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High School  | General  | 2/16/2024

Coastal Dream Team & Top Tools

David Rawnsley     

The Coastal Region claims the number one prospect in the 2024 class in slugger P.J. Morlando of South Carolina, plus two more Perfect Game All-Americans in Virginia infielders Aiden Harris and Dalton Wentz.  But despite that, the 2024 Coastal All-Region team is clearly dominated by underclassman, with 8 of the 13 spots claimed by juniors, including four of the five pitchers.  And there are plenty more talented juniors waiting in the wings.

North Carolina’s 2025 class is especially impressive, with five players on the All-Region team, led by the ninth ranked prospect in the class nationally, shortstop Coy James.  Another North Carolina junior, third baseman Kelvyn Paulino Jr (Jr., Ledford HS, N.C.) would make many other All-Region teams and is the 71st ranked player in the 2025 class.

Only two teams from the Coastal Region are represented in the Perfect Game Pre-Season Top 50 and both of those schools are led by a pair of All-Region selections.  Summerville (SC) High School, led by Morlando and two-way standout Carson Messina, checks in at 20th overall.  Wesleyan Christian Academy ranks 34th to start the season but it’s very hard to see anyone beating the Trojans as long as junior right-handers Sam Cozart or Josh Hammond are on the mound.

C – Ryan Schwartz (Sr., Combine Academy, N.C.)

Schwartz is a premium athlete with big strength in his 6-foot-4, 210-pound build and 6.79 speed in the sixty.  He’s played all over the field defensively and owns on of the best catcher’s arms in the country, having thrown 87 mph from behind the plate and 96 mph from the outfield.  A right-handed hitter, Schwartz hit .375-7-36 with 24 walks and 12 steals in 34 games of PG tournament play in 2023.  A Texas signee, Schwartz is the 129th ranked player nationally in the PG 2024 class rankings and the 11th overall catcher.

1B – Evan Hankins (Jr., The Miller School of Albemarle, Va.)

Hankins is a physically imposing 6-foot-5, 215-pound athlete who excels as a two-way player with excellent athleticism for a first baseman his size.  A left-handed thrower and hitter, Hankins has big raw power and surprisingly good barrel skills, while also throwing in the upper 80’s off the mound.  A Tennessee commit, Hankins is ranked 47th nationally in the 2025 PG class rankings.  Remember Beau Hollins (Sr., River Bluff HS, S.C), a South Carolina signee, here as well.

MIF – Coy James (Jr., Davie County HS, N.C.)

James is a two-time Perfect Game Select Festival participant who is currently ranked ninth overall in the 2025 PG class rankings.  He’s a pure shortstop defensively with all the athleticism and actions to stay in the middle of the field and is one of the most accomplished hitters in high school baseball.  A right-handed hitter, James hit .580-2-25/1.474 in 18 PG tournament games in 2023 while also starring as USA Baseball’s leading hitter.  This was after hitting .457 with 18 extra base hits during the spring for Davie County HS.

MIF – Dalton Wentz (Sr., Amherst County HS, Va.)

A Perfect Game All-American, Wentz is a strong bodied 6-foot-2 switch-hitting middle infielder with plus athleticism across the board.  He’s more of a line drive/gap hitter at present, especially with a wood bat, but there is power there in the future.  Wentz’s arm strength is his best infield tool and he’s also been up to 93 mph off the mound.  A South Carolina signee, Wentz hit .360-4-22 and was 3-1, 0.51 with 43 strikeouts in 27 innings on the mound last spring at Amherst County HS.

3B – Aiden Harris (Sr., Pro Development Group, Va.)

Harris is one of the youngest top prospects in the 2024 class but also one of the most physically imposing at a cut 6-foot-4, 230-pounds.  He has some of the best raw bat speed in the country and has posted game exit velocities over 110 mph.  Harris is also an under-rated athlete who runs a 6.98 sixty and throws 92 off the mound, with a chance to stay at third base despite his large frame.

OF – P.J. Morlando (Sr., Summerville HS, S.C.)

Morlando is the top ranked prospect in the PG 2024 class rankings and most of that is about his left-handed bat.  He is a rare combination of a hitter with very advanced barrel to ball skills but easy over the fence power as well.  Originally a catcher who has also seen plenty of time at first base, Morlando profiles as a left fielder at the pro level.  He is signed with South Carolina.

OF – Everett Johnson (Jr., Wayne Country Day HS, N.C.)

Johnson is the consummate leadoff hitter with 6.6 speed and a very patient approach at the plate with advanced barrel to ball skills.  A left-handed hitter, Johnson hit .408 with a .592 on-base percentage and 25 steals in 32 PG tournament games in 2023, replicating his 2023 high school numbers at Wayne Country Day HS, .443 with a .557 on-base percentage and 29 steals.  Johnson also plays some middle infield and may end up at second base at the next level.

OF – Griffin Burkholder (Sr., Freedom HS, Va.)

Burkholder is a very toolsy 6-foot-2, 190-pound athlete with a high ceiling if his bat comes.  He’s run a 6.4 sixty and posted elite level exit velocities and has a strong arm from centerfield.  The West Virginia signee is ranked 93rd nationally in the 2024 PG class rankings. 

RHP Samuel Cozart (Jr., Wesleyan Christian Academy, N.C.)  

It seems like the physically imposing 6-foot-7, 235-pound Cozart has been around forever and he basically has, despite still having another year in high school remaining.  Cozart was a three-time Perfect Game Select Festival participant (2019-21) and is already a five-year veteran of the WWBA World Championships.  Cozart features a full four-pitch mix on the mound, topping out at 93 mph on his fastball, and is a prolific strike thrower.  His older brother, Jake, is a junior catcher at North Carolina State and a potential Day One draft this summer.

RHP  Cameron Seagraves (Sr., Grace Christian HS, N.C.)

The 6-foot-3, 170-pound Seagraves is the only senior on the five-pitcher Coastal Region pitching staff and the 130th ranked pitcher in the 2024 PG class rankings.  He has posted some huge strikeout numbers with a four-pitch mix that includes a fastball that worked at 92-95 mph at the WWBA World Championships to go with two distinct breaking balls and a nice change up.  Seagraves, who is signed with Campbell, struck out 27 hitters in 15 innings of PG tournament play in 2023 after registering 87 K’s in 48 innings during the spring.

RHP  Tyler Baird (Jr., William Amos Hough HS, N.C.)

Baird is a very projectable 6-foot-4, 165-pound junior right-hander who is one of the more projectable young pitchers in the country and who could be ready for a big jump in 2024.  He already works in the 88-92 mph range and will touch higher from a clean set of mechanics and a fluid arm stroke.  Baird also throws a 78 mph breaking ball and a solid change up and is a strike thrower.  He is committed to Vanderbilt.

RHP  Josh Hammond (Jr., Wesleyan Christian Academy, N.C.)  

Hammond is a power pitcher of the first degree, using a strong and athletic 6-foot-1, 210-pound build to generate a heavy mid-90’s fastball to go with a darting low 80’s slider that is his go to pitch.  Ranked 15th overall in the 2025 class and second among right-handed pitchers, Hammond is committed to Wake Forest, where is father, Joey, coached before becoming the head coach at High Point in 2021.  Ironically, Hammond joins fellow junior right-hander Sam Cozart, whose father Joey Hammond succeeded as coach at High Point, on the powerhouse Wesleyan Christian HS pitching staff.

LHP  Austin Dean (Jr., West Potomac HS, Va.)

Dean stands out as a 6-foot-8, 225-pound left-hander with off the charts physical projectability.  He’s worked in the 88-92 mph over the past summer, with lots more velocity there, and throws an 80 mph change up as his best secondary offering.  The 68th overall prospect in the 2025 class and the third ranked left-hander, Dean is committed to Virginia Tech.

UT – Carson Messina (Sr., Summerville HS, S.C.)

Messina started his high school career as a catcher, just like his older brother Cole, who was the All-SEC first team catcher for South Carolina in 2023 after hitting .307-17-65 for the Gamecocks in 2023.  And while the younger Messina’s power really plays at the high school level, the powerfully build 6-foot-3, 225-pound right-handed hitter is now a primary pitcher with two swing and miss pitches in a fastball that reaches 96 mph to go with a nasty high spin slider in the low to mid-80’s.  Carson is signed to follow his brother to South Carolina.

Coastal Region Top Tools

Best Hitter for Average: P.J. Morlando (Sr., Summerville HS, S.C.)

Morlando’s exaggerated spread stance at the plate creates a very repeatable and simple timer and his ultra-fast and strong hands do the rest.  He’s hit .472 with 22 walks versus 8 strikeouts the past two PG summers and hit .476 in 2023 at Summerville High School.  Coy James might already have this spot sown up for next year.

Best Hitter for Power: Aiden Harris (Sr., Pro Development Group, Va.)

Harris made swing adjustments in 2023 to open up his swing to get to his power and the changes paid huge dividends.  In addition to his 110+ exit velocities at the PG All-American Classic, Harris also launched a 489-foot batting practice home run.  It’s always worth noting that Harris was 16 years old at the time and will still be 17 well past the 2024 draft.  Harris is probably also the only player in the country who could P.J. Morlando from winning this category.

Best Runner: Perry Hargett (Sr., Metrolina Christian Academy, N.C.)

Hargett is been a middle infielder on the Dirtbags teams since the beginning of his high school career and appeared in more than 150 PG tournament games.  He features 6.29 speed and a very quick first step, tools that serve him well in the middle infield but also make him a candidate for centerfield, where his 95 mph arm also stands out.  The 115th ranked player in the 2024 class, Hargett is signed with North Carolina.

Best Defensive Catcher: Ryan Schwartz (Sr., Combine Academy, N.C.)

Schwartz’s huge arm and plus athleticism are the big factors in his defense, although he might be starting to press the limits of how big he can get and still handle the position.  Peter Mershon (Jr., Eastside HS, S.C.) has similar athletic traits as Schwartz on both sides of the ball and is likely to take Schwartz’s place on the All-Region team next spring.

Best Defensive Infielder: Coy James (Jr., Davie County HS, N.C.)

James is more of an actions over loud tools type of defender, as he’s always on balance and moving through the ball while making difficult plays look easy.  He’d fit right in as the prototypical “SoCal” shortstop.

Best Defensive Outfielder: Griffin Burkholder (Sr., Freedom HS, Va.)

Burkholder’s combination of blazing speed and long and rangy build is a perfect blue print for a defensive center fielder.

Best Defensive Arm: Dalton Wentz (Sr., Amherst County HS, Va.)

Wentz has a hose on defense that has been up to 97 mph during infield drills at PG showcases.  With his big arm, strong build and switch-hitting ability, there is more than just a little bit of Ken Caminiti in Wentz’ baseball package.  Ryan Schwartz is the other obvious candidate here.

Best Fastball: Josh Hammond (Jr., Wesleyan Christian Academy, N.C.)

Hammond gets his 93-95 (T96) velocity from a strong core and lower half and he really drives down the mound hard to the plate.  With many ultra projectable young pitchers in the Region, including Tyler Baird and Cameron Seagraves, it would be surprising to see some challengers to Hammond this spring.

Best Off-Speed Stuff: Cameron Seagraves (Sr., Grace Christian HS, N.C.)

Josh Hammond’s slider or Tyler Baird’s curveball might be the best individual pitches in the Region but Seagraves has a full four-pitch mix of quality off-speed pitches that all play off each other well.

Best Pitchability: RHP Samuel Cozart (Jr., Wesleyan Christian HS, N.C.)  

Cozart has walked only 6 hitters in 39 innings of PG tournament play the past two years while striking out 54 hitters and throwing 67% strikes.  His high school numbers at Wesleyan Christian HS are even more impressive, as he walked one hitter in 29 innings last spring while striking out 56 hitters.

Best Multi-Sport Athlete: Micah Matthews (Jr., Turner Ashby HS, Va.)

Matthews, who is a two-time Perfect Game Select Festival participant and ranked 58th overall in the 2025 PG class rankings, is also a four-star wide receiver and athlete who has received football offers from most of the Power 5 schools on the East Coast.  Listed at 6-foot-3, 215-pounds, Matthews has run a 6.42 sixty and hit .429-2-17 with 10 steals in 18 PG tournament games in 2023.  He previously had a baseball commitment to South Carolina but is presently not committed for either sport.