Prep Baseball Report

Updated NC Class of 2020 Rankings

Brandon Hall
North Carolina Director of Scouting

In April PBR of North Carolina updated the Class of 2020 Rankings for North Carolina.  Since that last update our “boots on the ground” scouting staff has seen players in high school games, the state playoffs, state championships, summer league games, summer workouts, American Legion games, American Legion workouts, travel tournaments, and of course at PBR events, including scout days, open IDs and Top Prospect events.  With over 50 years of recruiting coordinator experience and professional scouting experience on staff, PBR continues to work to cover the entire state at an unmatched level.

The 2020 class rankings will expand to the Top 125 players in North Carolina.  The PBR staff works to put player grades on as many players as possible in our extensive coverage.  Players are then arranged blindly by the player grade and stats.  As player names are added back to the mix, confidence ratings are put on the grades allowing the PBR staff to again sift through all of the players that have been evaluated, bringing us to an ability to rank the players in North Carolina.  The state rankings are used as PBR works to update the Overall 2020 Class Rankings, released on Thursday and expanded to the Top 500.

The top two in the 2020 rankings for NC remain unchanged with Liam Norris (LHP, Green Hope HS) and Nolan McLean (RHP/Util, Garner HS) turning in strong performances on the national stage during the summer.  Norris worked out at the USA Baseball Tournament of Stars, turning in one good outing that allowed him to make the USA 18U Trials.  At times erratic, it is still a big arm with a very high ceiling.  McLean was with USA Baseball's NTDP in Chicago where the fastball touched 94.  It is a raw skill set, but McLean has a unique skill set that makes him a top prospect in both football and baseball. 

The big riser in the 2020 class is Randleman HS 1B, Nick Neal, coming in at No. 3 in the updated NC ranking.  Neal made a splash in the biggest of ways at the PBR Future Games in August, representing Team Carolinas at the top uncommitted underclass event in the country.  With an exit velocity of 106 mph, the power tool is real and projects to big numbers as he continues to mature.  At 6-foot-6, 296 pounds, the agility and bend in the big fellow is very impressive, leading several schools to ask to see him in the outfield.  Defensively at first base, Neal possesses the athleticism to be an above average defender.

(Nick Neal - August 2018)


Along with Neal, Ben Peterson (RHP, Apex HS) and Trey Truitt (OF, East Mecklenburg HS) were big winners from their time with Team Carolina at the PBR Future Games.  Peterson, at No. 8, is an uber-projectable righty with a quick arm and good feel for his secondary stuff.  The phone was buzzing after his first outing in Indianapolis where he bumped 89 and commanded an above average breaking ball with ease.

(Ben Peterson - August 2018)


Truitt, No. 15 in the updated NC rankings, is physically imposing, at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds,  with strength throughout his frame.  The measurables were impressive on the workout day with a 7.06 sixty, 102 mph exit velocity, and a positional throw of 92 mph from right field.  Probably a corner outfielder moving forward, the bat is loud and Truitt showed increased maturity at the plate throughout his time in Indianapolis with Team Carolina. 

(Trey Truitt - August 2018)


There are events in place in North Carolina and for players in the state that allow evaluators easy access to the identification process.  The PBR Future Games proved to be one of those events.  Shortly after the PBR staff returned from Indianapolis, PBR held its Top Prospect Games and Top Underclass Games at Campbell University.  With over 50 schools and pro scouts attending the two days, players were able to go through a full workout, followed by playing in controlled scrimmages.  Several players attending the events received offers and made commitments after the event.  Another event that saw players make big jumps in their player grade was the State Games of North Carolina, hosted at UNC Greensboro this past June.  With PBR’s extensive coverage of these events and more, we saw 33 players in the top 50 of the updated rankings that attended the State Games or one of the Top Prospect events. 

Notes on the Updated NC Class of 2020 Rankings

Some of the Newcomers to the NC Rankings

  • Trey Cooper (LHP, Randleman HS) – Very impressive at in the spring and into the summer.  North Carolina State commit.  Good feel for pitching with a put-away breaking ball
  • Tanner Smith (SS/C, Corinth Holders HS) – UNC Wilmington commit.  Twitchy athlete with quickness in all parts of his game.  Legitimate utility player that can catch and play on the infield
  • Chet Sikes (C, Wesleyan Christian Academy) – Jumped on the radar with several strong showings as the catcher for WCA on their way to another state title.  Very accurate with carry from behind the dish.  Played well for Team Carolina, with a feel for calling his own game behind the dish
  • Jackson Kirkpatrick (RHP, McMichael HS) – Large frame and works downhill.  Really good outing at a PBR Tournament in the early summer.  Has been pitching for less than 2 years and there is a lot of growth ahead.  Drew some attention in Indy with Team Carolina
  • Marlowe Iorio (RHP/1B, Chapel Hill HS) – Really good showing, up to 87, at the Top Underclass Games.  Athletic and the bat works.  Potential dual prospect moving forward
  • Dustin Mercer (LHP/OF, Weddington HS) – Potential dual prospect with some thump from the left side.  Intriguing prospect on the mound with some arm speed.  Physical with athleticism

Some of the High Risers in the NC Rankings

  • Landon Ginn (RHP/SS, Eastern Wayne HS) – ECU commit continued to get better jumping into the Top 5 in the updated rankings.  Up to 88 at the State Games, the slider has a chance to be an impact pitch very quickly
  • Luke Barrow (RHP, Wesleyan Christian Academy) – Coastal Carolina commit.  Did not see a ton of time on the mound in the spring with a loaded staff for the state champs but made the most of his summer.  The frame continues to lengthen, maintaining arm speed.  The slider may eventually be the best in the state.  Jumped 23 spots to No. 26.
  • Trent Simmons (RHP, Bunn HS) – Took part in the Rawlings Prospects Scout Day with PBR in August.  Already a known commodity, Simmons took advantage of the bullpen setting and bumped his fastball up to 91 a couple of times.  He may need to rise higher if the arm strength continues to climb, but for now he jumps from No. 74 to No. 28.
  • Wes Turley (OF, Porter Ridge HS) – A new event record in the 60 will catch the eye and a plus tool that was measured at 6.48 will move a player up the rankings.  Moving 28 spots to No. 54 is big.  He may continue to climb if he can utilize that speed and allow the bat to play at a higher level.

Updated 2020 Rankings By the Numbers

  • 125 players ranked… Expanded from 100
  • 28 ranked players have committed to the college of their choice
  • 8 players committed to NC State to lead all schools
  • 6 players committed to East Carolina
  • 4 players committed to North Carolina
  • 4 players committed to schools outside of North Carolina
  • 14 players committed to an ACC school… 1 to an SEC school
  • 18 catchers are in the rankings with only 1 committed
  • 48 pitchers are in the rankings with 16 committed
  • 31 shortstops are in the rankings with 8 committed