Defending NHSI Champ Huntington Beach Part Of Pod II In 2017

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USA Baseball on Tuesday unveiled the second pod of matchups for this month’s National High School invitational.

American Heritage High (Plantation, Fla.) will take on Rocky Mountain High (Fort Collins, Colo.) and defending NHSI champion Huntington Beach High (Calif.) will open its repeat bid against Winder-Barrow High (Ga.).

American Heritage’s roster includes eight players who are already committed to play Division I ball, including Preseason Top 100 High School prospects Mark Vientos (No. 14) and Christian Santana (No. 87). Rocky Mountain returns 14 starters from last year’s squad, which made a run to the Colorado 5A state championship before losing to Cherokee Trail.

Huntington Beach has two of the most decorated prep athletes in recent memory, with both Nick Pratto and Hagen Danner having the potential to be Day One picks in June’s draft. Pratto, a lefthanded pitcher and first baseman, is a strong, well-coordinated athlete and he’s improved his raw power in recent months. Danner, a righthanded pitcher and catcher, can pitch in the mid 90s with his fastball, but he is also a mature hitter who offers plenty of power himself.

But the Oilers won’t have an easy path to repeating as NHSI champions. Winder-Barrow is off to a strong start this spring and has three Division I-bound seniors in Patrick DeMarco (Vanderbilt), Beau Hanna (Kennesaw State) and Will Hardigree (South Carolina Upstate), in addition to sophomore Zach Smith (Mississippi).

The NHSI will take place at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., from March 29-April 1.