Ten high school baseball players from Georgia were picked to play in the two most prestigious all-star baseball games last summer – the Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park in San Diego and the Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Nine of them played in the Perfect Game All-American Classic. Only Florida, with 10, had more.
And the Georgia boys represented themselves and the state well. Pitchers Kumar Rocker of North Oconee, Ethan Hankins of Forsyth Central, Luke Bartnicki and Cole Wilcox of Heritage-Ringgold each pitched one scoreless inning with two strikeouts apiece.
Those four plus Brookwood catcher Will Banfield participated played in both all-star games. Most projections have Rocker, Wilcox, Banfield and Hankins going in the first round of the MLB Draft picks.
Banfield, Rocker and Hankins are committed to (or signed with) Vanderbilt, but none is likely to wind up there given their high-draft status.
Here is how each of the 10 is doing for their high school teams as the season enters the spring:
Will Banfield, Brookwood (catcher): Banfield is hitting .402 with three home runs. He was the tournament MVP of the recent LaGrange Toyota Invitational as he was 5-for-8 with four RBI and six walks in four games. Baseball America calls Banfield ‘’the most talented defensive catcher in the class’’ among senior high schoolers. MLB.com rates Banfield as the No. 8 high school prospect nationally and projects him as a top-20 pick in the June MLB Draft.
Luke Bartnicki, Walton (pitcher): A 6-foot-3, 210-pound lefthander, Bartnicki is 3-0 with a 2.07 ERA for the Raiders. He has struck out 38 batters in 20.1 innings. He’s allowed just 13 hits. Bartnicki is also an outstanding swimmer. He placed in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle events at the Class AAAAAAA meet this past season. Perfect Game rates Bartnicki as the No. 1 left-handed pitching prospect in the country and the No. 19 high school senior prospect overall. Bartnicki is committed to Georgia Tech.
Ethan Hankins, Forsyth Central (pitcher): Hankins - expected to become the highest-drafted high school pitcher in state history this summer - has not pitched since the first week of the season because of shoulder soreness but is slated to make his return Tuesday night against South Forsyth, according to coach Kevin McCollum. Hankins been batting as the designated hitter and is hitting .318 with one home run. MLB.com rates Hankins as the No. 1 high school prospect in the country. MLB.com’s Jim Callis projects him to go second in the MLB Draft this year behind University of Florida pitcher Brady Singer. Only one high school pitcher from Georgia (Ken Henderson of Ringgold, No. 5 overall in 1991) has ever been taken among the first five picks. Hankins led Team USA to the 18-and-under World Cup championship last year when he struck out 27 over two six-inning starts. Baseball America’s assessment: ‘’Hankins has one of the most dominant pitches in the class in his mid-to-upper 90s fastball, but the velocity alone isn’t what makes it special. The pitch has elite life and the 6-foot-6 righty can locate it seemingly at will, something rarely seen from a pitcher his age with that sort of velocity.’’ MLB.com: ‘’Hankins has the best fastball in the 2018 Draft. It already sits at 92-96 mph, reaches 98 and should get stronger as he fills out his 6-foot-6 frame, but it's not velocity alone that makes his heater special. It also has electric life and he can spot it to both sides of the plate, and he could dominate amateur hitters while relying almost entirely on his fastball if he wanted.’’
Ben Harris, Milton (pitcher/outfielder): Harris hitting .302, but that’s deceiving. Of his 13 hits, 11 have gone for extra bases. That’s eight doubles and three home runs. He has stolen five bases. He’s 7-for-15 over his last five games. Harris, a left-handed pitcher, has struggled with control at times on the mound. His best outing was a four-hit shutout of Cambridge on March 3. He struck out 11 in five innings. Harris is committed to Virginia, where he will continue to pitch and play outfield.
Parker Meadows, Grayson (outfielder): Meadows, a swift center fielder, is hitting .370 with four doubles, three triples, two home runs and nine stolen bases. Grayson (8-10) has played one of the state’s toughest schedules. Meadows has come in to close three games and hasn’t allowed a run while striking out seven in those three innings. Meadows (6-4, 195) bats left-handed and throws right-handed. His speed and arm are especially outstanding, according to scouts. His brother Austin Meadows is a former Grayson player who was a 2013 first-round pick of the Pirates. Parker is committed to Clemson.
Kumar Rocker, North Oconee (pitcher/first baseman): Says Baseball America, ‘’No prep pitcher has raw stuff that stacks up with Rocker. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound righthander is the most imposing pitcher on the rubber and fires fastballs low-to-mid 90s fastballs with ease, the best of which have touched 97-98 mph.’’ Rocker is the son of former Auburn and NFL star Tracy Rocker, currently the defensive line coach at Tennessee. MLB.com rates Kumar the No. 7 high school prospect in the country and a top-20 pick overall in the coming MLB Draft. For North Oconee this season, Rocker is 3-0 with an 0.79 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 17.2 innings. Opposing hitters are batting just .088 against him. He’s hitting .484 (15-for-31) with two homers. ‘’Kumar is having a phenomenal year for us offensively and on the mound and is possibly one of the best leaders I have witnessed in 20 years of coaching,’’ North Oconee coach Jay Lasley said.
Logan Simmons, Tattnall Square (shortstop): Opponents have been fortunate thus far as Simmons is hitting only .255 with three doubles and a home run. But that’s a mirage. A year ago, Simmons hit nine home runs in 106 at-bats and batted .387 with a .500 on-base percentage while leading Tattnall to the Class A private-school championship series. He was one of only two East hitters to get a hit in the Perfect Game All-Star Game in San Diego. Simmons is exceptionally fast, and his arm strength that makes scouts view him as a third baseman at the professional level. Logan’s brother Blake plays for Georgia Southern. Logan has signed with Georgia Tech.
Anthony Seigler, Cartersville (catcher): The state’s most interesting prospect, Seigler is a fully ambidextrous switch-hitter and switch-pitcher. Seigler has a 0.00 ERA in 16 innings with 16 strikeouts and no walks. In a recent win against Grayson, Seigler pitched the first six innings left-handed and the final frame right-handed. In his last two games, he’s homered twice – once right-handed, once left-handed. He’s a leadoff hitter with 10 stolen bases. But his most impressive talents are behind the plate. ‘’His defensive skills as a catcher are elite,’’ Cartersville coach Kyle Tucker said. “He’s amazing throwing runners out and blocking the ball, and he picks guys off from behind the plate. He’s a weapon.’’
Cabera Weaver, South Gwinnett (outfielder): Weaver is a lanky center fielder (6-3, 180) who is hitting .396 with eight extra-base hits, one a home run. Weaver has scored 21 runs. Speed is his forte. He’s batting .500 when he puts the ball in play, and probably no Georgia player has his range in center. ‘’He can go get it,’’ South Gwinnett coach Steve Teschner said. “He might be the fastest high school prospect out there. He can get down the road.’’ Weaver has signed with Georgia.
Cole Wilcox, Heritage-Ringgold (pitcher): Wilcox, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound right-handed pitcher, is 2-1 with a 0.82 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 17 innings for the Generals. Opposing batters are hitting .129 against him. Wilcox also plays first base and outfield. He’s hitting .536 (15-for-28) with 14 runs scored. MLB.com rates Wilcox as the No. 9 high school prospect nationally and projects him as a top-25 pick in the June MLB Draft. Wilcox has signed with Georgia.
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