High School | General | 5/14/2021

Summer Preview: 2025 RHP

Jheremy Brown        
Photo: Samuel Cozart (Perfect Game)
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 | RHP
Class of 2023: Catchers | Corner Infield | Middle Infield | Outfielders | RHP
Class of 2024: Catchers | Corner Infield | Middle Infield | Outfielders | RHP
Class of 2025: Catchers | Corner Infield | Middle Infield | Outfielders

Samuel Cozart (N.C.)
6-7/240, R-R
PG Events: 13
Key Stats: 13u PG Pitcher of the Year

Short Story: Already standing 6-foot-7, the physically imposing right-hander out of North Carolina has been making a name for himself for a couple years now, though touching 87 mph as a 6-foot-4 12-year-old at the 16u WWBA in 2019 will do that. Cozart, a two-time 13u Select Festival alum, is no stranger to playing up against older competition and he has put together a string of quality performances, highlighted by his most recent outing at the WWBA World Championship where he squared up against some of the top bats in the 2021 class. Despite his size and ability to already run his fastball up to 91 mph, Cozart’s ability to repeat his delivery and pump the strike zone stand out just as much, striking out 21 last summer and fall in just 13 2/3 innings. 

Big Moment: The 2020 WWBA World Championship (his second year throwing in the event) saw Cozart toe the rubber and battle against some players who were four-plus years his elder, though that didn’t deter the No. 1 ranked ’25 from doing his thing. He struck out six over two appearances, totaling four innings, and ran his fastball up to 91 mph, an impressive feat for a 14-year-old regardless of the setting. 

Bold Prediction: It’s hard to make a bold prediction on the 6-foot-7 right-hander who already sits atop the class of 2025 rankings. While the velocity will undoubtably continue to climb throughout his career, it’s Cozart’s feel and pitchability on the mound that’ll be equally impressive this summer at a host of high-level events. 

Boston Kellner (Colo.)
6-0/175, R-R
PG Events: 5
Key Stats: MVP of '21 East MLK

Short Story: Having recently moved to Colorado from Minnesota, Kellner became the first Select Festival pick from the state of Minnesota for either the 13u or 14u game. Since last August he’s only continued to elevate his stock as the now 6-foot, 175-pound right-hander has seen his fastball climb up to 85 mph during the MLK East this past January, meaning there’s plenty more in the tank, especially when factoring in the arm speed he already possesses. The curveball is a difference maker for Kellner, spinning the 12-6 shaped curveball with some serious intent, landing for strikes while also utilizing it as a put-away offering. 

Big Moment: Last year’s 13u World Series saw Kellner perform extremely well on both sides of the ball, showing off the two-way ability he had just a month earlier at the 14u Midwest Showcase. His right-handed swing offers leverage and strength off of the barrel as he hit .462 with a triple and four RBI though his performance on the mound was even louder, striking out 11 in just 7 2/3 innings of work. 

Bold Prediction: Kellner’s ability to spin the ball stood out last summer as well as early this spring and with the velocity trending on an upward trajectory, look for the top-ranked prospect out of Colorado to further cement himself as one of the top arms in the country. 

Gavin Richars (Mo.)
6-0/160, R-R
College Commitment: Oklahoma
PG Events: 6
Key Stats: 17 K in 12.2 IP in '21

Short Story: Richars has burst onto the scene, to a degree, early this spring and I say to a degree as he was already committed to the University of Oklahoma prior to the start of the season. Throwing just 4 1/3 innings last spring at PG events, the young right-hander has already tripled that output while showing an uptick in stuff and an overall refinement to his craft. His measurables and frame may not jump off the page at 6-foot, 160 pounds, but he’ll certainly capture your attention with the whip-like right arm and overall arm speed which help produce a consistent mid-80s fastball. The changeup is the go-to secondary for Richars, showing late tumbling action which plays nicely off the life of his fastball.

Big Moment: The early start to the 2021 spring season has been a fruitful one for the future Sooner, throwing 12 2/3 innings already, a span in which he has struck out 17. A primary right-handed pitcher, Richars has also shown off his two-way potential as a left-handed hitting shortstop who exudes athleticism up the middle, plenty of arm strength across, and sharp bat-to-ball skills that helped him rack up the hard contact his spring.

Bold Prediction: Richars continues to be a name you’ll be hearing about this summer, making the stops at all the major events where he’ll continue to perform on both sides of the ball against some of the best competition in the country. 

Justice Dejong (N.Y.)
6-3/180, R-R
PG Events: 16
Key Stats: 17 K/16 IP in '21, .500-2-26

Short Story: Dejong is listed as a primary right-handed pitcher, and rightfully so given his impressive arm speed and the long-term projection his 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame offers. Currently ranked No. 22 in the ’25 class, Dejong’s operation is a rather free-flowing one with a whip-like arm stroke, currently living in the low-80s while showing the ability to spot to either side of the plate alongside a hard, downer 12-6 shaped curveball that’ll serve as an out pitch down the road. The young New Yorker is equally as impressive with the bat however, using his length to generate some real bat speed through the zone, showing impact strength at the point of contact. 

Big Moment: A member of the inaugural 12u Select Festival last summer, Dejong was a standout amongst a vast talent pool at the 13u East Showcase this past January where he found his name atop several leaderboards. His 87 mph exit velocity was the best of the event following a loud round of batting practice, as did his 82 mph fastball while his 83 mph across the infield tied for tops on the weekend. The weekend culminated with a spot on the Top Prospect List and helped put him on the map as one of the top players in the Northeast. 

Bold Prediction: Despite being younger for the grade, Dejong has proven himself playing against his grad year rather than his age eligible level and it’s something he’ll continue to do this summer while finding success on both sides of the ball. 

Jax Bishop (Ga.)
6-0/145, R-R
College Commitment: Tennessee
PG Events: 26
Key Stats: 135 K in 80.1 PG career IP

Short Story: Bishop may not be as physically imposing as some of the other arms talked about thus far, but don’t let that fool you as he possesses as much arm speed as any and the long-term projection stands out. The future Tennessee Vol has consistently worked in the mid-80s with his fastball, bumping 86 mph this spring while already racking up 14 2/3 innings pitched in which he has punched out 19, a common theme given his career stats of 80 1/3 innings pitched to 135 strikeouts. Aside from having one of the better fastballs in the class, Bishop’s overall feel for his breaking ball is a big part of his success as he shows the comfort to land the pitch for strikes regardless the count, missing plenty of bats along the way. 

Big Moment: The Georgia native has already taken home three all-tournament team honors from the three tournaments he qualified for the award (a fourth tournament saw him punch out three in his lone inning of work), getting what’s certain to be a busy season off on the right foot. A regular in the Scout Recaps, Bishop continues to draw rave reviews for the life he generates on his entire repertoire and the overall projection makes him a must-see throughout the span of his high school career. 

Bold Prediction: You can’t make much of a bold prediction for a player who has already secured a commitment from an SEC program prior to beginning his high school career. That said, as Bishop continues to grow into his frame, not only will the velocity continue to climb but he’ll also repeat his operation, leading to even more empty swings down the road. 

Blake Ilitch (Mich.)
6-2/195, R-R
PG Events: 10
Key Stats: PG Grade 8.5 at 14u Florida

Short Story: The state of Michigan has seen an uptick in impact talent, or so it seems, over the last handful of years and Ilitch is currently the topped-ranked player in the state. Listed at a strong 6-foot-2, 195-pound build, the young right-hander has also showed an increase in velocity from his low-80s this past fall to a peak of 87 mph most recently at the 14u Florida Showcase in Sanford, Florida. He’ll undoubtedly learn to harness the big velocity, especially given the hard running life it shows, but Ilitch also shows a real level of pitchability, landing a big 12-6 curveball for strikes at will while flashing a pair of other secondary offerings. 

Big Moment: The 14u East served as a first look at the “new” velocity for Ilitch, who checked in at No. 51 in the latest class of 2025 rankings update. There’s no doubting what he brings to the table in terms of an arsenal and the showcase sets the stage for what is certain to be a busy summer for the young Michigan right-hander. 

Bold Prediction: The class of 2025 is still in the process of discovering and identifying the big arms around the country and Ilitch is certainly at the forefront with where we stand today. Already signed up for the 14u National Showcase, Ilitch will likely have a full schedule of national events this summer where he’ll show off not only his arm strength, but also his pitchability. 

Cameron Uzzillia (Fla.)
6-0/200, L-R
PG Events: 37
Key Stats: 41 K in 28.1 IP '21; .409/.594/1.173

Short Story: Uzzillia is certain to catch your eye almost immediately with his strong, broad-shouldered 6-foot, 200-pound build, whether that’s on the mound or in the left-handed batter’s box. Listed as a primary pitcher, Uzzillia works predominantly in the low-80s over the course of an outing though he has shown the ability to run it into the mid-80s as he did most recently at the PG Georgia State Championships. As intriguing as he is on the mound (already has 41 punchouts in 28 1/3 innings), his left-handed power may be his loudest tool at present, showing rhythm in the box and plenty of quickness to his hands, already resulting in some extremely loud contact, especially to his pull side. 

Big Moment: The 2020 Fall World Series was an event where Uzzillia showed the aforementioned two-way ability and ultimately took home MVP honors. Up to 85 mph the mound in this particular look, the young Floridian struck out 12 in 8 1/3 innings of work and surrendered a mere four hits, though his offensive production was equally impressive. He slashed .357/.526/1.241 on the weekend over 14 at-bats, connecting for a home run and a pair of doubles while driving in five runs and scoring six of his own.

Bold Prediction: He’ll deliver some pretty big performances on the mound as he’s has a workhorse mentality and can carry the ball deep into outings. It’s middle-of-the-order type juice too, so don’t be surprised if he deposits some souvenirs over the right field fence this summer. 

Kibru Pam (Calif.)
5-10/165, R-R
PG Events: 14
Key Stats: 17 K/5 H in 9 IP in '21

Short Story: Pam’s talents have been well documented over the last year or so and he was handed the ball to start the 13u Select Festival for the West club last August in Oklahoma City, where he picked up a pair of strikeouts in his inning of work. Since that showing, Pam has seen an uptick in velocity, peaking at 86 mph while most recently bumping 85 mph at the SoCal Showdown #2 where he struck out eight in four innings of work. It’s a rather simple operation on the mound for Pam with limited moving parts, and while the velocity has ticked up, he has seemed to find a consistent release point, leading to more strikes while landing his breaking ball often. 

Big Moment: Being the starting pitcher for the Select Festival would be an easy choice, but his performance at the 14u Super Regional NIT in Texas, albeit a one-inning stint, might’ve been his most impress of the summer. One pitch away from an immaculate inning, Pam punched out the side on 10 pitches, filling the strike zone while reaching back for a little extra on his final pitch when he touched the aforementioned 86 mph. 

Bold Prediction: He’s already tapped into some of the velocity potential and he’s shown the ability to miss bats, something he’ll continue to do this summer as he’s rostered for several upcoming big events.

Additional Names to Knows

Matthew Anderson (Calif.)
Anderson hasn’t quite made his mark on the PG scene yet, but the 6-foot-3, 205-pound NorCal right-hander has generated plenty of buzz during his outings during NCTB’s The League. His fastball has already bumped upwards of 85 mph, showing some heavy life, though the slider is just as impressive as you can see in the tweet above with sharp, late bite.

Daniel Giuliani (Fla.)
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Giuliani certainly looks the part out on the field and possesses some real arm strength on the mound, working into the mid-80s with his fastball with which he has punched out 12 in 7 2/3 innings of work. His left-handed swing has produced a handful of doubles and a pair of triples thus far into the 2021 season. 

Thomas Stewart (Colo.)
Stewart may not be lighting up the radar guns just yet, but keep a close eye on the young Colorado native because given how easy and low effort the operation is, it’s only a matter of time before the velocity jumps in a big way. His fastball was up to 81 mph during the 14u East Showcase, showing rhythm and extension to his delivery, recording all six outs via strikeout.

Nikolas Peinado (Calif.)
Like Justice DeJong above, Peinado is young for the grade, is 13u eligible this summer, and shows some real upside on both sides of the ball already. Armed with a fastball that has already touched 81 mph, Peinado may have even bigger upside as a left-handed hitting shortstop who shows athleticism in his actions and an extremely loose path through the zone offensively. 

Chase Bentley (Calif.)
Bentley certainly doesn’t look like your typical 14-year-old out on the mound, having only turned 14 earlier this week, as he already stands at a strong 6-foot-2, 215 pounds. The Granite Bay, Calif. native shows plenty of quickness to his arm, already topping out at 83 mph while exhibiting a late-tumbling changeup and a breaking ball, both of which he can land for strikes. 

Cooper Moss (Fla.)
Moss threw this past fall in Panama City, Fla. during the WWBA 14u Championships where he ran his fastball up to 80 mph with an overall operation and looseness that made it easy to envision the velocity jumping rather quickly. Well, jump to his most recent outing at the start of May and the 6-foot-2, 195-pound right-hander bumped 85 mph while striking out four with more in the tank. 

Luke Billings (Texas)
Billings has found success on both sides of the ball throughout his PG career and with an uptick in velocity to open 2021 he was able to put together a dominating performance at the NIT. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound right-hander has seen his fastball climb up to 85 mph and struck out 10 in just four innings of work in the aforementioned start while landing a big curveball for strikes. 

Tyler Wood (Mo.)
A recent standout at the 13u/14u Central Showcase where the Missouri native burst onto the national scene, the 6-foot-2, 170-pound right-hander ran his fastball up to 85 mph and it’s easy to envision that number climbing this summer. He uses his length well to work downhill from a higher release and mixes in a short slider for strikes with comfort.

Braden Rosenthal (Fla.)
You won’t miss the 6-foot-3, 190-pound righty as he toes the rubber, but in case you do, he’ll quickly capture your attention with a fastball that lives in the low-80s, peaking 85 mph, with solid running life and a low effort release. In 28 innings pitched this spring, Rosenthal has struck out 32 while hitting .383 for good measure. 
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