Prep Baseball Report

Initial Class of 2023 Rankings

Brandon Hall
Executive Director, PBR of NC

Typically the spring season allows Prep Baseball Report and our team of scouts to blanket the state of North Carolina, covering teams and players.  Part of the coverage each spring is to update draft rankings and class rankings.  The class of 2023 is missing most of their freshman spring on the field due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  While the amount of information on the 2023 class remains low, the scouting team with PBR of North Carolina has seen enough players to begin to put together their lists for the class.

Inside the 2023 class in North Carolina, four players have committed and those players are all inside the top 15 in the state.  At No. 1 in the initial North Carolina Class of 2023 rankings is Justin Best (OF, Langtree Charter).  Best is athletic with a lot of length in his frame, already showing strength and quickness.  While still raw, there is elite quickness from the left side with power in the barrel.  At the end of a long summer and fall, Best ran a 7.19 sixty in November on a laser timer and posted an exit velocity of 87 mph off of a tee.  In BP, the ball jumps when centered, but there is still some barrel awareness issues as the load can be big and cause some timing issues.  In game play, Best has shown an ability to handle high level pitching, producing power to all fields.

(Justin Best - NOV 2019)

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Fuquay-Varina HS LHP H.L. Smith was very impressive at the PBR Top Underclass Games in August, touching 83 and flashing feel for three pitches.  At 6-foot-4, 175 pounds, there is a lot of room to his ceiling and the arm speed suggests that Smith will take some big jumps as he continues to add strength to his frame.  Smith checks in at No. 2 in the Class of 2023 rankings.  There is rhythm and looseness present in the delivery, working to a loose, quick ¾ slot that produces arm side run.

(H.L. Smith - AUG 2019)

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Chance Mako (3B/SS, East Rowan HS) sits at No. 3 in the initial rankings with a 6-foot-4 frame that screams projection.  As a position player, Mako flashes barrel feel and potential power, with an exit velocity off the tee up to 91 mph.   There is athleticism with good bend in his hips on the defensive end.  On the mound, Mako has some polish in a frame that will continue to add strength.  Up to 86, the arm works with ease to a high-3/4 slot, finishing with hand speed and good extension. 

(Chance Mako - NOV 2019)

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Rounding out the top 5 are two players that have each committed to ACC schools, showing a tremendous amount of feel in the box.  No. 4 is OF/LHP Reid Haire (South Caldwell HS).  Haire has quickness and feel for the barrel in the box.  His strength levels, especially in his hands, is advanced.  A good athlete, with quickness present, Haire will be a valuable dual prospect for South Caldwell, that projects as an OF at Georgia Tech, where he is committed.  Macon Winslow (C, Perquimans) is another good athlete.  Listed as a catcher, he has the ability to play several positions.  The bat is what separates Winslow, and may see him continue to climb in future rankings.  From the right side, there is balance and strength with quickness through contact.

As we continue to move forward, and the 2023 class sees more time on the field, these rankings will be adjusted and expanded.  The release of the initial class of 2023 rankings is just a jumping off point as PBR’s team of scouts will be working tirelessly through the summers, falls, and springs to come to get to know as many players in the class as possible, while gathering information that will allow the scouting team to put grades on the players.


2023 Rankings – By the Numbers

  • 25 players are ranked in the initial release
  • 4 players are currently committed in the 2023 class
  • 4 players are committed to ACC schools
  • 2 players are committed to in-state schools
  • 1 commitment is the most any school has received from NC players in the 2023 class
  • 7 pitchers are listed in the Top 25
  • 3 corner infielders are in the rankings
  • 8 middle infielders are ranked
  • 6 outfielders in the Top 25
  • 1 catcher makes the initial list


Preview the NC 2023 Rankings

To see the full NC 2023 Rankings >> CLICK HERE


2023 Players to Follow

Including the Top 25 players in the state, here is a list of 50 players PBR scouts are following.  With such a young group, that also missed a lot of game time this spring, PBR scouts will continue to work to update player information and grades, allowing the 2023 rankings to expand.

To see the full 2023 Follow List >> Log in or Subscribe

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