Two SoCal Tournaments Attract Attention

The weather and baseball couldn’t be better in Southern California this week. A total of 62 teams are in the Anaheim area, participating in two separate tournaments, the Phil Nevin National Classic and the Anaheim Lions Easter tournament.

The National Classic is the smaller of the two, with a 16-team bracket. It’s single elimination, but there are consolation games, so everyone will play four times. Here’s a look at the Classic lineup and what Baseball America Prospects Plus Scout, Dave Perkin, and I are looking for.

Calvert Hall High, Baltimore, Md.: After Wilson High (Long Beach) lost its first game of the season, the Cardinals jumped into the No. 1 spot in the Baseball America Top 50 with just two games under their belt. They face their stiffest competition this week with several Top 50 teams in the tournament.

Christian Brothers High, Memphis: Another preseason top 50 team with its chance to prove its worthiness, the Purple Wave has won 10 state titles in Tennessee. It may not have the premium top 100 talent that others have, but they’re known for being well coached and have a fast roster that plays excellent defense.

Cottonwood High, Salt Lake City: Not only will we see how Cottonwood stacks up against the slate of teams, but we’ll be keeping an eye on Kyle Beverly (3B/RHP), who is No. 187 on our high school top 300. Junior RHP/1B Kendall Mayer is also on the radar.

James River High, Midlothian, Va.: Currently No. 6 in the country, James River has two pitches to watch, both Wake Forest signees in Daniel Marrs (RHP, No. 111) and Austin Stadler (LHP, No. 151).

Jupiter (Fla.) High:
Outfielder Tyler Thompson is setting the table for Jupiter with his speed while RHP/1B Jack Armstrong (son of the ex-big league all-star pitcher of the same name) is expected to pitch Wednesday and give a preview of what the Vanderbilt Commodores might be getting for their 2009 season.

Lutheran High, Orange, Calif.:
Lutheran jumped 10 spots last poll from No. 25 to 15 thanks to a strong pitching staff that includes LHP Aaron Gates (No. 142, Pepperdine) and RHP Gerrit Cole, who our readers have come to know quite well. Cole is scheduled to throw Tuesday night.

St. John’s High, Washington, D.C.:
If St. John’s expects to compete and prove its preseason top 10 ranking, it will have to do so without LHP Scott Silverstein for now. Silverstein has biceps tendonitis and will only DH while in California. He’s expected to be back when the Cadets square off against Calvert Hall back home. OF L.J. Hoes is also on the watch list. The North Carolina commitment also will be used as a closer this week unless the coaches decide they need him to start a game.

Vista Murrieta High, Murrieta, Calif.:
The Broncos have been highly regarded so far in California as a complete team and hope to prove themselves worthy this week. They are led by Long Beach State signee Derek Legg, a switch-hitting shortstop.

Other Radar Blips:
Aptos OF/LHP Bobby Crocker, No. 63 on BA’s Top 100 was held out of Saturday’s home run derby for an unknown reason. RHP Jonathan Pettibone (Crespi High, Encino, Calif.) is scheduled to throw Wednesday.

Meanwhile, 46 teams are playing down the street in the Anaheim Lions tournament.

Wilson High, Long Beach, Calif.: Last year’s national champion and preseason No. 1 recently dropped two games and hopes to get back on track this week. Aaron Hicks was skipped in the rotation once with a stiff back and RHP Ray Hanson has a broken thumb and will miss the event.

Cypress (Calif.) High: Still without OF Chase Koissian, a Hawaii signee, the Centurions will have a challenging week trying to stay in the Top 25. SS Danny Pulfer transferred in this year and the Oregon signee has impressed observers so far.

Capistrano Valley High, Mission Viejo, Calif.: No. 43 in the preseason top 50, Capo Valley has an infield worth taking a look at with 3B Derek Trippy and SS Brent Cash. They also have two intriguing junior LHPs in Tyler Matzer and Kevin Chambers who are expected to throw this week.

We’ll also be watching out for Thousand Oaks, Lakewood and Mater Dei, three programs that always produce competitive teams and good talent.

We’ll keep you posted on this week’s highlights as the week passes.