As I pointed out in the Preseason Top 50, there are key matchups and tournaments every season that have ranking implications and pit top players against each other. In browsing some schedules while putting the high school preview together, I came up with a list of games and tournaments worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses.
Given the number of high school baseball teams in the country, this list is only a sample of potential headliner games, but they stood out to me and some of the staff at Baseball America. One of us might even make it to a couple of these and I'm sure more than a few scouts will as well.
• The National Classic will again be held at various fields in the Anaheim area and feature several powerful California schools as well as some others from different parts of the country. This year's event will be held April 3-8. The schedule hasn't been set yet, but the matchup we'll be holding out for would be between Edison High (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Lutheran High (Orange, Calif.), Nos. 3 and 35 respectively in the preseason rankings.
• In Orlando, Rich Hofman will be hosting a tournament called the National Classic as well. Hofman is the former head coach of Miami's Westminster Christian, where Alex Rodriguez played his high school ball. That tournament will be held March 29-April 1 and host 16 teams including preseason No. 4 Farragut High (Knoxville). Maitland's Orangewood Christian will also be there, which is where Dante Bichette Jr. plays. He's a prospect for the 2011 draft. Hofman will also host the Sunshine Classic in Fort Lauderdale from March 16-19. No. 23 Charlotte Christian will participate in that four-team event. Hofman's third event is the Baseball Fever Classic, also in Fort Lauderdale from April 6-9. It will consist of 10 teams including Stuart, Fla.'s South Fork High, the 5-A state champions in 2009.
• Horizon High in Scottsdale will be holding its annual tournament March 29-April 4. This year's field includes several area powers as well as El Capitan High (Lakeside, Calif.), Los Angeles' Harvard-Westlake High—outfielder Austin Wilson's team—as well as Colorado juggernaut Rocky Mountain High (Fort Collins).
The games listed below are interesting regular season games that are scheduled and could draw large crowds of scouts to see big-time matchups. High school pitching rotations are anything but predictable with rainouts and rescheduling, so the hitter-pitcher duels are not guaranteed.
March 4, Georgia. East Coweta High (Sharpsburg) @ South Forsyth High (Cumming)
Atlanta-area baseball is very good this year and will have lots of good games to watch, but the prospect of seeing East Coweta righthander Cam Bedrosian and South Forsyth shortstop Zach Alvord face off is pretty exciting.
March 6, North Carolina. Impact Invitational, Cary, N.C.
The Impact Invitational is simply 18 North Carolina Teams playing a game at USA Baseball's National Training Complex as well as the newly renovated Durham Athletic Park. This year's edition will likely attract many scouts as 2010 prospects Connor Narron (SS, Aycock High, Pineville; No. 76) and Matt Roberts (C, Graham High; No. 92) will be there. Righthanders Benton Moss (Rocky Mount High) and Dillon Maples (Pinecrest High, Southern Pines), both top prospects for 2011, could potentially make starts as well.
March 16, 30, April 1, Texas. The Woodlands High vs./@/vs. College Park High
Both schools are in The Woodlands, Texas, and have very good righthanded starters, making for a potent rivalry. The Woodlands has No. 1 prospect Jameson Taillon while John Simms (No. 53) pitches for College Park. Both of Taillon's losses last season were to Simms. If the stars aligned correctly they could both pitch on back-to-back days in Rice's rotation in the future.
March 20, April 24, Virginia. Menchville (Newport News) @/vs. Kecoughtan (Hampton)
Menchville starts the season at No. 6 in the nation thanks to a pitching staff that includes righthander Austin Chrismon, an East Carolina signee, as well as Deshorn Lake, a righthander from the Virgin Islands whose fastball can reach 96 mph. He's a 2011 prospect along with Kecoughtan lefthander/outfielder Jake Cave. This matchup could offer a good pitcher's duel as well as district title implications.
March 24, Pennsylvania. Germantown Academy (Fort Washington) @ Germantown Friends School (Philadelphia)
Northeast scouts should have their cross checkers and directors coming in because this could be the game of the season for their area. Righthander Keenan Kish (Germantown Academy) and lefthander Jesse Biddle (Germantown Friends) are expected to make the start for their teams. Kish ranks as the No. 59 prospect in the class and has shortstop Sean Coyle (No. 44) on his team. Biddle is the No. 31 prospect in the class.
March 29, May 5, Ohio. Walsh Jesuit (Cuyahoga Falls) @/vs. St. Edward (Lakewood)
These two teams aren't only close in mileage as just five teams separate them in the preseason rankings. Walsh Jesuit is No. 19 while St. Edward is No. 24. The first matchup is actually each team's season opener so we could see the teams' best pitchers throw. Walsh Jesuit has righthander Tyler Skulina (No. 82) and St. Edward has Stetson Allie (No. 11).
March 31, May 5, 7, California. Aliso Niguel (Aliso Viejo) @/vs./@ Dana Hills (Dana Point)
Southern California scouts should make it a point to see these games since they feature one of the top hitters and pitchers for the area. Aliso Niguel catcher Stefan Sabol is the No. 10 prospect and Dana Hills righthander Peter Tago is No. 28.
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