Prep Baseball Report

UPDATED: NC Class of 2020 Rankings

Brandon Hall
North Carolina Director of Scouting

The class of 2020 has now begun their senior year.  Prep Baseball Report of North Carolina has been following their progress from their first days as Freshman and will continue to follow their progress through the spring, and beyond. 

The class of 2020 rankings for the state of NC were beyond out of date and the staff of PBR has been working to finalize a deep process to expand the 2020 rankings to the top 250 players in North Carolina.  The PBR staff saw over 300 high school games this past spring, attended tournaments, games, practices, and workouts in the summer.  PBR was at the State Games of NC and ran events throughout the summer, including organization Scout Days and the Top Prospect Games.  From the efforts of the PBR staff through the spring and summer, over 225 players were given a player grade in the background of the PBR Player Database and included in the rankings process.


The North Carolina Class of 2020 Rankings


At the top of the rankings are two very familiar names.  Liam Norris (LHP, Green Hope HS) and Nolan McLean (RHP/INF, Garner HS).  This duo has held the top two slots, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively, since late in 2018.  They are very close in the evaluation phase, and they were slotted at No. 37 and No. 39 in the recently updated Class of 2020 Overall Rankings.  While Norris has been stable in the No. 1 position, McLean has continued to pull closer and closer in the past year, culminating with the honor of making the 2019 Team USA 18U team.  PBR will be in to see each of these prospects throughout the spring, as each as the talent to continue to climb up draft boards. 

Inside the top 10, Bryson Hammer (LHP, Alexander Central HS), Seth Keener (RHP, East Surry HS) and Gus Hughes (RHP, Grimsley HS) made the biggest jumps.  Hammer is a Clemson commit with an athletic frame and electric arm.  At the State Games of NC, the continued to show elite spin on his breaking ball while flashing an above average change-up.  Pair the off-speed with a big fastball and Hammer climbed eight slots to No. 4.  Hammer could continue to climb throughout the spring as his pitch-ability and command improve.

Keener is a Wake Forest commit that simply continues to do what he does, no matter the stage.  The arm is quick and the breaking ball is tight.  He has shown advanced feel for three pitches as well.  Hughes moves up ten slots as he continues to flash good stuff with high spin rate on both his fastball and breaking ball.  While the gun may read 88-89 consistently, the fastball is dominating hitters at what seems to be a higher velocity.  Pair that with what could be the best breaking ball in the state, and Hughes moves into the top 10.

(Gus Hughes - AUG 2018)


Just outside the top 10 is the first new comer to the NC Rankings.  Ross Dunn (LHP, Ardrey Kell HS) is new to North Carolina this fall, having moved in from Utah.  Dunn, a Kentucky commit has a big frame and PBR scouts have seen him up to 92.  At the Area Code Games this summer, PBR National Crosschecker Nathan Rode saw 88-89.  Dunn is an interesting follow as most do not have any information on him. 

(Ross Dunn - AUG 2019)


Big Movers

At this stage of their high school careers, players can make a big jump based on several factors.  The easiest is the player simply develops.  As we get closer to the draft, there is less and less projection of what the athlete will be by draft time, and what you see is what you get.  We can still project players moving forward, but it is easier to read players older they become. 

Players can also take jumps as scouts gain more information and see the player play more.  Sometimes an initial impression is lacking in telling the entire story of a player.  The more scouts see a player, the more they are able to paint the player projection.

One of the biggest moves in the 2020 class comes from Joseph Haney (INF, SouthLake Christian) who moves to No. 28, from No. 77.  Haney’s bat took a big step forward as he continued to develop strength in his frame and especially his hands.  The bat has moved from a positive tool to a potential power threat at the next level.

Jackson Kirkpatrick (RHP, McMichael HS) jumped 18 slots to the No. 24 ranking.  Kirkpatrick stands 6-foot-7 and has some athleticism in his delivery and arm swing.  With most players that have large frames, there is more to sync and it can take more time.  Kirkpatrick is well on his way to fulfilling his high ceiling and showed that at the PBR Top Prospect Games with a solid fastball – slider combination.  The fastball peaked at 91.

(Jackson Kirkpatrick - AUG 2019)


The biggest move in the 2020 class in NC comes from Luke Craig (LHP, Southern Lee HS).  Craig moved 113 slots to No. 45 in the state rankings.  While Craig impressed at an event in the fall of 2018, it was his ability to attack hitters in game situations that moved him up the board.  Overall stuff did improve with some increases in strength, but the way the stuff played in live games situations was extremely impressive and moved his overall player grade up several notches. 


New Guys

Over 75 new players were added to the updated NC 2020 Rankings.  With Ross Dunn, two others made it inside the Top 50.  Several players impressed at organizational scout days while players attending the PBR Top Prospect Games and the State Games of NC accounted for a lot of the new players in the rankings.

Griffyn Shelton (RHP, Oak Grove HS) was in the mix to be in the last update in April, but was sidelined with some tenderness.  The PBR staff just did not have enough confidence in the player grade on him to include him in the rankings at the time.  His outing at LakePoint for 5 Star Carolina this summer removed all doubt at the righty showed good stuff and a quick arm with the fastball running up to 90.  Shelton checks in inside the Top 50.

Owen Kincaid (LHP, Southwest Guilford HS) was not a name on the radar until PBR attended a multiple high school games at the Hi-Toms Stadium in Thomasville.  One game featured Southwest Guilford and Kincaid came on in relief, impressing PBR scouts in attendance with his stuff and pitch-ability.  Kincaid sits inside the Top 100.

(Owen Kincaid - March 2019)



By The Numbers

The PBR staff will continue to dive into the updated NC Class of 2020 Rankings in the coming weeks.  Below are some numbers from the updated rankings

  • 250 Players in the rankings… Expanded from 175
  • 78 New Players in the rankings
  • 128 ranked players have committed
  • 72 right handed pitchers are inside the top 250
  • 26 left handed pitchers are ranked
  • 34 catchers are ranked
  • 52 middle infielders are in the updated release
  • 4 players inside the Top 50 remain uncommitted
  • 16 players inside the Top 100 remain uncommitted


Previewing the Top 10

1 Liam Norris Green Hope LHP North Carolina
2 Nolan McLean Garner RHP
3 Koen Moreno Panther Creek RHP East Carolina
4 Bryson Hammer Alexander Central LHP Clemson
5 Landon Ginn Corinth Holders RHP East Carolina
6 Cannon Pickell Currituck County RHP North Carolina
7 Coby Ingle Rockingham County RHP North Carolina State
8 Seth Keener East Surry RHP Wake Forest
9 Austin St. Laurent Western Alamance SS East Carolina
10 Gus Hughes Grimsley RHP Charlotte

*CLICK HERE to see the full list of the Top 250 players in North Carolina