Prep Baseball Report

NC: Updated Class of 2019 Rankings

Brandon Hall
North Carolina Director of Scouting

The summer circuit for the rising senior class is a time for players to move and advance as many are beginning to set their sites on their college career.  Since our last release in April the staff of PBR North Carolina has been on the road watching high school games, club team events, American Legion contests, and running events to identify and showcase players from the state.

Typically this rankings update is the most massive with player movement and player additions.  The North Carolina 2019 Rankings will expand from 225 to the Top 300 players in the state. Remaining in the top slot is talented LHP Chris Villaman (Ledford HS).  Villaman led the Panthers to the state championship series as part of a very good 1-2 combination on the mound with Logan Whitaker (RHP, 2018).  Villaman has spent the summer on the national scene performing for pro scouts at the USA Baseball Tournament of Stars. A good athlete with a big arm, the pro guys will be covering him throughout the year.  If the arm continues to develop, while the secondary stuff tightens, he will be in the mix to be the first player in North Carolina taken in the 2019 MLB Draft.


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Exiting the updated rankings is Brennan Malone (RHP, IMG Academy).  Malone, ranked No. 5 overall in the updated Overall 2019 Rankings, is transferring to IMG Academy in Florida and will be appearing in their state rankings.  

While one exits, one comes back… Catcher Ray Torres returns to North Carolina after one year at IMG Academy.  Committed to LSU, Torres is an advanced defender with a strong arm.  As he has continued to develop strength in his frame, the bat has continued to develop as well.


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The biggest jump in the rankings may not be in overall spots advanced, but New Hanover’s Kyle Smith made a big impression on PBR scouts at his spring break tournament where he was named MVP.  He followed up that extremely impressive outing by coming up big throughout the state playoffs, leading the Wildcats to the AAA State Championship.  At the State Games of North Carolina in June, the bat continued to be advanced, consistently finding the barrel on seemingly every swing. Defensively, the arm has carry and accuracy with a quick, athletic release.  The grades on Smith from a workout to a game setting do not seem to change. There are players that are toolsy, but may not translate the tools into game situations. Smith plays with athleticism and an ease, that allow his tools to translate each time he performs.

One of the more interesting follows in the 2019 class may be Sam Howell (3B, Sun Valley HS).  Howell is committed to Florida State as a Quarterback, where he is one of the top rated QBs in the country.  At No. 24 in the updated rankings, Howell has spent time this summer taking part in the prestigious Elite 11 QB Camp.  All indications is that Howell will be a full time football player in Tallahassee, but there is interest from area pro scouts.  Howell is a part time baseball player that is athletic and extremely strong. There is an ease to his swing and the barrel tends to find the baseball a lot when he swings.  When the barrel is on the ball the exit velocity is elite, but it does not translate to a lot of homeruns, yet. From a pro scout perspective, they have to be thinking “What if”...  What if this athlete got 300 at-bats a year… What if Howell worked at baseball as much as many of his peers do…

Taking a deeper dive into the updated NC Class of 2019 Rankings we will look at some of the risers and newcomers inside the Top 100.  The full Top 300 can be seen here.  

Notes on Newcomers

+ Blake Walston (LHP, New Hanover HS) - Two sport star that is also the QB for the Wildcat football team.  Lean and wiry, the NC State commit has a big arm

Log in or subscribe for more notes on newcomers to the rankings as well as updates on several players rising in the updated rankings.


Preview the Top 10

1 Chris Villaman NC Ledford 2019 LHP North Carolina State
2 Kyle Smith NC New Hanover 2019 C North Carolina
3 Austin Pace NC Currituck County 2019 RHP North Carolina State
4 Cody Benton NC West Columbus 2019 RHP East Carolina
5 Blake Walston NC New Hanover 2019 LHP North Carolina State
6 Ray Torres IV NC TBA
2019 C Louisiana State
7 Xander Hamilton NC Broughton 2019 RHP Virginia Tech
8 Trey Tujetsch NC Ardrey Kell 2019 RHP South Carolina
9 DavidJohn Herz NC Terry Sanford 2019 LHP North Carolina
10 CJ Neese NC Grimsley 2019 SS North Carolina State


To view the complete updated North Carolina Class of 2019 Rankings, CLICK HERE

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