), Jackson Werth (Belmont), Sammy Contacos (FSCJ) and Jack Thompson (Carson-Newman) littering the lineup with experience. 

Loganville Red Devils (Loganville, Ga.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Sherman Johnson II (SS, 2023, 311)
Dawson Coe (LHP, 2022, 339)
Jonathan “Daniel” Braswell (1B, 2021, 500)
Brocker Way (OF, 2021, 500)

Loganville was once again a champion at the Showdown a year ago and although they graduated a handful of starters from that team, many underclassmen that played a big role are back and ready to step up. Seniors Jonathan Braswell (Georgia), Jackson Daniel, Brocker Way (Walters State CC) and Michael Mason return as important pieces to the lineup, while others like Cooper Kennedy, William Cawthon and sophomore Sherman Johnson II should give the lineup some depth. Talented junior left-hander Dawson Coe (Tennessee) will likely serve as the staff’s ace, with improved stuff from a year ago, and he’ll have a number of experienced juniors and seniors rounding out the staff around him. Senior arms are what helped them stymie some talented lineups at last year’s event, but it may be more of a well-rounded effort for them to cap off a three-peat. 

Montverde Academy Eagles (Montverde, Fla.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Justin Colon (SS, 2021, 96)
Victor Rodriguez (OF, 2021, 125)
Oscar Hernandez (1B, 2023, 254)
Angel Lopez (LHP, 2021, 260)
Kenneth Eccleston (OF, 2021, 500)

Another staple at the Showdown, Montverde once again will head to Hoover with a talented group headlined by a quality draft prospect in Justin Colon (Missouri). Colon is among a deep class of prep shortstops this year and although his tools could carry a team a long way, he won’t have to. Fellow seniors Victor Rodriguez (FIU) and Kenneth Eccleston (Hillsborough CC) surround him in the heart of the lineup, while Oscar Hernandez brings physicality as a sophomore to an otherwise senior-heavy lineup. Angel Lopez will head the staff on the mound with a fastball into the mid-90s from the left side and should be one of the most watched uncommitted seniors at the event when he toes the rubber. 

Mountain Brook Spartans (Birmingham, Ala.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Walker Allen (SS, 2023, T1000)
Braxton Wetzler (1B, 2021, High Follow)
Howell Polk (RHP, 2022, High Follow)

Mountain Brook is coming off a 4-0 showing at the Showdown a year ago with some impressive wins on their way to a championship. The Spartans are off to a strong 5-2 through their first seven games of 2021 and will look to continue to get production from a balanced mix of upper and underclassmen. The Spartans offense is averaging over seven runs a game to start the season while holding their opponents to only three runs per game. Howell Polk is coming off a summer where he struck out 32 against only 16 walks and has the stuff to be the leader of the staff. Offensively, Braxton Wetzler and Walker Allen both are capable of sparking the Spartans offense as they are each coming off of productive summers. 

North Broward Prep Eagles (Coconut Creek, Fla.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Yoel Tejeda Jr. (1B/RHP, 2022, 49)
Jacob Gomberg (LHP, 2023, 190)
Nathanael Coupet (OF, 2023, 277)
Joshua Steidl (C, 2021, 500)
Shane Huntsberger (RHP, 2021, 500)

Another familiar team returns to the showdown as North Broward Prep once again brings a talented mix of experience and underclass talent to the event. Yoel Tejeda Jr. (Florida) will be doing double-duty per usual for the Eagles as one of the country’s top two-way talents, while Shane Huntsberger (Western Carolina) brings good experience on the mound and Jacob Gomberg (Florida) brings excellent stuff as just a sophomore. Their experience on the offensive end is very promising for what they may be able to achieve as they are senior-heavy with guys like Joshua Steidl (Jacksonville), Kobe Benson (Coastal Carolina), Jonah Diaz (Jacksonville) and Ethan Zimmerman (Tampa) who lead juniors Tejeda and Clancy Marsh and youngsters Nathanael Coupet and Gian De Castro in what makes up a pretty deep lineup.

Oxford Yellow Jackets (Oxford, Ala.) 

Revy “Trey” Higgins (OF, 2021, 500)
Wesley Miller
(1B, 2022, 500)
Sam Robertson (SS, 2023, 500)
Peyton Watts (SS, 2023, 500)
Trey Mooney (RHP, 2021, T1000)

Athleticism is the name of the game for Oxford and with a relatively young group this year’s squad has some unknowns that are quickly stepping into big roles. The Yellow Jackets have the team speed to create issues and produce runs in a multitude of ways. Switch-hitting outfielder Revy “Trey” Higgins (Mississippi State) starts it off with his 6.6 speed and young guys like Sam Robertson and Peyton Watts continue that trend throughout the lineup. Wesley Miller brings some thump to the order and could also see some time on the hill with the ability to run his fastball into the upper-80s behind senior Trey Mooney (Montevallo), who has plenty of experience. 

Providence Stallions (Jacksonville, Fla.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Connor Hegan
(RHP, 2022, 176)
Anthony Saleeba (C, 2023, 436)
Ben Barrow (C, 2023, 500)
Dylan Hale (SS, 2022, T1000)

Providence brings to the Showdown what seems to be the youngest overall group of prospects as they show just two seniors and four juniors on the roster this year. Although their youth may be a hindrance, the battery duo of Connor Hegan (North Carolina) and Anthony Saleeba (USF) is an impressive one, as Hegan already works into the low-90s with his fastball while Saleeba has very good catch-and-throw skills behind the dish to go with physicality at the plate. Add in a versatile backup to Saleeba in sophomore catcher Ben Barrow and a variety of two-way prospects who will split innings on the mound and you have an interesting group playing without much to lose when they come to Hoover. 

Russell County Warriors (Seale, Ala.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Bailey Thorne (RHP, 2024, 48)
Colton Wombles (C, 2023, 56)
Landon Russell (SS, 2022, 164)
Jaxon Milam (SS, 2023, 344)

Russell County also has a young squad this year with only one of their regular starters set to graduate after this season. With that said, there's a lot to like about this club with a gritty attitude and some underclassmen that are stepping up in a big way for Coach Tony Rasmus. Colton Wombles (Auburn) is reaching base at a .611 clip in the early season and has been a catalyst for the Warriors offense. Junior Landon Russell (Auburn), sophomore Jaxon Milam and talented freshman Bailey Thorne will all play a big role at the plate as well as on the bump where they are combining to hold opposing offenses to a batting average against under .200.

Savannah Christian Raiders (Savannah, Ga.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Daegan Strickland
(C, 2023, 187)
Cooper George (OF, 2021, 500)
Joey White (RHP, 2021, Follow)

The Raiders bring a balanced club to the Showdown from an age standpoint which should give their underclassmen valuable experience moving forward. Sophomore Daegan Strickland is one of the more talented catchers in his class with well-advanced catch-and-throw skills to go with athleticism that translates to his offensive capabilities while senior Cooper George (Mount Olive) brings some serious thump in the bat to the heart of the Raider order. While innings on the mound should come from a number of different players, senior Joey White (Birmingham-Southern) brings the most experience, which can be as beneficial as anything as they look to expand on a strong start to the spring. 

Spanish Fort Toros (Spanish Fort, Ala.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Cameron Keshock (RHP, 2022, 331)
Carter Stanford (RHP, 2022, 393)
Brady Garcia (LHP, 2021, 500)

Spanish Fort has a three-headed monster at the top of their rotation with the likes of Brady Garcia (Alabama), Cameron Keshock (Auburn), and Carter Stanford (Alabama) all bringing a different look. Garcia brings good length to the bump with an upper-80s fastball from the left side and the ability to land three solid pitches for strikes. Keshock, like Garcia, has a large frame but gives more of a cross-body look to his release and is capable of getting slightly higher with his fastball, having been into the low-90s previously. Stanford has shown excellent feel for a three-pitch arsenal and will also run his fastball up to 90 mph with strength throughout his frame, but is the youngest of the three so he’s just a year behind from an experience standpoint.  

Thompson Warriors (Alabaster, Ala.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Ben Pearman (RHP, 2023, 500)
Logan Braunschweig (SS, 2021, T1000)
Trey Puckett (3B, 2021, High Follow)

Thompson returns to the Showdown for the second straight year with a team that has had no problem putting up runs so far this season. Senior Logan Braunschweig (UAB) leads the way for the Warriors hitting leadoff with good plate discipline, while a solid group of experienced juniors and seniors fill out the lineup behind him. Senior Trey Puckett will be a key on the mound as well as at the plate, while sophomore Ben Pearman should likely see good time on the mound at some point, having already been into the upper-80s, as well as hit in the middle of the order with good run-producing abilities. 

Trinity Christian Academy Conquerors (Jacksonville, Fla.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Noah Couch (OF, 2022, 500)
Ashton Nugent (SS, 2023, 500)
CJ Crawford (3B, 2022, T1000)
Eric Fouraker Jr (C, 2022, NR)

Trinity Christian is making the trip to Hoover for the first time and they’ll roll in with just four seniors on the roster providing the younger guys with valuable experience for the future. Juniors Noah Couch, CJ Crawford, and Eric Fouraker Jr are three talented prospects who bring different, but important skill sets to the lineup. Couch is an excellent athlete who patrols the outfield with a strong arm and has the speed to impact his offensive approach, while Crawford is a projectable athlete with a good hit tool and Fouraker brings big physicality and juice in the bat that should help in driving in runs. Innings on the mound should come from a variety of places, but there’s enough experience on their primary arms to set up some excellent matchups. 

Vestavia Hills Rebels (Vestavia Hills, Ala.)

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank)
Grant Cherry (RHP, 2021, 199)
Jack Hoppenjans (RHP, 2021, 500)
Pierce Hanna (C, 2022, 500)
Joseph Sullivan (OF, 2021, T1000)
Carter Tyus (RHP, 2021, T1000)

Vestavia Hills is off to a strong start, going 7-1 in their first eight games and this year’s roster is chalked full of senior talent. For the Rebels, it starts on the bump with the combination of Grant Cherry (Tennessee), Jack Hoppenjans and Carter Tyus (Birmingham Southern College). Cherry and Hoppenjans can each run their fastballs into the low-90s, while Tyus will work his fastball into the upper-80s to go with a solid breaking ball. At the plate, Joseph Sullivan (South Alabama) and Pierce Hanna have the ability to power the offense, as both are coming off of summers where they hit well over .300 on the tournament circuit and the mix of physicality and athleticism throughout the rest of the lineup should make for an uneasy task for opposing pitchers. 


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