USA Baseball announced the 16-team field for the National High School Invitational (NHSI), which will be held March 26-29 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. The third annual event is a collection of many of the best and most storied high school baseball programs in the country and also features a strong contingent of potential high-round 2014 draft picks.
The first two iterations were premier destinations for the highest caliber of high school baseball and the scouting community, and the strong 2014 field featuring teams from eight different states ensures that this year will be no different.
While each team is guaranteed four games, the NHSI will use a single-elimination tournament to declare a new winner after Mater Dei High of Santa Ana, Calif., captured the first two championships.
T.C. Roberson High (Asheville, N.C.) will serve as the NHSI’s host high school for the second straight year. The Rams finished third in the state in 2013 and boast one of the headlining prospects of the event in first baseman/outfielder Braxton Davidson, a North Carolina commit who could become the program’s third first-round draft pick.
Milton (Ga.) High and Venice (Fla.) High return from last year’s field and both posted winning records in Cary. Milton has one of the top pitchers at the event, righthander Dylan Cease, a Vanderbilt commit who has touched 97 mph. The Milton Eagles finished 20th in the final Baseball America High School Top 25. The Venice Indians have a strong core that includes middle infielder Dalton Guthrie, the son of 15-year major league veteran Mark Guthrie, and catcher/third baseman Michael Rivera, who hit .367/.429/.500 for the gold medal-winning USA Baseball 18-and-under national team. Venice finished second in the final BA Top 25 with a record of 28-3.
Two schools from the inaugural 2012 event are included in the 2014 field, Orange Lutheran (Calif.) High and Parkview High (Lilburn, Ga.). Shortstop and UCLA commit Josh Morgan leads the Orange Lutheran Lancers, a program that has produced big league righthanders Gerrit Cole and Brandon Maurer. Parkview was the 2012 BA national champion. Lefthander Mac Marshall could be the third consecutive first-day selection for Parkview after producing supplemental first-rounders in 2012 (first baseman Matt Olson) and 2013 (outfielder Josh Hart).
Baseball powerhouse states are well represented in the field, as 10 of the teams come from California, Georgia and Florida. In addition to Orange Lutheran, California is represented by Aliso Niguel (Calif.) High and Clovis (Calif.) High. Georgia also has Gainesville (Ga.) High and one of the tooliest position players in the 2014 class in outfielder Michael Gettys. Florida has a trio of top-flight programs, The First Academy (Orlando, Fla.), Bishop Verot High (Fort Myers, Fla.) and Coral Springs (Fla.) Christian Academy.
Colorado has two teams in Regis Jesuit High (Aurora) and ThunderRidge High (Highlands Ranch). The remaining teams in the field are Huntsville (Ala.) High, Mountain Pointe High (Phoenix) and Dyer County High (Newbern, Tenn.).
The first two NHSIs have produced nine first-day selections. Four 2012 first-round picks attended the inaugural event (No. 7 Max Fried, No. 13 Courtney Hawkins, No. 16 Lucas Giolito and No. 21 Lucas Sims), as well as a pair of supplemental round-rounders (Joey Gallo and Matt Olson). The 2013 iteration hosted a pair of first-round selections (No. 9 Austin Meadows and No. 21 Nick Ciuffo) and second-round pick (Ryan McMahon).
This year’s group of prospects has star power and depth. Eleven players on the Baseball America Top 100 High School prospects will attend the event, including five of the top 16 (Clovis shortstop/third baseman Jacob Gatewood, Coral Springs righthander Touki Toussaint, Davidson, Gettys and Marshall) and eight of the top 50 (Morgan, Cease and The First Academy lefthander/outfielder Adam Haseley). The remaining three players on the Top 100 are TFA lefthander Foster Griffin, Regis Jesuit lefthander David Peterson and Coral Springs catcher Benito Santiago Jr.