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 | Middle Infield | Outfielders
Class of 2023: Catchers | Corner Infield | Middle Infield | Outfielders
Class of 2024: Catchers | Corner Infield | Middle Infield | Outfielders
Class of 2025: Catchers | Corner Infield | Middle Infield | Outfielders
Dylan Lesko (Ga.)
PG Events: 53
Key Stats: 174 games, 192 2/3 innings pitched, 313 strikeouts, 0.93 WHIP
Short Story: Arguably the most famous pitcher in the class, or overall prospect, Lesko is one of the most consistent players in the class. He combines high-end stuff with a fastball that reaches 97 mph, and a devastating changeup. Both are above average to plus offerings and he has the command to back it up. The breaking stuff continues to make strides as well. Lesko can also hit and is a very good athlete.
Big Moment: Pick anyone of Lesko’s no-hitters here. There are times when one walks into a Lesko start and gets disappointed when he gives up a hit. That’s how dominant the right-hander has been over the last couple years. You almost take for granted just how good Lesko has been because you get so used to the results.
Bold Prediction: The breaking stuff takes a step forward and we start to argue that Lesko is the most polished high school arm in recent memory.
Brock Porter (Mich.)
PG Events: 22
Key Stats: 52 games, 52 2/3 innings pitched, 81 strikeouts, 0.91 WHIP
Short Story: Like Lesko, the fastball/changeup combination gives Porter two above average pitches that flash plus. His physical frame and clean arm make it easy to see him log high-level innings for a long time. For the power stuff, the Michigan native can pitch. Moving his fastball around and having zero fear to go to the off-speed when needed.
Big Moment: Undoubtably his 8 a.m. start at the 2020 WWBA World Championship. He reached 95 mph with the fastball and easily held low-90s over his five innings pitched. The breaking ball continued to gain MPHs and the Bugs Bunny changeup turned heads for all in attendance.
Bold Prediction: Given the reports of the velocity spike this spring, Porter comes into the summer with huge excitement. It will be fun to watch as he has proven, and nothing should change, that he holds premium stuff late in games. Allowing scouts to say, “sometimes scouting is easy.”
Ian Ritchie Jr. (Wash.)
PG Events: 18
Key Stats: 43 games, 58 1/3 innings pitched, 58 strikeouts, 1.54 WHIP
Short Story: This is all about arm speed. He is athletic and the tempo is good until he unleashes one of the fastest pure arms in the class. The young hurler understands how to spin the ball and everything he lets go is hard.
Big Moment: Another standout at the 2020 WWBA World Championship this fall. The mid-90s stuff coupled with the low-80s slider immediately thrust him into the conversation at the top off the ’22 class from a pure stuff standpoint.
Bold Prediction: We have watched Ritchie Jr. continue to take the next step with his command over the last few summers. If this is the summer it all comes together, and it very well could be, there will be a jumbled list for the big man on campus with all these power righties the class has already seen.
Nick Dugan (Calif.)
Key Stats: 7 innings pitch, 12 strikeouts, 0.43 WHIP
Short Story: Dugan is a strong righty with a polished delivery and premium stuff. The three-pitch mix loud, and it showed true swing-and-miss potential. He moved the ball around well and has an idea how to design and sequence.
Big Moment: With one event under his belt, it was a huge first outing. It was a complete-game, 12-strikeout performance against an absolutely loaded lineup. It was the type of outing that had everyone scrambling to get their own eyes on Dugan.
Bold Prediction: This one is pretty simple. Everyone would just like to start watching Dugan build the resume. His mid-90s heater and feel for the game should make that easy as he makes his way to a having a full summer circuit schedule.
Tyler Gough (Calif.)
Commitment: Oregon State
PG Events: 20
Key Stats: 40 games, 43 2/3 innings pitched, 70 strikeouts, 1.31 WHIP
Short Story: One of the better athletes that takes the bump every week, Gough has some real twitch to his body. The arm speed is electric when the delivery is on time. There is no questioning his current arm strength and given the athleticism, there is plenty more in the tank.
Big Moment: Gough burst onto the scene at the 2018 WWBA West Memorial Day Classic. During his 3 2/3 innings he fanned 10 hitters and reached back for 93 mph. He did not give up and hit and limited the freebies as well as we have seen.
Bold Prediction: The breaking ball took a step forward this fall and that will be a point of emphasis this summer. The table is set for Gough to control the zone, spin the ball, and continue to show the premium fastball velocity.
Eli Jerzembeck (N.C.)
Commitment: South Carolina
PG Events: 15
Key Stats: 47 1/3 innings pitched, 52/8 strikeout to walk, 0.93 WHIP
Short Story: Jerzembeck has one of the better breaking balls in the class. His wiry frame projects for more velocity, though he has been up to 92 in the past. The tunneling of the three-pitch mix from a young pitcher might be the most exciting part from the North Carolina native.
Big Moment: Jumping back on the circuit at the 2020 16U WWBA National Championship, The righty threw eight innings combined between two starts and could have told hitters at times that he was throwing his breaking ball and still struck out 12. Fast-paced, competitive, and a joy to scout when he gets going.
Bold Prediction: A year of physical maturity does him well and the fastball ticks up slightly, making the pitch play even better off the breaking ball mentioned so much. The changeup is a solid third pitch and it would be great to see him continue to develop the offering in games, though it is hard with how dominant the fastball-curveball combination can be.
Chase Shores (Texas)
Commitment: Oklahoma State
PG Events: 17
Key Stats: 14 2/3 innings pitched, 13 strikeouts, 1.23 WHIP
Short Story: Tall, long, high-waisted with uber physical projection remaining. He has a lot more functional athleticism than the first look would dictate. The long levers give him extension and angle, making his mid-90s peaks jump hard on the hitter.
Big Moment: The 2020 WWBA Underclass World Championship helped propel Shores into the top-tier of the ’22 class. He tossed six innings during an outing, piling up seven strikeouts and sat in the low-90s throughout the outing. Dream big as the frame will continue to fill out and add stability.
Bold Prediction: Using his levers to his advantage, he becomes one of the top swing-and-miss producers on the tour. A strength gain helps him repeat, and the overall upside starts to take shape for the 6-foot-8 Texas hurler.
Jacob Miller (Ohio)
PG Events: 19
Key Stats: 48 2/3 innings pitched, 69 strikeouts, 1.71 WHIP
Short Story: Miller is a pretty explosive player. All the ingredients are there as the stuff is electric when he is on. The ball comes out firm and the off-speed has equal upside.
Big Moment: At the WWBA Ohio Valley Qualifier, Miller shoved. He seemingly put together his vast potential, throwing four innings while striking out seven and surrendering only a single walk. The three off-speed offerings had good splits and it was a big step forward to the obvious upside.
Bold Prediction: The consistency clicks and he becomes a feared strikeout artist.
Andrew Dutkanych IV (Ind.)
PG Events: 10
Key Stats: 42 2/3 innings pitched, 63 strikeouts, 1.17 WHIP
Short Story: The sturdy frame and workhorse-like approach with his intent on every pitch make him an exciting watch. He has upper-90s potential and some spring hype related to that department. The overall competitiveness is the most attractive.
Big Moment: At the 2019 Perfect Game World Series he was absolutely outstanding, going five scoreless with nine bangs on one of the biggest stages of the summer circuit. He has done nothing since except continue on with highly-competitive outings, seemingly only working against the best lineups in each event.
Bold Prediction: With his last outing, all eyes will be on him holding his elite stuff deep into games. His competitive nature makes for an exciting watch and he will be on some huge platforms early on.
Jackson Cox (Wash.)
PG Events: 8
Key Stats: 26 innings pitched, 30 strikeouts, 1.42 WHIP
Short Story: The great-framed righty has a loose and clean arm action with real zip out of the hand. The four-pitch mix has real upside and on any given day any of the offerings could be the go-to pitch.
Big Moment: Cox got the entire stands buzzing at the 2020 PG Underclass All-American Games. He had an electric outing that got some really bad whiffs and had opposing hitters shaking their heads.
Bold Prediction: Cox gains weight/strength and it leads to big stuff that goes a long with his springy athleticism.
David Horn (Calif.)
There is real two-way ability as Horn has big right-handed power at the plate. The low-90s heater with heavy sink matches his tight breaker perfectly. When he gets in attack mode he can do it in may different ways.
Cooper Dossett (Ark.)
Dossett is a supreme athlete and really just tapping into his ability on the mound. There is real run/ride to the fastball and accelerates the breaker hard, giving it extreme break when extended and on time.
Hunter Sloop (N.C.)
It was a big impression, no pun intended, when Sloop took the mound at the High School Showdown. The stuff is hard, downhill, and has enormous potential. It’s a starter kit for a top-of-the-rotation starter at the next level.
Ethan Patera (Ill.)
The imposing physical presence that Patera brings to the mound is just the start of it. The heavy fastball that peaks in the mid-90s is complemented by a hard low-80s slider. This kid can rack up strikeouts in a hurry and the quality strikes impressed as well.
Caden Marcum (Kan.)
The slender righty has really quick hips that match his quick shoulder. The operation is a powder keg waiting to blow and this could easily be the summer it all happens.
Tommy Finnegan (N.J.)
With no real resume last year due to the pandemic, Finnegan is set to have a huge summer. It’s just an easy delivery with extreme upside on all fronts as the body fills out. Getting to lock in on the control and off-speed will be huge against top competition when back on the circuit.
Matt Scott (Conn.)
Scott was consistent from start to finish last summer. The size, athleticism, and quality strikes make the right-hander a must-watch this summer. He can bully opposing lineups and the stuff can work to flip the order multiple times.
Michael Forret (N.C.)
The East Carolina native was a real riser over the course of the last year. The type of stuff he showed late in the fall combined with the early reports from this spring make him one of the more exciting follows in the early summer. It's low-90s life with a ton left in the tank.
McClain Ray (Miss.)
Ray pitches with angle and can spin the ball hard. He works down in the zone and can tunnel at times, getting some empty swings when he gets going.
Blake Binderup (Texas)
The big Texan has helium potential written all over him. He does everything with ease and there is big reason to think everything pops, and he is one of the larger draws on the circuit. It's all there.