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 past several weeks we have taken a 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 | RHP
Jackson Ferris (N.C.)
Commitment: Ole Miss
PG Events: 23
Key Stats: 66 1/3 innings pitched, 90 strikeouts, 1.12 WHIP
Short Story: The blend of projection, current pitchability, and firm stuff puts Ferris at the forefront of the 2022 class heading into summer. He has built a resume over the last 18 months that few can match. The velocity has steadily risen in to the mid-90s and there has been no drop off in command.
Big Moment: During the playoffs at the 16U WWBA he threw five innings and struck out seven against an absolutely loaded lineup. It wasn't the firm stuff, or the outcome, it was the environment. An absolutely packed house with high emotions from everyone in the complex, except Ferris. He was cool, calm, and collected on his way to throwing a gem.
Bold Prediction: The body continues to fill out and a slow heartbeat makes his outings boring, in the best way possible as there is no offense to speak of from opposing lineups.
Brandon Barriera (Fla.)
PG Events: 24
Key Stats: 82 innings pitched, 125 strikeouts, 1.02 WHIP
Short Story: At 6-foot-1, Barriera is a bit undersized, but don’t tell him that. The way he goes at hitters makes him seem like he is the biggest player on the field. He attacks with a low-90s fastball that has late cut and very similar action on the changeup. The breaking ball has the potential to be a true swing-and-miss offering and he is fearless when using the pitch. It's just a tough, nothing straight, repertoire.
Big Moment: The 15U WWBA in 2019 was the real coming out party. He threw 9+ innings over two outings and struck out 18 hitters. Completely dominant, running the heater up to 93 mph and using his three-pitch mix to torment hitters.
Bold Prediction: The swing-and-miss continues to add up and he has a full summer on the circuit after sprinkles of dominance last summer due to the pandemic.
Tristan Smith (S.C)
PG Events: 14
Key Stats: 47 1/3 innings pitched, 79 strikeouts, 1.25 WHIP
Short Story: You could argue that Smith has the best pure arm speed in the ’22 class. The stuff is simply electric, with a mid-90s fastball and power breaker. When he gets going and repeats his delivery/release it is exciting to watch him work.
Big Moment: At the 2020 16U National Elite Championship he ran his fastball up to 95 and threw both his slider and changeup in the mid-80s on his way to a five-inning, 11-strikeout performance.
Bold Prediction: Smith starts to control his loud arsenal and strings together a summer of dominance that few arms in any class are capable of matching.
Noah Schultz (Ill.)
PG Events: 8
Key Stats: 18 2/3 innings pitched, 24 strikeouts, 1.39 WHIP
Short Story: Schultz possesses the most physical projection in the class and already sports a heater in the low-90s. Every time we see him he seems to make strides in command and stuff. Nothing would surprise this summer as he has seemingly endless potential.
Big Moment: At the 2020 PG Junior National Schultz threw at 8 am and brought some of the best stuff of the event. It was funky, loud, deceptive, and spectacular to scout. He gave virtually zero chance for hitters to find a barrel. It was a sign of things to come as his summer stayed on par with that performance
Bold Prediction: Added strength helps him truly repeat, allowing him to go deep in outings and build on a strong 2020. The velocity is going to come and doesn’t need to be rushed, the stuff is coming.
Robby Snelling (Nev.)
PG Events: 5
Key Stats: 21 innings pitched, 40 strikeouts, 0.62 WHIP
Short Story: As a star football player, he is one of the best athletes of any arm in the ’22 class. He is a hard hitter on the gridiron and brings the same intensity and attacking personality to the mound. The low-90s fastball could easily turn into mid- to upper-90s soon. He attacks and never lets up.
Big Moment: The seven innings and 14 strikeouts to just one walk at the 2020 PG Fall National Championship Protected by G-Form was a “hello” moment for the powerful lefty. The impressive part was the command he showed in both outings.
Bold Prediction: Snelling shows up and shows his talent on a National stage becoming a star on the biggest platforms.
Trenton Shaw (Texas)
Commitment: Oklahoma State
PG Events: 26
Key Stats: 43 innings pitched, 65 strikeouts, 1.33 WHIP
Short Story: The low-90s fastball and angle he gets with long arms and big extension make the ball jump on hitters quickly. He misses barrels at the top of the zone with plenty of carry. The breaking ball has big shape and continues to develop. His strong frame gives him a great workhorse-type durable profile.
Big Moment: Shaw missed platy of bats a the 16U South World Series as he struck out 11 in just 4+ innings. He is ultra-competitive when he grabs the rock, but it should be noted he has monster power as a left-handed hitter too.
Bold Prediction: The command takes a step forward to match the stuff. He combines a power profile on both sides of the ball and the development comes full circle.
Zach Crotchfelt (N.J.)
PG Events: 21
Key Stats: 26 2/3 innings pitched, 43 strikeouts, 1.61 WHIP
Short Story: This is a physical frame and the velocity comes very easy. He is a solid athlete and the overall stuff racks up swing-and-miss. Both off-speed offerings show real potential with the slider showing late bite.
Big Moment: The WWBA World Championship was a good sign of his capabilities. He threw three innings notching six strikeouts over two outings. There is no question the pressure he can put on opposing hitters.
Bold Prediction: The consistency shows up. He has flashed the ceiling in the past but this is the summer where it shows up every time he jogs to the mound.
Oliver Santos (Calif.)
PG Events: 26
Key Stats: 60 innings pitched, 82 strikeouts, 1.18 WHIP
Short Story: The velocity hasn’t popped yet, but there is little question about the fastball command and competitiveness of Santos. He can pitch to contact or move the heater around to get high-pressure strikeouts.
Big Moment: Santos has always been good and he's been a very consistent performer over the years. Lets go with his last outing at a Perfect Game event, the 2020 WWBA World Championship, where he threw a complete game two-hit masterpiece where he struck out an eye-popping 14 hitters. A huge outing against older competition.
Bold Prediction: The velocity pops and the breaking ball takes a step forward. He is a very good athlete with two-way potential, but the upside on the mound is too much to ignore.
JD Thompson (Texas)
PG Events: 21
Key Stats: 44 2/3 innings pitched, 69 strikeouts, 1.12 WHIP
Short Story: Thompson sits around 90 mph with his fastball and uses his slider/changeup combination that plays off his fastball in a big way. He has a compact delivery and quick arm to go with his confident pitch sequencing.
Big Moment: Another WWBA World Championship standout performer. Thompson struck out 12 hitters during his two outings and did not blink at any older hitter that came to the plate.
Bold Prediction: With a slender frame, all eyes will be on his ability to hold his stuff deep into outings. The athleticism takes over and he proves it on big platforms during the summer.
Bradley Hodges (Fla.)
PG Events: 18
Key Stats: 72 innings pitched, 98 strikeouts, 1.00 whip
Short Story: Another slightly undersized lefty like Thompson, Hodges has similar polish and swing-and-miss capabilities. He has been up to the low-90s and gets an uncanny amount of misses with the fastball. The tight curveball gives him two potential above average pitches.
Big Moment: On a big stage at the 2020 PG 16U World Series, Hodges was a star. He threw against a Final Four WWBA lineup and diced them for eight strikeouts during his five innings. The hammer breaking ball was the big takeaway after the outing.
Bold Prediction: Another good hitter, the lefty will again take a two-way role. The short arm action and jump out of the hand will still be invisible to opposing hitters.
Jamie Arnold (Fla.)
Arnold has shown flashes of dominance during his outings on the biggest stages. This spring he made huge strides in all phases. The next step will be developing as a starter and proving his arsenal can hold up while flipping a lineup a couple times. The bet is that it can.
Benjamin Abeldt (Texas)
The lefty has all the traits to be a front-end starter and the physical projection that one looks for. He has a clean and fluid operation that typically hits big when it fills out. It seems like a matter of time before it pops big.
Drew Nelson (Ala.)
One of the more competitive lefties in the class with a long history of, “give me the ball and watch this” type of a resume. We have seen guys like Nelson before and there is no way he will slow down.
Kyle McCoy (N.J.)
McCoy’s outing at the 2020 PG Underclass proved he can make hitters look as uncomfortable as any arm on the circuit. Three pitches that tunnel from a tough slot will typically do that to even the best hitters.
Griffin Herring (Texas)
Another arm that has never dodged competition. His big game performances started as a freshman where he seemed to invite the challenge of the top teams on the schedule. The deception combined by his command are extremely attractive.
Julien Hachem (Ill.)
This is an exciting follow with his pure size and upside. There is a physical presence that cannot be ignored and it brings some very tough angles that are extremely tough to match.
Brennan Phillips (Okla.)
Phillips can spin the ball. Everything is heavy and it plays up in a big way. The development of the quality of strikes will have to improve, but make no mistake, the ability to collect some swords will be on full display when he toes the rubber.
Cade Fisher (Ga.)
The whole operation is smooth and fluid. The arm stroke and release are clean and he has the feel of three pitches that are released from the same slot. The zeros can hang quickly.
Brett Barfield (Ga.)
Lefties that have a breaking ball like Barfield will get every chance to produce. The reports on the fastball velocity and quality from this spring make the whole canvas pretty complete heading into summer.
Alex Walsh (Fla.)
When Walsh gets going there are some shaking helmets heading back to the dugout after some brutal at-bats. The velocity has not shown up yet, but it is coming. His ability to manipulate the ball is outstanding and the body is insane to dream on.