Prep Baseball Report

Looking Back On 2020

Nathan Rode and PBR Staff

Normally, the final Hotlist of a year is a collection of the top stories. State directors recall state championships, awards, or anything else noteworthy as we flip the calendar. However, as we know all too well at this point, 2020 was anything but normal. There were no state championships. No players of the year. Much of the year’s top stories are COVID-19 related. There’s no way around it. So, rather than harp on that, I asked our staff to simply share their own favorite moments or stories from 2020. Sure, you might still see some references to the pandemic, but hopefully these produce a lot of positive vibes as we head into 2021.

For me, I had a lot to choose from, even with being off the road for four months, and you’ll probably read about a few of them from others below. We did a live broadcast during the MLB Draft, a first for us, which was filled with great reactions, commentary and funny moments as we watched things unfold in real time. I saw wild walk-offs, big home runs, web gems and two high school pitchers touch 100 mph. I think that doubled the number of times I had seen it before. But of all the things I witnessed in 2020, I think the final two hours or so of the Area Code Games was my favorite part.

Like so many other things, the Area Code Games were a different experience than usual. They were at LakePoint instead of Long Beach. It was hot instead of, well, Southern California--though Mother Nature actually played pretty nice throughout the event until that last day. A big storm came through, delaying things for a few hours, which set up for a wild finish.

If you’ve been to the Area Code Games, or other events like it, you know that the final day is usually pretty quiet. Some arms are recycled, pitching on two or three days rest. A lot of position players have left for another event. That wasn’t the case this year. There were two games still to be played for the upperclass division, as well as an underclass game, and some big-time arms hadn't thrown yet. But with the delay, players’ flights and other logistics, it didn’t make sense to play them sequentially. It was time for a triple barrel. My focus was on the upperclassmen, so I put my head on a swivel and it felt like it was spinning for a few days after the event. I did my best to paint the picture on Twitter.

RHP Christian Little, who graduated early and enrolled at Vanderbilt, started opposite RHP Irving Carter (Calvary Christian Academy, FL). Both showed electric stuff, battled tough lineups and went between dominating and escaping jams. LHP Josh Hartle (Reagan HS, NC), who I had seen briefly once before, relieved Carter and, in my mind, established himself as the top southpaw in the country. Oh by the way, it wasn’t just a pitchers’ duel as several hitters continued to swing hot bats including OF Daylen Lile (Trinity HS, KY), SS Alex Mooney (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep, MI) and C Carter Jensen (Park Hill HS, MO). Meanwhile, on the adjacent field, a 6-foot-6 southpaw from the Northeast was on the bump in Pierce Coppola (Verona HS, NJ). He was 88-92 and had a whammer of a breaking ball. C Joe Mack (Williamsville East HS, NY) continued his big week with opposite field home run. And you would think by the time you get to the end of a four or five day event that any team would be out of big arms to insert, but the Yankees capped the whole thing off with RHP Dennis Colleran (North Attleboro HS, MA), who was 94-97.

Shooter Hunt (National Crosschecker)

The best game I saw all year came right before the country shut down for COVID-19. In Dallas for a Texas spring break tournament weekend, I caught word of a big matchup going down on a Thursday evening with Aledo at Southlake Carroll. After racing up from another game, I eventually found my way to an immaculate facility (Carroll has a LEGENDARY football program, and the baseball portion of the complex was equally as impressive). Anyway, the game lived up to the hype as the Dragons, and LSU recruit 2022 LHP Griffin Herring, took on a tough Aledo squad that was led by a TCU recruit, 2021 C Creed Willems. Herring dominated for the vast majority of the game, dazzling with a vicious fastball/slider combo. With only a couple innings to play, the game was knotted at 0-0 when Willems stepped to the plate and promptly delivered with a towering home run that gave Aledo a 1-0 lead, and also served to silence a raucous Carrol crowd while still managing to rile up the dugout. This was my first in-person look at Willems, and the initial impression only helped validate the onslaught that he brought to opposing pitching when play picked up again in the summer. However, Southlake Carroll, and its tough lineup had the last laugh, and ended up coming from behind to win the game. An incredible atmosphere with tons of energy that still makes me long for what could have been a stellar state playoff in Texas in 2020.

David Seifert (Director of College Scouting)

We had been high on Tennessee LHP Garrett Crochet (Tennessee) since a look at him in the spring of his freshman year, so seeing him go in the top 15 picks despite some injury history wasn’t a surprise.

David Sharp (Alabama)

In the first rendition of the 2024 Overall Rankings, an Alabama prospect claimed the top spot in LHP Jackson Sanders (Valley HS, AL). The freshman southpaw has burst on the scene over the last year as he has shown continual improvement and continues to add strength to a solid 6-foot-2, 170-pound frame. I really love the solid three-pitch arsenal from the lefty, but he already shows an advanced feel on how to pitch. Obviously the fastball is a premium pitch (upper 80s to low 90s) but the two secondary offerings are well developed.

Brain Walker (Arkansas)

For the first time in PBR Future Games history Team Arkansas represented itself as its own team in Georgia. The Natural State team has seen nine commitments already off the 2020 team since August. In the first inning, 2022 C Trey Hill (Farmington HS, AR), who is now committed to Arkansas-Little Rock, hit an opposite field home run. 

Brett Thorney (Arizona)

With the 23rd pick of the 2020 MLB Draft, the Cleveland Indians took SS Carson Tucker (Mountain Pointe HS, AZ).

Chris Kemlo (Canada)

It seems to be an occurrence every year, but we look to the MLB draft and two Ontario high school players were among those selected in the five-round draft. First off was 6-foot-4 OF Owen Caissie to the Padres in the second round (45th overall) and then speedster David Calabrese went to the Angels in the third round (82nd overall). This continues the early round selection for high school players in Ontario in the MLB draft over the last seven years. To fall in line with the craziness of 2020, Caissie was included in the recent Padres trade that saw Yu Darvish head to San Diego and Caissie, along with 3 other prospects and Zach Davies, land in Chicago with the Cubs. 

Mike Anderson (Colorado)

During PBR Colorado’s Barnstormer Series, 2021 RHP Logan Carlisle (Chatfield HS, CO) was playing at a city complex in Windsor, CO. The Air Force recruit was on the mound and paused the entire game when he heard the National Anthem being play on an adjacent field for high school softball. He stood with his hand over his heart as all others joined, both teams, umpires and parents.   


PBR Florida started its inaugural State Games this fall, featuring four showcases (one for each class) competing for regional bragging rights. Players were separated into teams of North, South, East, and West Florida and competed in a round-robin tournament. The PBR Florida scouts had the opportunity to coach these teams and interact with the players as C.J. Butts coached the North, Doug Freeman coached the South, Cayden Hatcher coached the East, and Rocco Iervasi coached the West. Three former big leaguers helped coach at the State Games, in Gary Sheffield, Joel Pineiro and Jesse Litsch. The Senior State Games was packed with draft talent, as we had more than 50 professional scouts in attendance. After each State Games was over, players on each winning region received their very own Mizuno glove. After all four events, the West won the Senior, Junior, and Sophomore State Games. The North wrapped up the series by winning the Rising Stars State Games. Following the events, we put together a first team, second team, and third team all-state, highlighting the top standouts from all four events. We are excited to make the State Games an annual must attend event for each class each fall.

Phil Kerber (Georgia)

A summer and fall at LakePoint is always filled with noteworthy moments and 2020 was no different. Two top 50 arms had a duel at the National Program Invitational in Georgia Jackets RHP Caleb Logerwell (Homeschool, GA) vs. Team Elite RHP Christian Little. Everything about this game made for a really special moment. The crowd was littered with MLB Scouts. Logerwell and Little were throwing in the low 90s, spinning swing and miss stuff, spotting their pitches up. Both teams featured numerous Division I recruits and future draft prospects, but the arms kept it all in check. The game itself was tightly contested with Team Elite taking a late 3-1 lead and holding on to win. We also saw two righties throw 100 in jaw-dropping moments. RHP Chase Burns (Beech HS, TN) did it for Canes National at the PBR Classic, sitting 97-99 and touching 100 in the first inning. There was a collective "whoa" from the crowd, with people jumping up and down, others laughing at how ridiculous it was. Burns’ opponent, Game On, was simply cheering if they even fouled a ball off. Then Chase Petty (Mainland HS, NJ) showed up to the Area Code Games in August and did it himself. At the Future Games, OF Justin Thomas (Benedictine Military Academy, GA) claimed MVP honors by going 5-for-6 for Team Georgia and capped his weekend with a three-run home run. Lastly, C Hunter Hines (Madison Central HS, MS) and C Creed Willems (Aledo HS, TX) took the PBR 17U National Championships by storm. They combined for nine home runs in the event. Willems’ Academy Select beat Hines’ SBG Sox in the semifinals, in which Willems hit a grand slam.

Rob Allison (Iowa)

A memorable moment of 2020 for us was 2020 RHP Carter Baumler (Dowling Catholic HS, IA) being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the fifth round of the MLB Draft. He attended his first event back in the spring of 2017, continued to develop, pitched in PBR Future Games as a sophomore and ultimately committed to Texas Christian afterwards, progressing to an MLB draft pick in an uncertain year plagued with restrictions and limited looks.


Illinois natives represented their home state favorably in the 2020 MLB Draft, headlined by Louisville's former frontline starters LHP Reid Detmers (Angels, 10th overall) and RHP Bobby Miller (Dodgers, 29th overall). Both graduated from their Illinois high schools as highly touted prospects, but still managed to make it to Louisville's campus and the two only flourished from there. Sandwiched in between those two was Chicago SS Ed Howard (Mount Carmel HS, IL), who was selected 16th overall by the Cubs in one of the draft's best stories. The homegrown talent is acclimating well inside this familiar organization after earning a ton of attention prior to draft day as one of the nation's top prep shortstops. And even in this abbreviated draft, another Illinois prep player heard their name called early: RHP Ben Hernandez (De La Salle HS, IL), the Royals' second-round pick, 41st overall. Hernandez's diligent work ethic consistently pushed him up and up the state and national rankings, culminating in a terrific 2019 showcase circuit at the national level. Glenbard North grad RHP Eric Orze (Mets, fifth round) topped off this group of Illinois talent headed to pro ball as one of the entire draft's most feel-good stories. A two-time cancer survivor, Orze's diagnoses prevented him from prolonged success in college ball, but he was highly effective when he was one the mound, including this past spring at New Orleans, prior to the season's cancellation. Orze has the chance to become an impact reliever, and he rounds out this gifted group of five who helped shine a greater spotlight on Illinois baseball on the national stage last June.

Andy Urban (Kansas, Oklahoma)

LHP Dax Fulton (Mustang HS, OK) was one of the top standouts at the 2017 Future Games and continued an upward trajectory on the national stage. While he ended up having Tommy John surgery after the summer of 2019, his potential still was still recognized and he was draft by the Miami Marlins in the second round. For Kansas, we saw the Royals Scout Team and Building Champions Pena face off in the Kansas City Program Invitational at Creekside, showing off many of the top ranked players in Kansas in one game with an electric atmosphere even amid COVID-19 restrictions in the park. 

Chris Fuller (Kentucky)

OF Daylen Lile (Trinity HS, KY), a Louisville recruit, established himself as one of the top pure hitters in the country over the summer, as he routinely squared up top arms during the national showcase circuit.  He is as advanced a hitter as I've seen in my 8+ years as PBR Kentucky Scouting Director,  showing elite pitch recognition skills and the ability to use all fields while rarely getting himself out. Having proven himself to be one of the top high school prospects in the country, there will be no shortage of eyes on him this spring from scouts.

Alex Armand (Louisiana)

The most memorable moment of 2020, for me, was 2024 3B John Pearson (West Monroe HS) hitting a three-run home run on the first pitch he saw of our first game at the Junior Future Games. 

Andy Judkins (Minnesota)

RHP Max Meyer (Minnesota), a 2017 grad out of Woodbury HS, MN, came to his first PBR event in 2015, where he sat 80-83 mph. This past year, as a junior for the Gophers, he ran his fastball up to 100 and was No. 4 on the PBR Draft Board. Meyer was picked third overall by the Marlins.

Matt Miller (Mississippi)

C Hunter Hines (Madison Central HS, MS) exploded onto the scene in 2020, displaying some big time pop and lots of flair. Though uncommitted heading into the summer, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound, left-handed hitter had some at-bats that forced recruiters to take notice. He is now committed to Mississippi State.

Kevin Moulder (Missouri)

Missouri had its share of highlights this year, but seeing LHP Justin Loer (Lakeville South HS, MN) strike out 19 stood out the most.

T.J. Hunt (New Jersey)

New Jersey baseball suffered a tough loss in 2020, with the season being cancelled just days after practices started up. For a while, there was little on the horizon and uncertainty reigned. However, rumblings of a "Last Dance" baseball tournament, an ode to the hit docu-series "The Last Dance" about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, really started to heat up by the end of May. In mid-June, the tournament field was set and the event was to start on July 6, with the championship in late July. In an effort to salvage a season that was lost, tournament organizer Mike Murray, head coach and athletic director at St. Joseph's Metuchen, made it known that it was a priority to deliver a season that was lost--primarily to give the graduating class of 2020 one last chance to play with their teammates. The tournament received national headlines and provided student athletes, coaches, and teachers alike a chance to root for something. Fans came out in droves, albeit socially distanced, to watch the state’s first live-sporting event since March Madness was shut down. Some high school teams took advantage of the opportunity as an evaluation tool for their teams in 2021, while others used it as more of a "Senior Sendoff." However you look at it, The Last Dance tournament provided some semblance of normalcy in an otherwise abnormal world. Kudos to all the teams and coaches involved in making the tournament happen and here's to having a full regular season in 2021. 

Jared Carrier (New York)

The entire Prep Baseball Report family of states took the deep dive in 2020 with the implementation of Trackman and Blast Motion technologies. With the loss of spring seasons in the Empire State, the PBR New York staff looked for creative ways to test out the equipment. I even built a bullpen/batting cage at my home and saw 2021 C Derek Bender (St. James HS, SC) tear the netting apart with 102 mph exit velos while using wood and 6-foot-7 RHP Von Baker (Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville HS, NY) barely fit down the backyard slope while sitting 90 with impressive extension. 220 LHP Bryce Reimer (Sullivan West HS, NY) showed off his new splitter that produced a spin rate as low as 765 rpm while pounding the zone on both sides of the plate. The early data collection allowed for our staff to not only learn the operation of the Trackman units but to dig deeper into the how, why and what it means on a grand scale. When it comes to the grand scale, we were able to track down 2020 RHP Teddy McGraw (Oneonta HS, NY) exactly 11 months post Tommy John surgery. While quietly working himself back during the pandemic, McGraw cast himself back into the national spotlight with a thoroughly impressive session where he sat 93-95 with spin rates on his slider peaking in the 2900 RPM range. McGraw would go on to have himself an impressive fall at Wake Forest. Less than two weeks before the draft, we were able to also catch up with 2020 RHP Alex Santos (Mount St. Michael Academy, NY) for a side session in the Bronx. In one of our final test runs on Trackman, Santos did not disappoint, topping out at 94.8 with an average spin rate north of 2600. The Houston Astros, an organization that is enamored with spin rates, made Santos the 72nd overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. 

Blaine Clemmens (Northern California)

The moment for me was the draft, when SS Nick Yorke (Archbishop Mitty HS, CA) went in the first round and then being in touch all day with LHP Kyle Harrison’s (De La Salle HS, CA) dad as that unfolded and getting dope from him about what was going to take place. It was a cool day, I was elated for Nick, then waited for Kyle to get his shot, thinking it had passed, then having his dad keep me in the loop as the Giants’ selection developed. It was ultimate fly-on-the wall stuff.

Brandon Hall (North Carolina)

North Carolina continued to make an impact on the MLB Draft, even in a year with a reduced number of rounds. Twelve total players with ties to the state were selected, including three high school products led by 6-foot-4, 215-pound LHP Liam Norris (Diamondbacks, third round) from Green Hope HS. The top pick from the state was North Carolina State C Patrick Bailey.  Bailey became a highly valued prospect in high school at Wesleyan Christian Academy after time with Team USA. Bailey was selected with the 13th overall pick by the San Francisco Giants. Prior to the draft, Bailey's career was highlighted in the Then and Now series.

Dan Jurik (Oregon, Washington)

The uber talented RHP Mick Abel (Jesuit HS, OR) came onto the scene back in March of 2018 in front of Shooter Hunt and continued his rapid ascension from there. After a dominant 2019 season, Abel had cemented himself as a bonafide first-round prospect. While he wasn’t able to compete in 2020, his track record of success and upside was too good to pass up and he ended up being selected 15th overall by the Philadelphia Phillies. For Washington, 10 players from the state in the 2022-2023 classes made it to LakePoint for the Future Games, the premier event in the country for uncommitted players. They were joined by four  prospects from Oregon. This inaugural roster helped put the Pacific Northwest on the map at the Future Games and opened the door for future prospects to follow their lead. As of right now, five of those 10 players from Washington and two from Oregon have committed to Division I programs. 

Greg Williams (Pennsylvania)

For me, it doesn’t get much bigger than two Pennsylvania high school players going in the first round of the draft. OF Austin Hendrick (West Allegheny HS, PA) went 12th overall to the Reds and RHP Nick Bitsko (Central Bucks East HS, PA) followed at 24th overall to the Rays.

Jack Shannon (Southern California)

Being a guest instructor at an inner city Detroit youth baseball clinic was one of the coolest experiences of my life, as I was immersed in a completely different environment in a place that is still trying to resurrect youth baseball. I got to learn about the culture, baseball history, Detroit history and see players as well.

Colton Provey (Tennessee)

With his selection at eighth overall by the Padres, OF Robert Hassell (Independence HS, TN) was not only the first high school player taken in the 2020 MLB Draft, but also the first prep Tennessean position player to go in the first round in more than 40 years. I also saw Chase Burns in May at 95-98 with a four-pitch mix, before he topped out at 100 at Lakepoint. I’m looking forward to the most anticipated senior campaign since the late Donny Everett was hitting 100 for Clarksville. 

Phil Haig (Texas)

I literally laughed out loud watching Justin Lange (Llano HS, TX) in a PBR pre-draft workout on Trackman when the first pitch was 100, the third was 101, and he didn’t throw a ball under 99. No joke, I started laughing out loud, and did a couple of knee slaps out of sheer amazement of watching 101 with no effort and a whole lot of strikes.

Jeff Scholzen (Utah)

The start of PBR Utah and our first event being sold out was a big deal. Transitioning from the world of MLB scouting to PBR, the cool thing is, you have the freedom to be yourself and contribute with your own personality. I’m getting texts and emails daily about how excited coaches, parents and the players are that we are in Utah. The excitement has been tremendous!


While the quality of Wisconsin high school baseball rises, there remains an unfortunate lack of in-state opportunities for homegrown talent to compete at the D-I level. That's why it makes it a little easier to root for the players sticking around the area, opting to play for Wisconsin's lone D-I program: Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 2021 SS Andrew Chapman (Waterford Union HS, WI) has been committed to the program since February of this year, so it was extra special to watch Chapman perform at a high level so close to his future home field. The PBR Wisconsin staff hosts numerous tournaments next door to the Panthers' stellar new ballpark, the state-of-the-art Franklin Field, and Chapman took the opportunity to get used to his new surroundings. He slugged three homers on a Sunday in one of our most competitive tournaments in the summer, just down the street from the dugout he'll call home next fall. Chapman is a top-40-ranked prospect in the state and also one of the most athletic and tooled-up players in the area. His exciting power and speed combination will make him a dynamic member of UW-Milwaukee's incoming class around this time next year.

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