Prep Baseball Report

Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 1 Buford

Phil Kerber
Georgia Scouting Director

The Georgia High School Association has announced that opening day of the 2021 season will commence on Feb. 15. Programs were allowed to begin practicing in an official capacity on Jan. 18, meaning it's time for the PBR Georgia staff to break down the high school baseball scene in the state in the countdown to the first pitch thrown in 2021.Over the next several weeks, leading up to opening day, we will be publishing our team previews ahead of the 2021 spring season, touching on programs spanning multiple state classifications, counting down the official PBR Georgia Preseason Power 25 Rankings.

Preseason Rank:
2020 Record:
Region: 8-6A
GHSA Classification: 6A
Head Coach: Stuart Chester
Returning Starters: 6
Returning Pitchers: 6

Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Joseph Salvo GA Buford 2020 C Samford 
Eli Ledford GA Buford 2020 UTL Piedmont
Greg Johnson GA Buford 2020 1B Cleveland CC
Jake Haynes GA Buford 2020 RHP Kennesaw State
Cooper Hardee GA Buford 2020 RHP  
Braden Hartman GA Buford 2020 C/1B Chattahoochee Valley CC
Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Treyton Rank GA Buford 2021 SS/RHP Florida State
Connor Sampers GA Buford 2021 RHP Wofford
Dylan Lesko GA Buford 2022 RHP/SS Vanderbilt
Riley Stanford GA Buford 2022 OF/RHP Georgia Tech
Jackson Gaspard GA Buford 2022 INF/RHP Georgia Tech
Stan Zagrodnik GA Buford 2022 OF Wofford
Evan Kehren GA Buford 2022 LHP  
Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Jackson Brockett GA Buford 2021 LHP/1B Nebraska 
Nathan Smith GA Buford 2021 C Tennessee
Brant Baughcum GA Buford 2022 INF Georgia Tech

Newcomers. Buford was already a very talented team in 2020, and they got even better for 2021 with the addition of three transfers. Nebraska commit LHP/1B Jackson Brockett (2021), Tennessee commit C Nathan Smith (2021), and INF Brant Baughcum (2022) all made the move to Buford in the offseason. 

What do they add? Brockett adds another big arm to a loaded pitching staff and he will slide into the vacant spot at first. Coach Chester knew what he was getting with Brockett on the mound. An upper 80s southpaw a swing and miss breaking ball. What has surprised him has been Brockett's prowess at the plate. He will be a valuable left-handed stick in the lineup.

Jackson Brockett

Smith is a big time catching prospect who fills another vacancy left behind the plate. The Tennessee commit is a perfect fit for the Wolves. He is an advanced defender, which is a necessity when your pitching staff has multiple arms who throw 90 mph or harder. Smith also swings an aggressive, powerful bat at the plate. 

Nathan Smith

Then there is Baughcum, who is arguably one of the top overall hitters in Georgia's 2022 class. Baughcum is a gritty hitter, who knows how to work a county until he gets something he can handle. He is a top of the order, high contact bat. 

Brant Baughcum

Buford could very well have the most talented roster in the entire country. They are going to be a juggernaut and have a chance to run the gauntlet in route to a 6A State Championship. We already talked about how the rich got richer with three impact transfers coming in and immediately filling team needs. Let's get into the core of the returning players.

At the top of everyone's mind when they hear Buford is Vanderbilt commit RHP/SS Dylan Lesko (2022). Lesko is the top rated prospect in Georgia and in the discussion for top overall prospect in the country. He has electric stuff on the mound. He is already showing a mid 90s fastball during preseason scrimmages and an improved curveball. His changeup is one of the best in the state with heavy fade and sink. Lesko is going to be a must watch.

Dylan Lesko

Not far behind Lesko in the state rankings is top-10 prospect Georgia Tech commit OF/RHP Riley Stanford (2022). Stanford's entire game screams power. He has some of the top power at the plate and on the mound, where he can sit in the mid 90s with his fastball. The explosiveness of his game matches the intensity Stanford plays with. There is always going to be fireworks when Stanford takes the field.

Riley Stanford

The list continues with Florida State commit SS/RHP Treyton Rank (2021). Rank will be a major part of the starting rotation and the heart of the order. Rank sits in the upper 80s, touching low 90s, with his fastball and has a big swing and miss 12/6 breaking ball. He also has a lot juice at the plate. We sound like a broken record, but he will be yet another impact bat.

Treyton Rank

Treyton Rank

We keep moving on to Georgia Tech commit INF/RHP Jackson Gaspard (2022). Gaspard id a highly capable defender who can play third, short, or second. His greatest strength might be on the mound though. Recently in the preseason he has been working his fastball into the low 90s. And he has a tru out pitch in his big 12/6 hammer.

Jackson Gaspard

It is laughable how talented this team is. And we are not even done yet. We cannot talk about Buford without mentioning Wofford commits RHP Connor Sampers (2021) and OF Stan Zagrodnik (2022). Sampers was a go to bullpen arm last year. He sits in the mid-80s and can reach upper-80s, but what makes him so effective is his 12/6 curveball. It is a sharp pitch that can fool just about any batter. Zagrodnik was mainly used as a pitch runner last season, but should see an elevated role this year. He has tools across the board, and could be set for a breakout junior year.

Connor Sampers

Make sure to follow @PBRGeorgia on Twitter for the most-up-to-date coverage throughout the 2021 season.

Find more information on the 2021 Wolves below:

Full Schedule
Team Website
Team Twitter

Preseason Power 25 Countdown