High School Preseason Top 50

See also: Top 25 Capsules in graphic form

#1 Seton Hall Prep, West Orange, N.J.
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
#2 Katy (Texas) HS
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.
#3 Palm Beach Central HS, Wellington, Fla.
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.
#4 Brophy Prep, Phoenix
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.
#5 Chatsworth (Calif.) HS
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’™
#6 Wilson HS, Long Beach
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.
#7 Klein-Collins HS, Spring, Texas
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
#8 Lakewood (Calif.) HS
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.
#9 Flanagan HS, Pembroke Pines, Fla.
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.
#10 Bellarmine Prep, San Jose
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.
#11 Jordan HS, Sandy, Utah
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.
#12 South Caldwell HS, Hudson, N.C.
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.
#13 Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas
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.
#14 Lake Brantley HS, Altamonte Springs, Fla.
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.
#15 Riverside HS, Greer, S.C.
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.
#16 Lassiter HS, Marietta, Ga.
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.
#17 Lexington (Ky.) Catholic HS
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).
#18 Madison HS, Vienna, Va.
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.
#19 American Heritage HS, Plantation, Fla.
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.
#20 Barbe HS, Lake Charles, La.
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
#21 Maize (Kan.) HS
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.
#22 Cullman (Ala.) HS
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.
#23 Monsignor Pace HS, Opa Locka, Fla.
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.
#24 Horizon HS, Scottsdale, Ariz.
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.
#25 Monroe HS, Bronx
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.
#26 Union HS, Tulsa, Okla.
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.
#27 Dobyns-Bennett HS, Kingsport, Tenn.
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
#28 Greenbrier HS, Evans, Ga.
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.
#29 Captain Shreve HS, Shreveport, La.
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.
#30 Auburn (Wash.) HS
#31 West Lauderdale HS, Collinsville, Miss.
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.
#32 Kennesaw Mountain HS, Kennesaw, Ga.
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).
#33 The Woodlands (Texas) HS
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.
#34 Brownsburg (Ind.) HS
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.
35 Arundel HS, Gambrills, Md.
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.
#36 Pace (Fla.) HS
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.
#37 New Trier HS, Winnetka, Ill.
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.
#38 West Forsyth HS, Clemmons, N.C.
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.
#39 Fayetteville (Ark.) HS
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.
#40 Moeller HS, Cincinnati
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.
#41 Punahou HS, Honolulu, Hi.
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
#42 Cartersville (Ga.) HS
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.
#43 Saint Ignatius HS, Cleveland
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.
#43 Oak Park HS, Kansas City, Mo.
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.”
45 Plant HS, Tampa
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.
#46 Lyons Township, LaGrange, Ill.
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.
#47 Calallen HS, Corpus Christi, Texas
#48 Boone HS, Orlando
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.
#49 James River HS, Midlothian, Va.
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.
#50 Poly HS, Riverside, Calif.
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.