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College  | Recruiting  | 11/29/2021

Uncommitted Gems: Southeast Region

Jered Goodwin     
Photo: Jackson Hiatt (Perfect Game)
While a good portion within the class of 2022 put pen to paper a couple weeks back during the early signing period, there are several uncommitted gems throughout the country who have the talent and tools to make an impact at the next level. Over the next week we'll take a deeper look into five different regions, beginning with the Southeast, where several of these players have made a name for themselves throughout their Perfect Game careers. 

Jackson Hiatt (2022, Cantonment, Fla.) has an imposing 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame but wears it easy and one can see it filling out even more to help him be the first player off the bus at the next level. It’s a bit hard to see how Hiatt is uncommitted after the 2021 circuit where he hit .365 with an 1.029 OPS. He belted nine doubles and a homer and also starred at the National Showcase. The primary corner infielder proved he has some ability on the mound as he fired upper-80s fastballs as well, while filling up the zone.

Jaxon Pastore (2022, Highland Beach, Fla.) seemed healthy and ready in Jupiter as the 6-foot-3, 195-pound right-handed pitcher fired heaters at 87-88 with a mid-70s curveball and low-80s changeup. Pastore presents the body and athleticism that seems to always pop when matured and gets to his senior spring. This would not be a surprise at all, and the righty could be a huge addition to a program at the next level from day one. 

Anthony "AJ" Hunerberg (2022, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) is a 6.63 runner with real burst on the bases and in the outfield. He has a strong 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame and wears the weight well. The arm plays in the outfield with good carry and he has all the tools to play anywhere in the grass. He also combines a solid hit tool, with some thump, compiling a .941 OPS in 2021. Hunerberg is also younger for the grade.

Tysen Benford (2022, Acworth, Ga.) has crazy strength in his right-handed swing and uses every bit of his powerful 6-foot-4, 250-pound frame. He isn’t a one-trick pony though, as Benford hit an impressive .372 with a .968 OPS in 2021 with 10 doubles and two home runs. There aren’t a lot of available true power threats that also create as many freebies that the Georgia native did on the regular throughout the summer and fall.

Austin Breedlove (2022, Ooltewah, Tenn.) has a quick shoulder and an over-the-top release and fires 87-90 mph fastballs. The righty can work north-to-south and mix a short slider and sinking changeup. At 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, he as an optimal athletic frame and he already struck out more than one hitter per inning in 2021.

Matt Dupuis (2022, Woodstock, Ga.) is a center field-type defender at the next level with his .6.62 speed and the type of first-step quickness that is desired. At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, the body will still add muscle and help add pop to the .333 average and 20 stolen bases in 38 games he posted in 2021. Dupuis has a strong arm and can make all the throws as well.

Aidan Jolley (2022, Acworth, Ga.) is a good defensive catcher with solid quickness to the ground and out of the crouch. His 5-foot-9, 170-pound build produces more pop than you would think as his .889 OPS and three dingers in 2021 would attest to. To build the resume, he has 11 home runs in his Perfect Game career. This is a really balanced defensive/offensive profile at a premium position.

Ryan McTighe (2022, Dunwoody, Ga.) has an athletic 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame with intrigue on both sides of the ball.  He threw 39 innings and struck out 43 over the summer and fall and barely gave up any earned runs. There is real control here and he hides the ball well to help the fastball that runs up in the mid-80s play up even more. The 12/6 breaker plays perfectly off the over-the-top release, especially up in the zone.

Barry Manning (2022, Stone Mountain, Ga.) was fantastic at the National Showcase in June when the tools played in a big way. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound wiry athletic hit .340 during 2021 with a line drive path and lots of whip to the barrel. He has been up to 90 mph on the mound to show his arm strength, though he is a bat. Manning is also a 6.63 runner and can change the game on both ends of the diamond.

Kaden Varela Payne (2022, Wake Forest, N.C.) is a really fast shoulder right-handed pitcher that has sprightly athleticism and big upside. At 6-foot-1, 167 pounds, the body has plenty to add in terms of strength and weight. He can already rack up the strikeouts when he attacks the zone, and he is filling the zone up more than ever now. This is a super intriguing arm to follow this spring.

McKane Everett (2022, Lebanon, Tenn.), a strong framed left-handed hitter, has a sturdy 6-foot-1, 205-pound build and noticeably strong forearms. His relaxed approach helps to identify and work counts until he unleashes the barrel with big intent. The Tennessee native hit .333 with three doubles while producing enticing RBI numbers in the middle of the order. He played mostly first base in our looks but does have a catching background. 

Jean Cuello (2022, Naples, Fla.) came on strong late in the summer, finding his power stroke with 10 extra-base hits. Cuello worked nine walks, and he also stole nine bases to round out a solid summer where he hit .316. He has the actions and instincts to stay in the middle of the diamond and his 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame also has a classic look for the profile. 

Patrick Engskov (2022, Little Rock, Ark.) plays with a ton of energy coming from a motor that doesn’t stop. He is a do-it-all 6-foot, 181-pound infielder that can influence the outcome in a number of ways. The versatility on defense is a plus as he can play all over the dirt with the athleticism and IQ to play anywhere on the field. Offensively, Engskov has quick wrists and a short direct path that helps him collect hits from line-to-line. He should be an instant contributor at the next level.

Grayson Kellett (2022, Hokes Bluff, Ala.) punished baseballs during the circuit, mostly due to his really strong top hand that he punches with resolve to help an accurate and direct path. The barrel-chested 6-foot, 205-pound athlete should continue to produce in the left-handed batters box, and if he builds on the .366 average with a 1.081 OPS he produced this summer, Kellett could be a late steal. The young power bat is already displaying one-swing, game-changing ability.

Luke Thomas (2022, Climax, N.C.) was one of the impressive risers near the end of fall from both performance and for the tick up in stuff. There is a lot to like in terms of building on the wiry 6-foot-1, 175-pound frame that is already producing upper-80s velocity. Given the overall athleticism and current hand speed, the velocity should come organically as he matures. Both off-speed offerings also miss bats in bunches as the curveball has depth and the changeup has late fade. The aforementioned swing-and-miss in “bunches” includes a double-digit strikeout performance down the stretch.