No surprise here, but this year's inauguaral version of the high school top 50 is dominated by warm-weather teams. You have to look all the way to No. 11, Archbishop Moeller High, from Cincinnati, before reaching a team not from California, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas or Nevada.
And rightly so.
Those first 10 teams include four that will participate in this year's National High School Invitational, and return seemingly endless talented players who boast Division I commitments and stand to have their names called at this year's draft.
In total, seven of the top 25 teams that open this season will participate in the NHSI. California schools JSerra in San Juan Capistrano and Huntington Beach will be in both the NHSI and the Boras Classic, an elite 32-team tournament in California.
Righthander Joe DeMers, who went 12-2, 0.65 last year and checks in at No. 39 on our top 100 high school draft prospects, leads the way for College Park High in Pleasant Hill, Calif., which tops the first installment of this year's rankings.
Among the top draft prospects in this year's high school Top 25 are outfielder Seth Beer (Lambert High), shortstop Cadyn Greiner (Bishop Gorman High), righthander Ryan Johnson (College Station High), righthander Austin Riley (DeSoto Central High), lefthander J.J. Bleday (Mosley High-2016) and shortstop Nick Madrigal (Elk Grove High).
The staff of Baseball America and the NHSBCA compile the Top 25 rankings. In-season polls will be conducted every two weeks and released every other Tuesday during the season. The final poll will be released in June. Records below are from 2014. The number in parentheses indicates the team's final rank last season. The parentheses following a player's name indicates his college commitment.
1. College Park High, Pleasant Hill, Calif., 27-3 (NR)
After winning the North Coast Section Championship in 2014, the Falcons have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the Golden State. With seven Division I commits returning, including elite pitching prospect Joe DeMers (Washington), College Park is as well-rounded as any team in the country. As a junior, DeMers went 12-2 and posted a superb 0.65 ERA, while striking out 94 and walking only nine. He will lead the Falcons' pitching staff as they embark on a difficult high school schedule that includes a trip to Cary, N.C., for USA Baseball's National High School Invitational.
2. Hamilton High, Chandler, Ariz., 30-3 (3)
The Huskies lose some of the offensive punch that guided them to a Arizona Division 1 State Championship in 2014, but there is plenty of talent returning on the mound. Righthander Zach Pederson (Yavapai JC) will look to build off of his 12-0 junior campaign as he anchors a rotation full of college-bound arms. Behind the plate, junior Logan Boyer (San Diego State) will quarterback the defense with his physical 6-foot-3 frame and outstanding throwing arm. Boyer batted .429 last year, and made tremendous strides this past summer. Hamilton will have a target on its back in 2015, and its rising senior class will quickly show the country what it's made of.
3. Marcus High, Flower Mound, Texas, 32-10 (18)
With eight starters returning, the Marauders will look to build on an outstanding 32-win season in the ultra-competitive 6A division in Texas. Maturity is a common theme throughout Marcus's roster. Senior starting pitchers Jack Cushing (Georgetown) and Ethan Nichols (Air Force) will refine their mid-80s stuff and pitchability as they prepare for the next level and allow the Marauders to compete in any situation. In catcher Matt Bernstein, Marcus High features a strong defender who should fit in the middle of their lineup.
4. Coral Gables (Fla.) High, 20-9 (NR)
Elih Marrero, son of ex-Cardinals catcher Eli, has big league bloodlines and big-time upside behind the plate for Coral Gables, and he will be a huge part of the Cavaliers' squad again in 2015. Marrero (Mississippi State) is one of 11 Coral Gables seniors committed to play college baseball. In 2014, the Cavaliers took an early exit in the Class 8A State Championships with a tough, 6-5 loss to Killian, and if the returning class of seniors can learn from previous experience, Coral Gables could find itself playing deep into the postseason in 2015.
5. Huntington Beach (Calif.) High, 22-5 (NR)
With one of the toughest schedules, Huntington Beach will rely on a core of seven Division I commits, including powerful arms in sophomore Hagen Danner, junior Logan Pouelsen and senior Noah Davis. Outfielder Dan Amaral, son of ex-big leaguer Rich, can impact the game on both sides of the ball and will provide veteran leadership. With strong performances at NHSI and the Boras Classic, Huntington Beach should establish itself as a national contender.
6. Lambert High, Suwanee, Ga., 36-2 (2) (NR)
An entrant in this year's NHSI, Lambert brings a new coach, Rick Howard, and a star player in Seth Beer (Clemson) into the upcoming season. Beer, a selection for this year's Under Armour All-America Game, hit .589 last year with 10 home runs and 56 RBIs and sported an 0.53 ERA in leading Lambert to the Class AAAAAA state championship. The Longhorns also return righthander J.D. Dutka (Florida Southwestern JC), who sported an 11-1 record last season. Also returning are Tucker Maxwell (Georgia), and Kyle McCann, both of whom hit .404.
7. Bishop Gorman High, Las Vegas 25-5 (NR)
New head coach Gino DiMaria inherits an embarrassment of riches, including nine starters from last year’s team. Shortstop Cadyn Grenier (Oregon State) leads the way, and he's followed closely by outfielder Brandon Wulff (Stanford), who hit .473 with 12 homers and 44 RBIs last year. Also returning is senior first baseman Austin Cram (Santa Clara), who hit .455 with a pair of homers last season.
8. JSerra High, San Juan Capistrano, Calif., 22-8 (NR)
Scheduled to participate in the NHSI and Boras Classic, traditional California power JSerra looks loaded once again. The rotation features senior lefthander Quentin Longrie (USC) and sophomore lefty Jack Owen (Mississippi State). Their lineup is strengthened by shortstop Chase Strumpf (UCLA), who hit .487 with five homers during USA Baseball's 15U National Team's 11-0 run in 2013.
9. St. Thomas More High, Lafayette, La., 31-5 (NR)
The defending 4A state champions, St. Thomas More is buoyed by returning lefthander Hogan Harris (Louisiana-Lafayette), whose fastball topped at 94 mph at Perfect Game National last year. Also returning is senior outfielder O'Neal Lochridge (LSU), who hit .383 with seven home runs last year. Rounding out the returnees is junior righthander and third baseman Mason Templet (LSU), who hit .442 and drove in 37 runs last season.
10. College Station (Texas) High, 35-6, (NR)
With a boatload of talent returning, the Cougars and head coach Scott Holder should once again make noise. Among the team's top returnees is righthander Ryan Johnson (Texas Christian), who checks in at No. 41 on BA's High School Top 100, and has run his fastball up as high 94 mph. He's a two-time Area Code Games participant, and produced the top exit velocity (102.6 mph) at last year's Perfect Game National. He'll be joined by several other Division I commits, including righty MacGregor Hines (Florida), catcher Baylor Rowlett (Oklahoma State) and outfielder Cody Staab (Rice).
11. Archbishop Moeller High, Cincinnati, 24-5 (NR)
The state runners-up from a year ago, Moeller returns 12 starters and will look to finish the job this season. Their rotation is fronted by projectable lefty Nick Bennett (Louisville), who brings a fastball that bumps the upper 80s as well as a changeup and a curveball. Senior shortstop Josh Hollander and righthander Joe Vranesic (both Kent State recruits) are two other key cogs for the historic Moeller program.
12. Horizon High, Scottsdale, Ariz., 27-7 (NR)
Coach Eric Kibler, a member of this year's 18U National Team staff, will give his squad a taste of Team USA life in late March when the Huskies join the 16-team field at the National High School Invitational. Leading the charge will be Matt Kroon (Oregon; son of ex-big leaguer Marc Kroon), who hit .385 last season. He is joined by righthander Chris Isbell (Arizona State), who went 5-2, 1.72 last year and brings his fastball into the high-80s.
13. Farragut High, Knoxville, Tenn., 34-13 (NR)
Another National High School Invitational participant, the Admirals, led by head coach Matt Buckner, sport a trio of D-I commits in junior shortstop Duncan Pence (Tennessee), senior second baseman Chase Fullington (North Carolina) and senior righthander Patrick Raby (Vanderbilt). Pence, an all-state selection, hit .377 with nine homers and 38 RBIs. His double play partner, Fullington hit .344 and drove in 24 runs, and Raby was 8-3, 0.92 with 92 punchouts in 76 innings.
14. De Soto Central High, Southaven, Miss., 28-10 (NR)
An entrant in this year's NHSI, the Jaguars are led by senior Austin Riley (Mississippi State), a big-bodied righthander who's brought his fastball up to 94 mph and went 8-3, 1.51 last year with 79 strikeouts in 60 innings. When he's not pitching, Riley, who also plays third base, is a threat in the middle of the DeSoto order. He hit .465 last season with nine home runs and 35 RBIs.
15. St. Thomas Aquinas High, Overland Park, Kan., 21-4 (NR)
The defending 5A state champion Saints will get a boost from Garrett Houston, a transfer from Starrs Mill High in Fayettville, Ga., who plays catcher, outfield and first base. He'll add to a group of talented juniors that includes lefty Blake Lillis (Arkansas), who fronts a three-pitch mix with a fastball that sits in the mid-80s. The team's jewel however, is righty Riley Pint (LSU), a member of the Class of 2016 who has touched as high as 98 mph with his fastball. He couples the heater with a low-to-mid-80s curve and a low-70s changeup.
16. Mosley High, Lynn Haven, Fla., 24-6 (NR)
A young but talented squad, Mosley is led by a pair of underclassmen who have scored commitments to Vanderbilt. Weston Bizzle, a sophomore righthander, has already touched the low-90s with his fastball and went 8-1, 0.50 with 83 strikeouts in 62 innings. Southpaw J.J. Bleday, a junior transfer from Titusville (Pa.) High, has also committed to the Commodores utilizes a mix of fastball, curveball and changeup and typically sits in the mid-80s with his heat.
17. Loyalsock Township High, Williamsport, Pa., 23-5 (NR)
The two-time defending state champions, Loyalsock returns five Division I players, including shortstop and three-sport athlete Kyle Datres (North Carolina), righty Luke Glavin (Duke) and outfielder Jimmy Webb (Wake Forest). Datres plays shortstop and has run his fastball up as high as 89. He hit .392 with 17 RBIs and went 5-1, 2.14 with 56 strikeouts in 4 innings. Glavin was 8-1, 2.11 last year.
18. Cullman (Ala.) High, 41-13 (NR)
You don't often see a highly rated high school team led by a freshman, but that's just what happened last year for Cullman and stud outfielder Owen Lovell (Alabama). The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Lovell hit .424 for the Bearcats last season with 13 doubles, eight homers and 34 RBIs. Shortstop Kolby Robinson hit .342 with a double and 15 RBIs, and senior righthander Sam Huser (Southeastern Louisiana) was 5-0, 1.15 in a little more than 30 innings.
19. Cherry Creek High, Greenwood Village, Colo., 19-4 (NR)
Veteran coach Marc Johnson's squad returns nine lettermen and five starters from last year, including a trio of players who hold Division I commitments. Righthander Cody Wood (New Mexico), who also plays football at Cherry Creek, went 5-1, 3.29 last season. Third baseman Blake Goldsberry (Kansas) hit .355 with four doubles, and junior righthander Carter Van Gytenbrek (Army) pairs a good mid-80s fastball with a sharp slider.
20. Fayetteville (Ark.) High, 30-4 (NR)
Armed with a trio of Division I signees, Fayetteville will look to avenge last year's loss in the Class 7A state championship. Vance Arnold's squad is fronted by senior righthander Andy Pagnozzi (Mississippi), who's bumped his fastball into the low-90s and went 11-0, 0.67 last year with 97 strikeouts. Joining Pagnozzi are senior MIF Drew Tyler (Arkansas), who hit .296 with four home runs and senior righty Cody Davenport (Central Arkansas), who has a fastball that will touch 90 mph.
21. Rock Bridge High, Columbia, Mo., 24-14 (NR)
All-State senior utility player Logan Twehous, who will pitch and play shortstop for the Bruins this season, will team up with a potent group of returners in 2015 as Rock Bridge looks to defend its 5A Missouri state championship effort from 2014. Senior outfielders Connor Brumfield (Missouri) and Joe Barbee will play a key part of Rock Bridge's offense.
22. Brandon (Miss.) High, 25-9 (NR)
After falling in the semifinals of the Mississippi 6A State Playoffs, Brandon returns eight starters from its 2014 offense, including two-sport athlete Erick Hoard, an outfielder who batted .360 and swatted nine home runs as a junior.
23. Killian High, Miami, 26-5 (NR)
Killian returns a lethal starting rotation, anchored by senior lefthander Ryan Granda (10-0, 76.2 IP). Behind Granda, Vladimir Nunez's power arm and Keith Stevens' experience will make the Cougars extremely difficult to score against. Catcher Herbert Iser is among the most talented players in the 2016 class, and his unique blend of offense and defense gives Killian strong balance.
24. Elk Grove (Calif.) High, 26-6 (NR)
Preseason second-team All-America shortstop Nick Madrigal will lead the way for the Elk Grove, as it looks to build on a North Coast section final appearance in 2014. They lost 2014 first-round pick Derek Hill, but most of the roster returns, and junior Dylan Carlson's power bat gives the Thundering Herd a presence in the middle of the lineup.
25. Joliet (Ill.) Catholic Academy, 29-8 (NR)
Nick Dalesandro is among the top high school prospects in Illinois this year, with upside on the mound and behind the plate. When Dalesandro isn't pitching, he'll serve as a battery-mate for junior Drake Fellows (Vanderbilt), whose low-90s fastball will give hitters fits all spring.
|26. Westview High, Portland, Ore.||16-12|
|27. James Madison High, Vienna, Va.||22-3|
|28. Cardozo High, Bayside, N.Y.||20-4|
|29. Pearland (Texas) High||37-6|
|30. Barbe High, Lake Charles, La.||39-2|
|31. LaCueva High, Albuquerque, N.M.||26-3|
|32. Puyallup (Wash.) High||28-0|
|33. Kennesaw Mountain (Ga.) High||25-7|
|34. Calallen High, Corpus Christi, Texas||28-7|
|35. Parkview High, Lilburn, Ga.||28-7|
|36. Bloom-Carroll (Ohio) High||28-3|
|37. Francis Howell High, St. Charles, Mo.||28-10|
|38. Newton North (Mass.) High||23-1|
|39. Sun Prairie (Wis.) High||27-5|
|40. Christian Brothers College High, St. Louis||21-11|
|41. Dana Hills High, Dana Point, Calif.||26-8|
|42. Bishop Hendricken High, Warwick, R.I.||23-2|
|43. Blue Valley High, Stilwell, Kan.||18-7|
|44. Bay City Western High, Auburn, Mich.||38-7|
|45. Fairfield (Conn.) Prep||21-3|
|46. Gloucester Catholic High, Gloucester City, N.J.||25-6|
|47. Malvern (Pa.) Prep||27-9|
|48. Stillwater (Okla.) High||31-4|
|49. Atascocita High, Humble, Texas||31-9|
|50. Lexington (S.C.) High||20-11|
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