Tournaments : : Story
Friday, March 29, 2013

Showdown: Parkview High School

Jeff Dahn         Todd Gold        
Photo: Perfect Game
2013 Perfect Game High School Showdown event page

Perfect Game High School Showdown Team Previews:

Florida Georgia
Venice Indians Parkview Panthers
Sarasota Sailors Blessed Trinity Titans
Mater Academy Lions
Cartersville Hurricanes
Montverde Academy Eagles Savannah Christian Raiders

Parkview Panthers - Roster | Schedule

In 28 years as the head coach at Parkview High School in Lilburn, Ga., legendary Georgia high school coach Hugh Buchanan posted some incredible numbers. Buchanan became the school's first baseball coach when the school opened in 1976 and by the time he retired after the 2004 season, the Panthers program had won 12 Georgia regional championships and three Georgia Class AAAAA state titles.

It would be a tough act for anyone to follow, but then-Parkville assistant coach Chan Brown decided to grab the panther by the tail when he took over for Buchanan in 2005, and Parkview has maintained its status as one of the elite programs not only in the state of Georgia, but in the country.

Since becoming the head coach nine years ago, Brown has led Parkview to three more regional titles and two more Georgia AAAAA (big school) state championships, winning back-to-back in 2011 and 2012. The 2012 Panthers finished No. 5 in the final Perfect Game National High School Rankings.

"Following Coach Buch, that was hard in itself," Brown told the Gwinnett Daily Post after the Panthers won last year's state championship game. "He's such a wonderful baseball person and he built all of this from the ground up. I'm just thankful we could keep that tradition alive."

At the end of next week at Terry Park and City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Fla., four top teams from neighboring Florida will have their chance to get up-close and personal with the Parkview Panthers and all that tradition at the inaugural Perfect Game High School Showdown. The Panthers will play four games against four Florida schools in three days (April 4-6).

This year's Parkview roster features four prospects who have either signed with or committed to NCAA Division I programs, including two of the highest-ranked prospects in their respective classes.

The discussion can certainly start with 2012 Perfect Game All-American and 2012 PG National Showcase alumnus Josh Hart, an outfielder ranked 53rd nationally in the class of 2013. Hart was hitting .444 (16-for-36) with two doubles, two triples, seven RBI and 12 runs after the Panthers' first 11 games this season. He has signed with Georgia Tech but is also ranked the 118th overall prospect in the draft, which could translate into a late second-round or early third-round pick.

Kansas City Royals center fielder Jeff Francoeur, a 2002 Parkview graduate, has the distinction of being the school's highest drafted prospect. The Atlanta Braves selected Francoeur with the 23rd overall pick of the first round in the 2002 draft after he led Parkview to back-to-back AAAAA state titles in 2001-02.

Mac Marshall, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound left-handed junior is ranked No. 20 in the 2014 class. After his first four appearances in 2013, Marshall stood 1-1 with a 2.38 ERA and 26 strikeouts and nine walks in 17 2/3 innings. Marshall, an alumnus of the 2012 PG Junior National Showcase, has committed to Georgia. 2013 third baseman/right-hander Jarrett Freeland has signed with Georgia and 2013 outfielder Ryan Blanton has signed with Georgia State.

The Panthers won eight of their first 11 games this spring to start the defense of their back-to-back state titles.

"We're playing decent baseball and we're taking some steps forward," Brown said. "We've got two sophomores and a junior starting in the middle for us, and they're taking some baby steps and having to grow up in a hurry, and we've got some pretty young pitching. We're trying to take some baby steps right now and get it right for a run at the end."

Brown expects those baby steps to become monster steps at the PG High School Showdown next week. The Panthers will be tested right out of the gate when they open play at the event on Thursday (April 4) against No. 3 nationally ranked Venice (Fla.) High School. It will be one tradition-rich program versus another.

"We have a lot of quality players and a pretty talented team, but we're kind of young in some areas, so there are some areas that have to grow up in a hurry," Brown said. "If that happens we have a chance to be a decent baseball team."

High School Team Breakdown: Parkview High School

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank):

1.  Josh Hart, OF, 2013, 53
2.  Mac Marshall, LHP/OF, 2014, 20
3.  Jarrett Freeland, 3B/RHP, 2013, 500 (injured)
4.  Ryan Blanton, OF, 2013, High Follow
5.  Daino Deas, SS, 2015, Top High Follow

Leadoff hitter 2013 OF Josh Hart sets the table at the top of the order about as well as anyone in all of high school baseball. 11 games into the 2013 season and Hart is hitting .444 and is a perfect 9-for-9 on stolen base attempts and has scored 12 runs. His ability to work counts and force pitchers to labor for outs early on also sets up his teammates who hit behind him in the order and can have a big team impact in the second and third trips through the order.

The absence of Jarrett Freeland who is out with an injury depleted the depth of the lineup a bit, which adds to the disparity from last year's club which won a second consecutive state championship and finished as the No. 5 ranked team in the nation. Graduation took a couple of key pieces of the puzzle offensively, including the team's top power source 2012 1B/RHP Matt Olson, a supplemental first round pick of the Oakland Athletics.

Stepping up this year for the Panthers to provide support behind Hart in the lineup are 2013 1B Jarrett Hood, who is hitting .433/.438/.767, 2013 OF Micah Finley (.440/.481/.560) and 2013 C Hunter Thornton (.323/.447/.581). Hood and Thornton are each tied for the team lead with a pair of home runs.

2014 LHP Mac Marshall has begun to show the potential to develop into an elite level pitching prospect. His fastball velocity has steadily climbed and is now comfortably in the low 90s, having been as high as 94 this season. Marshall is the staff ace, while fellow 2014 LHP Corey Vann has outperformed him to this point, putting a sparkling 0.88 ERA through 16 innings thus far, striking out 20 while allowing just three walks through 16 innings. Vann's emergence has been a huge boost for the Panthers, who lost No. 2 starter Jarret Freeland to injury at the beginning of the season.

While the statistical leader to this point has been Vann, Marshall has done well himself, piling up 26 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings. His 2.83 ERA is artificially inflated thanks to being involved in a high scoring victory over nationally ranked Grayson HS.

Closer 2013 1B/RHP Sam McCoy comes in following hard throwing starters and frustrates hitters with his sidearm delivery and has posted a 1.40 ERA with a pair of saves in seven appearances out of the Panther bullpen.  

While this year's Panthers team lacks the depth that made them so dangerous last year, they are getting excellent pitching on the young season and are lead by a pair of high level MLB Draft prospects in leadoff hitting centerfielder Josh Hart and left handed starter Mac Marshall. While Venice appears to the favorite on paper entering the tournament, Parkview has bounced around the back end of the top ten of the National Top 50 rankings throughout the season to this point and with the ability to send Marshall to the mound to take on Venice in the tourney opener, they have a chance to pull a minor upset and move into position to capture the championship.

It would not be a surprise at all if the Panthers were to add the 2013 PG High School Showdown to a growing list of championships.
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