Baseball Hotbeds: Digging Deeper
Because producing the most pro baseball talent isn’t necessarily synonymous with producing the best baseball talent, we present the following notable talent-producing areas that might be somewhat off the radar.
The state of Hawaii ranks 40th in the U.S. in terms of population—roughly 1.75 million—but is third with 3.37 pro baseball players per 100,000 residents. What’s more, about 35 percent of pro players from Hawaii sign out of high school, which is the highest rate of players forgoing college among all states. Kolten Wong, Kurt Suzuki and Kirby Yates are notable active Hawaiians who played collegiately before turning pro, but even Wong and Yates were drafted out of high school but didn’t sign. All of the other high-profile Hawaiians signed out of high school, including Shane Victorino, Brandon League, 2014 first-rounder Kodi Medeiros and Rangers rookie Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
Among cold-weather states, Connecticut has produced the highest rate of pro players per capita--3.37 per 100,000 residents--yet few of the state’s players sign out of high school (Charlie Morton and Carl Pavano are notable exceptions.) Just 9.5 percent of Connecticut preps turn pro, which ranks 41stamong all states. Among the distinguished Connecticut natives who went on to college before signing with a team are George Springer, A.J. Pollock, Matt Harvey, Rajai Davis, Matt Barnes, Craig Breslow, Chris Denorfia and 2016 first-rounder Justin Dunn.
A sizable city due east of Denver that is part of its metropolitan area, Aurora has produced notable big leaguers Kevin Gausman and Greg Bird, who both attended Grandview High. Rival Regis Jesuit High claims Ty Blach and 2017 first-rounder David Peterson.
Located north of Oklahoma City, Edmond has produced 15 pro players who qualified for our sample. Deer Creek High has alumni Michael Fulmer and Marlins rookie third baseman Brian Anderson, while Edmond Memorial High claims Garrett Richards.
LAKE FOREST, CA
An Orange County city south of Irvine, Lake Forest has produced the two finest defensive third basemen of this generation. Both Nolan Arenado and Matt Chapman attended El Toro High, the latter following three years at Cal State Fullerton. Yankees backup catcher Austin Romine also hails from El Toro.
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A suburban area of the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metroplex, Mansfield has produced notable flamethrowers Noah Syndergaard (Legacy High) and Jordan Walden (Mansfield High) as well as Timberview High outfielder Michael Choice, who went 10th overall in the 2010 draft after starring at Texas-Arlington.
SANTA CLARITA, CA
The Newhall area of Santa Clarita, a city north of Los Angeles, has produced a remarkable line of pro pitchers that includes James Shields, Mike Montgomery, Trevor Bauer and Tyler Glasnow, who all are Hart High alumni. Keston Hiura, the Brewers’ 2017 first-rounder, attended Valencia High before starring at UC Irvine.