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High School Preseason Top 50

See also: Top 25 Capsules in graphic form

#1Seton Hall Prep, West Orange, N.J.
The Pirates will filet their competition with two premium power pitchers in seniors Rick Porcello (6-0, 0.30, 69 strikeouts, 12 walks in 47 innings) and Evan Danieli (5-1, 1.17) and manufacture runs with a pair of sub-6.6-second runners in Steven Brooks (.345-9-38) and Nick Natale (.367-3-22).
#2Katy (Texas) HS
A year after falling to the No. 1 team in the nation, The Woodlands High, in the Texas Class 5-A title game, Katy returns the nucleus of its squad and is the top team in one of the nation's most competitive high school districts in suburban Houston. Four of the Tigers' top five pitchers from a year ago are back after the staff posted a 1.82 team ERA in 2006.
#3Palm Beach Central HS, Wellington, Fla.
A bad hop against Flanagan High sent the Broncos home from the state tournament in 2006, one of their two losses. But six starters return, including senior righthanders Mike Gibson (10-1, 1.97) and Richard Erath (5-0, 1.63), shortstop Mike Alvarez (.395, 20 RBIs) and center fielder A.J. Regoli (.347-4 HR). Central has won its district championship in each of the three seasons since the school opened in the fall of 2003.
#4Brophy Prep, Phoenix
Twelve returning lettermen headline the reigning Arizona Class 5-A titlists, including three starting pitchers and shortstop Tony Strazzara (.462-10-51). Strazzara, an all-state selection last season as a junior, has committed to San Diego and is a national merit semifinalist with the highest PSAT score at the school.
#5Chatsworth (Calif.) HS
Baseball America's No. 1 team in 2004 and 2005, this suburban Los Angeles power has the best trio of hitters in the country in seniors Matt Dominguez (.370-10-32), who could be a first-round draft choice, USC signee Mike Moustakas (.427-14-47) and Arizona-bound outfielder Bobby Coyle (.436-6-36). Senior Trent Jones (10-2, 1.44) will lead the Chancellor’ rotation.
#6Wilson HS, Long Beach
Arguably the most exciting team in America, the alma mater of Sean Burroughs boasts Preseason All-America senior Ryan Dent (.425, 6 2B, 20 SB) and sluggers Tyler Albright and Chase Kaesman as well as two-way stud Aaron Hicks, the No. 2-ranked junior in the country. Junior righthanders Jake Thompson and Ray Hanson are also cinch Division-I prospects.
#7Klein-Collins HS, Spring, Texas
In just the school's fifth year in operation, coach Kent Meador has put together a state title contender. Senior Rick Hague (.344-3-18) is one of Texas' top draft-eligible position players, and junior righthander Austin Dicharry (1-3, 1.33) is one of the nation's top 100 underclassmen.
#8Lakewood (Calif.) HS
No fewer than 16 lettermen return for the Southern California power that has produced big leaguers Chris Gomez and Damion Easley, including all nine starters from the ’06 squad that upset Southern California freshman Robert Stock and Agoura (Calif.) High at Dodger Stadium in the Division I Southern Section title game.
#9Flanagan HS, Pembroke Pines, Fla.
There isn't much that separates this year's top teams in South Florida, which was evident in February when Flanagan fell to No. 23 Monsignor Pace in a preseason game. The Falcons need senior lefty D.J. Swatscheno (9-2, 0.89) to return from an injury in order to have a shot to defend their back-to-back Florida Class 6-A titles.
#10Bellarmine Prep, San Jose
Coach Gary Cunningham enters the season, his 37th as a head coach, with 779 career victories, and will fill out a lineup card of one of the deepest teams in the country. The Bells have three Division-I-caliber pitchers in seniors Erik Goeddel (6-1, 1.47), Ben Ruder (8-1, 3.10) and sophomore Nate Underwood, a hard-throwing righty who transferred from San Jose's Leland High. Goeddel went down with an injury and the Bells lost their first game. California signee Mark Canha (.426-3-30) anchors the lineup. Senior catcher Kyle Felix must fill the shoes of departed team leader Tommy Medica, who now plays for Santa Clara.
#11Jordan HS, Sandy, Utah
After losing in the state 5-A finals in consecutive years, Jordan High has nine returning starters hopeful of finishing with a win in ’06. Shortstop Garrett Nash (.507, 37 SBs) catcher Zach Jones (.472-8-34) and righthander James Mahler (8-3, 2.12) are all on their way to Division-I colleges.
#12South Caldwell HS, Hudson, N.C.
Potential first-round pick Madison Bumgarner (12-2, 0.99), junior righty Jimmy Messer (7-1, 0.78) and Clemson-bound righthander Justin Poovey (5-1, 3.10) provide a formidable trio atop the pitching rotation for last year's state Class 4-A runners-up.
#13Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas
Brigham Young-bound shortstop/righthander Taylor Cole (.388-7-50) and sophomore first baseman/lefthander Jeff Malm (.441/.503/.713) played key roles on the western regional finalist American Legion club last summer. The nucleus of that team will team up in an effort to defend the Gaels' Class 4-A state championship and final No. 33 ranking in 2006.
#14Lake Brantley HS, Altamonte Springs, Fla.
Although Florida State signee John Gast, a senior lefthander, and senior righthander Brennan Dobbins (Central Florida) headline the Patriots pitching staff, it's Lake Brantley's underclassmen that make it a national title contender. Sophomore shortstop Nick Franklin, junior lefty Ryan Markell and junior first baseman D.J. Hicks are all athletic, talented and skilled.
#15Riverside HS, Greer, S.C.
The Warriors return eight starters and 16 lettermen from last year's team, which won the school’s sixth state title and third in the past four years, and finished ranked No. 11. Junior first baseman Michael Roth (.514-5-46) leads the lineup, and Riverside returns its entire pitching staff from '06.
#16Lassiter HS, Marietta, Ga.
Georgia's prep landscape is littered with several talented teams, and last year's state champs in the Peach state's largest classification (5-A) start the 2007 season as Georgia's top-ranked team. Junior righthander Michael Palazonne is one of the country's top underclassmen.
#17Lexington (Ky.) Catholic HS
The Knights have the state's best team, with seven returning starters from last year's state champions, as well as the state's top prospect in speedy outfielder Ben Revere (.470/.539/.890 with 22 SBs).
#18Madison HS, Vienna, Va.
Deep and experienced and fresh off a 22-2 season a year ago, Madison High returns six pitchers and seven position players, including three four-year starters.
#19American Heritage HS, Plantation, Fla.
Perhaps the best collection of underclassmen in the country have a chance to establish themselves as the Sunshine State's No. 1 team this season, as well as next. Junior first baseman Eric Hosmer (.548-10-38) would be a first-rounder if he was eligible, and the Patriots have three junior pitchers who can touch 90 mph.
#20Barbe HS, Lake Charles, La.
A mainstay in the national rankings for more than a decade, the reigning Class 5-A Louisiana champions are strong up the middle this year with senior shortstop Carmen Angelini (.405-4-50), a Rice signee, and Louisiana-Lafayette-bound
#21Maize (Kan.) HS
After watching Maize High alum Nate Robertson help pitch the Tigers to the World Series, talented pitchers Kurtis Schuyler (9-2, 2.05), a junior, and Kansas-bound senior righthander Jordan Jakubov (5-0, 0.35) take aim at top honors in the Sunflower State.
#22Cullman (Ala.) HS
A year after falling short in the Alabama 4-A championship series and sending senior Caleb Clay to the Red Sox in the supplemental first round, the Bearcats are poised for another banner year. Senior catcher Chris Cain (.372-2-26) and senior shortstop Josh Rutledge (.429-5-32), are reliable hitters and senior righthander Blake Huddleston hopes to recover from Tommy John surgery to pace the pitching staff.
#23Monsignor Pace HS, Opa Locka, Fla.
If the name sounds familiar, it should. Monsignor Pace High has been a mainstay in Baseball America's rankings recently, and head coach Tom Duffin continues to reload the program and compete against the top teams in the state. A year after winning Florida's 4-A title, senior lefty Chris Hernandez (10-2, 1.13) and senior righthander Anthony Gallego (8-3, 3 saves, 0.89) return for another run.
#24Horizon HS, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Horizon High's success will be predicated on its offense, because there won't be many runs scored against its pitching staff, which is headlined by seniors Tim Alderson (122 strikeouts, eight walks), Evan Foreman (6-2) and Georgia signee Kevin Rhoderick.
#25Monroe HS, Bronx
Dimunitive Dominican lefthander Darwin Rivas (10-0, 0.35) helped carry the Eagles to a final top 50 ranking a year ago, earning City Championship MVP honors, and returns for his senior season, with a host of help. The left side of the Eagles' infield will be a pair of newcomers, also from the Dominican Republic--junior thirtd baseman Emmanuel Rodriguez and junior third baseman Carlos George.
#26Union HS, Tulsa, Okla.
Righty Drew Rucinski (6-2, 2.56, 5.79 K/9) looks to lead the defending Oklahoma 6-A champions to another title. The Redskins defeated Owasso High 4-3 in extra innings last season to win their second consecutive state title.
#27Dobyns-Bennett HS, Kingsport, Tenn.
A coach's dream: Dobyns-Bennett High has seven seniors on its pitching staff, working with senior catcher Derek Trent, an East Tennessee signee who hit .440 with 11 homers and 14 doubles a year ago as a junior. Knoxville's Farragut High poses a stern early-season test in March.
#28Greenbrier HS, Evans, Ga.
A pair of Georgia Tech signees--lefty Brandon Cumpton and outfielder Jeff Rowland--headline a talented team. Diminutive junior Nolan Belcher has filthy stuff and a feel for pitching.
#29Captain Shreve HS, Shreveport, La.
Louisiana's talent is evenly distributed throughout the state this year, and the top 4-A team enters the season as the state's second-highest-ranked team nationally. Captain Shreve won Louisiana's second-largest classification in 2006. The Gators' calling card has long been pitching, and will be again this season.
#30Auburn (Wash.) HS
#31West Lauderdale HS, Collinsville, Miss.
As coach Jerry Boatner closes in on 900 career wins, he'll send a pair of Mississippi State signees--Cody Freeman and Paxton Pack--to the mound who could carry West Lauderdale deep into the postseason.
#32Kennesaw Mountain HS, Kennesaw, Ga.
While the talent in the Peach State is gradually growing beyond metro Atlanta, Kennesaw Mountain could be a team that keeps the state title local. Located just north of Atlanta, Kennesaw Mountain boasts a roster with five Divisison-I signees, including its top two arms: lefty Will Casey (South Carolina) and righty Josh Means (East Tennessee).
#33The Woodlands (Texas) HS
Last year's No. 1 team has gone 128-18 over the last four years, but The Woodlands graduated most of its 2006 pitching, including first-rounder Kyle Drabek. The team will rely on its experienced offense and defense this spring.
#34Brownsburg (Ind.) HS
In 2005, Brownsburg went undefeated on its way to Indiana's Class 5-A crown and a final No. 3 ranking in the BA/NHSBCA poll. The Bulldogs went unranked in 2006, but senior righthander Drew Storen (10-1, 1.77, 114 strikeouts, 11 walks in 71 innings), who has commited to Stanford, has them back among the nation's elite teams.
35Arundel HS, Gambrills, Md.
A perennial Mid-Atlantic front-runner, Arundel High returns the nucleus of the team that finished as the Maryland Class 4-A runner-up in 2005 and won it all in 2006.
#36Pace (Fla.) HS
The Patriots have tremendous speed and power throughout their lineup, and coach Charlie Warner calls this the "best team I have coached in 25 years." They finished No. 45 in last year's final poll after winning Florida's 5-A title.
#37New Trier HS, Winnetka, Ill.
The Trevians will be tough to beat with three Division-I pitchers headlining their rotation. Senior lefty Paul Duncan (8-0, 2.50), senior righthander Trey Frahler (8-1, 2.30) and senior righthander Will Hebard (25 strikeouts in 15 innings) form a formidable staff.
#38West Forsyth HS, Clemmons, N.C.
It's an exceptionally strong year for high school baseball in North Carolina, and the Triad--Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point--in the heart of the state is quite competitive. West Forsyth's senior righthander/third baseman Greg Holt is a two-way standout headed to North Carolina, and junior shortstop Garrison Lassier has the tools to play professionally.
#39Fayetteville (Ark.) HS
Last year's Class 7-A Arkansas titlists have to replace glue guy Grant Cosby, but 6-foot-3 lefty Chase Hutchingson, an Arizona State signee, has dominating stuff.
#40Moeller HS, Cincinnati
The Fighting Crusaders are returning their top two starting pitchers, Ross Oltorlk (5-0, 2.80, 9.00 strikeouts/seven innings) and Alex Wimmers (5-1, 1.51, 8.77 K/7). If shortstop Tom Belza (.389-1-13) and catcher Dan Burkhart (.349-1-25) can build upon their 2006 seasons, this Moeller team will make alumni Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Larkin, and Andrew Brackman proud.
#41Punahou HS, Honolulu, Hi.
The state's top program, Punahou High returns to the rankings with another strong team. It has won three straight state championships under the guidance of coach Eric Kadooka, and is the favorite to win it all again.
#42Cartersville (Ga.) HS
Six-foot-four outfielder Lyle Allen (.417-14-44) could mash his way into the top five to 10 rounds of the draft, while pitcher Benji Farr (11-1, 1.14, 10.12 K/7 IP) heads the Hurricanes rotation. The 2001, 2002 and 2003 Class 3-A state champions, Cartersville will look to knock off Columbus on its way to a possible return to glory.
#43Saint Ignatius HS, Cleveland
With three state Division I final four appearances in the past six years, this Cleveland-based all-boys school has established itself as a perennial state title contender in the Buckeye State. Senior third baseman/righthander Derek Dietrich was a third-team All-America choice and has committed to Georgia Tech.
#43Oak Park HS, Kansas City, Mo.
The Northmen return 12 lettermen from a team that hit .323 a year ago but fell in the state semifinals. "We have plenty of depth, there's no doubt about that," said coach Cam Jury. "We hit 50 doubles last year and we have our top four hitters back. We hit a lot of gaps and line drives, and can get a bunt down when we need to, too."
45Plant HS, Tampa
The Panthers are young, with just three seniors in the starting lineup, but juniors Mike Lashbrook (.375-8-70) and Preston Tucker (.418-6-31) rake, and sophomore shortstop Mike Givens led the team in hits as a freshman, and can really pick it up the middle.
#46Lyons Township, LaGrange, Ill.
The same school that produced Cubs minor leaguer Grant Johnson and longtime NBA player Jeff Hornacek should stand out in Illinois in 2007. Senior outfielder Casey McMurray (.496-5-44), an Illinois commtment, also starred in football and wrestling for the Lions.
#47Calallen HS, Corpus Christi, Texas
#48Boone HS, Orlando
Two years after finishing as the state 6-A runner-up, Boone High has an experienced, talented team assembled for another run. Senior shortstop Stuart Tapley (committed to Florida State) and third baseman Ryan Mathews (Florida) should provide the pop, while senior twin brothers Chad and Cody Allen (Central Florida) handle the work from the bump. Juniors Mitch Brennen and Casey McElroy have started each of their first two years.
#49James River HS, Midlothian, Va.
The Rapids have little tradition, but Pete Schumacher can rely on one of the country's best junior pitching duos in the nation--strapping righthander Daniel Marrs (5-3, 3.24) and lefty Austin Stadler (3-1, 3.59)--to carry his team to new heights.
#50Poly HS, Riverside, Calif.
The Bears lost to eventual Southern Section Division I champion Lakewood High in 2006, and they feature a reloaded roster in 2007. Two sophomores, shortstop Blair Moore and outfielder Jake Marisnick, could be the next rising Bears stars.