Just like Pod 1 of the USA Baseball National High School Invitational, Pod 3 has a matchup that should get scouts excited. The first game has Tullahoma (Tenn.) High, the preseason No. 22 team, facing No. 8 Mater Dei—the defending NHSI champs. Tullahoma’s ace is Jordan Sheffield, the No. 7 high school prospect and would have to face big bats in catcher Jeremy Martinez (No. 31) and third baseman Ryan McMahon (No. 66).
The second game has Lexington (S.C.) High going up against Miami’s Florida Christian. Lexington went 10-15 in 2011, but veteran coach Brian Hucks took over and immediately turned things around. The Wildcats went 27-4 last season and are the state’s top team heading into 2013. The offense is led by catcher Nick Ciuffo, a South Carolina recruit and the No. 19 high school prospect. Florida Christian is a consistent contender in South Florida and has lefty Christian Pelaez as the staff ace. A Louisiana State recruit, Pelaez is known for his pitchability.
The first game of Pod 4 has two preseason ranked teams matching up in No. 10 The Woodlands (Texas) High and No. 13 Jenks (Okla.) High. The Woodlands is one of the top programs in the country and won a national championship in 2006. Five seniors are committed to D-I progams and sophomore Chris Andritsos is creating early buzz as one of the top players in his class. Jenks has 16 players, seven of which were all-conference selections—returning from a team that lost in the state quarterfinals in 2012. The staff ace is righthander Thomas Hatch, an Oklahoma State recruit and the No. 95 high school prospect.
The last game to preview is Milton (Ga.) High vs. Hamilton High (Chandler, Ariz.). Milton made a strong playoff run in 2012 with a cast of mostly sophomores and juniors so they have significant experience returning. The offense will rely on three juniors—outfielders Dalton Ewing and Ryan Gridley and infielder Dylan Cease. Ewing is committed to Clemson while Gridley is a Mississippi State recruit. Cease is undecided, but highly regarded.