NC Insider: Updated Class of 2019 Rankings


Branodn Hall
North Carolina Director of Scouting


The updated and expanded class of 2019 rankings for North Carolina features 200 of the top players from the Tarheel state.  Prep Baseball Report worked relentlessly through the summer and fall, covering players in games, practices, workouts, tournaments, and PBR Events.  PBR works to grade players on their tools, game play, and projection.  Each player receiving a player grade, and confidence rating, is then sorted by the PBR staff to start the rankings process.

The PBR staff will continue its “boots on the ground” efforts to see players as they prepare for the spring season.  In the spring, PBR will be the No. 1 source for high school baseball coverage in North Carolina.  PBR staff will be attending games and practices, while working with the North Carolina Baseball Coaches Association (NCBCA) to administer the PBR NCBCA Poll for each classification within the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

The top three remain unchanged in North Carolina’s 2019 class.  Brennan Malone (RHP, Porter Ridge HS), Chris Villaman (LHP, Ledford HS), and Isaiah Bennett (RHP, Pine Forest HS) sit atop the class.  Each is committed to an ACC school with Malone and Bennett scheduled to attend UNC, while Villaman is committed to NC State.

At No. 4, Cody Benton (RHP, West Columbus HS) slides up one spot as Ray Torres (C, IMG Academy) transferred away from Providence HS to attend IMG in Florida.  Benton is a physical right handed arm with a clean arm action.  The fastball tends to jump on hitters while he continually pounds the strike zone.  Benton is committed to East Carolina.

The biggest mover in the 2019 class is RHP Xander Hamilton (Broughton HS).  Xander stands 6-foot-4, 203 pounds with wide shoulders and a defined lower half.  As he has continued to fill out, the fastball has continued to jump.  At the PBR Top Underclass Games in August the fastball touched 86.  This fall, it ranged up to 90, creating a stir with college coaches in the audience.  As good as the velocity has a chance to be, the slider is the separator.  Sitting 80-81, there is late hard shape that can create swing and miss and force hitters to chase balls out of the zone.  The slider profiles as an out pitch at the college level, very early in his career, with a chance to continue to develop.

Seventeen players from North Carolina made an appearance in the PBR Overall Rankings.  Malone and Villaman both rank inside the Top 10.  PBR took an in-depth look, including video on several prospects, at the North Carolina players in the Overall Rankings on Wednesday.

The expanded top 200 includes 27 new players added to the rankings list.  At No. 57 is a powerful right handed hitter from Pisgah HS, Noah Burnette (1B/RHP).  Burnette worked out at the Hub City Classic, an official PBR Scouted Event, where his exit velocity peaked at 97 mph during the live BP.

At No. 59 is RHP/OF Carter Sheppard of Lake Norman HS.  Sheppard took part in the PBR Scout Day with the CBA Copperheads at Pfeiffer University.  Carter stands 6-foot-5, 185 pounds, still working to get a handle on his center of gravity at times, but there is quickness and strength.  Running a 7.00 sixty, the righty showed arm strength from the outfield with carry at 90 mph from the position.  The velocity is beginning to translate to the mound, where maturity and time may see 84 jump soon.  From the right side of the box, Sheppard produced an exit velocity of 90 mph off the barrel.

(Carter Sheppard - August 2017)

 

 

 

Matthew Upchurch (LHP/OF, Lincoln Charter) and Max LeCroy (OF, Christ School) check in at No. 90 and No. 107 respectively.   Both attended the PBR Western Piedmont Open Scout Day in the fall.  LeCroy ran a 6.90 sixty.  The 6-foot-2, 150 pound frame still has plenty of room to continue to fill out.  Upchurch is intriguing from the left side of the box, where he tends to find the barrel with ease and looseness.  On the mound, the delivery has some effort but the arm speed works up to 84.  A decent athlete at 5-foot-11, 165 pounds, Upchurch ran a 7.18 sixty on the PBR laser timer.

(Matthew Upchurch - October 2017)

 

Two uncommitted prospects that remain inside the top 25 in the state attended the PBR Future Games in Indianapolis in August.  Each performed well in front of over 300 college coaches and scouts in attendance.  Ronald Evans (3B, Pro 5 Academy) worked through the event with a fracture in his hand, still showing raw power and nimble feet for a big guy.  The exit velocity off the barrel peaked at 99 mph and he ran a 7.10 sixty on the turf. 

Ethan Blanchard was a little up and down this fall, but showed high end pitch-ability and a slider that works off his fastball slot while in Indy.  Sitting 84-86, there is occasional heavy run to the arm side.  The 6-foot, 160 pound frame should continue to add strength and still has maturation left that allows coaches and scouts to continue to dream on Blanchard’s future.

(Ronald Evans - August of 2017)

 

(Ethan Blanchard - August of 2017)

 

A sneak peak at the state’s updated Top 15 can be seen below.  To view the full list, follow the link below the preview.  The full rankings is part of the PBR+ subscription package.  Log in, or subscribe, to view.

Updated NC 2019 Rankings – Top 15

RK 

NAME

ST

SCHOOL

YR

POS

COMMITMENT

1

Brennan Malone

NC

Porter Ridge HS

2019

RHP

North Carolina

2

Chris Villaman

NC

Ledford

2019

LHP

North Carolina State

3

Isaiah Bennett

NC

Pine Forest

2019

RHP

North Carolina

4

Cody Benton

NC

West Columbus

2019

RHP

East Carolina

5

Austin Pace

NC

Currituck County

2019

RHP

North Carolina State

6

JD Brock

NC

William Amos Hough

2019

LHP

Clemson

7

Xander Hamilton

NC

Broughton

2019

1B


8

Tim Cao

NC

Northwest Guilford

2019

RHP

North Carolina State

9

AJ Wilson

NC

East Surry

2019

LHP

East Carolina

10

CJ Neese

NC

Grimsley

2019

SS

North Carolina State

11

Hite Merrifield

NC

Davie County

2019

OF

Wake Forest

12

Caleb Cozart

NC

Wesleyan Christian Academy

2019

RHP

North Carolina

13

Skylar Brooks

NC

Wilkes Central

2019

RHP

East Carolina

14

David John Herz

NC

Terry Sanford

2019

LHP

North Carolina

15

Robbie O'Neal

NC

DH Conley

2019

C

UNC Greensboro

 

CLICK HERE for the full North Carolina Class of 2019 Rankings