All Byron Buxton wanted was a state championship. The Appling County High (Baxley, Ga.) outfielder is likely to be one of the first three picks in next week's draft as a hitter, but he had other things on his mind Thursday night when he took the mound. The Pirates dropped Game 1 of the Georgia 2-A state championship series against Pierce County (Blackshear, Ga.), but took Game 2.
After a few postponements because of Tropical Storm Beryl, the two rivals finally got to face off in a decisive Game 3. The rivalry had a chance to get so heated that state troopers were at Appling County's field to make sure things stayed civil between fans.
Buxton took the hill again and practically granted himself his own wish. In seven innings he struck out 18 batters. He allowed four runs, but three of those came in the last inning. Through five innings, 15 outs were recorded via the strikeout, with another coming on a ground out—one runner reached on a passed ball on strike three.
"Before the game I asked him, 'Are you ready?'" head coach Jeremy Smith said. "He simply said, 'I've got you.' He was untouchable. He was on tonight."
Smith added that Buxton used his slider tonight, but mostly reached backed and overpowered hitters with his fastball.
The title is Appling County's first ever in a male sport.
By Walter Villa
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – The eight-day Florida state tournament got off to a dramatic start Thursday as the No. 1 team in the nation got beat, a potential first-round prospect was brilliant but failed to get the win and another pitching star ran out of gas.
No. 1 Jesuit High (Tampa) was defeated, 3-0, by Plantation's American Heritage High—currently ranked 14th—in eight innings. Jesuit star Lance McCullers took a no-decision against the Patriots.
McCullers, who threw 138 pitches in his previous start last Friday, was held to just 93 in six shutout innings against Heritage. He allowed five hits and three walks and struck out nine. He hit one batter and lowered his miniscule ERA, which was 0.11 before the game.
Two innings after McCullers exited the game, American Heritage’s ninth-place hitter, Brandon Diaz, virtually ended it. He hit a three-run homer in the top of the eighth off of lefthander John Kilichowski, a Vanderbilt recruit.
But even though McCullers was not in the game when it was decided, he was the talk of the postgame press conference.
“I was expecting a little better,” Diaz said. “(Heritage Coach Bruce Aven) has been saying that he didn’t believe McCullers was 97-98 (mph) like everyone was saying. He believes that he can hit that but not be consistent (at that velocity).”
After the first inning, Diaz said his coach told the team that McCullers was throwing 93-94 – not the upper 90s. [...] Continue Reading »
The draft is just three weeks away and the phones are heating up at Baseball America. Despite being extremely busy, we don't want you to miss out on some tidbits from around the high school baseball landscape. Here are some notes on recent news and links that won't cause you to miss a scheduled start:
• While some are unsure how much he'll hit at the pro level or if his arm is destined for the mound, there's no question Joey Gallo (Bishop Gorman High, Las Vegas) has the best raw power in this year's prep class. He came into the season with 46 career home runs and has 14 so far, which puts him in the Top 10 all time according to the National Federation of High Schools record book. Bishop Gorman is seeking a seventh straight 4-A title in Nevada, but had to go through the loser's bracket in the Sunset Region to qualify.
• Lance McCullers Jr. has walked 14 batters in his last three starts, but he gutted out a 130-plus pitch start to send Tampa's Jesuit High back to the state tournament. The Tigers are currently No. 1 in the Baseball America Top 25 and will face No. 14 American Heritage High (Plantation, Fla.) in the semifinals. [...] Continue Reading »
Rich Hofman, the head coach at Ft. Lauderdale's University School, has coached his share of high school games and won several state championships. But with 999 career wins under his belt, Hofman may have been most nervous in Tuesday night's regular season game against Pope John Paul II High (Boca Raton, Fla.).
"Our team doesn't give me any breathing room," Hofman said. "I was nervous until the last pitch."
Pope John Paul had the bases loaded and their best hitter up in a 3-0 game, but a routine ground ball to second base ended the game and gave Hofman is 1,000th career victory—putting him in elite company with just 12 other coaches in the high school history.
"It's amazing," Hofman said. "I know a few of those guys and have a lot of respect for them so it's a real honor to join the club."
Hofman is the first coach in Florida to achieve the milestone and has been working toward it since the late 1960s. He is a native of Racine, Wisc., and graduated from Calvin (Mich.) College. After college he moved to Miami to teach and coach at Westminster Christian High. The school didn't have an athletic program at the time, but he helped develop a football, basketball and baseball program within two years. His first season as a baseball coach came in 1969 and his team won just two games. The program's success would only go up from there as Hofman and Westminster Christian went on to win eight state championships and two Baseball America National Championships in 1992 and 1996. His most notable former players are Alex Rodriguez and Doug Mientkiewicz, who were a part of the 1992 team. [...] Continue Reading »
Under Armour announced Tuesday that the 2012 Under Armour All-America Game, powered by Baseball Factory, will be held at Chicago's Wrigley Field for the fifth-consecutive year and will take place on Saturday, Aug. 18. The game will air live nationally on MLB Network and showcase 36 of the country's top high school prospects.
The game has seen its share of future stars come through and featured the top prep position player taken in the 2011 draft in outfielder Bubba Starling, who was taken by the Royals with the fifth-overall pick. Last year's game featured the current top position player for the 2012 draft in Byron Buxton, an outfielder from Appling County High in Baxley, Ga. In the last three years, the game has had 20 players picked in the first or first supplemental rounds, including Starling, outfielder Brandon Nimmo (13th overall in 2011), righthander Jameson Taillon (second overall pick in 2010) and righthander Jacob Turner (ninth overall in 2009).
The rosters are not finalized, but listed below are the first 10 commitments for the 2012 Under Armour All-America Game with scouting reports and video provided by Baseball Factory.
Willie Abreu, of, Mater Academy, Hialeah Gardens, Fla.
At 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, Abreu is an athletic outfielder with a sweet lefthanded stroke. He generates bat speed that leads to power to the pull side. Willie moves well in the outfield and has enough arm to play either corner spot. Overall, he has a run-producing bat and has verbally committed to Miami. Click here for video of Abreu from Baseball Factory.
Trey Ball, lhp/of, New Castle (Ind.) HS
Ball is the top two-way talent in the 2013 class. As a lefty, his long 6-foot-6, 170-pound frame produces easy low-90s velocity and gets on hitters quickly. At the plate, he has a quick, fluid lefthanded swing with leverage. This outstanding athlete also runs the 60-yard dash in the 6.6-second range and can play all three outfield spots. He is verbally committed to Texas. [...] Continue Reading »
By Alexis Brudnicki
Ivan Pelaez was a man on a mission Saturday night.
The Gulliver Prep (Pinecrest, Fla.) lefthander was left unsatisfied after last year’s extra-inning affair against Jesuit High (Tampa), and came back with a vengeance. Though Pelaez’s school, ranked 22nd in the latest Baseball America High School Top 25, came out on top in the March matchup last season, the lefty allowed 11 Tiger hits, and came back more prepared the second time around.
“This year I focused,” Pelaez said. “I studied a lot of what they did last year. Last year, it was my first game back coming off (an ankle stress fracture) injury, so that played a big part. But this year, I was ready to go, I was focused, and I did my job.”
The 17-year-old threw a complete-game, two-hit shutout, cruising through his seven innings of work, striking out six and walking none in a 3-0 victory. Even Gulliver head coach Javy Rodriguez was impressed enough to let Pelaez call the shots in the late innings. [...] Continue Reading »
The inaugural USA Baseball National High School Invitational is right around the corner and the Bracket Selection Show is now live, announcing the first-round matchups and ensuing schedule. The event is presented by Baseball America and the Town of Cary and will be played March 28-31 at the National Training Complex.
The selection show, hosted by USA Baseball's Jake Fehling, has analysis from Baseball America's Nathan Rode and Conor Glassey as well as interviews with representatives from USA Baseball and the Town of Cary and participating players and coaches.
The 2012 High School Preview is live on BaseballAmerica.com so now is as good a time as any to look at some interesting tournaments and games for the season. Just like we’ve done the past two seasons, below is a list of events and matchups that should attract plenty of spectators—including amateur scouts.
Some of the games simply feature teams that are among the Preseason Top 50 while others pit top draft prospects against each other. Keep in mind that high school baseball easily succumbs to foul weather and pitching rotations are an inexact science so nothing mentioned below is guaranteed.
Selective Recruiting Invitational, March 12-17
This event will take place at various sites in the Miami area. No. 1 Archbishop McCarthy High (Southwest Ranches, Fla.) and No. 24 Columbus High (Miami) are the only participants ranked in the preseason, but it’s worth keeping an eye on American Heritage High (Plantation, Fla.), Coral Springs (Fla.) High, Mater Academy (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.) and Westminster Christian School (Palmetto Bay, Fla.). [...] Continue Reading »
From March 28-31, the USA Baseball National High School Invitational will be held in Cary, N.C. The event is presented by Baseball America and the Town of Cary and will feature some of the top teams and players in the country. They will compete in a 16-team, single-elimination championship tournament though all teams will be guaranteed to play four games. Of the 16 teams, 12 are eligible for state tournament play—California has section championships and New York City has a city championship—and there are a total of 36 state titles in the schools' histories. Four of the teams have a Baseball America National Championship as well.
Not only will the tournament present a high level of competition and have a strong effect on national rankings, but the level of talent is likely to bring in dozens of area scouts, crosscheckers and scouting directors.
“We're thrilled with the quality of teams that we were able to commit to this inaugural event," USA Baseball Director of Development Rick Riccobono said. "The talent and history of the participants is truly consistent with the mission of the program: To bring together our nation’s most accomplished high school baseball teams in one championship tournament.”
Listed in alphabetical order below is the tournament field with a short capsule on each team as well as a chart with the top 25 2012 and 2013 prospects that will be at the event. [...] Continue Reading »
When Montclair Prep of Van Nuys, Calif. cut its entire athletic program, all of its athletes essentially became free agents in Southern California's prep landscape. While coaches at other schools couldn't directly contact athletes because of recruiting rules, it has still made for interesting developments. The baseball world has had its eye on lefthander Max Fried, a potential first-round pick for the 2012 draft. Early speculation was that he would head to Studio City's Harvard-Westlake High to join righthander Lucas Giolito in the rotation. That has turned into a reality as the school announced Fried's enrollment in a press release this evening.
“I am extremely grateful to Montclair Prep for the great experiences I had there – both in the classroom and on the field," Fried said. "The decision by the school to cancel the sports program was a shock to me and my family. I was looking forward to having a great senior year there. Because both school and sports are important to me, I decided to explore the opportunity to pursue both at another school. Harvard-Westlake represents the best balance of academics and athletics and I am excited to begin my senior year there.”
With Giolito being arguably the top prospect in the 2012 class, the Wolverines automatically boast the top rotation in the country. It's reminiscent of Houston's Cypress Falls High rotation that had righthander Clint Everts and lefthander Scott Kazmir. Everts went fifth overall to the Expos while Kazmir fell to the Mets at the 15th pick because of signability. [...] Continue Reading »
EDITOR'S NOTE: Nominations will only be accepted from varsity coaches.
It's time for Baseball America to begin collecting candidates for the postseason All-America teams and we need help from coaches. We name three teams of players and include their statistics. Coaches can send nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put "2011 All-America Nomination" in the subject line and include your name, school, contact info, the player's name, position, class and stats. Please make sure information is complete.
Here are a few things that will help us and hopefully answer any questions you have: [...] Continue Reading »
For the fourth consecutive year, the Under Armour All-America Baseball Game, powered by Baseball Factory, will be held at Wrigley Field in Chicago. This year's event will be held Aug. 13 at 2 p.m. EDT and air live nationally on MLB Network.
Thirty six of the nation's best rising juniors and seniors will get a chance to showcase their talents on a big stage. The last two Under Armour games have featured 61 players that were picked in the Major League Baseball draft, 12 of which were first-round picks. The 2010 installment featured Baseball America's No. 1 high school prospect in outfielder/righthander Bubba Starling. It also added a new spin to high school all-star games with then rising juniors Lance McCullers and Addison Russell and Dominican Republic prospects Ronald Guzman and Ronniel Demorizi participating.
The rosters for the 2011 game have not been finalized, but the following players have committed to participate: [...] Continue Reading »
Scouts love a good pitching matchup because it allows them to see multiple guys in one sitting. About 30 flocked to Menchville High in Newport News, Va. Tuesday night to see righthander Deshorn Lake go against lefthander/outfielder Jake Cave of Kecoughtan High (Hampton, Va.)
However, neither player was at his best and both exited early due to pitch counts. Cave went three innings, allowing four runs on four hits and three walks. He struck out six while taking the loss. Lake took the win after going four innings and giving up two runs on three hits while walking three and striking out four. Both threw around 85 pitches. [...] Continue Reading »
High school rankings are an inexact science, so even though two highly-ranked teams match up, it doesn't always mean the game will live up to expectations. However, Miami's Gulliver Prep and Tampa's Jesuit High had an epic battle Saturday evening at Miami's Alex Rodriguez Stadium.
Jesuit came into the game ranked No. 3 with a 9-2 record while Gulliver was No. 11 at 11-2. The game had to be decided in extra innings and Gulliver prevailed 7-6 with a walk-off hit in the 10th inning. [...] Continue Reading »
A large crowd gathered in Southern Pines, N.C. for Pinecrest High's season opener against Forsyth Country Day School (Lewisville, N.C.). While the biggest reason over 50 scouts were in attendance was to see righthander Dillon Maples start for Pinecrest, Forsyth had plenty of its own to put on display.
Not only did Forsyth have righthander Adam Griffin starting on the mound—his fastball sits in the low 90s—but the Furies started the season as the No. 47 team in the country. They have five Division I signees, three of which will see time on the mound: Griffin (North Carolina), outfielder Seth Constable (South Carolina), first baseman/lefthander George Carter (UNC), righthander Brandon Culbreth (NC State) and junior shortstop D.C. Arendas (South Carolina). [...] Continue Reading »
Every season, as we look over schedules for high school teams, we find plenty of matchups that will likely attract droves of scouts to the ballpark. As always, there are a few marquee tournaments that bring in some of the best teams in the country and the results undoubtedly will have an effect on our team rankings.
Below is a list of a few tournaments that have teams from our Preseason Top 50, as well as programs that consistently churn out talent. Also listed below are single-game matchups that feature ranked teams facing each other, top draft prospects facing a ranked team or prospects facing each other. Remember, this is high school baseball so nothing is guaranteed. Weather can wreak havoc on pitching rotations and scheduled dates.
Sarasota Classic, March 14-17
The Sarasota Classic has been a mainstay in Florida, attracting 32 of the state's best teams. No. 20 West Boca High of Boca Raton is the lone ranked team, but a potential matchup between them and Fort Myers' Bishop Verot or host Sarasota High would be interesting. Bishop Verot has preseason All-Americans in righthander Hudson Boyd and first baseman Dan Vogelbach. Sarasota has produced many players at the next level and always puts a quality team on the field. [...] Continue Reading »
In 2009, when Bryce Harper put on a show at the International Power Showcase High School Home Run Derby but eventually lost to now-South Carolina slugger Christian Walker, we likened the event to the 2008 Major League Home Run Derby when Josh Hamilton wowed the baseball world but eventually lost to Justin Morneau.
Just last week, the fifth annual Power Showcase took place at Chase Field in Phoenix and Dan Vogelbach put on his own shown that resembled Bobby Abreu's performance in the 2005 major league version. Abreu hit a then-record 24 home runs in the first round on his way to beating Ivan Rodriguez. Vogelbach, a 2011 first baseman from Bishop Verot High in Fort Myers, crushed 19 home runs in his first round last week and added 11 in the championship round to win the Power Showcase's fifth annual derby. One of his home runs traveled 508 feet, a record for the event previously held by Travis Harrison (504 feet) and Harper (502 feet).
Baseball America's Conor Glassey caught up with Vogelbach over the phone for a quick Q&A:
Conor Glassey: First off, congratulations! Tell me, how did it feel to win it all?
Dan Vogelbach: It felt good. Last year I went and I didn't do so well, and it was kind of like I came back to prove a point that I can hang with the best players in the world. That's what it is. These are some of the best players and I'll continue to play against them throughout my career. [...] Continue Reading »
SAN DIEGO—There's an old notion that a professional should act like he's been there before when he's on the field. Apparently, it applies to high school players now, too.
In the case of Sunday night's Aflac All-American High School Baseball Classic, won by the East team 5-3, virtually all of the participants had been here before. Not on the field at the Padres' Petco Park necessarily — although West shortstop Phillip Evans and first baseman/pitcher Daniel Camarena are locals who had played here with their high school teams — but a big league ballfield nonetheless.
It is the opportunity afforded elite players these days. The experience has by no means become routine. And the Aflac players still treated it with the appropriate respect. But they weren't as wide-eyed as those who have come before them.
CHICAGO—Saturday marked the third consecutive year the Under Armour All-America Game powered by Baseball Factory was played at Wrigley Field in Chicago, a good conclusion to a four-day event that provided some of the best high school players in the country with a unique and unforgettable experience. Thirty six players arrived in Chicago on Wednesday and were outfitted with Under Armour equipment and clothing before getting a tour of Wrigley Field. After the tour they had a banquet at the stadium and listened to Cal and Billy Ripken speak about their experiences in baseball.
On Thursday the players worked with younger athletes at a Ripken Camp, before taking the field themselves and getting instruction from the Ripkens, as well as several other coaches with professional experience, at University of Illinois-Chicago's field that essentially has Sears Tower as a batter's eye. After the day at UIC, the players headed down I-90 to U.S. Cellular to watch the White Sox and Twins battle for the top spot in the American League Central.
The players returned to UIC on Friday for the event's workout day, which was attended by approximately 75 scouts and a handful of college recruiters. For dinner, the players, event staff and others dined at one of Chicago's landmarks—Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse.
"When I got the call for this, it was one of the best moments of my life," Connor Castellano said. "Some of these guys out here will only play on it once, but some of them will play on it 1,000 times. So, it's living the dream, basically."
SAN DIEGO—Francisco Lindor hit just one home run this season for his high school team at Florida's Montverde Academy.
"I'm not a power hitter and I probably won't become one," said the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Lindor.
He certainly looked like one Saturday at the University of San Diego's Cunningham Stadium. This weekend's festivities for Sunday's Aflac All-American Baseball Game include a home run derby. Lindor, like every other hitter in the game, had an opportunity to step to the plate. Never mind that most of the players hit at least five homers for their high school team this season. In fact, five of the competitors reached double digits.
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