AL HS Team Preview: Bob Jones Patriots
February 13, 2023
The 2023 high school baseball season is quickly approaching and as usual, excitement abounds throughout the state. Players and coaches have been working in preparation for the upcoming season and, as is the case each year, there are some very talented players and teams across Alabama.
Teams across the state have goals and aspirations to finish their seasons in the Jacksonville/Oxford/Montgomery area at the AISA or AHSAA state championships, but there is plenty of work to be done before that becomes reality. We hope to familiarize our readers with many of the teams across the state as we preview individual teams across Alabama. We will take you right up to first pitch this season with these team previews and by continuing our scheduled podcasts and releasing our preseason Top 10 in each AHSAA classification.
Please keep checking back throughout the season as we will be your one-stop shop for everything related to high school baseball across the state. Each week we will be releasing our players of the week, updating the Top 10 in each AHSAA classification as well as a Power 25. One thing that you especially don’t want to miss are our scheduled podcasts with guests from across the state as well as recaps and previews of big games across the state.
*Please note that all information is based on team preview questionnaires that were sent out and returned by the participating high school coaches.
High School Name: Bob Jones Patriots
Coach’s Name: Jared Smith
Classification: AHSAA 7A
2022 Record: 35-10
Area Number: Class 7A, Area 8
No. of Returning Positional Starters: 5
No. of Returning Pitchers: 6
Team Strengths: Starting Pitching, Outfield Experience/Speed, Base Stealers
Top Returning Players:
- RHP/3B Braden Booth (Mississippi State, 2024)
- RHP/1B Sam Mitchell (Alabama, 2023)
- SS/RHP Nate Mayfield (Coastal Alabama-East CC, 2023)
- OF/RHP Sammy Vander Hill (Virginia Military Institute, 2023)
- LHP Benjamin Arn (2023)
- OF/RHP CJ Bush (Coastal Alabama-East CC, 2023)
- RHP Tanner Hermesch (2025)
Top 2024 Prospects:
- OF/2B Jacob Pearl (2024)
Top 2025 & 2026 Prospects:
- C/RHP Zack Johnson (2025)
The Bob Jones Patriots enjoyed another really strong season in 2022 while winning over 30 games and reaching the Elite 8 in the Class 7A playoffs. Returning some of those frontline arms and middle-of-the-order hitters this spring, the Patriots once again look like a strong contender in Class 7A.
The Patriots were consistently ranked inside the Top-8 in Class 7A a season ago and recorded some big wins in the regular season over programs like Grissom, Daphne, Baylor (TN), Montverde Academy (FL), Hazel Green, and others on their regular season schedule. The Patriots swept through their area with relative ease and hosted the 1st round of the Class 7A playoffs against Sparkman. Bob Jones swept the Senators by scores of 9-0 and 3-1 to advance to the Elite 8, where they would travel on the road to Vestavia Hills. During that Elite 8 matchup, the Rebels were able to win two low-scoring affairs by scores of 3-0 and 4-2 to close the Patriots' season at 35-10. Using five positional starters with a transfer who is expected to slide into the middle of the order and six returning pitchers, there's plenty of belief surrounding the Patriots' program that the have a chance to advance further throughout the Class 7A playoffs. One reason why Bob Jones was able to be so successful last spring was due to the major strides RHP/3B Braden Booth (Mississippi State recruit, 2024) was able to make both at the plate and on the mound. A Top-5 ranked prospect in the junior class in AL, Booth is an elite two-way talent that features a low-90's fastball and a big pull-side pop from the right side of the plate.
.@HailStateBB recruit & ‘24 RHP/3B Braden Booth (@BradenBooth; @BJHSBaseball) was equally as impressive on the bump after a strong round of BP.— PBR Alabama (@PBR_Alabama) January 8, 2023
FB: 89-90, 91.1
CB: 77-79 (2200)
SL: 81-82 (2300)
Elite two-way ranked No. 3️⃣ in AL ‘24 class.#NALPAS23 || @ShooterHunt https://t.co/0RY5RoTPQg pic.twitter.com/mmXYcPMtqt
RHP/3B Braden Booth (1/7/23)
In addition on the mound, RHP/1B Sam Mitchell (Alabama signee, 2023) will serve as a 1A/1B option with Booth after enjoying a strong junior campaign a season ago. Standing 6-foot-6, 210-pounds, Mitchell can also run his fastball into the upper-80's with solid secondary offerings and pitchability on the mound. He will also return to the lineup and be asked for some offensive production when he is not pitching.
#RollTide recruit & ‘23 RHP Sam Mitchell (@SamMitchell0414; @BJHSBaseball) very efficient thru 3 innings, The 6’7 200 pounder creating some down angle with the FB & depending heavily on a late breaking slider.— PBR Alabama (@PBR_Alabama) April 15, 2022
FB: 86-88, T89 mph
SL: 73-75 mph
Still scoreless, headed to B3. pic.twitter.com/UCQKTpQnVo
RHP Sam Mitchell (4/15/22)
Returning up the middle on the infield, SS/RHP Nate Mayfield (Coastal Alabama-East CC signee, 2023) will also be a key piece returning for the Patriots offensively. The senior right-hander will look to build off of a strong junior campaign where he was one of their primary offensive contributors hitting near the middle of the order. OF/2B Jacob Pearl (2024) is another player that will provide a big boost in his first year inside the Patriots' program, and already has quality experience playing at the varsity level in Class 7A.
.@PBR_Uncommitted ‘23 SS Nate Mayfield (@NateMayfield2; @BJHSBaseball) posted one of the top EV’s of the day during his BP round.— PBR Alabama (@PBR_Alabama) May 15, 2022
Athletic frame at 6-0, 180, key offensive piece for the Patriots this spring, worked to the LCF gap consistently.#VBAScout || @ViperBaseball_ pic.twitter.com/tcozVtyaMg
SS Nate Mayfield (5/15/22)
OF/2B Jacob Pearl (1/8/23)
A pair of senior outfielders to watch for this spring will be OF/RHP Sammy Vander Hill (Virginia Military Institute signee, 2023) and OF/RHP CJ Bush (Coastal Alabama-East CC signee, 2023). Vander Hill will serve as an important two-way piece for the Patriots, while Bush will look to improve on last year's season where he showed power throughout the season.
.@PBR_Uncommitted ‘23 OF/RHP Sammy Vander Hill (@SamVanderHill1; @BJHSBaseball) sneaks one through the right side to score a pair for the Patriots from 1st.— PBR Alabama (@PBR_Alabama) February 25, 2022
Settled in well after moving in from CA. Really athletic prospect w/ two-way upside.
Patriots lead 3-0, T2. pic.twitter.com/YJwkeQG264
OF Sammy Vander Hill (2/25/22)
‘23 @PBR_Uncommitted OF CJ Bush (@Cj_Bush3; @BJHSBaseball) is an athletic “under the radar” type guy. The 6.8 (laser 60) runner gets the barrel to an inner-half fastball here for a 💣over the wall in LF.— PBR Alabama (@PBR_Alabama) February 21, 2022
Patriots lead 5-1 (in the rain), headed to the 7th. pic.twitter.com/YzBHuTEOSB
OF CJ Bush (2/21/22)
Looking to help cement and solidify the Patriots' pitching staff, LHP Benjamin Arn (2023) and RHP Tanner Hermesch (2025) are two arms bringing back some valuable experience from a year ago. Arn is a southpaw that changes speeds well and locates all offerings, while Hermesch pitched some big innings as a freshman last spring.
Although he won’t factor into the decision, ‘23 LHP Benjamin Arn (@ArnBenjamin; @BJHSBaseball) was masterful on the mound thru his 4 inning stint. He won’t light up a radar gun but he can pitch. 4IP, 3H, 1ER, 6K. Can command in/out of the zone.— PBR Alabama (@PBR_Alabama) February 26, 2022
FB: 78-81 mph
CB: 68-71 mph pic.twitter.com/HGdi8UmcSw
LHP Benjamin Arn (2/26/22)
Rounding it out, C/RHP Zack Johnson (2025) is a Top-50 prospect in the sophomore class in AL that has a chance to make a big impact not only this spring, but over the next few years of his career. The sophomore backstop has big pull-side power from the right side and has a chance to compete and win a starting job this spring.
‘25 C/OF Zackary Johnson (@Johnson_Zack_; @BJHSBaseball) was impressive during BP this morning showing intriguing PS pop.— PBR Alabama (@PBR_Alabama) August 28, 2022
Found consistently hard contact w/ strength in 5-11, 180 frame that will carry more strength.#ALFallGames pic.twitter.com/JeXfR5R4PW
C Zack Johnson (8/28/22)
There will be more players that will play different roles this spring, but the Patriots have plenty of big names and frontline arms returning from last year's Elite 8 squad. They will compete in Area 8 this spring against James Clemens, Florence, and Austin for a spot in the playoffs at the end of season. Look for the Patriots to be a strong contender once again in Class 7A in 2023.
|Madison Rising Stars ID||5/28/23||Bob Jones HS (Madison, AL)|
|Top Prospect Games: Upperclass (Invite-Only)||6/13/23||Choccolocco Park (Oxford, AL)|
|Top Prospect Games: Underclass (Invite-Only)||6/14/23||Choccolocco Park (Oxford, AL)|
|Birmingham Open||6/21/23||Spain Park HS (Birmingham, AL)|
|Birmingham Rising Stars ID||6/21/23||Spain Park HS (Birmingham, AL)|
|Montgomery Open||6/28/23||Stanhope Elmore HS (Millbrook, AL)|
|All-State Games (Invite-Only)||7/11/23||Troy University (Troy, AL)|
|Mobile Rising Stars ID||7/18/23||TBD (Mobile, AL Area)|
|South Alabama Games (Invite-Only)||7/18/23||TBD (Mobile, AL Area)|
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