BUFORD — Gatorade announced on Wednesday that Buford's Dylan Lesko is the 2020-21 Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year.
The prestigious award is in its 36th year of honoring the nation’s most elite high school athletes.
Lesko earned the award for his accomplishments on and off the field, joining an impressive group of former Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year winners who have combined for four MLB MVP awards, 42 All-Star appearances and 27 MLB first round draft picks.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Lesko as the nation’s best high school baseball player. A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Lesko from nearly half a million high school baseball players nationwide.
Competition for the national award was fierce. Lesko topped the list of state winners in baseball who collectively boast an incredible list of accomplishments, including 46 Gatorade State Players of the Year who have signed Letters of Intent or made verbal commitments to play baseball at Division I colleges/universities, 22 with a GPA of 3.75 and above and 18 who are expected to be selected in the early rounds of the 2021 MLB Draft.
“Lesko has long been considered one of the top players in his class and has already established a strong track record of performance against older competition in some of the bigger high school events around the country,” said Carlos Collazo, a national writer for Baseball America. “On top of impressive strike zone command, he was a poised and polished pitcher with advanced secondary pitches even prior to his junior season of high school, and he could develop a trio of legitimate ‘plus’ pitches when it’s all said and done.”
The 6-foot-3, 197-pound junior right-handed pitcher and infielder compiled an 11-0 record on the mound with a 0.35 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 60 innings this past season, leading the Wolves to a 32-2 record and a berth in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs. The nation’s No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2022 as ranked by Perfect Game and PrepBaseballReport, held opposing hitters to a .126 batting average and a 0.68 WHIP while contributing offensively by posting a .417 average, 25 RBIs and an OPS of 1.054.
A member of Buford High’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter, Lesko has volunteered locally at the North Gwinnett Co-Op, which provides food and services to the needy. He has also donated his time packing, loading and delivering food to underserved families each Thanksgiving. In addition, he has raised funds to support the underprivileged during the Christmas holidays.
Lesko has maintained a 4.0 GPA in the classroom. He has made a verbal commitment to play baseball on scholarship at Vanderbilt University beginning in the fall of 2022.
“Winning the Gatorade Player of the Year award is an enormous accomplishment, as it’s reserved for the best and brightest high school student-athletes,” said Gatorade Senior Vice President and General Manager Brett O’Brien. “We strongly believe in the lifelong benefits of playing high school sports and look forward to seeing what Dylan Lesko will accomplish in the future.”
Each year a selection committee evaluates the nation’s top talent in the District of Columbia and all 50 states, choosing national winners in 12 different sports: football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball, boys and girls soccer, and boys and girls track and field.
Gatorade is dedicated to recognizing, supporting and keeping athletes in the game because of the lifelong skills sports instill on and off the field. Since the program’s inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators.
Previous winners include a distinguished list of athletes, such as Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach, Jayson Tatum, Derek Jeter, Elena Delle Donne and many other sports icons.