USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars gets underway Wednesday morning at the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. The event serves as a tryout of sorts for the 18U National Team. This year's team will travel to Cartagena, Colombia in September for the COPABE Pan Am 'AAA' Championships. There are eight teams in the tournament, represented by seven of the National Member Organizations and an at-large team, put together by USA Baseball. The organizations represented are AABC, American Legion, Babe Ruth, Dixie, NABF, PONY and RBI. Seven first-round picks in the 2011 draft participated in the 2010 Tournament of Stars: Bubba Starling, Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo, Tyler Beede, Joe Ross, Blake Swihart and Robert Stephenson.
Baseball America will be on-site covering the event. Here are a couple quick notes about each team's roster:
AABC: Vahn Bozoian is a long-limbed outfielder from Ayala High in Chino Hills, Calif. He has power from the right side, but his long levers lend to questions about his ability to hit. He has one of the strongest throwing arms in this draft class. . . Joey Gallo hit 25 home runs this spring, leading Las Vegas' Bishop Gorman High to a sixth-straight state title. He's no stranger to the showcase circuit, but hasn't quite lived up to expectations yet. However, he has recently taken to pitching where he shows easy velocity in the low 90s. . . David Thompson broke Prince Fielder's career home run record in Florida—during his junior year. He is a corner infielder with big power and also excels as a quarterback. . . The best arms on this team appear to be righthander Jamie Callahan from Dillon (S.C.) High and lefthander Hunter Virant from Camarillo (Calif.) High. Callahan sits 88-90 mph with a good changeup and curveball and Virant sits in the low 90s and already throws four pitches despite this being his first year on the mound.
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 »
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 »
While Conor Glassey and I have been hitting the road for a lot of 2011 draft coverage, we've seen a few guys at games that stand out as players to watch for the future. Here are some thoughts and quotes on a few of them we've seen recently:
A.J. Simcox, ss, Faragut HS, Knoxville (2012)
Simcox is a junior shorstop at Tennessee powerhouse Farragut High. He's a string bean right now at 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds, but shows very good range in the field, soft hands, a strong arm and good baseball instincts. Simcox's father, Larry, was also a shortstop that spent three seasons in the minor leagues with Houston.
"He's a high-upside player," Farragut head coach Matt Buckner said. "Defensively, he's special. He's got a big arm and he's long and rangy. At the plate, he stays inside the ball and goes gap-to-gap. He's been tremendous this year and he's got a bright future. He has several SEC offers and I think he's 20 pounds away from being a pretty high draft pick. He's got all the physical ability in the world and he's a really good kid, too." [...] 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 »
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 »
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 »
ORLANDO — While most of the 20 or so scouts at the Montverde vs. Olympia game were there to see top shortstop Francisco Lindor, they got an extra treat with Olympia's young squad. Olympia has three very interesting underclassmen . . .
Jesse Winker, of, 2012
Winker plays centerfield for Olympia, but profiles best as a corner outfielder. He has a strong, 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame and was noticeably stronger, especially in his legs, than he was this summer.
"I've been working out a lot, working out my legs," Winker said. "I'm not a real big upper-body guy, but I've just been working really hard. I go to Titus Sports Academy three times a week and I've been working really hard." [...] 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 »
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.
USA Baseball's 2010 season for high school-aged teams came to a close in October with the 16U National Team capturing a gold medal by beating Mexico 11-4 in the COPABE Pan Am 'AA' 16U Youth Championships. The 16U program is now unbeaten in the last five years, running the streak to 40 games.
"I was really proud of everyone involved with the program this year, from the staff down to all of the players who participated in our trials," said Jeff Singer, director of the 16U program. "It was a particularly challenging year in regards to how late in the calendar the event fell and the fact that two weeks before trials started we didn’t officially know if we’d be able to compete due to safety concerns in Mexico. In the end everyone put all of that aside, we came together as an incredibly close team and we kept our focus day after day and proved that we were the best team in the tournament. We really hit the ball incredibly well."
Infielders Alex Bregman and Corey Seager led the squad on offense. Bregman, a junior at Albuquerque Academy, hit .564/.596/.846 in 39 at-bats with two home runs, 17 runs and 17 RBIs. He also stole five bases. Seager hit .514/.622/.829 in 35 at-bats with 16 runs scored and 12 RBIs. He proved to be the team's most patient hitter, drawing 10 walks in nine games. While Bregman and Seager did plenty of damage on their own, Team USA destroyed opposing pitching as a whole. In nine games the squad hit .437/.500/.749 with 15 home runs and outscored opponents 127-23. [...] Continue Reading »
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.
This past weekend, USA Baseball put on the second annual National Team Identificatiton Series at the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. The NTIS consists of three age groups (13U, 15U, 17U) and more than 600 players. They are split into regionalized teams and play three or four games over the weekend. The staff of USA Baseball selects players from each age group to attend their team trials for the 18U, 16U and 14U squads for the ensuing year. On Wednesday night, USA Baseball announced the selections. Below is some information on the 17U selections, as well as the list of players selected from the younger divisions. [...] Continue Reading »
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