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PG Select Baseball Festival  | General  | 8/26/2023

13u Select Festival Roster Preview: West

Jheremy Brown     
Photo: Valentin Ceballos/Dru Wilson
For the second time in as many years, the 13u Perfect Game Select Festival is returning to Lindsey Nelson Stadium on the campus of the University of Tennessee for the 5th annual installment of the game. This weekend, 40 of the best 13u aged players from across the country, as well as from Venezuela, will descend upon Knoxville for a weekend of high-end baseball, culminating with a 9 inning game Sunday, August 27th at 11 AM which will be broadcasted live on PerfectGame.TV. 

For 17 players, this weekend is a return to the Select Festival as they played in either the 11 or 12u iteration (or both) while the other 23 players begin their Perfect Game Journey. The PG Journey is something we dove into last week prior to the PG All-American Classic as 11 players played in both the 13u and 14u Select Festivals before getting the call for this year's classic, including the game's MVP Ty Southisene. 

In what's sure to be a tightly contest game between the East and West, these rosters have a little bit of everything from eye-opening offensive numbers, to upper-80s fastballs and slick defenders who'll made you do a double take as to what you just saw. Today we begin with a breakdown of the West team, detailing each of the 20 players and what we can expect to see come Sunday. 

Aaron Garcia, C, Class of 2028
5-8/140, R-R, ZT Prospects National, Pico Rivera, Calif.

It’s easy for defensive play to get overlooked at the 13u level, especially behind the plate, but Garcia continued to solidify himself as one of the top defenders in the class this summer before showing off his arm strength all over the diamond at the 13u National. A primary backstop with the athleticism and versatility to play all over the diamond (86 mph from both the infield and outfield), Garcia shows no problem handling upper-80s velocity while the block and recover skills are amongst the best. And don’t let the defensive talk detract from what he did offensively as he hit .453 this summer over 159 at-bats, showing real bat-to-ball skills (only 9 strikeouts) with a gap-to-gap approach.

Blake Ragsdale, SS, Class of 2027
5-11/170, R-R, Chicago White Sox Ace, Burr Ridge, Ill.

Already committed to TCU, it’s easy to see what the Horned Frogs’ coaching staff saw in the young Illinois native when they committed him, from his present skill set to long-term potential. Physically built with strength proportioned throughout, Ragsdale moves very well on his feet as he plays with a bounce and fluidity, taking clean angles to balls while showcasing soft hands and a strong arm across the diamond. He impressed throughout the 14u National Showcase with his in game swings as well, showing the ability to spin on balls through the pull side but also go the other way with authority and impact off of his barrel, generating nice extension out front with quickness to his hands.

Brandon Perkins Jr., OF, Class of 2028
5-9/160, R-R, TG DBacks 13u Scout, Bowling Green, Ky.

Whether he’s in the vicinity at the time the ball leaves the bat or not, there’s a good chance Perkins Jr. will be there before the ball touches down in the outfield grass as he’s that type of defender and already possesses 6.9 speed. That same speed allowed for 37 thefts this spring and summer -with only one caught stealing- and that’s just one of the many impressive numbers the young Kentucky native managed to put up. Despite starting with a lower hand set at the plate, the bat-to-ball skills are very real as he hit .505 on the year with 5 triples, 4 home runs and 58 RBI while striking out only 9 (!) times in 105 at-bats.

Brayden Landry, SS, Class of 2027
5-11/150, R-R, SBA Bolts National, Puyallup, Wash.

Landry has been known for his defensive actions for some time now and despite jumping onto the big diamond this year, the Washington native continued to impress in the dirt. He plays the premium position with poise and balance, remaining in control of his body while showing off soft hands and lateral quickness with relative ease. Another member of the 2027 class who’s young for the grade, Landry had himself quite the showing at the13u National with the bat in his hand, finding the barrel in what felt like every at-bat. Of his knocks, Landry picked up a triple that he scorched down the pull side line, showing plenty of hand speed and natural leverage in his stroke.

Caleb Alexander, SS, Class of 2027
5-9/165, R-R, Wildcatters Burgos, Houston, Texas

A two-time Select Festivaler, Alexander is looking to keep the MVP honors in Houston with him after taking home the 12u honors just a year ago. He continues to add physicality to his frame and it plays throughout his game, whether it be in the dirt or with the bat in his hands. He proved to be a catalyst for his Wildcatters team this summer, consistently in the middle of things, though it’s hard not to be when you possess the type of tools Alexander does. His swing is crisp and packs a punch (87 mph exit velocity with wood) as he remains direct and compact to the ball with plenty of bat speed and a true all fields approach.

Chase Cotton, RHP, Class of 2028
5-10/170, R-R, ZT Prospects National, Lincoln, Calif.

As each of Cotton’s three innings passed, the fastball velocity continued to climb as he opened up bumping into the low-80s before gradually gaining velocity, peaking at 85 mph into his final inning of work. He has a stronger 5-foot-10 frame and while his arm speed and strength are enough to over power hitters at this age level, the natural cutting action he’s able to generate truly helps set his fastball apart from some other hard throwers in the class. At the 13u National we saw Cotton run the pitch in on the hands before cutting it away for whiffs to righties, all the while mixing a pair of secondary offerings and peppering the strike zone.

Dru Wilson, OF, Class of 2028
5-11/160, R-R, ZT Prospects National, Porter Ranch, Calif.

If you’re looking for tools, you don’t have to look much further than the two-time Festival alum Dru Wilson as the 5-foot-11 outfielder has the talent and ability to take over a game in several facets. The physicality and strength stand out immediately with Wilson, but so too do his overall athleticism and looseness he possesses, whether running the baseball or tracking down a ball to the gap in the outfield. A 7.24 runner already, Wilson’s right-handed swing is at the forefront of what he brings to the table as both his bat speed and ability to impact to all fields are amongst the best at his age group, finishing the year with a .443/.567/1.284 slash and 5 home runs.

Easton Brunson, 1B/OF, Class of 2028
5-11/161, L-R, Premier-National, Highlands, Texas

You may not be as familiar with Brunson’s name as you are some of the other bats in the class, but the left-handed slugger out of Texas will make sure you remember him after taking only a couple of hacks. Despite playing a portion of his summer at the 14u level around the state of Texas, Brunson still managed to clobber an eye opening 16 home runs in 2023 and continued to showcase his strength at the 13u National. The juice comes easy for Brunson and he showed the ability to impact the baseball the other way, as well as to the pull side, while also showing versatility on defense thanks to his overall athleticism and arm strength.

Ethan Torres, RHP, Class of 2028
6-0/155, R-R, ZT Prospects National, Irvine, Calif.

In every age group there’s always an arm or two that seems to draw a crowd of onlookers each and every time they toe the rubber and in the 2028 class, Torres appears to be that arm as he draws whispers from behind the backstop with every 86-87 mph fastball that crosses the plate. Long and lanky with endless room to still fill out, Torres isn’t your typical young, hard thrower in that he can’t harness his big fastball and quite frankly, it’s the opposite for the Californian right-hander as he maintained a 0.88 ERA over 32 innings, a span in which he punched out 59 and limited hitters to a .127 average against.

Jacob Gray, SS, Class of 2028
5-10/165, R-R, ZT Prospects National, Benicia, Calif.

Yet another standout from California, Gray looks the part out on the field with a broad shouldered and strongly built 5-foot-10 frame and has the skillset to back it up. While Gray is one of the stronger players on the ZT Prospects club, there’s plenty of room for additional strength down the road, meaning those 20 doubles he hit in 2023 could start making their way over the fence, adding the 5 he connected for this year. The barrel skills and hand-eye are clear with Gray while his instincts on the bases allowed for 38 stolen bags and that same footwork results in fluid movements in the dirt with clean glove skills.

Joel Vargas, OF, Class of 2028
5-9/145, R-R, Padres Scout Team, San Diego, Calif.

There’s something to be said about arriving at an event like the 13u National and putting your stamp on it with a couple of loud, booming doubles in live action and that’s exactly what the San Diego product did throughout the weekend. A loose and athletic outfielder, Vargas was excellent throughout the summer circuit, finishing strong with an average north of .400 while showing signs of real strength rapidly approaching in the not-so-distant future as evidenced by his 17 doubles and 8 home runs. Just like his right-handed swing, his defense in the outfield is played with looseness and ease as he tracks down balls, while also showing the athleticism to play anywhere in the dirt at a high level.

Kaleb Foster, SS, Class of 2028
5-9/160, R-R, Backyard Ballers, Montgomery, Texas

You could play Road to the Show on beginner mode and still not replicate the numbers Foster collected throughout the 2023 circuit. Over the course of 206 (!!) at-bats, the Texas shortstop hit a cool .500 with 103 hits, 38 of which went for extra bases while driving in 78 and adding 62 bags as well. Perhaps the biggest eye opener is the mere 12 strikeouts on the year, something that can be attributed to his natural barrel feel while staying loose and fluid with his path, unlocking strength to all fields. The defense at shortstop can’t be overshadowed either as he made his share of highlight reel-type plays with big range and athleticism and plenty of arm strength.

Levi Leathers, 3B, Class of 2027
6-2/175, R-R, Dulins Dodgers, Waco, Texas

If you revisit Leathers’ stats a year from now and he’s blasting baseballs around the yard and over the fence, don’t be surprised as it’s a right-handed swing that should hit for some very real power at the end of the day. At 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, Leathers certainly looked the part amongst the players at the 14u WWBA this summer in terms of physicality and nothing about his swings would’ve indicated his age either. His swing is a simple one in which he utilizes his size well to generate leverage and plenty of bat speed, something he showed with a no-doubter in Hoover to his pull side and continued to show in West Palm as it’s big-time potential in the power category.

Lucas Smith, 1B/C, Class of 2027
6-0/185, R-R, Wow Factors Prospects, McKinney, Texas

Speaking of power, that’s exactly what Smith brings to the box each and every time he digs in as he possesses the type of strength that can change an outcome of a ballgame in a hurry. Smith, who’s currently ranked No. 81 in the class of 2027, had himself quite the 2023 campaign as he hit .469-9-76 with 23 doubles and a rather impressive 68 free passes. The strength and physicality of his frame certainly plays into his right-handed swing as he does a nice job of staying simple in his approach and execution, letting his hands do a bulk of the work while turning on balls with plenty of leverage and impact, especially so to his pull side.

Luke Esquivel, LHP/1B, Class of 2028
6-1/165, L-L, SBA Bolts National, Grapevine, Texas

The first player to commit in the 2028 class, Esquivel is destined for Baton Rouge when the time comes and it’s easy to see why the Tigers’ coaching staff pulled the early trigger. Time will tell where Esquivel ultimately ends up as he’s just as much an impact stick as he is an arm on the mound where he’s already been up to 85 mph from the left side. The velocity certainly stands out and so too does the life of the pitch and his ability to pound the zone as he struck out 62 in just 43.1 innings. Offensively there’s a lot to like as well hitting .483-6-59 with 14 doubles, already driving the baseball line to line.

Madden Pike, C/IF, Class of 2028
5-8/145, S-R, SBA Bolts National, Puyallup, Wash.

An 11u Select Festival alum, Pike continues to build on his tool set and put together an impressive all-around performance throughout the 13u National Showcase. He’s a switch-hitter who handles the barrel well from both sides of the plate, swinging with some serious intent while looking to do damage on any given pass through the zone. When it came time to put the gear on in live action, that’s where Pike truly impressed as he brought his middle infield athleticism with him behind the plate and continued to bounce around, squaring up several dirt balls while showing some refinement in his receiving abilities and plenty of arm strength to thwart the running game.

Scott Fritz, 1B/LHP, Class of 2028
6-3/165, L-L, ZT Prospects 2027, Hawthorne, Calif.

Fritz earned his invite to the 13u National Showcase after a strong showing at the Sunshine West and his trip to West Palm proved to simply be a continuation of his first showcase experience; loud barrels, athletic actions and a strong showing on the mound. At 6-foot-3, 165 pounds Fritz doesn’t look like your typical 2028, nor does he play like one as he’s able to create big extension in his swing while remaining simple with his mechanical operation, barreling up baseballs hard around the park. He’s already run a 7.28 despite his size/age combo and has been up to 83 mph from the left side, meaning there’s real two-way potential to monitor moving forward.

Striker Pence, RHP/SS, Class of 2028
6-3/165, L-R, HP Baseball/Motor City Hit Dogs, Corona, Calif.

Pence had shown off his arm strength throughout last fall and into the summer but during the 13u National Showcase he took it to the next level when it was his turn to jump on the mound. Though listed as a primary shortstop the 6-foot-3 Pence showed impressive arm speed and strength on the mound as he ran his fastball up to 87 mph with huge extension out front and hard, late running life out of the hand and through the zone. He was able to miss bats with the heater and also spun a couple of solid breakers in the mid-70s while turning over a changeup at 79 mph.

Valentin Ceballos, RHP, Class of 2028
6-0/165, R-R, SBA Bolts National, New Braunfels, Texas

Ceballos is already listed at a stronger 6-foot, 165 pounds with broad shoulders and long limbs, so it won’t be a surprise as he continues to add strength, which will only further increase the impressive stuff he already shows on the mound. A primary right-handed arm, Ceballos offers one of the more fluid operations on the bump with a full but extremely fast arm path through the back side, producing a consistent low-80s fastball which has peaked upwards of 84 mph already. The combination of size and arm speed point to plenty more velo in the tank, though his curveball already shows tight spin and big depth, giving him a secondary with which he can miss bats.

Zach Estrada, 1B/3B, Class of 2028
5-10/180, R-R, ZT Prospects National, Covina, Calif.

Estrada is capable of doing a little bit of everything on the diamond, playing both corners in the infield while jumping to the mound and running his fastball into the low-80s. But when you look at what his biggest asset is in the lineup, there’s no doubting it’s the right-handed strength as it ranks amongst the best in the country at his age, capable of making bigger diamonds look small. His round of batting practice at the National may have been the loudest, something that was indicative of his event best 90 mph exit velocity and also a culmination of what we saw all summer as he blasted 13 homers and drove in 74 runs.