If Ryder Jones needs a walk-up song to fit his young baseball career, Johnny Cash's "I've Been Everywhere" might be fitting. With roots in the Northwest, Jones has lived in Oregon, Arizona, Oklahoma and now North Carolina. But his family isn't affiliated with the military. His father is Billy Jones, the first-year head coach at Appalachian State who spent the last 14 seasons as an assistant at Oregon State, Arizona State and Oklahoma State. With each change in jobs, the Jones family has packed up and moved to a new home, adjusting to the area and people on the fly.
"It was easier when I was little because I didn't get attached to people, but recently it's been a little bit harder," Ryder Jones said. "It's definitely an advantage because my dad is a coach. I'll always have a facility or field to go to, train, and be around players."
Jones, an infielder and righthander, had his most challenging adjustment this year when his father left Oklahoma State to become the head coach for the Mountaineers. After being in Stillwater, Okla., for eight years, the family packed up and moved over the summer, right before Jones was to begin his senior year at Stillwater High. While Ryder Jones was participating in USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars, Billy Jones and his wife, Tiffani, traveled to North Carolina to watch their son play and visit Boone, the small mountain town in which App State is located.
"I had never even been up in the mountains," Ryder said. "I had no clue where it was." [...] Continue Reading »
Timing is everything in baseball and Mount Si High (Snoqualmie, Wash.) has found a rhythm at the perfect time. Coming off a 3-A state title in 2011, the Wildcats had high expectations for 2012 with a strong pitching staff returning and an offense with potential. Mount Si got off to a strong start at 7-1 and debuted in the Baseball America Top 25 on April 10, but hit a snag and was out by the next poll after losing a couple of close games.
"We started off well," head coach Elliot Cribby said. "We played some good teams and found out who we really were. We started conference play and hit a little lull."
Since losing to Bellevue (Wash.) High on April 18, the Wildcats won seven straight games to claim a second straight conference title. While the offense has room for improvement, the pitching has come as advertised. Mount Si has three arms that Cribby refers to as 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3.
"Our third best guy is Trevor Taylor and he had the lowest ERA on the team," he said. "They've put up numbers that were better than last year. It's going to be interesting."
Righthander Reece Karalus is the staff's so-called ace and is sporting a 6-1, 0.77 record with 71 strikeouts and 14 walks in 45 innings. Taylor's low ERA was passed by Karalus, but he's still sporting a 4-1, 0.93 record with 27 strikeouts and eight walks in 30 innings. Lefty Trevor Lane rounds out the group with a 5-1, 2.25 line and 67 strikeouts in 37 innings. He's allowed only 11 walks. [...] Continue Reading »
A comprehensive list is likely hard to come by, but if one were compiled that tallied which high school programs produced the most major league players, Tate High in Cantonment, Fla.; would likely be among the leaders. The Aggies have had almost 50 players drafted—either out of high school or college—and six of them have played in the big leagues.
"To me, Tate High School is about community," head coach Greg Blackmon said. "It has a tradition of excellence. We've had a Hall of Famer, all stars. We've had captains in the Marine Corps. They're successful. Outside the realm of baseball, this program has influence."
Among the big league alumni are Hall of Fame righthander Don Sutton, third baseman Travis Fryman and shortstop Jay Bell, but the reach into pro ball extends off the field as well. They also have a former player, Fred Robbins, that plays defensive tackle for the St. Louis Rams.
Deric Ladnier, the Royals scouting director from 2001-2008, is now a special assistant to the general manager for the Nationals and graduated from Tate in 1982. Mac Seibert, the Midwest crosschecker for the Mets, also played for the Aggies in the early 1980s. Seibert, along with Bell and Blackmon, was a part of the 1984 team that won a state championship and the first mythical national championship for high school baseball. Seibert's son, Mac IV, is a senior at Tate and Fryman's son, Mason, is a sophomore. [...] Continue Reading »
Growing up in North Carolina's Triangle area, there are three universities to pledge allegiance to—Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State. Max Schrock, a shortstop at Raleigh's Cardinal Gibbons High, grew up in Chapel Hill, but if he decides not to sign a pro contract out of high school he will leave his stomping grounds and cross the border into South Carolina to don a Gamecocks uniform.
How does a son of Chapel Hill wind up on the other Carolina's campus?
"I wanted to venture out," Schrock said. "I didn't want to go to college and play in my backyard. I grew up wanting to, but South Carolina is the perfect distance from home."
Schrock doesn't jump out physically and the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will likely hinder teams from buying him out of college, but scouts are still dropping in to see him play. Schrock has shown an ability to handle the bat from the left side in the past and plays up the middle—a combination worth monitoring. He sets up with a slightly open stance and has good bat speed, which produces a little bit of pop. Despite being about 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, Schrock was one of the few players to hit a home run at the East Coast Pro Showcase in Lakeland, Fla., last August.
An average runner with a solid arm, Schrock fits better at second base as a pro, but could handle shortstop in college. [...] Continue Reading »
High school baseball is well underway in most southern states and the 2012 season is no exception when it comes to early surprises. While the top-ranked and traditional power programs in California are off to good starts, Huntington Beach High has already grabbed some headlines by starting 5-0 and winning the highly-competitive Newport Elks Tournament.
"It's a pretty good feeling," head coach Benji Medure said. "We caught everybody off guard including ourselves. We were just a normal team a couple weeks ago. Beating (Bishop) Amat and Mater (Dei) put us on the map."
Facing La Puente's Bishop Amat High and Santa Ana's Mater Dei High at any point is a tall task, but the Oilers caught the juggernauts in their second and third game of the season. They proved worthy of the challenge beating Bishop Amat 3-2 and Mater Dei 8-1. Bishop Amat won the Division IV Southern Section title in 2011, beating Palm Desert High. Incidentally, Huntington Beach faced Palm Desert just a few days later and defeated the Aztecs 5-2. Medure says their success has come from an unexpected source. [...] Continue Reading »
This year’s crop of high school arms from Massachusetts is one of the best in recent memory, but several of those pitchers have commitments to elite academic universities that scouts will have to weigh.
“We’ve either got a couple future big league pitchers, or we’ve got a couple future senators,” one area scout joked.
Tyler Beede, a Vanderbilt commit, has been drawing the most interest among the intellectual pitchers—and, for that matter, more interest than every prep player in the Northeast. A second area scout called him the best high schooler in New England. [...] Continue Reading »
Every year USA Baseball puts together events and teams that attract the best baseball players from around the country. Team USA also prides itself on bringing the best coaches and evaluators to help put teams together and lead them in various international tournaments.
It's easy to notice the relationships the players develop as they climb the ranks in baseball, but the coaches share the same experiences. Last month, while on spring break, Ernie Padron brought his varsity and junior varsity teams up from Miami's Florida Christian School to the Raleigh-Durham area to play three games against North Carolina schools. Normally, schools head to South Florida for spring break, but this was a special circumstance. Padron brought his team north so they could play against his friend, Charlie Spivey—the head coach at Lee County High in Sanford, N.C. [...] Continue Reading »
After winning the competitive Newport Elks Tournament and starting the season 5-0, JSerra Catholic High of San Juan Capistrano, Calif. looked to be on its way to a stellar season. Three losses in the next five games could have been a real dagger for the Lions, but instead it was a reality check. JSerra bounced back from a league loss to Mater Dei High (Santa Ana, Calif.) with wins over Trinity League opponents Lutheran High (Orange, Calif.) and St. John Bosco High (Bellflower, Calif.) before entering the Anaheim Lions Tournament field of 58 teams.
"We got into them a little bit," head coach Brett Kay said. "It's about repetition and doing things right. We beat into their heads about doing things the right way."
At one point the Lions had just 12 hits in a four-game span. They were out of their comfort zone and Kay pushed them to be aggressive at the plate to get back to their style of play. JSerra ran the table in the Anaheim Lions Tournament, going 5-0 and beating Lake Forest, Calif.'s El Toro High for the championship.
"That was a real good run for us," Kay said. "We've been like Jekyll and Hyde. The El Toro game showed me a lot. We've been down in some games and El Toro is one of the best teams we've played so far. We showed some resilience."
JSerra moved up to No. 12 in the latest Top 25 and have 10 games left in the extremely competitive Trinity League. Catcher Austin Hedges is helping the offense chug along with a .415 average in 53 at-bats. He's also keeping up with his typical defense, shutting down the running game.
"No one runs on him," Kay said. "One kid on a team from Utah tried to steal third on him. I think he was a freshman. He didn't have a chance to slide Austin was so quick. He's a stud."
JSerra has a three-headed monster on the mound in righthanders Keaton Siomkin, Trevor Charpie and Bobby Hearn. Charpie, a junior that also plays shortstop, is 4-1, 0.82 with 27 strikeouts and five walks in 26 innings and Siomkin is 2-1, 2.91 with 20 strikeouts in 22 innings. Hearn is the closer and has three saves in 18 innings of work to go with a 2-0, 1.19 record. He has 22 strikeouts and five walks.
Follow me (@bahighschool) and Conor Glassey (@conorglassey) for draft and high school updates like these:
• Javier Baez, an infielder at Arlington Country Day School in Jacksonville, committed to Chipola (Fla.) JC.
• Righthander Benton Moss of Rocky Mount (N.C.) High threw a complete game one-hitter on April 6. He didn't walk any batters and struck out 20.
• In a start on April 7, righthander Taylor Guerrieri of Spring Valley High in Columbia, S.C., touched 98 mph a couple times and was sitting 94-95 by the end of the game. Several teams with a top 10 pick had at least a crosschecker in attendance.
• Capistrano Valley High (Mission Viejo, Calif.) head coach Bob Zamora earned his 600th career victory.
• Spanish Fork (Utah) High won the competitive Big League Dugout Invitational in Scottsdale, Ariz., edging Bishop Gorman High of Las Vegas 3-2. Subscribers can read more on Spanish Fork's program in the next High Heat, which will be online on April 19.
It's easy to get caught up in the hype around good match-ups, but in reality when it's this early in the season excitement for pitching duels should be tempered. We touched on Jake Cave vs. Deshorn Lake last week, but the latest intriguing game comes out of Washington where Redmond High went against Bellevue's Newport High Monday night.
Two of the top righthanders in the state got the ball to start, but both struggled with their control. Dylan Davis, an Oregon State signee, went just three innings as he reached 80 pitches. He struck out four and gave up three runs on one hit, but walked seven.
"His stuff looked pretty good," Redmond head coach Dan Pudwill said. "His curveball has great bite to it. We just need to make sure he can throw it for strikes." [...] Continue Reading »
Flanagan High of Pembroke Pines, Fla. has lofty expectations for its baseball program. The Falcons have three state titles since 2005 and have made it to the semi-finals four times. In addition to the 6-A title in 2010, Flanagan was named Baseball America's Team of the Year after losing just two games to perennial powers Farragut High (Knoxville) and American Heritage High (Plantation, Fla.) by a total of three runs.
It would be easy to take Flanagan lightly for 2011 after seven seniors went on to play baseball in college and 150 out of 180 innings on the mound were lost to graduation. But head coach Ray Evans has his team off to an 10-2 start after sweeping the Tournament of Champions in Jacksonville this past weekend. [...] Continue Reading »
Bishop Gorman High of Las Vegas has been a hot topic in high school baseball the last few years thanks to a strong core of players that contributed to four straight Nevada 4-A state titles. Recently the Gaels have reloaded instead of rebuilding, but losing stars like first baseman Jeff Malm to graduation will always make others wonder when they will finally slip and miss out on another title.
That time nearly came last week. Bishop Gorman was up against Galena High (Reno, Nev.) on Friday. The tournament was double elimination and both teams were 1-0. Bishop Gorman was on the ropes right away, down 10-1 going into the bottom of the second inning. But the Gaels made it 10-7 after two. Galena scored seven more in the third and one in the fourth. After four innings Galena was up 18-10. Four more for Galena in the fifth made it 22-10 and Bishop Gorman was facing a mercy rule defeat. But the Gaels answered with 10 runs in the fifth and four in the sixth to seal a 24-22 victory. [...] Continue Reading »
The draft is less than a month away, which means I'm swamped with calls and reports. This week's Varsity Vignette is going to be short and sweet. Here are some quick hits with links about recent happenings in high school baseball. Enjoy.
• Last season, lefthander Patrick Schuster was getting national attention after throwing four consecutive no-hitters. His bid for a fifth aired on ESPNews, but he was unsuccessful. This year it's John Kukuruda, a righthander for East Nicolaus High in Trowbridge, Calif. He's thrown four straight no-hitters to break the state record and puts himself on the list with seven others in the country that have done the same. [...] Continue Reading »
Perfect seasons are fairly uncommon in high school baseball. Even more rare is a perfect career. Righthander Austin Chrismon was on his way to one until he encountered Newport News, Va.'s Woodside High. The senior at Menchville High, also of Newport News, was 18-0, 1.05 as a varsity starter coming into the season.
Chrismon, who is committed to East Carolina, won his first three 2010 decisions and also made some appearances out of the bullpen. Going into Friday his ERA was under 1.00. Against Woodside, everything seemed to be normal as Menchville was up 4-1 by the time Chrismon went through the order once. But the Wolverines strung together some extra base hits the second time through, went up 6-4 and knocked Chrismon out of the game. [...] Continue Reading »
Rich Hofman may be retired from high school baseball, but he's still very much involved in promoting competitive play. The former head coach of Westminster Christian High (Miami)—where he coached Alex Rodriguez and Doug Mientkiewicz)—and Westminster Academy (Fort Lauderdale) has helped run a few big tournaments this spring.
A couple weeks ago, Farragut High (Knoxville) defeated Flanagan High (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) in a classic championship game in the Hall of Fame National Classic. More recently, two Jacksonville schools, Mandarin High and Arlington Country Day, met in another instant classic in the Baseball Fever Classic championship game. [...] Continue Reading »
Junior Brandon Sedell is no stranger to national attention. He's been surrounded by players in the spotlight since his freshman year and has even taken his own turn in getting some recognition. Sedell is a catcher/third baseman for American Heritage High (Plantation, Fla.) and was varsity rookie in 2008, when the Patriots won a national title. That team had a loaded lineup that included first baseman Eric Hosmer (first round, Royals), catcher Adrian Nieto (fifth round, Nationals), righthander Juan Carlos Sulbaran (30th round, Reds), shortstop Deven Marrero (a 17th-round pick last year by the Reds, now at Arizona State) and third baseman Nick Castellanos (2010 All-American now at Archbishop McCarthy High in Southwest Ranches, Fla.). [...] Continue Reading »
Owasso (Okla.) High has a rich tradition in baseball with nine state titles under head coach Larry Turner and 11 in school history. The Rams are favorites for the 6-A title game every season and never go overlooked by opponents.
When a program like that then gets a transfer who is considered one of the best pitchers in the country, other 6-A coaches around the state probably mutter a few choice words under their breath. Dylan Bundy, a 2011 righthander, transferred from nearby Sperry (Okla.) High—a 3-A program. He's easily among the top prospects for 2011 overall and even could be argued to be among the top prospects for 2010. He has a very good fastball that has already been up to 95 mph this spring and a wipeout slider. [...] Continue Reading »
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