Catcher Iolana Akau (St. Louis School, Honolulu) chipped a bone at the bottom of his right thumb diving into second base, his coach confirmed. The injury happened Feb. 16 toward the end of a preseason game while Akau was stealing second.
"He's been in a soft cast," St. Louis head coach George Gusman said. "He's going to see the orthopedic guy today and is expected to be put in a hard cast."
Gusman said Akau went to the emergency room after the game and X-rays revealed the chip. The doctor there gave a timetable of four to six weeks for it to heal. St. Louis only plays a schedule of 12 games so Akau isn't expected to be back for the regular season. St. Louis was in its sixth preseason game when the injury occurred.
"It's going to hurt us significantly," Gusman said. "Nobody will run when he's back there. He's been throwing guys out that are too far off first base. That's all going to change for us. He's been hitting the ball very well."
One of two Hawaii preps in the High School Top 100, Akau was ranked 97th and is committed to Hawaii. He is listed at 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, and stands out for his defense. He is quick and agile with good blocking and receiving skills. His arm is above average. He has a compact swing from the right side and scouts also like his leadership skills. Akau's Waipio Little League team (Waipahu, Hawaii) beat Mexico in the 2008 Little League World Series.
Rich Hofman, a longtime and successful high school coach in Florida, is leaving his post as head coach at Nova Southeastern's University School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to be the athletic director and baseball coach at a new charter school in Miami. The school, Sports Leadership and Management Charter High School (SLAM), will open this fall and compete at the 2-A level. SLAM will feature a curriculum that provides students with the basic courses as well as ones that that are related to careers in sports such as physical therapy, sports management, or nutrition.
Hofman passed a milestone last season by claiming his 1,000th career victory. He made a name for himself as the head coach at Miami's Westminster Christian Academy, where he coached Alex Rodriguez and Doug Mientkiewicz and won Baseball America National Championships in 1992 and 1996. Hofman began at Westminster Christian in 1969 and left after the 1998 for Westminster Academy (Ft. Lauderdale). He won state championships in his first two years before moving on to Piper High (Sunrise, Fla.). After two years at Piper he stepped away from coaching. He returned with University in 2010.
USA Baseball has announced Rob Cooper as manager of the 2013 18-and-under National Team, which will compete in the IBAF AAA/18U World Championships at a date and location yet to be determined. Cooper is the head coach at Wright State and previously served on the coaching staff for the 2007 and 2009 Collegiate National Teams.
"I'm extremely honored to be given this opportunity," Cooper said in a release. "One of my career goals was to manage a USA national team and have the chance to play for a gold medal. This is going to be my career highlight and I am very excited about it."
Cooper is set to begin his ninth season leading the Raiders and they are looking to continue their streak of seven consecutive seasons with 30 or more wins while adding to the 261 victories during his tenure. Under his direction, Wright State has won three Horizon League championships and earned a berth in the NCAA tournament in those seasons.
"Rob Cooper's extensive background as a successful college head coach and member of our 2007 and 2009 Collegiate National Teams' coaching staffs makes him a perfect fit to be the field manager for the 2013 18U National Team," team director Brant Ust said. "Additionally, as a coach at last summer's inaugural 17U National Team Development Program, Rob had the opportunity to become familiar with some of the players who will ultimately comprise the Tournament of Stars and 18U National Team player pools. USA Baseball is excited to have Rob as the manager who will guide the 18U National Team in defending the gold at this year's IBAF 18U World Championships."
Team USA's 18U squad won gold at the World Championship last September under the direction of former World Series MVP and current Linfield (Ore.) College head coach Scott Brosius.
Perfect Game announced their All-American teams yesterday. The 10th-annual Perfect Game All-American Classic, presented by Rawlings, will take place Sunday, Aug. 12 at PETCO Park in San Diego. The game will start at 6 p.m. (PDT) and will be broadcast on CBS Sports. Click below for the list of the 46 players selected for the event.
[...] Continue Reading »
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 »
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.
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 »
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 »
Steve Mandl, the head coach at Washington High in New York City, has been suspended for one year by the Public School Athletic League, according to the New York Daily News. An investigation conducted by the PSAL revealed the infraction. Mandl intends to appeal the decision.
"I didn't do anything, but I don't want to talk about it right now," Mandl told the Daily News. "I'm (too) busy with my team right now to get into that. It didn't hit me yet. I just found out. I think it's ridiculous."
Mandl has been at Washington for 27 years and won 25 straight league championships at one point. His biggest alum is Manny Ramirez, who was drafted out of Washington in 1991. His most recent high-profile player was Mike Antonio, a shortstop drafted by the Royals in the third round of the 2010 draft. Two of his current juniors, catcher Nelson Rodriguez and outfielder Fernelys Sanchez, are considered top prospects for the 2012 draft.
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 »
Righthander Jose Fernandez from Alonso High in Tampa, who was ruled ineligible for his senior season earlier this year, has been granted a fifth year of eligibility by the Florida High School Athletic Association if he can provide documentation to prove that his lost year was due to the move from Cuba. The FHSAA board voted 11-4 in favor of granting Fernandez an extra year. While there is no timetable in place for when a final determination will be made, it seems like more of a formality after the vote. Fernandez recently ranked No. 11 on Baseball America's High School Top 100 Prospect list.
Righthander Jose Fernandez has been ruled ineligible to play baseball for his senior season at Alonso High in Tampa, according to Alonso athletic director K.R. Lombardia.
The ruling stems from Florida High School Athletic Association rule 9.5.1, which states, "A student has four consecutive calendar years of eligibility from the date he/she begins ninth grade for the first time."
Fernandez began ninth grade in 2006, in Cuba. During the beginning of his sophomore year, he tried to flee the country and was caught by the U.S. Coast Guard, 15 miles from Key West. The Coast Guard returned him to Cuba and he spent six days in jail before he was ordered to spend a year under house arrest.
In April of 2008, Fernandez fled the country again and was successful in getting to Mexico before arriving in Tampa, where he joined his father. So, Fernandez did not go to school for the 2007-2008 school year, but picked up where he left off—in 10th grade—when he enrolled at Alonso for the 2008-2009 season.
Fernandez and Alonso appealed the decision to the district, but was denied an extra year of eligibility, so they are taking their appeal to the FHSAA, and the second appeal is slated for Nov. 21.
Fernandez's birth date is listed at July 31, 1992, although there have also been unconfirmed rumors that he is older. Fernandez recently starred in the World Wood Bat Association tournament in Jupiter, throwing up to 97 mph with his fastball.
If his appeal is denied, Fernandez may opt to enroll in a junior college to play this spring, but that is purely speculation at this point.
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