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High School | General | 2/8/2021

Regional HS Preview: Southeast

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Braden Montgomery (Perfect Game)
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2021 High School Baseball Preview

Regional Previews: Florida | Pacific

It’s pretty clear that at least for the 2021 season, the Southeast Region can lay claim to being the most talented and deepest of the country’s eight regions. Twelve of the 54 2020 Perfect Game All-Americans are from the region and three of them, LHP Maddux Bruns (Ala.), outfielder Thaddeus Ector (Ga.) and infielder Rob Gordon (Ga.) couldn’t even crack the All-Region team. In addition, the region features five of the top 20 players from the 2022 class, all of whom made this All-Region team.
 
While we mentioned all the problems that players from California had getting on to the field in the Pacific Region posting, that issue didn’t exist in the Southeast Region. With Perfect Game running an expanded tournament schedule out of both East Cobb Complex in Georgia and the Hoover Met Sports Complex in Alabama, many players in the region were able pick up 150-200 or more at-bats and 50-70 innings on the mound over the course of the late spring, summer and fall.
 
A total of 10 high schools, including at least one from all four states in the region, are featured in the Perfect Game Pre-Season High School Top 50 rankings. Buford High School (Ga.), featuring All-Region juniors Dylan Lesko and Riley Stanford, is the top-ranked team, checking in at No. 4 overall. Baylor School of Tennessee is that state’s top team at No. 11, while Jackson Prep (Miss.) ranks 18th and Hoover High School (Ala.) comes in at 28th.
 
C – Harry Ford (Sr., North Cobb HS, Ga.)
The highly-athletic Ford made dramatic improvements over the last year and may be the top offensive high school catcher in the country. He hit .395-6-49 during 58 PG tournament games in 2020 and used his 6.5 speed in the sixty to swipe 16 bases and record six triples.

1B – Jared Jones (Jr., Walton HS, Ga.)
Jones is a primary catcher, but at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds there is obviously some size-based speculation on his ability to stay behind the plate instead to eventually move to first base. There is no doubt about his ability to hit, however, as the right-handed slugger has hit over .400 in 133 PG tournament games the past two years with 14 home runs and 49 doubles.

MIF – Termarr Johnson (Jr., Mays HS, Ga.)
A two-time 14U Select Festival participant (2018, 2019) and the 2019 14U National Player of the Year, Johnson’s career PG tournament numbers read like a series of typos: 182 games and 551 plate appearances, 115 walks, 160 runs scored, 101 RBI, 96 stolen bases and 64 extra-base hits, including 12 home runs. All this from a player who is still 16 years old and barely 5-foot-10.

MIF – Michael Braswell (Sr., Campbell HS, Ga.)
Braswell has a long and lean 6-foot-2, 180-pound middle infield build and graceful actions on defense. He features a plus throwing arm and is a two-way standout with a 91 mph fastball and outstanding command on the mound. Braswell’s offensive game really picked up in 2020 as he gained significant strength leading into the season and improved both his bat speed and power.

3B – Brady House (Sr., Winder-Barrow HS, Ga.)
House, the No. 2-ranked player in the 2021 class, has swept the top honors during his Perfect Game career, participating in both the 2017 and 2018 14U Select Festivals and playing in the 2020 PG All-American Classic. He has a very good chance to be a top-10 pick in the 2021 draft, with third base his likely future position.
 
OF – Camden Hayslip (Sr., Friendship Christian HS, Tenn.)
Hayslip is a big and physically-mature athlete at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds and that strength translates into some of the best left-handed bat speed in the country. A PG All-American, Hayslip is also a plus runner with 6.60 speed in the sixty.
 
OF – Andruw Jones (Jr., Wesleyan HS, Ga.)
Jones has one of the most impressive Perfect Game resumes in the history of the organization, having been named to 40 All-Tournament teams, almost all with the 643 DP Cougars, and winning five Most Valuable Player awards. He’s the third-ranked overall prospect in the 2022 class and still has another year of resume building ahead of him.

OF – Braden Montgomery (Sr., Madison Central HS, Miss.)
Montgomery made huge strides as a player throughout all of 2020, especially as a switch-hitter with his left-handed swing, and would be a candidate for any national Most Improved Player award. He was rewarded with a spot in the PG All-American Classic and is currently ranked 22nd overall in the 2021 class. Montgomery is also an elite-level student off the field and is signed with Stanford.
 
P – Chase Burns (Sr., Beech HS, Tenn.)
Many thought that the powerfully-built 6-foot-4, 215-pound Burns would become the first pitcher to touch 100 mph at a PG event, especially when he worked consistently in the 95-97 mph ranged and topped out at 99 mph at the 2020 PG National. That distinction later went to his PG All-American teammate Chase Petty. Burns doesn’t just stand out as a high-octane arm, as he has a complete four-pitch mix, solid and command and a starter’s profile.

P – Ryan Ginther (Sr., Station Camp HS, Tenn.)
Ginther is a strong-bodied left-hander with a deceptive delivery that really makes his raw stuff play up. A PG All-American who is signed with Vanderbilt, Ginther has been up to 94 mph with his fastball to go with a sharp-breaking low-80s slider.

P – Carter Holton (Sr., Benedictine Military Academy, Ga.)
Armed with a fastball up to 96 to go with a power curveball, Holton has dominated PG tournaments over the last four years, going 15-1 while striking out 198 hitters in 117 innings while allowing only 63 hits, mostly with Team Elite. Holton is also a quality athlete and one of the better two-way players in the country and owns a career .389 batting average.

P – Dylan Lesko (Jr., Buford HS, Ga.)
Lesko has completely dominated PG tournament competition over the last four years, having gone 26-3 over that time, including 15-0 over the past two years. The very athletic two-way player has also been named to 36 All-Tournament teams and taken home seven Most Valuable Pitcher awards while playing for the East Cobb Astros. He works with a fastball that is up to 96 mph, a devastating changeup, solid curveball and outstanding command.

P – James Peyton Smith (Sr., East Robertson HS, Tenn.)
Smith is a virtual baseball twin of fellow All-Southeast Region and PG All-American teammate Chase Burns. Like Burns, Smith is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound athlete who touches the upper-90s while having four solid pitches and a starter’s profile moving forward. Another Vanderbilt signee, Smith is ranked 33rd overall in the 2021 class.

UT – Riley Stanford (Jr., Buford HS, Ga.)
Stanford has always been a primary outfielder, blessed with a top-of-the-scale right field throwing arm and big right-handed power at the plate. But that arm strength also translates well to the mound, where Stanford has topped out at 97 mph, and there are many who think that with more innings under his belt he might end up as a full-time pitcher.

Southeast Region Top Tools 

Best Hitter for Average: Brady House (Sr., Winder-Barrow HS, Ga.)
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound right-handed hitter has played in 132 tournament games in his four-year PG career, hitting a cumulative .429-11-95 with 44 doubles and 37 stolen bases. His power is likely to continue to grow as a collegian or professional.
 
Best Hitter for Power: Jared Jones (Jr., Walton HS, Ga.)
Jones hasn’t only displayed his plus right-handed power at Perfect Game tournaments. He hit .413 with 13 home runs for Walton High School as a freshman in 2019. Brady House is another obvious candidate for this category, as is the diminutive-but-powerful Termarr Johnson.

Best Baserunner: Andruw Jones (Jr., Wesleyan HS, Ga.)
The 6-foot-3 Jones is an easy and gliding runner with a deceptively quick first step for his length. His career PG tournament totals in 205 games include 96 stolen bases and 26 triples.

Best Defensive Catcher: Stone Lawless (So., Huntsville HS, Ala.)
The two elite-level catchers in the region, Harry Ford and Jared Jones, are both primarily offensive standouts, thus leaving the defensive honors in the Southeast Region to precocious Alabama sophomore Lawless. Currently ranked 47th in the 2023 class, Lawless stands out physically at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds with outstanding athleticism for his size behind the plate to go with a strong arm. The Tennessee commit also has big potential on offense with a strong right-handed swing.

Best Defensive Infielder: Termarr Johnson (Jr., Mays HS, Ga.)
For all of Johnson’s offensive exploits (see above), his defense is just as advanced as his bat. He has very good lower half actions and exceptional hand quickness, and although his arm strength is only average and may make second base his ideal long-term position, his overall feel for the game makes up for it.

Best Defensive Outfielder: Andruw Jones (Jr., Wesleyan HS, Ga.)
It would be disrespectful to have anyone else other than Jones as the top outfielder, given that his father was one of the top defensive outfielders of all time. In reality, either Braden Montgomery or Georgia All-American Thaddeus Ector could easily get this honor as well. The Southeast Region is stacked with high-level defensive outfielders.

Best Defensive Arm: Braden Montgomery (Sr., Madison Central HS, Miss.)
Montgomery has been up to 97 mph from the outfield and 94 off the mound. His arm works so well from the outfield and he throws so easily that one actually thinks he’s throwing harder during showcase drills.

Best Fastball: Chase Burns (Sr., Beech HS, Tenn.)
This category could just as easily go to All-Region teammate James Peyton Smith and his mid- to upper-90s heat but when you top out at 99 mph, like Burns did at the 2020 PG National Showcase, it’s hard to not recognize it.

Best Off-Speed Stuff: Dylan Lesko (Jr., Buford HS, Ga.)
Lesko’s changeup is the best in the country and is the type of pitch that over-matches hitters even when they are pretty sure it’s coming, just as PG National Spokesman Trevor Hoffman’s did with big leaguers. Lesko’s curveball is a solid offering but only his third-best pitch.

Best Pitchability: Dylan Lesko (Jr., Buford HS, Ga.)
It’s Lesko’s pitchability and ability to mix and command three pitches as much as his elite stuff that makes him the No. 1 pitching prospect in the 2022 class. He is committed to Vanderbilt if he doesn’t turn pro after the 2022 draft.

Best Multi-Sport Athlete: Camden Hayslip (Sr., Friendship Christian HS, Tenn.)
With his size, physicality and plus speed, it’s no surprise that Hayslip was a two-way standout on the football field early in his high school career and appeared on plenty of recruiting lists under the “Athlete” category. He caught 22 passes for an average of 25 yards per catch as a sophomore.

 

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