Fall Campus Tour : Mercer - Quick Hits

Justin Goetz
PBR Georgia Assistant Scouting Director

PBR Georgia hit the road for its fourth stop on the Fall Campus Tour on Sunday, November 19th on the campus of Mercer University. This event featured 20 prospects from the 2023-2027 classes. Prospects participated in a pro-style workout that included the 60 yard dash, batting practice, in and out, and pitcher bullpens.

We began the post event analysis last week with a look at the traditional stats collected in our “Stats Story” Today, we are going to reveal our staff's initial thoughts and reactions from the event, in particular, prospects that caught their eye. Yet to come is deeper dive into the advanced analytics as well. But for the time being, check out standout prospects.

Position Players

SS Keon Johnson (First Presbyterian Day, 2026) The face of Georgia’s 2026 class put on an absolute show, sending barrel after barrel deep into the confines of Claude Smith Field. He showed off the 5 tool potential in every aspect of the workout, leading off with a 7.02 60 yd (1.71 10 yd) which was impressive for such a large frame and age. Improving his running form will only tick this tool up. Plain and simply, he took over BP with some of the loudest contact we’ve heard in our 2022 showcases. Keon flashed raw power that's almost a sure bet to be top of the scale in a few years time, and wowed us with advanced swing mechanics. Unsurprisingly, the skill carries over to the defensive side where Keon has exceptional footwork for his size with sure hands that stopped bad hops with a subtle push through the ball. The bazooka attached to his right arm registered at 91 mph across the IF, a tool just as loud as his raw power. Let's not overlook his talent on the bump, where he showed an advanced 3 pitch mix and worked downhill with a combo of power and finesse.

OF JJ Howe (Veterans, 2024) Turned on the burners at Mercer, clocking in an effortless 6.73 60 yd (1.66 10 yd) for the second fastest time in the event and his backwards hat added to the energy of the run. At the plate, he has a simple, non-manufactured swing that creates serious bat speed from his impressive lower half mechanics. He gains optimal ground in stride and the hips clear nicely before landing, creating space for his hands to turn and burn. Which he did to the tune of 96.3 EV, sending balls into the gaps. It was on to OF where he showed impressive range and instincts, with a strong accurate arm up to 87 mph and all throws were on a line. This is a player who impacts the game in a variety of ways, and will surely fit into a good college program sooner than later.

3B Judd Puckett (Crawford County, 2023) The PBR Showcase Legend continued his 2nd leg of a string of events, once again showing light tower power numbers!! It's an absolute spectacle to watch him hit BP. The Crawford County Crusher averaged 94.1 EV and maxed out at 104.3, sending his furthest bomb 419 feet into the Macon sky. He’s got some of the best rotational acceleration we saw in an event in 2022, maxing out at 30.3 mph with a bat speed of 83.2 mph. There are few players in the state with Judd’s passion for baseball, he shows a high level of energy in all facets and moves well for his XL frame. He shows impressive instincts at the hot corner with shocking lateral agility for his size, even playing SS for his HS team! The arm is a fit for 3B where he put up 87 mph multiple times, and we see more arm strength coming. This is one of the most slept on 2023’s in the state and we won’t stop pushing for him until he’s found a college home.

3B Jordan Jones (Strong Rock Christian, 2027) This young beast has without a doubt some of the better swing mechanics in the state for his class. It’s not often you see a player this age that checks all the boxes of a pro swing like Jones does. The hips are the engine of the swing and move out of the hole at an easy pace, promoting one of the smoother forward moves I’ve seen in a middle schooler from this state. His quiet actions and light on the feet stride allow his head to stay extremely still well before developing his physical strength. He creates a lofty path with advanced upper body mechanics in stride - His chest rotates on an optimal diagonal plane and the shoulders gradually tilt south in hip shoulder separation, loading the hands for him and creating stretch. During the load he angles the wrists forward, creating extra torque in the swing that promotes a knob led path. This creates serious uphill force to match plane with as the shoulders tilt north post landing. Everything jumps off the barrel with backspin. He’s raw as a defender but has plenty enough athleticism to be serviceable in the future. This bat is going to get attention.

OF Tyler Cantaline (South Effingham, 2024) Had one of the most explosive workouts of 2022 and is a freak athlete who can change games with his speed. His ridiculous 1.62 10 yd split shows a lightning quick first step. He actually accelerates the further he goes with long effortless strides that helped him clock in an absolutely blazing 6.57 with a run speed of 21.3 mph!! Not only is this D1 baseball speed, its D1 football speed as well. His incredibly athleticism translates easily to the plate, where he showed off the most well sequenced swing in the event and produced 95.3 EV.. He has exceptional body control and never strays far from his center of balance, minimizing room for mistakes. The separation timing of the upper & lower half are advanced, and he creates an intense amount of torque with the most efficient movement possible. He controls his body at a high level, and impacts each baseball equally with real bat 2 ball skills. He has plus range in the OF and reacts quickly and aggressively, with a cannon arm to match at 89 mph! We will be keeping close watch on this one.

C Oakley Willingham (Tattnall Square Academy, 2025) Not only does he have one of the coolest names in amateur baseball, he was one of the most toolsy players at this event. This is a physical, well rounded catcher who will continue to progress year by year. He has solid footwork and the exchange works well, with an arm that's very advanced for his age at 80 mph. The pop times were impressive and in the 1.97 - 2.05 range. He put some severe impact on baseballs in BP, with a max EV of 92.8 mph. He ran well for the position, turning in a 7.27 60 and shows a durable frame for the position with present strength.


Keon Johnson RHP (First Presbyterian Day, 2026)

Jake Grant RHP (Mary Persons, 2024) Impressed in his bullpen with a projectable 6 foot 2, 165 frame. He moves efficiently through the delivery from start to finish, and his patience over the rubber allows his arm to get connected with the largest muscles on the backside so they can fire together to the plate. He creates good rhythm through up, down, and out phases and times hip/shoulder separation well. Grant shows good balance, and proper sequence in the delivery. He has a feel for using the shoulders as a lever to work down hill, getting gradual tilt uphill in stride. Stride is optimal length and blocks lead leg well post landing for knee to knee clearance. The FB sat in the 82-83 range for consistent strikes with steep plane low in the zone and some front side deception. The CB worked in the 67-69 range with average spin but showed a good amount of sweep and some late depth for strikes. Jake showed a nice fading CH in the 70-72 range that he had good feel for. A jump in velo could put him in a very opportune spot.

Two Way

Trace Hodges (Crawford County, 2023) put in plenty of good work offensively with up to 92.5 EV and produced tons of rotational acceleration (29.4). He produces big time pop from an old school, non-manufactured swing with a very smooth toe tap that allows him to clear the hips in stride. He turns on the baseball with ease and backspin to both gaps. He doesn’t get into the common launch position you typically see these days, but he checks all the boxes and possesses all the absolutes of hitting. It’s a sweet finish that consistently keeps his top hand palm up thru contact. The combo of he and Puckett this spring gives Crawford County two big bats in their lineup. On the mound, Hodges shows plenty of arm potential in a generic all stretch delivery. There are a few steps he can take to re create his 88 mph OF velo on the mound. The first part is coming set with more pressure on his legs (slight bend in back knee, minimal bend in front so you feel quad/hammy pressure). Secondly, he can focus on holding his upper body over the rubber as he strides, which will create a stacked backside for his arm to explode to the plate with and a connected arm. The arm currently works alone on the backside, which is unlike his OF throws. He threw strikes in the low 80’s and spun the breaking ball well in the upper 60’s.

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