THE WINNER: Ryder Jones
School: Watauga (Boone, N.C.)
Weight: 195 pounds
Athletic achievement: He batted .461 with 11 home runs and 43 RBI this past season, leading the Pioneers to a 15-11 record. A Rawlings Preseason First Team All-American as named by Perfect Game USA, Jones recorded 31 runs, 21 walks and 11 doubles. He compiled a .652 on-base percentage and a .987 slugging percentage. Jones owned a 4-3 record with one save, a 1.23 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 40.1 innings-pitched. As a junior at Stillwater (Okla.) last season, he captured 2012 Honorable Mention All-State honors from The Oklahoman.
Academic excellence: Jones has maintained a 4.00 weighted GPA.
Exemplary character: A member of the National Honor Society, he has donated his time as a peer tutor and youth baseball instructor in addition to volunteering locally as a blood donor, at a Humane Society shelter, as part of a youth literacy-outreach initiative and on behalf Oklahoma’s Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis.
“His playing ability speaks for its self,” said Chip Watts, head coach of rival St. Stephens (Hickory, N.C.). “This kid has one of the most pure swings. He was a man among boys and dominated the high school level. He is an excellent young man and plays the game the right way. Watauga head coach Pete Hardee does a great job with his baseball program, and he’s been coached and molded under one of the best coaches around.”
THE FUTURE: Jones has signed with Stanford, but is projected as an early round selection in next month’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.