High School : : General
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Regional HS Preview: Southeast

Frankie Piliere        
Photo: Perfect Game
2013 Perfect Game High School Baseball Preview Index

Southeast Region: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee

Tools Galore In The Southeast

You name the tool and the southeast part of the United States has it by the truckload. Be it Justin Williams’ monstrous power or the blinding speed of Terry McClure or Josh Hart, you name it and this part of the country has it. Of course, that should come as no surprise anymore, as Georgia in particular has become an all out factory for professional baseball talent.

All credit shouldn’t go just to the tools of the position players, however. The state of Tennessee can speak most loudly about this fact - there is quite a bit of pitching in the southeast to be watched very closely at the high school level this spring. It’s in Tennessee that we find the brothers’ Sheffield, two of the best arms in any part of the country. Justus Sheffield is one of the nation’s most intriguing 2014 graduates and he’s armed with a 91-93 mph fastball from the left side. Not to be outdone, older brother Jordan Sheffield has reached 98 mph with his fastball and is arguably the premier high school arm in the 2013 class.

(Read Jeff Dahn's feature on the Sheffield brothers here.)

Together, with catcher Will Haynie, as well as Heritage righty Trevor Clifton and Farragut righty, Kyle Serrano, the siblings help form an exceptionally strong year for high school baseball in the state of Tennessee. The state has two teams featured in Perfect Game’s preseason top 50, Tullahoma and Farragut.

Moving south to Alabama, it’s also shaping up to a solid class of talent, making for some impressive high school teams in the process. Following up on a 41-12 season in 2012 and getting bounced in the semifinals of the Alabama 5A state championship tournament, Russell County is bringing back a talented roster led by Anfernee Grier, who is ranked 38th in the Perfect Game class of the 2013 rankings. They enter the spring as the nation’s 24th ranked team on Perfect Game’s preseason top 50. Aside from Grier, they also feature right-hander, Jesse Nelson, who reaches 92 mph with his fastball.

Louisiana is going to be a hot destination for professional scouts this spring due to the presence of Justin Williams and southpaw, Garrett Williams. Both are among the elite players in the 2013 draft class, but among the elite teams in the nation is Louisiana’s Barbe High School in Lake Charles. They won’t be a team loaded with elite draft talent, but what they do have is nine total players ranked on Perfect Game’s top 500 lists for the 2013 and 2014 graduating classes. Few teams in any part of the country can boast that type of depth, and that’s why they are 38th on the our preseason top 50. They’ll look to repeat as state champions in 2013.

While other states in the region are undoubtedly having solid years in terms of raw talent, there’s just no topping the state of Georgia. They feature three teams in our preseason top 50, including Parkview, Loganville, and Grayson. Not coincidentally, all of those teams have elite draft talent that will have scouts coming back over and over this spring. If you’re looking to pinpoint just what makes Loganville so talented, look no further than the number one ranked player in the 2013 high school class, Clint Frazier.

Loganville isn’t the alone in having a premium, headliner type player. Grayson comes armed with Austin Meadows, who enters the spring as the nation’s number three ranked high school player. And, Parkview, who will enter the spring as the favorites to take home the state title, boasts an extremely deep roster that of course includes speedy outfielder, Josh Hart.

It’s obvious that the theme in the region in 2013 is the strength and wide array of tools from its position players. And, many of these toolsy talents figure to clash at some point, at least in Georgia, which should make for some of the best matchups in the nation. As an example, Parkview at Grayson on March 15th could make a case for being the best high school matchup of the 2013 season.

Southeast High School Dream Team

Based on present tools and position played for high school team

C - Will Haynie, Sr. Brentwood Academy (Tenn.)
If there’s a weakness in 2013 in the southeast, it’s the lack of catching depth. Most of the talent is concentrated in the outfield and middle infield positions. Now, that doesn’t make Haynie any less deserving of his spot here, however. Haynie has an outstanding throwing arm from behind the plate, and although his 6-foot-5 frame would indicate otherwise, his receiving actions are very sound.

1B - Kel Johnson, Jr. Home Schooled (Ga.)
He may be home schooled, but you simply cannot talk about baseball in the southeast without talking about Kel Johnson. His large frame and prolific power have drawn comparisons to many big league sluggers of past and present, and he appears to still be improving. First base may not be his long term home, but for the purposes of this team he’s a fit here. It’s quite a feat for an underclassmen to even be considered for this team when you consider the depth of talent in the region, but Johnson is an easy choice when you weigh just how talented an offensive player he is. He’s well situated as not only one of the elite players in the region, but in the 2014 draft class as a whole.

MIF - Wesley Jones, Sr. Redan (Ga.)
There are not many things Wesley Jones can’t do on a baseball field. He electrified onlookers at the World Wood Bat Championship in Jupiter, putting on a show in the field and at the plate. While his body may end up pushing him to third base at the professional level, you’d be hard pressed to find a more sound defensive player than Jones. And, his fast right-handed bat should keep scouts intrigued throughout the spring.

MIF - Gregory Deichmann, Jr. Brother Martin (La.)
It has to be said again - making the cut for this dream team as a junior in such a deep talent like the southeast has is a major accomplishment. That being said, Deichmann is a major player and will be one we continue to hear a lot about over the next year. The 6-foot-1, 180 pound left-handed slugger showed off upper deck raw power at the PG Junior National Showcase last summer, as well as a plus speed and sound defensive actions. He figures to be one of the elite performers in his part of the country this spring.

3B - Travis Demeritte, Sr. Winder-Barrow (Ga.)
There weren’t a lot of easy decisions for this team, but Demeritte was among the easiest at third base. He’s been a well known commodity for a few years now, and has established himself as one of the elite infielders in the nation in the process. His plus raw arm strength allows him to fit very neatly into the third base profile at the next level, as does his bat speed and raw power.

OF - Clint Frazier, Sr. Loganville (Ga.)
OF - Austin Meadows, Sr. Grayson (Ga.)
OF - Justin Williams, Sr. Terrebonne (La.)
Speaking of easy decisions, selecting the outfielders for this team was about as simple as it gets. Obviously there is going to be a place for the number one ranked high school player in the country. If there’s something Clint Frazier can’t do, he’s doing a good job of hiding it - he’s a weapon with his legs, his arm, and most of all with his bat. He’s also spent as much time as any player in the country playing against elite competition, and he should be primed for a monster spring in 2013.

As for Williams and Meadows, they are also ranked among the top five high school players in the country. All three of those outfielders have multiple plus tools, and one tool that is potentially the best in the draft class. And, considering the talented outfielders that couldn’t find a home on this list like Josh Hart and Terry McClure, it makes their feat all the more impressive. This is as strong a group of outfielders as you will find in any year.

UT - Anfernee Grier, Sr. Russell County (Ala.)
Grier is another one of those outfielders who gets squeezed out because of that immensely talented trio. But, his plus speed, cannon arm, and compact right-handed swing is just too difficult to keep off the team entirely. He should find himself going off the board very early when the June draft rolls around.

P - Garrett Williams, Sr. Calvary Baptist Academy (La.)
P - Keegan Thompson, Sr. Cullman (Ala.)
P - Kevin Davis, Sr. TR Miller (Ala.)
P - Jordan Sheffield, Sr. Tullahoma (Tenn.)
P - Justus Sheffield, Jr. Tullahoma (Tenn.)
Jordan Sheffield is a slam dunk selection for this list, and what’s frightening about his brother Justus is that he may end up being an even better pro prospect by the time next June roles around. Left-handers who pitch in the low 90s as juniors don’t exactly grow on trees. The top of this southeast class in terms of pitching is relatively clear cut. Kevin Davis and his 94 mph fastball could be on a steady rise up the draft boards this spring, and the same can be said for Keegan Thompson. Thompson’s loose, projectable frame and 90-94 mph fastball could make him the most attractive prospect of this entire group, perhaps even more so than Sheffield and his 98 mph fastball. Garrett Williams is likely the most polished lefty in the region and should be poised for a huge spring.

Southeast Region Best Tools

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