POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Pearl River baseball coach Michael Avalon announced Tuesday the addition of two newcomers to the Wildcat program.
Joining PRCC for the 2021 season will be right-hander Turner Swistak and outfielder Tate Parker.
The former signed with PRCC after an impactful prep career at nearby Oak Grove, while the latter is transferring from Top 25 program Dallas Baptist University. Parker previously starred at prep powerhouse West Harrison.
"I think anytime you add two players of their caliber on the same day it's a big day for your program," Avalon said. "These are two guys we anticipate making an immediate impact. Not only on the field, but off the field because they're high-character guys from great families.
"With them being local players, we're excited to bring them home."
The duo join an incoming class that already includes Heritage Academy midfielder Banks Hyde, St. Stanislaus left-handed pitcher/outfielder Dawson Strong, New Hope left-handed pitcher/outfielder Ryan Burt, Brookhaven left-handed pitcher/outfielder Byrion Robinson, West Jones right-handed pitcher Sam Hill, Petal catcher Matt Mercer, West Harrison first baseman D.K. Donaldson, Seminary right-handed pitcher T.J. Ryals and Northeast Jones right-handed pitcher/outfielder Mason Smith.
Swistak won't have to travel far after starring for nearby Oak Grove. During three seasons on the mound for the Warriors, Swistak built a 10-3 record with a 1.69 ERA. In 91 innings, the right-hander struck out 112 against 52 walks and held opponents to a paltry .186 batting average.
Prior to the 2020 season being halted, Swistak was 2-0 with a 0.39 ERA and 27 strikeouts in four appearances.
"He's a guy during his senior year made a jump in velocity and caught the attention of several professional scouts. He's a guy we look to make an impact on the mound for us and we're excited to have him," Avalon said, commending Swistak's physical presence on the mound. "He's going to be a power pitcher with a fastball in the low 90s. He should be a guy who commands the zone and competes at a high level."
Swistak was an honorable mention on PineBelt Sports' 2019 All-Area team and was listed on the publication's 2020 preseason squad.
Perfect Game gave the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Swistak a 7.5 grade out of 10, which projects him as a college prospect and potential draft pick.
The publication also ranked Swistak as the fifth right-hander and 15th overall prospect in Mississippi; and the No. 314 RHP nationally.
In addition to playing for the Warriors, Swistak also played for the Louisiana Knights travel program.
While Swistak won't have to travel far, Parker is "coming home" in a lot of ways after transferring to PRCC following a redshirt season at Dallas Baptist University.
"I look for Tate to be a sparkplug for us, a high-energy player with multiple tools you look for," Avalon said. "He can run, hits for power and has a good arm. We look for him to make an impact in our outfield. He can play center field as well as the corners."
Avalon projects Parker to fit nicely at the top — or in the middle — of PRCC's 2021 batting order. After a cursory look at his prep stats, it's easy to see why.
While playing for the Hurricanes, Parker hit .381 with 15 homers, 14 triples, 29 doubles, 90 RBIs and 44 stolen bases. He added a .465 on-base percentage and .628 slugging percentage for his prep career.
As a senior in 2019, Parker hit .500 with seven homers, 21 extra-base hits, 34 RBIs and 40 runs scored. He also swiped 14 bases.
Although he won't be relied on to pitch at PRCC, Parker got the job done on the mound for WHHS as well, boasting a 10-4 record with a 2.73 ERA and 97 strikeouts over four seasons.
Parker's addition helps continue a strong pipeline from WHHS with the Wildcats featuring four former Hurricanes on the 2021 roster: Parker, Taylor Woodcock, and D.K. and Kasey Donaldson.
Out of high school, Perfect Game ranked Parker as the No. 6 outfielder and 14th overall prospect in Mississippi. PG also ranked Parker as the 102nd outfielder in his class nationally.
Parker was a two-time First Team All-State selection; he was a Second Team All-State selection as a sophomore.
Parker was also named to the Sun Herald All-South Mississippi squad in 2018 and '19.
In addition to playing at West Harrison, Parker also competed for the East Coast Sox travel team.
ABOUT THE 'CATS
The Wildcats were in the midst of another strong season under Avalon's guidance before the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic shutdown all athletics across North America. Pearl River finished the abbreviated season 12-4. After opening the season ranked 5th by the NJCAA, the Wildcats climbed as high as No. 2. Among numerous achievements in the shortened season, the Wildcats threw a combined no-hitter on both ends of a doubleheader and saw one freshman standout, Leif Moore (St. Martin) named the NJCAA Pitcher of the Week.
The Wildcats were also in the process of finalizing renovations at Dub Herring Park.
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