Georgia 2023 Rankings: Post Fall Update


Justin Goetz & Phil Kerber
PBR Georgia Staff

The end of the fall season means it is time to revisit the rankings. The 2023 class is our first focus, as the next wave of potential MLB Draft prospects from the Peach State take the stage.

We crown a new No. 1 prospect in the state. SS Colin Houck (Parkview; Mississippi State) has steadily climbed the rankings since they debuted several years ago, and now finds himself as the top overall prospect. PBR Georgia Scouting Director Phil Kerber will be going in depth on “The Rise of Colin Houck” later this week. Other notable changes in the top-10 include SS Antonio Anderson (North Atlanta; Georgia Tech) up to No. 2 from No. 3, RHP Jeffrey “Mac” Heuer (Homeschool; Texas Tech) up to No. 5 from No. 7, and the return of RHP Luke McNeillie (Milton; Florida) to the top-10 after a 12 month hiatus, moving to No. 8 from No. 31.

PBR Georgia Assistant Scouting Director Justin Goetz has a complete breakdown on several of the recent risers in our update below, including Heuer and McNeillie, along with six other prospects.


The Top-10

Rank Name High School Position Commitment
1 Colin Houck Parkview SS Mississippi St
2 Antonio Anderson North Atlanta SS Georgia Tech
3 Dylan Cupp
Cedartown SS Mississippi St
4 Mikhai Grant Georgia Premier RHP Mississippi State
5 Jeffrey "Mac" Heuer
Homeschool RHP Texas Tech
6 Tai Peete Trinity Christian 3B/RHP Georgia Tech
7 Drew Burress Houston County OF Georgia Tech
8 Luke McNeillie Milton RHP/OF Florida
9 Porter Buursema Blessed Trinity RHP
Georgia Southern
10 Francesco Capocci Denmark RHP/3B North Carolina

Risers

Jeffrey “Mac” Heuer - RHP
Ranking: No. 7 to No. 5
Texas Tech Commit. 6 foot 5, 225 pounds. Just as we predicted after his NPI Outing in Shooter Hunt’s Day 4 Blog, Heuer wasn’t far at all from starter stuff. Mac has blown up as a prospect due to the rapid development of his breaking ball since early summer, turning his mid 70’s CB into a sharp low 80’s SL with power sweep and late depth. He began to sit in the mid 90’s with his FB, reaching a bit higher as well. This country strong beast with an XL frame has one of the best deliveries in the class, which is extremely rare for an arm his size. He works at a medium tempo which turns into easy violence after landing. Mac moves incredibly well from start to finish, showing very good athleticism on the bump. Because of his size/build, some evaluators in the past have had trouble seeing how athletic Heuer is, but we’ve been all in from the start. His recent improvements have put any questions about his ability to become a starting pitcher to rest for good. With good balance over the rubber and exceptional repeatability, this former Future Gamer is going to have starter command. He creates a tough angle from a slight crossfire, but it has zero impact on FB pronation. The arm action is clean, quick, and deceptive with a perfect build of momentum and ridiculous arm speed out of a high 3/4 slot. The high spin FB (2350 - 2500 rpm) will be one of the best in the country and sat 91-93 T94 unreal bore arm side, sink glove side last time we saw him. This is a pitch he’ll have A/AVG or better command of, and surely top of the scale starter velo. It plays just as well to both RHH & LLH, and plays just as well down in the zone with steep plane as it does when elevated. His new SL has plus potential and It bodes well for his long term health that he’s only been throwing breaking balls for a year or so, which speaks to the potential the pitch has. With his impressive athleticism, sound+well sequenced delivery, and explosive arm speed we feel he can develop an AVG CH down the line. He is far from his eventual man strength and another jump with the FB is surely coming, as there is truly no ceiling on the pitch. We wouldn’t be surprised to see him develop a cut FB in the future, as he already shows versatility with select use of 4 seam/2 seam. This is a serious draft prospect now.

Luke McNeillie - RHP
Ranking: No. 30 to No. 8
Florida Commit. 6 foot 3, 175 pounds. Few players in the country have taken the jump this future Gator has in the last half year. This is a high projection arm with an exceptional delivery and stuff for his age. He creates a unique angle and plane combo that only adds to the exceptional ride & run on his explosive FB. The pitch spins in the 2400 rpm range, creating a large amount of swing and miss on this pitch alone. It absolutely jumps out of the hand with a loose, mid depth arm action that he repeats well from a low ¾ slot. He stays strong on his lower half, holding slight bend in his back knee from start to finish which allows him to work smoothly downhill with impressive ease of operation. The simplicity in the delivery undoubtedly helps his arm control everything in the repertoire to both edges. The delivery is extremely well sequenced and has improved dramatically since spring, with gradual hip/shoulder separation and patience over the rubber in stride taking pressure off his arm and creating good stretch and timing at foot strike. With his athleticism, he has a very good chance to increase his stride length while maintaining downhill plane and linear connection. This will play his FB up even more due to extension. Luke is baby faced for his age and the frame is just as young looking, as he’s already throwing pure cheddar far before physical maturity. It’s easily one of the most projectable arms in the country, loaded with effortless arm speed. His low 80’s downer CH shows late fade and has plus potential, and he shows the ability to throw it in any count. It plays off the FB very well, as he disguises the pitch with identical intent to his heater. McNeillie’s upper 70’s SL has a ridiculous amount of sweep, 20 or more inches when it's on. Due to his crossfire delivery, the pitch stays on FB trajectory well and shows wipeout depth, and can be absolutely dominant against RHH. He shows the ability to bury the pitch back foot to LHH, expanding the effectiveness of his arsenal to 3 pitches instead of just FB, CH vs them. Look for Luke to take another step in his progression this spring in a highly competitive, highly scouted area.

Kyle Henley - CF
Ranking: No. 34 to No. 14
Georgia Tech Commit. 6 foot 3, 177 pounds. We can count on one hand the amount of players with this level of athletic ability since PBR first arrived in the Peach State for full time coverage. Famous at LakePoint for his breathtaking steal of home and incredible slide that got 265k views on PBR Georgia TikTok, that legendary moment is only the beginning of his time in the spotlight. Henley brings 3 electric tools to the diamond at a premium defensive position (CF) that play every day, regardless if he has a good game at the plate or not. His run and field tools are from another planet, giving him true gold glove potential in the future. His 6.2 - 6.3 speed will immediately put him in select company as one of fastest players in all of college/MILB baseball. Henley has very good instincts to make his speed even more impactful, along with a lightning quick first step and aggressiveness on the bases. He glides effortlessly from gap to gap, showing plus plus range and good routes that will only improve year by year. This is a player who’s going to be saving runs on the regular for his pitching staff, with acrobatic catches and stolen HR’s becoming the norm. Kyle’s incredible range allows him to flow toward or camp under balls that other CF’s would have to dive for. His fluid hips, long speed, and impressive glove allow him to catch anything in front of him, over his head, or to the gaps. This is a guy who’s going to lead every league he’s a part of in stolen bases for a very long time. Hitters who are able to avoid his glove with low liners to the gaps aren’t safe either, as they’re just as likely to get thrown out by his cannon of an arm that registers in the low 90’s. There’s no question it will become a plus or better tool as he gets stronger, and it’s already an A/AVG tool on the MLB scouting scale. At the plate he creates very good rhythm with a slow flow in his hands that sit just off his back shoulder close to the hitting slot. Unsurprisingly, he’s very well balanced at the plate and has made vast improvements in simplifying & quieting down his swing in 2022. When blessed with excellent bat speed like Henley, it’s easy to get over aggressive at the plate. The hands are much more relaxed with minimal movement, allowing him to repeat - separation timing, hand load, launch position, swing path, and allows the hands to work close to his body & stay inside the ball to all fields. The torque he creates in well timed hip/shoulder separation are special, and I believe he has A/AVG power potential. The ceiling is truly limitless on his raw power due to him being far from physically developed. His ability to improve the intangibles - pitch recognition, plate discipline, learning how to read pitcher’s tendencies will determine the ceiling on his bat overall. But one thing is without question, his elite twitch will have him in serious draft conversation all spring!

Tryston McCladdie - IF
Ranking: No. 40 to No. 16
Clemson Commit. 6 foot, 185 pounds. Future 2B/3B who is one of the more pro ready bats in the state for his class. He’s repeatedly proven himself in every big event against top arms in the country, from East Coast Pro to the PBR Cup. This is a broad shouldered, top/middle of the order masher is going to hit for average and some serious raw power. McCladdie has one of the most simplified swings I’ve seen all year, with very efficient movements and his head is always still for tracking. This allows his elite bat to ball skills to show AB by AB. His hips are the engine of his swing, with plus body control from start to finish. He’s able to adjust his leg kick mid air based on FB or offspeed. When he gets FB, it's smooth with consistent pace. The balance on the inside of his back foot as the hips start moving comes from a strong lower half and allows him to slow down or “hang” the leg kick when he sees spin. You guessed it, he sees spin very well. Tryston had just as many barrels on secondary pitches as he did FB’s, and showed he’s a pure hitter with lasers all over the field in different pitch locations. His hands work close to the hitting slot, and he gets extra torque in the wrists when working into launch position. The hands work at a gradual pace in & out of launch with a very quiet load that allows him to be quick to the ball, relying on timing and God given bat strength over big separation. I have not seen him get blown up with any quality FB, I consistently see him punish them. This is a player with different strength in the wrists & forearms, and his hands deliver a thump on every ball his barrel touches. Even when he doesn’t square the ball up, it’s hit ridiculously hard. McCladdie had the strongest hands through contact I saw in the PBR Cup. He’s a backside dominant hitter with insane linear connection who creates violent bat speed with just a flick of the wrists. He can inside out a left on left breaking ball just as easily as he can turn the barrel effortlessly on 95 mph FB’s in tight space. With the strong track record he’s built this summer/fall in almost every big event, count on McCladdie producing right away whether he goes to college or signs. Read more on his swing mechanics and scouting report here.


Bryson Thacker
 - LHP
Ranking:  No. 35 to No. 19
Tennessee Commit. 6 foot 2, 170 pounds. Future #2 or #3 in a rotation with rare explosiveness and athleticism. With an advanced build up of pace in the delivery and real feel for 4 pitches, he’s got one of the most unpredictable arsenals in the southeast. Despite being ahead of the game in many ways, the delivery is still slightly raw and can continue to improve, raising his ceiling even higher for us. An intense competitor on the mound who won’t back down from any hitter. The work ethic is strong and the projection on FB velo & pitchability are endless. His FB reached 92 mph (91.8) at our PBR Upperclass Fall WS, and we feel there’s so much more in the tank. His 2 seamer sits in the 88-91 range with aggressive sink & late tail at 1800-1900 rpm, certifying it as a true bowling ball. With his lean frame, perfect build up of pace, and lightning quick arm speed, there’s much more to come. But the high quality FB life and velo projection aren’t the only part of the arsenal that’s headed to the moon, he has 3 legit secondary pitches that make hitters' lives very difficult. His sharp low-mid 70’s SLV bends air at 2800 rpm, with a ridiculous amount of HZB and late 2 plane depth making the pitch nearly impossible to barrel. He can throw the pitch in any count for strikes, paint it on both edges, and bury it for K’s. It regularly flashes A/AVG and will be a plus offering in the future. But what differentiates Thacker most, is his CH in the 78-80 range. The pitch is completely unrecognizable from his FB, repeatedly coming from the same arm slot with identical intent and late downer action. When hitters are sitting FB, he’ll get you to swing over the CH. When they’re sitting CH, he’ll blow the bowling ball by you! Bryson repeat his arm slot identically on every pitch in his repertoire. This creates unpredictability where hitters can’t sit on one pitch, allows him to stay behind the baseball better, and get more spin on both breaking balls. Another breaking ball? You heard that right. He’s created a huge difference maker with a much different profile than his SLV, the cutter. Bryson’s CUT sits in the 83-84 range and gradually buzzes toward RHH hands with a completely different shape than his SLV. Not only is it a pitch to jam RHH, it also has the late depth to garner swing & miss, as you can see with the last pitch in the video above. As this cut fastball continues to develop where he can front door freeze LHH, it will make Thacker’s arsenal the most unpredictable I’ve scouted in recent memory. See more on the story and mechanics in his feature article “The Appalachian Southpaw”.

Pete Craska - 1B
Ranking: No. 22
Georgia Tech Commit. 6 foot 2, 250 pounds. Craska is a newcomer to our Georgia 2023 Rankings as he spent the first 3 years of his HS career in Pennsylvania, and he debuts as our No. 1 first baseman. He has the build of a powerlifter and the swing mechanics of a pure hitter. When getting the first look at him offensively, some might assume he’s got an “all or nothing” approach at the plate. This couldn’t be further from the truth. He has very impressive plate discipline and routinely hits the ball where it’s pitched, showing just as much raw power oppo/dead center as he does pull side. He’s proven himself against quality arms for years now, including two big tournaments at LakePoint in the past few months. Although a constant threat to take any arm in the country deep with current top of the scale raw power, Craska will happily force pitchers into deep counts until they make a mistake. Think you can get him to chase breaking balls? Think again. This dude chuckles at nasty SL & CB’s out of the zone, just pray you don’t hang one. What sold us most on this beast was his ability and discipline to hit line drive singles/doubles to left field. High level arms don’t challenge him too often, so he’s learned at a young age how to adjust quickly to conservative pitching. His lower half direction works in a consistent line to the mound regardless of pitch location, keeping the barrel in the zone for an extended time. The still head allows him to track and adjust incredibly well to the outer half underway, subtly angling his hips & shoulder to LF just before landing. This allows him to attack the pitch just in front of the plate before it gets too deep, giving him more field to work with and creating even more force thru contact. Craska doesn’t just get his power from brute strength! He gets it from athleticism, controlled lower half momentum, perfect direction, and front side leverage. His hands flow like water in & out of launch position, keeping the hitting muscles loose & quick - creating easy bat speed and fluid rhythm. He repeats a perfect angle in launch position at an extremely high level, which creates his lofty swing path before it even happens. As the hands are thrown, his barrel lays back off the back shoulder perfectly. This creates a short, knob led path with balanced hands - allowing the back elbow to tuck, creating a linear connection where everything fires/rotates together (hands, back elbow, back hip, back knee in vertical line). The hands work close to the body from start to finish, allowing Pete to manipulate the barrel to any pitch in any zone suddenly. His knees pull toward each other, with the front knee locking out just as he works through contact, centralizing every bit of force he has. This is a future every day 1B/DH with the ability to carry an offense for games at a time, and create instant power production when the lineup is stalling. Will hit for average, power, and get on base at a consistent clip with standout plate discipline & impressive pitch recognition. Infectious personality and love for the game will be an asset to any clubhouse. See more on his story and swing mechanics in the feature article “Boss of Barrels”.

Jevarra Martin - LHP
Ranking: No. 31
South Carolina Commit. 6 foot 6, 225 pounds. This is a newcomer to our Georgia 2023 Rankings as he reclassed from ‘22. Very few high school, college, or pro baseball players look like this. There are also very few with his athleticism and arm speed. Although raw pitchability wise, Martin just has so many things you can’t teach. Unsurprisingly, he’s highly intimidating to hitters on the mound. The guy looks like an NFL defensive out there, but moves through his delivery like water flows down a river. He creates good rhythm on the mound with a gradual buildup of pace that promotes stored up violence after landing. Jevarra might be raw as a pitcher, but the delivery is very well sequenced. He repeats a clean medium circle arm action with deception and vicious arm speed. This is one of the most connected deliveries I’ve seen all year, as the arm works with the largest muscles on the backside (hammy, glutes, obliques, abdominals, lats) and fire together in perfect unison. The future Gamecock has impressive separation timing which is promoted by great rhythm of his hands and lift knee. He creates big torque with a smooth coil of his knee and obliques to the back hip in stride, creating stored power over the rubber as he strides. This also creates tons of deception as you see nothing but his jersey number for most of the delivery. He works downhill very well with a long stride, good extension, and violent lead leg block. His FB sat 90-91 with the best angle we saw in the PBR Cup. It’s such a difficult pitch to track - as it seems to come straight at RHH on a steep downward trajectory. To LHH, the pitch appears to start behind them and explodes violently out of hand across the plate. This makes him very tough to barrel, as you have to account for both horizontal angle as much as you do vertical plane. He has plenty of control with the pitch and consistently locates glove side His sweeping 80-83 SL has the same strengths the FB does, coming on a very similar angle+plane. He doesn’t have a consistent feel for it yet, but when he does it flashes A/AVG life. This is an elite athlete with an almost identical delivery and frame to Royals LHP Amir Garrett.

Armani Guzman
 - SS/2B
Ranking: No. 50 to No. 37
WVU Commit. 5 foot 11, 195 pounds. Future everyday CF/2B with an electric trio of power, speed, and feel to hit. A Pro Case guy with the build and speed of a D1 RB, you’d think Guzman came straight off the football field. When you see him at the plate, it’s quickly apparent he’s been playing baseball his whole life. With some of the quietest actions I’ve seen in a HS player, the hitting approach is on another level of advanced. Not only is he well disciplined at the plate, but he hits with a pro level of effort. By that, I mean he rarely goes above 80-90% of his full effort at the plate. As many hitters learn, what worked in HS won’t always translate. You can’t have huge separation and swing out of your shoes every AB at the D1/Pro level. Hitters with big, inefficient actions at the plate get eaten alive at the next level and have to simplify to survive. When everyone is throwing 95, all you need to do is square it up and it will go - this is the basis of why I like him so much as a hitter. He’s focused on timing, tracking, and quickness to the ball. He goes to get the baseball with his lower half, gaining tons of ground in stride led by the front hip. This allows him to consistently catch the ball on his barrel out in front of the plate, simply beating the ball to its spot. The NYC native lets the game come to him, and wears it down with counter punches. Armani has a refined gap to gap approach and his swing is based on timing and simplified, effortless movements. After Guzman in 4-5 games this year, we’ve rarely see a player hit the ball up the middle of the field so consistently. This is due to a compact forward move, elite linear connection, and lower half direction. His hands work quietly up into the hitting slot as he separates, with his chest loading the hands for him creating connection. This combined with proper launch position puts his hands, back elbow+hip+knee in a vertical line as the hands are thrown. His hands work loosely & close to the body enabling him to quickly adjust underway to a front arm shrink (inside pitch) or an inside-out (outside pitch). The barrel lays back perfectly for a knob led swing that travels thru the hitting zone for an extended stay. To go with his advanced offensive game he’s got legit 6.6 speed and smooth hands in the infield with plenty of arm. We’d love to let his true speed roam in CF, but also can see him as a potential 20 HR/SB threat at 2B with solid defense. Guzman is gaining momentum as a prospect with interest from a handful of MLB clubs, and that should only increase at one of the fastest rising schools in the country, Rabun Gap. For more on Guzman, check out his in depth scouting report in “Picks 2 Click”.

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