0

Prospects highlight early-season game
Wesleyan, Lassiter face off Saturday

Lassiter draws well for baseball, but there may be nearly as many scouts with radar guns as there are fans when the Cobb County high school hosts Wesleyan on Saturday at 4 p.m.

It will be a must-see game for major league talent evaluators.

Lassiter features right-hander Michael Palazzone, a Georgia signee and a second-team preseason All-America pick by Baseball America. Wesleyan has left-hander Grayson Garvin, a Vanderbilt recruit who, like Palazzone, is a Top 100 pro prospect among high school seniors.

Lassiter, which won state titles in 1999 and 2006, is the third-ranked Class AAAAA in the GaSports.com coaches' preseason poll. Wesleyan, which reached the Class AA semifinals last year, is ranked No. 3 in Class AA by the same poll.

Garvin was 10-1 with a 1.80 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 862/3 innings for Wesleyan as a junior. He also batted .407 with eight homers and 34 RBIs.

Garvin is not Wesleyan's only standout, however. The Wolves also feature three other players who have signed with SEC or ACC schools. Second baseman James Ramsey is headed to Florida State, shortstop Connor Winn to Georgia Tech and outfielder Kevin Ruiz to Georgia.

Ramsey batted .468 last season, Ruiz hit .440 and Winn batted .420 with 12 homers.

Brookwood, Parkview ranked

Brookwood and Parkview, expected to battle for the Region 8-AAAAA title, are ranked No. 4 and No. 8, respectively, in the preseason coaches poll. The Broncos won the region title last season and reached the state semifinals.

Brookwood will host Cartersville on Saturday at 2 p.m. Cartersville is ranked No. 4 in Class AAA and features catcher Taylor Hightower, a third team preseason All-America pick by Baseball America.

Parkview, led by outfielder-pitcher Zach Cone, opens with a game at McEachern tonight and is at Class AAA power Columbus on Saturday.

North Gwinnett hosts Lowndes

North Gwinnett, ranked No. 7 in the Class AAAAA preseason coaches poll, will host No. 6 Lowndes today at 7 p.m. Both teams reached the state quarterfinals last season.

North Gwinnett is led by outfielder Jim Moreland, who hit .462 last season. The Bulldogs were 28-6 last year and won the Region 7-AAAAA championship.

Walton again AAAAA team to beat

Walton, the defending Class AAAAA state champion, is again ranked No. 1.

The Cobb County school is rated No. 7 nationally by Baseball America.

The Raiders return eight regulars and their entire pitching staff, which is led by Mark Pope (11-3) and Kyle Putkonen (13-1).

Pope has signed with Georgia Tech and Putkonen with North Carolina.

6-AA loaded once again

Region 6 should again be by far the toughest Class AA league in the state. Four teams are in the preseason rankings, led by defending state champion Holy Innocents'.

Holy Innocents' is ranked No. 1, Wesleyan No. 3, Lovett No. 8 and Greater Atlanta Christian No. 9.

Lovett defeated Wesleyan for the Class AA state title in 2006. Wesleyan joined Holy Innocents' in the Final Four last year.