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Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 24 Walton


Phil Kerber
Georgia Scouting Director

The Georgia High School Association has announced that opening day of the 2020 season will commence on Feb. 10. Programs were allowed to begin practicing in an official capacity on Jan. 13, meaning it's time for the PBR Georgia staff to break down the high school baseball scene in the state in the countdown to the first pitch thrown in 2019.Over the next several weeks, leading up to opening day, we will be publishing our team previews ahead of the 2019 spring season, touching on programs spanning multiple state classifications, counting down the official PBR Georgia Preseason Power 25 Rankings.

Our Preseason Power 25 rankings coverage starts today.

Team: Walton
Preseason Rank: 
24
2019 Record: 
23-11-1
Region: 4-7A 
2019 Region Finish: 1st 
GHSA Classification: 7A
Head Coach: Shane Amos
Playoff Run: Quarterfinals
Returning Starters:
Returning Pitchers: 5

KEy Players Lost
Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Luke Boynton GA Walton 2019 1B Nebraska 
Pierce Gallo GA Walton 2019 SS Clemson
John Giesler GA Walton 2019 SS Georgia Tech
Bobby Spencer GA Walton 2019 3B Xavier
Jacob Baldino GA Walton 2019 LHP Virginia
Brandon Nikitaides GA Walton 2019 LHP East Tennessee
Justin Carr GA Walton 2019 C Berry College
William Marconi GA Walton 2019 C Oglethorpe
TOP Players
Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Jared Jones GA Walton 2022 C/1B LSU 
Kristian Campbell GA Walton 2021 SS Georgia Tech
Ben Anderson GA Walton 2020 2B  
Micaiah Williams GA Walton 2020 OF  
Colin Stewart GA Walton 2020 RHP Oglethorpe
Cooper Haseley GA Walton 2020 RHP  
David Sickles GA Walton 2020 RHP Centre College
Harry Mintz GA Walton 2020 1B  
Evan Crow GA Walton 2020 OF  
Oliver Wood GA Walton 2021 RHP  
Devan Bhatia GA Walton 2021 OF/LHP  
Eli Pilger GA Walton 2021 SS/3B
Top Newcomers
Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Cade Thompson GA Walton 2022 OF/2B   
Charlie Jordan GA Walton 2021 3B/C  
Evan Carter GA Walton 2022 LHP  
Rowan Park GA Walton 2022 RHP/3B  
Nick Brooks GA Walton 2021 OF/1B  
Peyton Benson GA Walton 2022 C  
Adam Haber GA Walton 2021 OF  
Ben Stoddard GA Walton 2022 RHP  
Carl Adler GA Walton 2020 3B  
Jack Hart GA Walton 2021 RHP  
JD Key GA Walton 2021 OF  
Jack Story GA Walton 2021 OF  
X-Factor
Can the Raiders generate enough offense to help their young pitching staff? Walton returns only three starters from last season's region championship and quarterfinals team. However, one of the starters is C/1B Jared "Bear" Jones (2022; LSU) who led the team in offense. Jones may be the most physically intimidating player in the state of Georgia, standing at 6-4, 230-pounds. To say he is strong would be an understatement, and he has rightfully so earned the nickname of "Bear". The power in his swing is undeniable and every at-bat is a must watch as he could leave the yard at any moment.

There were some questions entering 2020 as to whether teams would even pitch to him given how much Walton lost to graduation. However, the Raiders received a massive boost when SS Kristian Campbell (2021; Georgia Tech) made the decision to transfer from Milton to Walton this off-season. Campbell is a loose, athletic 6-foot-3, 183-pound right-handed hitter. He keeps on adding strength to his frame and adding power to his swing with every look we get.  Campbell will help provide protection at the top of the order along with 2B Ben Anderson (2020). 

The rest of the lineup is really up in the air, as six starting spots must be replaced. The returning players had the benefit last season of watching and learning under some of the top players in the state's 2019 class. Now it is their turn to take the bull by the horns and extend the winning traditions of Walton.

C Jared Jones (2019 Future Games)

Outlook
Coach Shane Amos has a tough job this season as he lost six Division I players and eight total commits to graduation, replacing six starting positions and his entire pitching staff. This very well could be a rebuilding year, but as we mentioned in the X-Factor, with the likes of Jones, Campbell, and Anderson, the Raiders will have firepower at the top of the order. Can the rest of the order fill out and provide the Raiders with a well-balanced attack still remains to be seen.

SS Kristian Campbell

The returning pitchers on roster will have large shoes to fill and will have to quickly mature. RHP Cooper Haseley (2020), RHP Colin Stewart (2020; Oglethorpe), RHP David Sickles (2020; Centre College), RHP Oliver Wood (2021), and LHP Devan Bhatia (2021) all operated out of the bullpen last season. This year, they will be counted on to step into the starting rotation. Haseley will provide some power on the mound for the Raiders. We saw the 6-foot-3, 175-pound right-hander this fall at LakePoint where he worked up to 89 mph with a mid-70s slider. His arm worked quick and whippy out of a low 3/4 slot, and it is hard not to imagine that there is more velocity in the tank. 

RHP Cooper Haseley

Given the inexperience of the Walton pitching staff, newcomers RHP Rowan Park (2022), LHP Evan Carter (2022), RHP Ben Stoddard (2022), and RHP Jack Hart (2021) will be thrown into the mix early and often. If this mix of pitchers, along with the returnees, are able to throw strikes and be competitive, Walton should have no problem keeping opponent's offensives at bay given their prowess on the defensive side of things.

Despite the youthfulness of his squad, Coach Amos still has high expectation for this year's team. There are still question marks surrounding the offense, but if the pitchers can find their groove early in the season, the Raiders will be in solid shape and set to make another run in 7A.

Make sure to follow @PBRGeorgia on Twitter for the most-up-to-date coverage throughout the 2020 season.

Find more information on the 2020 Raiders below:

+ Full Schedule
+ Team Website
+ Team Twitter

Preseason Power 25 Countdown