Looking over Buford’s roster for this upcoming baseball season, one will see a team that is loaded with talent. With nine players committed to play baseball at Division I colleges after they graduate from Buford, it should come as no surprise that the Wolves have garnered national attention. Perfect Game has Buford ranked as No. 4 in the nation across all classifications in their preseason rankings.
Head coach Stuart Chester, who is in his fourth year leading Buford’s baseball team, said it’s an honor to receive that preseason ranking; however, Chester was quick to dismiss it. The team may be talented, but it will take everyone working hard as a team to make this season a success.
This season is new territory for the Wolves as they move up to compete in Class AAAAAA. “AAAAAA is tough. The depth of talent is tremendous,” Chester said. “You have teams like Allatoona, Houston County, Carrollton, Pope and Kell who are all going to be tough competition.”
In Buford’s new region 8-AAAAAA, there are talented teams that could pose a challenge to the Wolves. Chester is not counting any region competitor out, but he does say Winder-Barrow will be a challenge with the likes of senior Brady House on the team.
In order for his team to be their best and go far into the postseason, Chester believes in putting his team through the most adverse situations possible.
“You grow through pain and hard times,” he said. “I want the team to be prepared for anything.”
The Wolves have one of the keys to a successful team — a very talented and deep bullpen. Most high school teams rely on one or two good pitchers. Buford has a list of talented pitchers they can call up at any time and they will put up good numbers for the Wolves. They have the No. 1 ranked pitcher in the nation for the Class of 2022, Vanderbilt commit Dylan Lesko. Then add in other notable pitchers like Treyton Rank, Connor Sampers, Jackson Brockett, Riley Stanford and Jackson Gaspard, just to name a few. The list goes on. This is a coach’s dream to have a bullpen with that much talent.
Buford is not all just about its bullpen, though. The team has plenty of hitters to put the numbers on the board. Look for Treyton Rank to lead the team at the plate. Rank was last season’s team leader for the highest batting average.
Buford will scrimmage with Woodland Feb. 13 and begin its regular season Feb. 17 when the Wolves host eight-time Class AAAAAAA powerhouse Parkview. They will turn around and face Lambert and Mill Creek, both good programs. The Wolves were invited to participate in the USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational in Cary, N.C.; however, the team just learned the event has been cancelled due to the pandemic.
After their season ended just after it had barely begun, getting in a full season, especially a winning season, is more important than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic forced schools across the nation to cancel the spring high school sports season at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. This was a massive blow to this group of young men, and even though they cannot get that season back, they are more determined than ever to make this one count. Expect this group to come play with determination and purpose.
A few notable players to watch: Seniors: Treyton Rank, RHP, 3B, C, IF, OF, UT (Florida State); Nathan Smith, C, 3B (Tennessee); Connor Sampers, SS, 2B, RHP, UT (Wofford College); Jackson Brockett, 1B, LHP (Nebraska); Brett Rogers; Juniors: Dylan Lesko, RHP, 3B, C, SS (Vanderbilt) No. 1 ranked pitcher in Class of 2022 nationwide; Riley Stanford, OF, RHP (Georgia Tech); Jackson Gaspard, SS, C, IF, RHP (Georgia Tech); Brant Braughcum, SS, 2B, 3B (Georgia Tech); Stan Zagrodnik, OF, 1B, LHP (Wofford College); Jake Pope (multiple DI offers for football).