Huntington Beach Returns To NHSI As Defending Champ

2017 NHSI

USA Baseball unveiled on Thursday the field of teams for this year's National High School Invitational, set to take place from March 29-April 1 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.

“As the National Governing Body for baseball in the United States, we are proud to put the spotlight on the high school game with the 2017 NHSI,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball’s executive director/CEO, in a press release. “We are excited to welcome 16 of the top high school programs to the National Training Complex for what is truly a one-of-a-kind competitive and developmental experience for these players and programs.”

The NHSI field this year is perhaps the best in the history of the event. The field includes 10 of the Top 100 Prospects in the 2017 high school class, including seven of the top 30, and three of the top 10. Beyond those prospects who are already highly ranked, the field includes a deep group of prospects who didn't make the preseason High School Top 100 but could use the event to spring up draft boards, as well as underclassmen with exciting potential.

School Top 100 High School Prospects Other Notable Prospects
Archbishop McCarthy High, Southwest Ranches, Fla. 1B/OF Alex Toral (46), RHP/1B Joe Perez (57) INF Ubaldo Lopez, RHP Daniel Federman, RHP Johnny Leone
Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High OF Garrett Mitchell (8) SS/2B Tristan Hanoian, C Gabe Briones (2019), OF Jasiah Dixon (2019), LHP Jason Farese
South Hills High, West Covina, Calif. SS/2B Jacob Amaya, RHP John Dearth, LHP/1B Karlos Morales, RHP/2B Brandon Dieter (2018)
Merritt Island (Fla.) High SS Brady McConnell (19) RHP/C Mason Denaburg (2018)
American Heritage High, Plantation, Fla. SS/3B Mark Vientos (14), RHP Christian Santana (87) 3B/RHP Triston Casas (2019)
Malvern (Pa.) Prep RHP/C Shane Muntz, RHP Brady Devereux (2018)
Hough High, Cornelius, N.C. LHP Nicholas Swiney, RHP Bailey Dees, OF Hunter Baker, RHP Cole Maye
Hamilton High, Chandler, Ariz. SS Drew Swift, 1B Nick Brueser, 2B/RHP Cole Bellinger, OF Brayden Merritt
Dana Hills High, Dana Point, Calif. RHP Hans Crouse (5)
Huntington Beach (Calif.) High 1B/ LHP Nick Pratto (27), RHP/C Hagen Danner (30)
Canterbury School, Fort Myers, Fla. RHP Sam Keating, SS/RHP Cooper Swanson
Brother Rice High, Chicago RHP Ryan Kutt, RHP/3B John Guzek, SS John King
Cullman (Ala.) High LHP Jacob Heatherly (6) OF/RHP Owen Lovell
Arlington (Tenn.) High
Winder-Barrow High, Winder, Ga. C/OF Beau Hanna, OF Patrick DeMarco, C Will Hardigree
Rocky Mountain High, Fort Collins, Colo. SS John Sorenson

"We're going to send a lot of our scouts," said one National League amateur scouting official. "I'm not sure if this is the best it's ever been, but you could definitely make that argument.

"Every team has to scout this thing. It's not just the Mitchells and the Crouses that you want to go see. You're going to see talent in every game."

Beyond the individual talent in the event, there's also a group of teams that should contend for positions in BA's high school team rankings. Huntington Beach returns to the NHSI for the third consecutive season, and the Oilers will play with a target on their backs after winning the tournament in 2016. Coach Benji Medure lost a strong group of seniors, but he'll have one of the nation's best 1-2 rotation punches in lefthander Nick Pratto and righthander Hagen Danner, both of whom are significant pro prospects as position players as well.

Archbishop McCarthy enters 2017 coming off a 29-2 season in which it won the FHSAA Class 6A state championship and finished third in the national rankings. McCarthy brings back a great deal of talent, but still is no lock to win the tournament, with deep, experienced teams from some of the nation's baseball hotbeds.

Hosting the tournament will be Hough, and the Huskies will themselves be contenders for the trophy, armed with a pitching staff that will attract pro scouts in the spring. Righthander Bailey Dees has size and arm strength, and lefthander Nicholas Swiney is coming a stellar junior season in which he recorded a 10-1 record and struck out 85 batters in 55 innings. Physically imposing southpaw Cole Maye offers long-term projection with a massive frame and pitcher's body; he is the younger brother of North Carolina basketball forward Luke Maye.

The NHSI is a single-elimination tournament, though each team is guaranteed to play in at least four games. The official schedule will be announced through a series of video at USABaseball.com beginning on Feb. 21.

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