Prep Baseball Report

Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 4 Buford

Phil Kerber
Georgia Scouting Director

The Georgia High School Association has announced that opening day of the 2020 season will commence on Feb. 10. Programs were allowed to begin practicing in an official capacity on Jan. 13, 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 2019.Over the next several weeks, leading up to opening day, we will be publishing our team previews ahead of the 2019 spring season, touching on programs spanning multiple state classifications, counting down the official PBR Georgia Preseason Power 25 Rankings.

Our Preseason Power 25 rankings coverage starts today.

Team: Buford
Preseason Rank:
2019 Record:
Region: 8-5A 
2019 Region Finish: 2nd
GHSA Classification: 5A
Head Coach: Stuart Chester
Playoff Run: Quarterfinals
Returning Starters: 5
Returning Pitchers: 4

KEy Players Lost
Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Sean Adams GA Buford 2019 LHP Georgia Southern 
Ramsey David GA Buford 2019 RHP Auburn
Brandon Jolliff GA Buford 2019 3B Young Harris
Dylan McKinnis GA Buford 2019 RHP Jacksonville State
Austin Turner GA Buford 2019 OF Auburn
TOP Players
Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Dylan Lesko GA Buford 2022 RHP/SS  
Riley Stanford GA Buford 2022 OF/RHP  
Jackson Gaspard GA Buford 2022 UTL  
Joseph Salvo GA Buford 2020 C Samford
Eli Ledford GA Buford 2020 3B/OF  
Greg Johnson GA Buford 2020 1B  
Top Newcomers
Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Treyton Rank GA Buford 2021 UTL Florida State
Jake Haynes GA Buford 2020 RHP Kennesaw State
Ayden Digiacomo GA Buford 2021 OF/1B  
Gabe Hunt GA Buford 2021 INF/RHP  

Pitching Staff. Despite losing three pitchers to Division I schools, Buford has reloaded with what may be the best, underclass pitching staff in not only the state, but the entire country. RHP/SS Dylan Lesko (2022), a member of Team Georgia at the 2019 PBR Future Games, will be the staff's ace after posting a 1.08 ERA his freshman year. Lesko is the No 1-ranked prospect in Georgia's 2022 class, and for good reason. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Lesko works in the low-90s with his fastball and has showcased advanced feel for his changeup and sharp breaking ball. 

Dylan Lesko

Then there is the No. 4-ranked 2022 in Georgia OF/RHP Riley Stanford. Another member of Team Georgia at the 2019 PBR Future Games, Stanford is a physical specimen at 6-foot-4, 200-pounds, with athleticism and strength throughout his frame. And he certainly is not done growing or filling out. He has incredible arm strength on the mound for his age, sitting 92-95 mph with the ability to ramp things up to 97 mph when he needs to. Something you do not see very often out of a sophomore in high school.

Riley Stanford

Yet another standout 2022, and member of Team Georgia from the 2019 PBR Future Games, will join the pitching staff, UTL/RHP Jackson Gaspard. The 6-foot, 175-pound Gaspard can offer his services at just about any position on the field, but he may be best suited on the mound. He does not have the arm strength of Lesko or Stanford, yet, touching 87 with his fastball. But what he does have is a hammer of a 12/6 curveball that has shown depth and late bite to it. 

Jackson Gaspard

These three pitchers alone would form a tremendous pitching staff for the Wolves, but it does not stop there. UTL/RHP Treyton Rank (2021; Florida State) made the move from Dominion Christian to Buford this offseason, and brings with him his 90 mph arm on the mound. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound  RHP Jake Haynes (2020; Kennesaw State) also transferred in. Haynes is a long, lanky prospect who can work up to 89 mph with his heavy fastball, complementing it with a curveball and changeup.


Treyton Rank


Jake Haynes

Uncommitted senior Eli Ledford will also see some innings on the mound, not as many as the aforementioned players because he will be needed in the field, but some. Ledford is capable of pitching into the upper-80s. Finally, newcomer INF/RHP Gabe Hunt (2021) beings yet another upper-80s arm into the mix.


What this team is able to achieve will be largely dependent on how the state's strongest group of underclassmen perform. We already mentioned how much talent and depth the pitching staff has. If it already is not the state's top pitching staff, it will be in a year. Pitching is not just the only thing the Wolves can and will do at a high level. All the pitchers listed above can play the field exceptionally well. 

Behind the dish, there will be Joseph Salvo (2020; Samford), Rank and Gaspard. All three handle the position to a high degree. Salvo will be the main catcher and four-hole hitter on the team once again. The 5-foot-11, 185 pound backstop is agile and has advanced flexibility, leading to pop times around 1.90. He relies on good footwork and quick transfers. Rank's arm strength translates extremely well and does everything in a quick athletic fashion with smooth actions. In the past, he has posted well below 2.00 pop times and is truly a five tool player. Gaspard will also see time at catcher. There will be little to no drop in defensive prowess between the three players when they interchange. 


Joseph Salvo

We have not even gotten to the offense, where Buford has the potential to produce a huge amount of runs. Salvo is back in the three-hole where he hit .395 a year ago. Salvo has a solid hit tool and gap-to-gap type swing, showcasing the ability to drive the ball with force. The real power will come from the likes of Stanford and Rank. Despite being able to throw in the mid-90s, Stanford's future may lie at the plate. He possesses next level strength and power already, and can turn a game on its head with a single swing. Every at-bat is a must watch. As we said earlier, Rank is a five tool player. Just like Stanford, he has the ability to leave the yard at any moment in time. The beef of the Buford lineup will be one of the most feared in state.

Surrounding them will be Lesko, Gaspard, Ledford and some newcomers. Ledford is a left-handed hitter who can use the entire field with a line drive approach. We saw him at the Fall Upperclass Games in Novemeber that wherever he ends up in the batting order, he will be no easy task for pitcher's to deal. Similarly form the right-side, Gaspard can spray the ball around the field with ease and will only continue to develop more power as he matures.


Eli Ledford

Returning 1B Greg Johnson (2020), who served as the back up last season, will get his crack at the starting role. Johnson is a physical 6-foot-3, 220-pounds with power to all fields. Newcomers Ayden Digiacomo (2021) and Hunt will provide even more power to the lineup. Digiacomo is another physical player standing 6-foot-2, 225-pounds.

Coach Stuart Chester has himself one of the most talented teams in the entire country. The players on his roster can literally do-it-all and the expectation will be that they will compete for a Class 5A state title this season and for years to come. Their biggest threat will be the three time defending 5A state champions Loganville, who have the experience and talent to hang with them. Only time will tell if this is their year or not, but we look forward to following it all year long.


Make sure to follow @PBRGeorgia on Twitter for the most-up-to-date coverage throughout the 2020 season.

Find more information on the 2020 Wolves below:

+ Full Schedule
+ Team Website
+ Team Twitter

Preseason Power 25 Countdown