November 12 - Wednesday marks the beginning of the NCAA’s week-long early signing period for high school seniors to sign their national letter of intent to play collegiately on an athletic scholarship.
As some of the area’s top players prepare to make their commitments official at ceremonies held by their respective schools and training academies, the magazine has compiled its own Class of 2019 recruiting class consisting of 14 of the best Northern Virginia seniors.
Our class would begin with three returning standouts from the 2018 NOVA Nine Team, Battlefield shortstop and right-hander Zach Agnos, who has committed to East Carolina, along with Potomac left-hander and outfielder Brody Mack (William & Mary) and Riverside shortstop Carson Swank (Yale).
Agnos is the best all-around player in the area, and with the additional 10-15 pounds of muscle he’s added to his frame already this offseason, he could be looking at a monster season next spring. Mack saw a dip in velocity late this fall after taking on a heavy workload over the summer and fall, this after tossing an area-high 81 innings while leading the Panthers to the Class 5 state final in the spring. After resting up this winter, it’s expected that he’ll return to his post as his team’s ace and a run-producing threat in the middle of the order. Swank, meanwhile, has been Mr. Consistent at shortstop as the Rams have quickly become one of the area’s top programs, turning in near-flawless defensive campaigns the past two seasons while developing into an extra-base hit machine last spring.
Another two-way standout in our class would be Lake Braddock first baseman and right-hander Lyle Miller-Green (George Mason), who has tremendous upside on the mound and hopes to return to the form of his sophomore season, when he was the Patriot District’s Pitcher of the Year. Oh, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound slugger is also one of the area’s best hitters, coming off a 2018 season in which he batted .416 with five home runs and 29 RBI.
Also joining our incoming crop of arms would be Loudoun Valley’s Michael Grupe (Virginia Tech), Woodbridge’s Magnus Ellerts (Harford Community College), Woodgrove’s Nick Lockhart (Virginia Tech), and two more southpaws in Loudoun County’s Donovan Burke (James Madison) and Madison’s Matt Howat, who is likely to make his college decision from several offers at some point this month. Agnos and Lockhart have both been clocked north of 90 MPH, and Miller-Green, Grupe, Ellerts and Burke could very well reach or eclipse that velocity in the spring. Burke is a late-bloomer of sorts, primed for a breakout senior campaign.
Another JMU-bound recruit, Robinson catcher Ethan Rothstein, would anchor the defense from behind the plate. A 6-foot-4, 205-pound three-sport standout, Rothstein wields a big bat and could push for playing time immediately when he arrives in Harrisonburg next fall.
Agnos and Swank would be joined by two additional infielders in Paul VI Catholic’s Cortland Lawson (Tennessee) and Freedom-South Riding’s Ben Williamson (William & Mary), forming perhaps the strongest unit with the highest upside in our recruiting class. Lawson will be asked to take on more of the offensive load in the spring and could also see his role expand to include pitching duties, having flashed a fastball reaching into the upper 80s. Williamson, meanwhile, is perhaps the most versatile defender of the group and will hit atop the Eagles’ lineup as they seek a second straight Class 5 state tournament appearance.
The outfielders in the class, meanwhile, would be led by Riverside’s dynamic Sajon Belser (College of Charleston) along with Battlefield’s Carter Cunningham (Gardner Webb) and Stone Bridge’s Paul Moore (Walters State CC). Belser, the son of former NFL safety Jason Belser, has run a 6.8 in the 60-yard dash and will set the table for Swank next spring. Cunningham has gap power from the left side and hopes to bounce back after a disappointing junior campaign. In fact, the Bobcats’ 2019 outlook could swing on his ability to do so and provide protection for Agnos after Battlefield lost several key offensive players.
Moore, meanwhile, could be considered our gamble of sorts. A player with a tremendous upside and a physical specimen at 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, the left-handed swinging outfielder will have to take on more of the offensive load for the Bulldogs in the spring. Our bet is he ends up with a very good Division I program after his two seasons at the Tennessee junior college.
Panthers’ Josue Cumba Records Top 60 at PBR Showcase Event
Potomac’s Josue Cumba recorded the top 60-yard dash time at the Prep Baseball Report Mid-Atlantic Challenge on Nov. 4, as the senior infielder turned in a 6.91 time at the showcase held at the Virginia Sports Complex in Ruther Glen.
Heritage junior outfielder Nick Lampl was second among Northern Virginia players, recording a 6.97. Cumba’s twin brother, Julian, ran a 7.08 in the 60. The pitcher and third baseman was a second-team Class 5 all-state selection last spring. Both brothers remain uncommitted.
Elite high school middle infielders and outfielders can run a 60 in the neighborhood of 6.5-6.7. The best time ever recorded by Perfect Game was turned in by Mitchell Shifflett, who starred at Cosby in Midlothian and later played at the University of Virginia. He ran a 6.11 in 2009.
Woodbridge senior right-hander Magnus Ellerts had his fastball reach 88 MPH to top all pitchers at the event. Battlefield’s Matt Michel reached 86 MPH. To view the recorded metrics from PBR’s showcase, click here.
Howat Leads List of Uncommitted 2019 Pitchers as Early Signing Period Approaches
As the early signing period comes and goes, it will be interesting to follow the recruitment of several talented Class of 2019 pitchers that remain uncommitted.
The highest-profile area hurler that remains available continues to be Howat, the 6-foot-2, 170-pound Madison southpaw who went 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA and 73 strikeouts to just 14 walks in 57 innings en route to Concorde District and Co-Region 6D Pitcher of the Year honors last spring. He has garnered strong interest and several offers from Division I mid-major schools, and could make his decision soon.
Also available is Matt Michel, who is healthy again after suffering a back injury over the summer and has a fastball that has been clocked at 88 MPH. The right-hander, who was a first-team VISAA Division II all-state selection after going 4-0 and not allowing an earned run in 26.2 innings in the spring at Highland School, has transferred back to Battlefield for his senior year and continues to emerge under the tutelage of former Major League pitcher Shawn Camp, the Bobcats’ pitching coach.
Patriot’s Liam Fonner, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-hander, has consistently reach 88 MPH this fall and has shown improved command and consistency with his breaking ball. Others to keep an eye on include Fredericksburg Christian’s Joel Tarrh, Dominion lefty Dylan Weber, Riverside’s duo of David Setien and Gunnar Canary, Westfield’s duo of Danny Leo and Joe Clancy, and three lefties: O’Connell’s Peter Colevas, Yorktown’s Aiden Henning and Fauquier’s Harrison Whitt. Stafford’s Michael Tolson, who was previously committed to Old Dominion, also remains available as a potential two-way player.
Photos of from left to right, Battlefield’s Zach Agnos, Paul VI’s Cortland Lawson and Lake Braddock’s Lyle Miller-Green, by Fred Ingham