The state playoffs in most parts of the country have been completed and those teams that have won state titles have risen in the rankings, as all nine teams in the top 10 who have completed their seasons are state champs in the final installment of the Baseball America/National High School Baseball Coaches Association Top 50, sponsored by TeamSnap.
Southern California and some of the Northern states have not completed their playoffs, setting up an interesting scenario. Catcher Alex Jackson leads the highest-ranked team from California, No. 6 Rancho Bernardo High (San Diego)—the defending San Diego Section Open Division champions—which will play tonight in a potential elimination game. If Rancho Bernardo defeats La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) they will play again on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. EST,where the winner moves on to the section final.
Ace lefthander Brady Aiken, the top player in the Baseball America 500, and No. 31 Cathedral Catholic, will play tonight in a similar scenario, facing elimination against Granite Hills (El Cajon, Calif.). With a victory, they will also play Thursday at 3:30 p.m. EST.
Aiken pitched last Friday, striking out 13 while sitting 91-93 with his fastball, and will likely throw Thursday if Cathedral advances.
That means the players rumored to be in contention for the first and second picks in the draft (who are unlikely to get out of the top six picks) could be playing as the draft is taking place, a relic from an older draft era. If Aiken doesn't throw Thursday and both teams advance, Aiken and Jackson could meet in the sectional final. With one more home run Jackson will have 48 for his career, which would be the most in section history.
The top 50 teams have a strong presence from a draft perspective, as 14 teams have prospects in the BA 500.
Three of those teams—No. 21 North Florida Christian (Tallahassee, Fla): lefthander Carson Sands (53) and outfielder Matt Railey (59); Cathedral Catholic: Brady Aiken (1) and Sean Bouchard (105), and No. 48 Lee’s Summit West (Mo.) High: outfielder Monte Harrison (20) and righthander Alex Lange (333)—are buoyed by multiple draft prospects.
Other highly ranked players include St. Thomas More (No. 34) catcher Chase Vallot (47), who led his team to a state title; Clovis (Calif.) High shortstop Jacob Gatewood (21), who led Clovis to the CIF-Central Section title; and No. 37 Milton (Ga.) High righthander Dylan Cease (77).
No. 9 Greenway HS (Phoenix) won a state title in Arizona and moved into the top 10 after beginning the year at No. 14. The Demons fell from the rankings after losing two of their first 11 games, but finished the season on a 10-game winning streak, defeating Sahuaro High lefthander Alex Verdugo in the state semifinals, scoring four runs on five hits and six walks in 4 1/3 innings. Greenway was led by a potent offense that walked (13 percent of plate appearances) more than it struck out (11 percent) with a .373/.476/.593 team line that averaged 9.1 runs per game with a run differential of plus-246.
No. 21 North Florida Christian began the season slowly with four losses in its first 12 games, including one to No. 16 Spanish Fort (Ala.) High. But the team won 18 consecutive games and topped some of the best teams in the state, as well as teams with top draft prospects.
NFC defeated lefthander Adam Haseley and The First Academy, a team that was ranked in the top 10 and won the National High School Invitational.
NFC also defeated Coral Springs (Fla.) Christian Academy, which opened the season ranked in the top 25, and righthander Touki Toussaint before topping Forrest Wall’s Orangewood Christian (Maitland, Fla.) team in the state final. Railey and Sands are expected to be selected in the first two rounds.
An asterisk (*) signifies all teams that have won state titles.
|1||Barbe HS, Lake Charles, La.*||39-2||1|
|2||Lambert HS, Suwanee, Ga.*||36-2||3|
|3||Hamilton HS, Chandler, Ariz.*||30-3||4|
|4||Clovis (Calif.) HS*||33-5||6|
|5||South Dade HS, Homestead, Fla.*||23-6||9|
|6||Rancho Bernardo HS, San Diego||30-4||10|
|7||Stillwater (Okla.) HS*||32-3||13|
|8||American Senior HS, Hialeah, Fla.*||26-5||11|
|9||Greenway HS, Phoenix*||29-4||19|
|10||West Lauderdale, Collinsville, Miss.*||33-2||20|
|11||JSerra Catholic, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.||22-7||NR|
|12||Cosby, Midlothian, Va.||19-0||15|
|13||Puyallup (Wa.) HS*||28-0||24|
|14||Pearland (Texas) HS||44-6||NR|
|15||Sumter (S.C.) HS*||26-2-1||NR|
|16||Spanish Fort (Ala.) HS*||42-6||NR|
|17||Archbishop Moeller, Cincinnati, Ohio||24-4||NR|
|18||Houston County HS, Perry, Ga.*||31-7||NR|
|19||Liberty HS, Las Vegas*||30-5||NR|
|20||George Ranch HS, Richmond, Texas||33-7||NR|
|21||North Florida Christian, Tallahasse, Fla.*||26-4||NR|
|22||Leland, San Jose, Calif.*||23-8||NR|
|23||Omaha (Neb.) Westside HS*||35-3||NR|
|24||New Hope HS, Columbus, Miss.*||32-4||NR|
|25||Pennsville (N.J.) HS||28-2||NR|
|26||Bryant (Ark.) HS*||30-2||NR|
|27||Oak Grove HS, Hattiesburg, Miss.*||27-7||NR|
|28||Western Branch HS, Chesapeake, Va.||22-2||NR|
|29||La Cueva HS, Albuquerque, N.M.*||24-3||NR|
|30||Bloom Carroll (Ohio) HS||26-3||NR|
|31||Cathedral Catholic, San Diego||25-6||NR|
|32||Mater Academy, Hialeah Gardens, Fla.*||20-8||NR|
|33||De La Salle HS, Condord, Calif.*||22-7||NR|
|34||St. Thomas More, Layayette, La.*||31-5||NR|
|35||Birmingham Brother Rice HS, Bloomfield Hills, Mich||34-3-1||17|
|36||Rocky Mountain HS, Fort Collins, Colo.*||21-5||NR|
|37||Milton (Ga.) HS||28-9||NR|
|38||Buchanan (Calif.) HS||25-8||NR|
|39||Carl Albert, Midwest City, Okla.*||38-4||NR|
|40||James Madison HS, Vienna, Va.||20-2||NR|
|41||Winter Haven (Fla.) HS||25-6||NR|
|42||Jordan HS, Sandy, Utah*||25-6||NR|
|43||Tottenville HS, Staten Island, N.Y.||20-2||NR|
|44||Temecula (Calif.) Valley HS||22-8||NR|
|45||Vianney HS, Kirkwood, Mo.||29-7||NR|
|46||Farrugut (Tenn.) HS||34-13||NR|
|47||Live Oak HS, Denham Springs, La.||30-10||NR|
|48||Lee’s Summit West, Mo.||27-4||NR|
|49||West Forsyth HS, Clemmons, N.C.||27-5||NR|
|50||St. Thomas Aquinas, Overland Park, Kan.*||21-4||NR|