2012 NHSI Team Capsules Preview

Before a pitch was even thrown, the USA Baseball National High School Invitational, presented by Baseball America, was generating buzz as the premier high school tournament in the country. It’s hard to argue when you look at the field, from the history of the programs participating to the long list of players with Division I scholarships or hopes of becoming premium draft picks in June. While scouts will flock to this event to evaluate players, the emphasis of the tournament is to highlight the top teams in the country. High school baseball has no national championship tournament and probably never will, so the NHSI should prove to be the best opportunity for teams to measure themselves against other teams from around the country. Few question the level of competition that schools in California, Florida, Georgia and Texas face, and this event will pit teams from those hotbeds against teams from other areas. No team from the same state will face off before the semifinal round. Here’s a look at each school in the tournament field, organized by their four-team pods and their first-round games:

Pod 1, Game 1
American Heritage HS, Plantation, Fla. Oxford (Ala.) HS
Nickname: Patriots Nickname: Yellow Jackets
2011 Record: 20-10 2011 Record: 31-7
Top Prospect: SS/RHP Brandon Lopez Top Prospect: OF Matthew Goodson
Notable Baseball Alumni: Royals 1B Eric Hosmer, Arizona State SS Deven Marrero Notable Baseball Alumni: Twins RHP Ben Tootle, Alabama RHP Trey Pilkington
Notable Alumni: Florida basketball player Kenny Boynton Notable Alumni: Former Auburn running back Terry Henley, radio personality Rick Burgess
Program History: 2008 Florida 3-A state champion and Baseball America National Champion Program History: Alabama 6-A state runner-up in 1978, 1989 and 2009
Matchup: American Heritage has nine Division I signees, five of whom contribute on the mound, to go against Oxford’s core of D-I seniors and a couple of highly recruited juniors.
Pod 1, Game 2
Brookwood HS, Snellville, Ga. Highlands Ranch (Colo.) HS
Nickname: Broncos Nickname: Falcons
2011 Record: 24-10 2011 Record: 18-7
Top Prospect: RHP Luke Sims Top Prospect: RHP Ryan Burr
Notable Baseball Alumni: Twins RHP Jason Bulger, Cubs OF Trey Martin Notable Baseball Alumni: Tigers LHP Daniel Schlereth
Notable Alumni: Retired NFL kicker Jason Elam, actor Michael Kelly, Olympic swimmer Amanda Weir Notable Alumni: Former NFL offensive lineman and current ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth, actress Keri Russell
Program History: Georgia 5-A state champion in 1986 and 2008 Program History: Three state semifinal appearances, state qualifier 20 of last 25 years
Matchup: Brookwood and Highlands Ranch are perennial playoff contenders in their states and have bona fide aces in Sims and Burr.
Pod 2, Game 3
Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif. Russell County HS, Seale, Ala.
Nickname: Wolverines Nickname: Warriors
2011 Record: 24-8 2011 Record: 34-10
Top Prospect: RHP Lucas Giolito Top Prospect: RHP Ray Castillo
Notable Baseball Alumni: Tigers OF Brennan Boesch, Stanford OF Austin Wilson Notable Baseball Alumni: Blue Jays OF Colby Rasmus, Rangers LHP Kasey Kiker
Notable Alumni: Numerous actors including Shirley Temple, Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jon Lovitz, Jason Segal, Tori Spelling, Candice Bergen and Lily Collins. The list also includes former California governor Gray Davis, the creator and executive producer of “Mad Men,” Matthew Weiner and astronaut Sally Ride. Notable Alumni: Alabama G Rodney Cooper
Program History: Mission League champion in 2011 Program History: 2005 Alabama 5-A state champion and Baseball America National Champion
Matchup: Harvard-Westlake took a significant hit when Giolito was lost for the season with an elbow strain, and Russell County is no stranger to winning.
Pod 2, Game 4
Parkview HS, Lilburn, Ga. Washington HS, New York
Nickname: Panthers Nickname: Trojans
2011 Record: 29-10 2011 Record: 22-0 (PSAL record)
Top Prospect: 1B/RHP Matt Olson Top Prospect: OF Fernelys Sanchez
Notable Baseball Alumni: Royals OF Jeff Francouer, Giants 2B Jeff Keppinger Notable Baseball Alumni: Athletics OF Manny Ramirez. Hall of Famer Rod Carew attended Washington HS, but did not play for the baseball team.
Notable Alumni: Former NFL offensive lineman Jon Stinchcomb, Olympic swimmer Eric Shanteau Notable Alumni: Former Secretary of State and Nobel Prize winner Henry Kissinger, musician Harry Belafonte
Program History: Georgia 5-A state champion in 1996, 2001, 2002 and 2011 Program History: 3 Public School Athletic League championships since 1984
Matchup: Parkview has the talent to contend for a state title again this year, but Washington has offensive firepower with Sanchez and catcher Nelson Rodriguez.
Pod 3, Game 5
Mater Dei HS, Santa Ana, Calif. Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas
Nickname: Monarchs Nickname: Gaels
2011 Record: 24-6 2011 Record: 35-4
Top Prospect: C Jeremy Martinez Top Prospect: 1B/RHP Joey Gallo
Notable Baseball Alumni: White Sox RHP Sergio Santos, Nationals 2B Danny Espinosa Notable Baseball Alumni: Former MLB OF Marty Cordova, Rays 1B Jeff Malm
Notable Alumni: Southern California QB Matt Barkley, Houston Texans QB Matt Leinart Notable Alumni: Panic! At The Disco drummer Spencer Smith and former guitar player Ryan Ross, Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray
Program History: California southern section champions in 1980, 2005 and 2010 Program History: Nevada 4-A state champion, 2006-2011
Matchup: Mater Dei has seven starters back from a conference champion and an offense led by senior OF Ty Moore and Martinez, a junior, while Bishop Gorman has won six straight Nevada 4-A state titles.
Pod 3, Game 6
Sarasota (Fla.) HS Lee County HS, Sanford, N.C.
Nickname: Sailors Nickname: Yellow Jackets
2011 Record: 15-11 2011 Record: 7-12
Top Prospect: 1B Jason Sierra Top Prospect: SS Nick Furl
Notable Baseball Alumni: Padres RHP Casey Kelly Notable Baseball Alumni: Former Diamondbacks C Mark Osborne, former Yankees LHP Danny Borrell
Notable Alumni:  Professional golfer Paul Azinger and Paul Ruebenfield, who later changed his name to Paul Reubens and is best known as his character Pee-wee Herman. Notable Alumni: Former Rams RB Steve Jones
Program History: Florida state champion eight times (1957, ’73, ’87, ’89, ’93-94, ’96, 2007) and BA National Champion in 1994 Program History: North Carolina 4-A state champion in 1996 and 2001
Matchup: Sarasota ace LHP Dylan White is unavailable to pitch, so this game will be more about fundamental baseball with the Sailors and Lee County being led by well-respected, veteran coaches.
Pod 4, Game 7
Gulliver Prep School, Pinecrest, Fla. Carroll HS, Corpus Christi, texas
Nickname: Raiders Nickname: Tigers
2011 Record: 25-6 2011 Record: 37-7
Top Prospect: SS Adrian Marin Top Prospect: OF/RHP Courtney Hawkins
Notable Baseball Alumni: Miami SS Stephen Perez, former Orioles OF Danny Figueroa, Phillies OF Paco Figueroa Notable Baseball Alumni: Former major league RHP/OF Brooks Kieschnick, Athletics SS Cliff Pennington
Notable Alumni: Singer Enrique Iglesias, former Washington Redskins DB Sean Taylor Notable Alumni: Former Jets DB Carl Greenwood, PGA golfer Phil Blackmar
Program History: 2004 Florida 3-A state champion Program History: 2010 Texas 5-A state champion
Matchup: Gulliver Prep has five seniors committed to D-I programs—four to Miami—while Carroll’s group of seniors won the Texas 5-A title as sophomores in 2010 and lost in the state semifinals last season.
Pod 4, Game 8
Columbus (Ga.) HS Orange (Calif.) Lutheran HS
Nickname: Blue Devils Nickname: Lancers
2011 Record: 30-9 2011 Record: 15-14
Top Prospect: OF/LHP Kyle Carter Top Prospect: SS/RHP Cody Nulph
Notable Baseball Alumni: Former White Sox 1B/DH Frank Thomas Notable Baseball Alumni: Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole, Reds RHP Daniel Renken
Notable Alumni: Former NBA forward and coach Sam Mitchell, Aflac CEO Dan Amos Notable Alumni: St. Louis Rams WR Austin Pettis, 1993 Olympic cyclist Amber Parkinson Neben
Program History: Georgia state champion 10 times (1984, ’91-92, ’94-96, 2000, ’04-05, ’10-11) Program History: Trinity League champion in 2008 and 2010
Matchup: Columbus is one of the most successful programs in high school baseball history, which sets up an interesting meeting against up-and-coming Southern California powerhouse Orange Lutheran.