State Baseball: The Froshmen

You are not going to find a Carlos Rodon among this group but some are going to be needed to contribute or this will be a difficult year.

I am taking them by jersey number and will include the red-shirt freshmen since they are yet to see the field.

(All data taken from Perfect Game or GoPack website unless otherwise noted)

1 - Terrell Tatum, OF, Bats left, Throws left, Collierville, TN

Tatum was ranked the 452nd overall player in the class of 2017 and the 88th OF. In Tennessee, he was the 18th overall player and 2nd OF. He was a 2017 Rawlings-Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American.

Likelihood to play: High; a good bat and some speed should make him a fill-in contributor and a pinch runner in late game situations. He batted over .430 and stole 35 bases his senior year.

2 - David Vazquez, SS, Bats right, Throws right, Coral Springs, FL

Another top 500 player, Vazquez was 442nd overall and 72nd for shortstops. In the always talent-rich state of Florida, that qualified him for 83rd overall and 15th best shortstop. Vazquez was taken in the 37th round of the 2017 draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks and luckily for us chose school over starting his professional career. He too was a R-PG Honorable Mention and was a Florida, All Region-2nd Team performer.

Likelihood to play: High; it will be hard to keep this kid off the field. He has the potential to snag time at 3B if Wilson is our SS or he could wait a year and claim 2B. He may also see some time in the outfield and he has a good arm. Not a real power bat, but will drive to the gaps. You could potentially see him on the mound where he sported a high-80s fastball in high school.

3 - Devonte Brown, SS, Bats right, Throws right, Newnan, GA

Yet another top 500 player. Brown was ranked 353 overall and 62nd for shortstops. He had a host of SEC offers, but after going undrafted, came to State. I say this, but I think it was known that Brown was going to college. In Georgia, he was ranked the 33rd best player and 5th best shortstop. Another R-PG Honorable Mention and was a Southeast all-region 1st-team.

Likelihood to play: High; another youngster I expect will get significant playing time. He will probably be competing for the 3B spot as an opener.

5 - Patrick Bailey, C, Bats switch, Throws right, Greensboro, NC

Bailey was a top 250 player in his class, coming in 222nd overall and 25th at catcher. In North Carolina, he was 12th overall and the 2nd best catcher. He too was drafted in the 37th round by the Twins and garnered the same honorable mention accolade as his comrades above and was a 1st-team, Atlantic all-region.

Likelihood to play: High; he has a serious chance to start and probably has to only beat out Conley at this point. A strong bat, he batted over .500 his senior year and had plenty of extra-base hits. It was the independent league, but that is not as bad as playing in the league for football. Competition will still be pretty good.

10 - David Harrison, LHP, Rocky Mount, NC

Harrison was ranked the 125th best LHP in the class of 2017 and came in 45th overall in North Carolina and the 6th best LHP. He was an honorable mention R-PG and a 2nd-team Atlantic all-region. Harrison is a tall kid whose fastball sits in the upper 80s.

Likelihood to play: Medium; Harrison will probably pitch out of the bullpen this year due to necessity. We have a serious lack of returning LHP, but a whole bunch of new faces. If he can show some command he may get a mid-week start or two.

24 - Brady Gulakowski, C, Bats L, Throws right, Pittsburgh, PA

Brady garnered no rankings when he came out of high school and red-shirted last year after being no better than 4th on the depth chart at the position last year.

Likelihood to play: Low; Gulakowski may be in the same position as he was last year, more or less. Cosgrove may be gone, but Conley, Debo and Bailey probably lay in front of him again this year.

27 - James Vaughan, RHP, West Palm Beach, FL

James is a red-shirt freshman who was ranked the 199th RHP in the class of 2016. In Florida, he was ranked the 102nd player and 35th RHP. He was placed on the 2016 R-PG Honorable Mention team and was a 2nd-team Florida all-region player before coming to State.

Likelihood to play: Medium; with a slightly livelier fastball (low 90s) than any of the other potential pitchers I have mentioned yet, he should get some mound time. Hoping a year in the collegiate ranks can up his velocity closer to 95, but he could be looking at time close to what Demby got last year (10-20 innings of work).

28 - James Ferguson, LHP, Fort Worth, TX

Ferguson throws left, but bats right, making him an intriguing prospect. He hit well and showed a little power in high school but red-shirted his first year at State. In 2016, he was ranked the 79th best LHP, coming in 67th overall in Texas and the 5th best RHP. He too garnered R-PG Honorable Mention and was a Texas all-region 2nd-team.

Likelihood to play: Medium; a tall kid who you think would have more velocity, but averaged mid 80s coming out of high school. His off-speed pitches get some notes and he had a 3/4 release.

29 - Reid Johnston, RHP/INF, Bats left, Throws right, Enfield, NC

Where will Johnston end up? He is a prospect at 3B and does have the ability to pitch. Johnston was ranked the 69th 3B in the country last year, the 52nd overall and 5th best 3B in North Carolina. He was a R-PG Honorable Mention and an Atlantic all-region 2nd-team.

Likelihood to play: Low; the question is where. Johnston probably has a better shot at sticking at pitcher. 3B could have a lot of competition this year and Johnston is not at the top of the list of competitors. As a pitching prospect, his fastball is mid- to low 80s and his curve ball appears to be mediocre to above average before the Fall semester. A year in development may be really good for him, but depending on depth out of the bullpen, he may have to take some innings.

31 - Hunter Baker, OF, Bats left, Throws right, Huntersville, NC

Hunter was the 262nd OF in the country and ranked 61st overall and 7th for OFs in North Carolina. He garnered yet another Honorable Mention from R-PG and was Atlantic all-region 2nd team.

Likelihood to play: Low; with the three OF positions already set and plenty of backups waiting in the wings, there is no reason to waste a season for Baker when things could open up more drastically next year. Right now, he would probably be no better than the 3rd of the freshmen options. Anticipating a red-shirt for Baker.

34 - Evan Justice, LHP, Richmond, VA

Justice was rated the 139th LHP in the country and the 22nd overall and 2nd best LHP in Virginia. Justice won all sorts of honors in Virginia (state player of the year) and got the seemingly requisite R-PG Honorable Mention and 2nd-team Atlantic all-region.

Likelihood to play: Medium; a prospect much like David Harrison above and probably has the same chance to see innings. Looking at his high school stats, he appears to be a pitch to contact type of guy as he struck out just a little over 1 batter/inning with an ERA under 1.40. Could this be a slightly taller version of Brian Brown?

35 - Cameron Cotter, RHP, Summerfield, NC

Cotter was the 209th ranked RHP, 29th overall and 11th best RHP in North Carolina last year. He garnered the R-PG Honorable Mention and was an Atlantic all-region 2nd-team winner. He was an all-state player and won the 3-A championship with North Guilford.

Likelihood to play: High; while not receiving maybe as many accolades as some of his counterparts, this kid shows some promise. His fastball steadily increased during high school and is now in the low 90s. He has command, striking out 118 while only walking 10 in 80+ innings. His ERA was under 1.00 and he went 13-1. There is much to like about this youth and hopefully he gets an opportunity. Expect bullpen work and maybe a chance at some mid-week starts.

42 - JT Jarrett, 2B, Bats right, Throws right, Summerfield, NC

The second of three freshmen from Northern Guilford. He was not picked up in any of the rankings, but won plenty of accolades in the local and state press. He was the MVP of the state championship series.

Likelihood to play: Low; could this kid be a bit of a Trea Turner? He just looks like a ball player and seems to do everything decently at the plate. Here is a great statistic for you, Jarrett struck out only twice in 142 plate appearances his senior year. Unfortunately, with a stacked infield right now, his prospects of getting on the field are a bit slim. If he has seriously outshined some of his counterparts this fall then I am wrong and he will get his chance backing up Wilson and Pitarra. Right now, I expect a red-shirt for him.

43 - Conor Centala, LHP, Tampa, FL

The last of the red-shirts, Conor was the 138th LHP in the country out of high school and was the 192nd overall and 22nd LHP in Florida in 2016. He was another R-PG Honorable Mention and Florida all-region 2nd-team.

Likelihood to play: Low; I do not know, this is a bit more of a shot in the dark. Centala did not really preform well in high school and had a fastball just under 90-mph before getting to State. There is just not a lot of data readily available on the kid.

45 - Josh Pike, RHP, Summerfield, NC

The last of the RHP and kids from Northern Guilford in this group. Pike was rated the 134th RHP in the country, number 18 overall and 8th best RHP in the state of NC. He was another R-PG Honorable Mention and made the Atlantic all-region 1st-team on the 3-A state champions.

Likelihood to play: Medium; this kid may have a real shot as he may have the best natural fastball in the freshmen class. He does not strike out a ton of batters, but also only walked 10 in 36 innings last year. His ERA was under 1.00 each of his last two years of high school.

46 - Nick Swiney, LHP, Huntersville, NC

Nick was the 67th ranked LHP in the country (easily putting him as the highest of our rankings for LHP), came in 21st overall and the 2nd LHP in North Carolina. He garnered the R-PG Honorable Mention and made the Atlantic all-region 1st-team with Pike.

Likelihood to play: High; Swiney has decent, not over-powering velocity that should develop in college but is high 80s now. Look back at high school and this kid could sit them down. He set his high school records for wins, strikeouts and ERA. His senior year included a 7-1 mark and a .80 ERA. Looking forward to seeing what this kid has early in the season.

47 - Cole Hooper, LHP, Sylva, NC

Cole is last on the list and was ranked the 147th best LHP in the country and the 49th overall and 8th best LHP in North Carolina. Rounding out the list he earned R-PG Honorable Mention and made the Atlantic all-region 2nd-team.

Likelihood to play: Low; Hooper can strike them out, but he lacks better control coming into State and does not have the velocity on the fastball (low 80s) to do much this year, I think. He will have to get better at commanding the strike zone without a good enough fastball. I expect he may be red-shirting.

Some that did not make it to college are below:

Justin Bullock - RHP - This kid was dynamite. Had a low 90s fastball and kept it down in the zone. He was ranked 5th overall in North Carolina and the #1 RHP. The Brewers picked him up in the 16th round and his professional career has begun. Good luck to you, kid.

Jonny Butler - OF - Ended up having to go the JUCO route which has been a pretty good route for many who need to get their grades up a little before switching to a 4-year program. We will have to see what happens down the line for him.


Highs - 6 Mediums - 5 Low - 6

State's roster is currently at 39 players. D1 rules allow 35 for spring ball meaning so many have to red-shirt. Right now we can easily meet that number with four freshmen red-shirting. I'm curious if Feeney will actually end up being a red-shirt, but it may be difficult assuming he is eating up a scholarship also. Someone with more knowledge on the inner workings of rosters can elaborate.