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Tournaments  | Story  | 12/9/2022

Regional Superlatives: Coastal

Craig Cozart     
Photo: Everett Johnson (Perfect Game)
Most Likely to Make a Huge Jump in the Rankings in 2023:

Maddox Jack, RHP, Hickory, N.C.
Jack is a tremendously athletic arm that has kind of been flying under the radar, but looks like he is primed for a breakout in 2023. At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, his delivery is clean as he works through a high three-quarter arm and the rotational force he creates in his midsection is impressive. Additionally, he is extremely strong, yet flexible in his lower half. We saw his fastball peak at 91 this year with significant ride through the zone, plus he spins both a slider and curveball with ease. There is every reason to believe a velocity jump is right around the corner when you consider his complete skillset. The Old Dominion commit capped off his stellar 2022 by handling two high-leverage relief appearances as an underclassman in Jupiter, where he pitched 3 2/3 innings, collecting 3 strikeouts, and allowing no runs.
 

Quinn Bentley, INF, Wilmington, N.C.
With a large, projectable frame and the classic left-handed stroke, Bentley has the look of the next power-hitting corner infielder. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound NC State commit has a mature approach at the plate and already creates high-end bat speed. He gets excellent turn from his hips as he gets off his backside and generates consistent loud contact. While there is a lot of projection here, he put up legit numbers this year in PG events batting .364 with an OPS of 1.013. He is a career .400 hitter in over 250 plate appearances on the circuit and the power is just now starting to play. He has made nice strides defensively as well, moving well laterally and showing plenty of arm strength to make deep plays to his backhand.

Christian Serrano, INF, Fuquay Varina, N.C.
When you look at bloodlines and projection, the Serrano name runs deep for several generations. With a father that was an All-American D-I catcher and an older brother that was a Perfect Game All-American, it is just a matter of time before Christian puts it all together. He is long, lean and looks like he will stick in the middle of the infield long term as he covers ground with a perceived ease that can be deceiving. While there is some swing-and-miss right now, the functional length and leverage he is showing with the stick is sure to put up big numbers in 2023. Being around the game at a high level from a young age has allowed him to develop natural instincts for the game as well. Serrano is committed to NC State.




Most Likely to Hit .500 at PG Events in 2023:

Drew Downs, OF, Cary, N.C.
A year ago, Downs was one of the fastest risers in any class with his elite athleticism and pure left-handed stroke, making him one of the most coveted recruits at the end of 2021. He batted .424 in PG events with an OPS of 1.125 in 99 at-bats with three times as many walks as strikeouts. However, an injury early last spring put him out of commission for the bulk of 2022 as he missed all summer and fall. That being said, the Vanderbilt commit has dedicated himself to the weight room, is fully recovered and primed to go off with the stick in 2023. He is a proven in-game performer, a tenacious competitor and will be hungry to compete once again at the highest level.
 

Everett Johnson, OF, Youngsville, N.C.
It’s one thing to come out of nowhere and hit when nobody knows your name, and a completely different scenario when you are a marked man as soon as you walk into the ballpark. Johnson has been a known entity for quite a while and has had well over 300 career PG at-bats, carrying an average of .429 and over a .500 OBP. Committed to NC State, the left-handed hitter displays next-level barrel control with the strike zone discipline well ahead of his years. He can lean on balls gap-to-gap, projects to have power long term and the above average foot speed serves him well on the bases. There is every reason to anticipate Johnson will put up big numbers at the plate in 2023.

Brady Marshall, INF, Mocksville, N.C.
Marshall already has the look and physicality of a middle-of-the-order bat with the actions of an elite corner infielder. He really excels with the stick, working from a stance where he gets into his base well, allowing him to get on plane quickly and create loud lofted contact. His hands are densely strong, and they have special whip as he accelerates the barrel to impact. He put together his best PG events performance to date as he batted .363 on the 2022 season. He knows his strengths at the dish, has walked twice as much as he has struck out and is a big run producer. Already committed to the University of Tennessee, there could be two-way potential in his future as well.


Most Likely to Make a Velo Jump into the Mid-90s in 2023:
 

Connor Chicoli, RHP, Raleigh, N.C.
The Georgia Tech commit has the look of a classic power arm as he strolls to the mound with his 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame. He is broad-shouldered with lean muscle mass and a clean operation on the mound that produces easy upper-80s to low-90s velocity. Chicoli is loose and flexible in the mid-section allowing him to create excellent separation and a lot of torque as he accelerates to release point. His arm path is simple, inline and he loads it very well at foot strike before getting significant lay back. All the indicators point to a significant jump in velocity as he adds strength and mass in 2023.

Daniel Parker, RHP, Hartsville, S.C.
Parker is a steady performer and has continually trended upward with his overall stuff on the mound. He is listed at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, but has a much bigger presence than that on the mound. He loads to a strong, tall posture over the rubber with an athletic leg lift to his chest. This allows him to create good distance down the slope and the fastball jumps on hitters. The South Carolina commit’s arm works smoothly into a deep and slightly offline arm path and gets to release in a hurry. His fastball peaks in the low-90s with above-average spin traits and his twitchy actions on the mound should produce continued gains in velocity.

Jacob Smith, RHP, Winston Salem, N.C.
While he hasn’t even turned 16 years old yet, Smith is moving rapidly towards the 90 mph range and has added almost 20 mph to his fastball in the last two years. The NC State commit has the frame that is more than capable of handling this workload at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds and his relatively low-effort delivery projects long term. Smith is very strong in the lower half and rotates efficiently over his frontside to a consistent finish, leading him to being an elite strike thrower as well. There is every reason to believe he will stay on the track he is currently and push his velocity to an even more elite level later in 2023.


Most Likely to Back Up a Breakout in 2022:

Perry Hargett, INF, Peachland, N.C.
It wouldn’t be hard to argue that Hargett has five legitimate tools if you just watch him in a workout. He is densely muscled, runs a 6.3 in the 60-yard dash, has a 90 mph arm, and has proven he can hit for power and average. He excelled on the mound, allowing only 1 earned run in 19 2/3 innings while striking out 20 batters in his PG events. While that is impressive, he is a no-doubt middle infielder with smooth actions and a strong accurate arm. The bat is his carrying tool for the UNC commit as he finished the fall with a monster performance at the Underclass Coastal Fall World Series, batting .667 with a ridiculous 1.706 OPS and .789 OBP.

Parker Lakey, RHP, Harrisburg, N.C.
Players can make a name for themselves when they perform on the biggest stage, especially as an underclassman at an event like Jupiter. That is exactly what Lakey did, as he showed his best velocity, up to 92 mph and pitched three perfect innings in relief. This is not to say the UNC commit hadn’t pitched well all year, he had, but this was a statement outing for him. He showed a power breaking pitch and ride on his heater on his way to striking out four of the nine batters he faced. The righty is a stout 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, has really refined his delivery in 2022 and looks like he will continue to push his way to the upper levels of the 2025 class.
 

Carson Bolemon, LHP, Greenville, S.C.
Bolemon put up eye-popping numbers on the bump and at the plate in 2022. While he may end up exclusively on the mound, there is the intrigue of a power stick from the right side of the plate where he produced runs consistently for his club. On the mound, the Wake Forest commit was downright unhittable for the better part of the 2022 circuit. He went 30 1/3 innings, surrendering a minuscule 8 hits, 2 earned runs while punching out an absurd 51 batters. Bolemon’s fastball is already in the mid- to upper-80s with quality secondary offerings and ample projection left in his 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame.


Most Likely to Lead the Region in Home Runs in 2023:

Holden Cooper, C, Raleigh, N.C.
An athletic, well-built 6-foot, 175 pounds, Cooper is a power-oriented player who really displayed middle-of-the-order offensive production in 2022. He works from a somewhat narrow, even stance and gets off his backside well. Most of his contact is to the pull side, and he generates easy loft as he gets on plane early and keeps the barrel there long through impact. The East Carolina commit produced 4 home runs, 6 doubles and an OPS of 1.037 in less than 100 at-bats in PG events. He showed good zone awareness and finished the year batting .354 as well. If he can add more mass, Cooper may double his home run production in 2023.
 
Evan Hankins, INF, Bristol, Va.
Extremely advanced from a physicality standpoint at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, Hankins embodies the look of a left-handed power hitter down the line. He is a no-brainer on the mound with his upper-80s velocity, but the offensive potential cannot be denied. The Tennessee commit hits from an upright stance and creates a ton of leverage as he fires his hands to contact. He gets the barrel out front creating natural loft and there is plenty of carry, especially to the pull side. Hankins also creates excellent torque from his hips, working his power from the ground up. If he improves his strike zone discipline and cuts down on the swing-and-miss in 2023, we should see his home run totals go up significantly.

Will Holden, C, Advance, N.C.
Holden profiles as an offensive backstop with present strength and a solid, symmetrical build at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds. He hits from an upright stance and uses a significant hanging leg lift, which is where he generates much of his pop. The Wake Forest commit shows nice looseness to his hands, keeps the barrel in the zone for a long time in a good way, and gets the ball in the air with ease. In 2022 PG events he produced 3 home runs, 2 triples, and 9 doubles with an OPS of 1.155 while he walked twice as much as he struck out. His consistency on the barrel should lead him to an even more productive 2023 season.