Prep Baseball Report

Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 20 Flowery Branch

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 Ranking

Team: Flowery Branch
Preseason Rank:
2020 Record:
Region: 8-4A
GHSA Classification: 4A
Head Coach: Joey Ray
Returning Starters: 9
Returning Pitchers: 4

Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Andrew Armstrong GA Flowery Branch 2020 LHP Florida State 
Zander Sechrist GA Flowery Branch 2020 LHP Tennessee 
Grant Lackey GA Flowery Branch 2020 OF Lee
Tai Lizdas GA Flowery Branch 2020 RHP Milligan 
Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Kaleb Freeman GA Flowery Branch 2021 C/3B/RHP North Georgia 
JB Bell GA Flowery Branch 2021 MIF/RHP Georgia Southern
Connor Larson GA Flowery Branch 2021 MIF/RHP Wofford
Austin Hatcher GA Flowery Branch 2021 RHP/OF  
Jake Beaver GA Flowery Branch 2022 OF/LHP Georgia State
Nick Linkowski GA Flowery Branch 2022 OF  
Baxley O'Brien GA Flowery Branch 2022 INF/OF  
Mason Compton GA Flowery Branch 2023 RHP/INF  
Kade Smallwood GA Flowery Branch 2023 INF/C  
Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Connor Edwards GA Flowery Branch 2022 C/MIF
Max Eubanks GA Flowery Branch 2023 OF/RHP  
Max Wagner GA Flowery Branch 2024 RHP  

A collective team effort will be the X-Factor for Flowery Branch in 2021. The Falcons are a well balanced team offensively who will look to get production out of every spot of the lineup. It is tough to imagine that they won't either, returning nine players who saw significant at-bats in 2020 for a team that went 12-1. The lineup will be full of guys who are the definition of grinders. The senior class of North Georgia commit C/3B/RHP Kaleb Freeman (2021), Georgia Southern commit MIF/RHP JB Bell (2021) and Wofford commit MIF/RHP Connor Larson (2021) were the leaders offensively last season and will look to step things up this year.

JB Bell 

Georgia State commit OF/LHP Jake Beaver (2022), OF Nick Linkowski (2022), 1B/OF Baxley O'Brien (2022) and INF/C Kade Smallwood (2023) all gained valuable experience and will be counted on once again. Beaver has been a mainstay in the Falcons lineup since his freshman year, while Linkowski hit out of the leadoff spot all last season.

Jake Beaver 

O'Brien has a chance to be a big part of the middle of the order and a major run producer. He has a powerful right-handed swing and has easy juice to the pull-side. Smallwood came out of the gate hot last season, hitting out of the DH spot as a freshman. This season, he will step up into a larger role.

Baxley O'Brien

Flowery Branch will have a different feel to them this year than in years past with the loss of LHP Andrew Armstrong (Florida State) and LHP Zander Sechrist (Tennessee). Armstrong and Sechrist had the Falcons on cruise control before the 2020 season was shutdown. This year, their identity will be as an offensive first team.

As we outlined in the X-Factor, this lineup will have few holes in it and should produce runs consistently. Freeman, Bell, Larson, Beaver, Linkowski, and Smallwood are all high contact hitters who will make pitchers work to get them out. The challenges continue for opposing pitchers when you look at this roster. O'Brien has a chance to be a big run producer with his powerful right-handed swing. 

Flowery Branch will also look for some newcomers to hit the ground running. C/MIF Connor Edwards (2022) and OF/RHP Max Eubanks (2023) will be thrust into the lineup. Coach Ray is especially high on Eubanks. An athletic right-handed hitter, Eubanks has a simple line drive swing that works middle of the field. He fits right in with the rest of the lineup as a scrappy, grinder type.

Max Eubanks

The pitching staff is going to be the one area of this team where this team will need players to step up. RHP Austin Hatcher (2021) is back after a solid junior year where he posted a 2.83 ERA in 12.1 IP, striking out 12. Hatcher sits in the mid-80s with feel for a breaking ball and changeup. He will be looked upon to eat up some of this innings left behind by graduating seniors.

Austin Hatcher - Video Credit: Full Count Baseball

The emergence of RHP/3B Mason Compton (2023) last season is a promising sign moving forward. He saw 10.1 innings on the mound, allowing only one run, good for a 0.667 ERA. Compton continues to trend upwards as he physically fills out his 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame. We saw him up to 86 early in the summer, and there is little doubt that there velo will continue to trend upwards.

Mason Compton

Nearly all of the primary position players will also see time on the mound. Beaver will be one to watch as he has potential two-way capabilities at the next level.

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

Find more information on the 2021 Falcons below:

Full Schedule
Team Website
Team Twitter

Preseason Power 25 Countdown