High School : : Rankings
2014 National HS Rankings: 6-10
Monday, February 03, 2014
part of Perfect Game's preseason High School Baseball coverage, the top
10 teams in the nation will be profiled leading up to the release of
the top 50 teams in the nation. Once the national rankings are
released, Perfect Game will provide previews of each of the 10 regions
across the nation. Please visit the High School page for all of Perfect Game's high school baseball based content.
2014 Perfect Game High School preview content index
Team No. 5 - Tuesday, February 4
Team No. 4 - Wednesday, February 5
Team No. 3 - Thursday, February 6
Team No. 2 - Friday, February 7
Team No. 1 - Monday, February 10
National Top 50 - Monday, February 10
6. Milton Eagles (Milton, GA)
Georgia AAAAAA Region 5
Head Coach: Joey Ray
2013 Result: 31-9-1, Georgia AAAAA State Champions
Key Losses: LHP Michael Messier (Bellarmine), RHP Will Jackson (Georgia Southern), C Nick Bradshaw (William & Mary), RHP/OF Stephen Barranca (College of Charleston)
Top Players (with college commitment): RHP/SS Dylan Cease (Vanderbilt), OF Dalton Ewing (Clemson), MIF Ryan Gridley (Mississippi State), LHP/OF Alex Schnell (Clemson), 1B Jack Thompson (Georgia State)
There wasn't a single team that dominated the entire season at the AAAAAA level in Georgia last year, Milton was about as close as it came. The Eagles went 20-6-1 on the regular season, with one loss and a tie coming against elite out-of-state competition at the National High School Invitational, where they had a strong showing at 2-1-1. While they weren't head and shoulders above the crowd heading into the playoffs, the Eagles were one of the more talented teams in Georgia, even if they were a bit junior heavy.
While graduation wasn't entirely gentle, the Eagles return a lot of talent. PG All-American righthander Dylan Cease will also contribute with the bat, along with several other talented players that give the 2014 edition a chance to be even better than last year's state champion. They should face stiff competition to repeat as champions at the state's highest classification, but if Milton doesn't make another deep run it will come as a big surprise. They combine top end talent with solid depth and plenty of experience, making them one of the top teams in the entire country, on paper.
7. Owasso Rams (Owasso, Oklahoma)
OHSAA 6A District 3
Head Coach: Larry Turner
2013 Result: 36-0, OHSAA 6A State Champions
Key Losses: SS Andrew Rosa (Oklahoma State), LHP Austin Kerns (Arkansas), RHP Cody McGill (Seminole State),
Top Players (with college commitment): RHP Braden Webb (South Carolina), LHP Jeb Bargfeldt (Wichita State), 1B/OF Mason O'Brien (Oklahoma State), SS/RHP Jonah Bride (Neosho County)
With appearances in 15 of the past 17 state title games, the Owasso tradition speaks for itself. Against that backdrop, it is even more impressive that the 2013 season was arguably the best in school history, as the Rams ran the table with a perfect 36-0 season and captured their first state championship since 2009.
They did it with ace Braden Webb on the shelf during most of the second half of the season, and without a 2013 draftee, which is a bit unusual for the Rams given their contributions to the professional ranks over the past decade. It would be an incredibly tall order for the Rams to repeat what they did in 2013, but given the talent they have returning they appear to be an overwhelming favorite to make yet another return trip to the OHSAA 6A state title game in 2014. Shortstop Andrew Rosa will be tough to replace, but a full season out of Webb and a larger role for lefty Jeb Bargfeldt should provide lifts to help make up for the loss.
While the Rams have had plenty of talent come through the program in recent years, the ability of the coaching staff has been remarkable, as they have won year and in year out, whether they were expected to be in a rebuilding season or not, and it should come as no surprise if they have another dominant season this year.
8. Cypress Ranch Mustangs (Houston, Texas)
UIL 5A, Region III, District 17
Head Coach: John Pope
2013 Result: 31-6, UIL 5A Region III runner-up
Key Losses: LHP/OF Zach Brosh, OF Chase Spears, RHP Bryce Johnson
Top Players (with college commitment): RHP/OF Corbin Martin (Texas A&M), OF/RHP Dalton Stark (Texas Tech), C/1B Derek Dickerson (Houston), 1B Carey Jones (Houston Baptist), IF Ryan Leftwich (Sam Houston State)
While they lack a marquee name outside of two-way threat Corbin Martin, CyRanch returns a lot of starters for a team that was within striking distance of earning a trip to Round Rock (home of the 4A and 5A state championship). Martin will serve as the ace of the pitching staff, where depth beyond him will be the team's biggest question mark, and will also hit in the middle of the Mustangs order.
The offense is deep and well established, but the Mustangs will need to replace 120 2/3 innings on the mound that were lost to graduation. Martin posted a sub 1.00 ERA last year over 79 innings, which should at least singlehandedly anchor and stabilize the pitching staff, but in order for the Mustangs to defend their title they will need to have someone else step up. The lineup appears ready made for another deep run if they can find pitching depth behind Martin.
9. Coral Springs Christian Academy Crusaders (Coral Springs, Fla.)
Class 3A, District 14
Head Coach: Matt Cleveland
2013 Result: 22-7, FHSAA 3A Quarterfinals
Key Losses: MIF Abraham Alejandro (Dominican University), LHP Brandon Rodrigues (Occidental College)
Top Players (college commitment): RHP/OF Touki Toussaint (Vanderbilt), C Benito Santiago (Tennessee), RHP Jeremiah Muhammad (Miami-Dade), RHP Eric Hepple (Central Florida), SS Chris Bec (Tennessee), Devin Meyer (Miami)
With a roster filled with promising underlcassmen, the Crusaders made a deep run in the 3A playoffs, before dropping a one-run slugfest in the state quarterfinals. This year they not only return nearly the entire nucleus of last year's team, they've picked up a pair of key senior transfers in righthander Jeremiah Muhammad, by way of New Jersey, and middle infielder/center fielder Chris Bec from nearby Ferguson High School.
Touki Toussaint is a likely first round pick as a righthanded pitcher in this year's MLB Draft, but he will be just as valuable with the bat to the Crusaders after leading the team in hits a year ago. He and battery mate Benito Santiago both represented the East squad at the 2013 Perfect Game All-American Classic and are the two biggest names on a team with an abundance of prospects and plenty of depth. They are clearly the team to beat heading into the season in 3A.
10. Lake Brantley Patriots (Altamonte Springs, Fla.)
Class 8A, District 2
Head Coach: Eric Entrekin
2013 Result: 27-5, FHSAA 8A State Champions
Key Losses: 3B Zach Krider (South Carolina-Upstate), IF/OF Damon Haecker (Auburn), RHP Mitchell Jordan (Stetson), RHP Logan Bloom (Bethune-Cookman)
Top Players (college commitment): MIF Tate Blackman (Mississippi), OF Carl Chester (Miami), IF Logan Warmoth (North Carolina), OF Stephen Wells (Central Florida), LHP Bryce Tucker (Central Florida)
Not only does Lake Brantley boast the pedigree of being the defending champion in Florida's largest classification (8A), but they also placed center fielder Carl Chester in the 2013 PG All-American Classic. Chester is joined by Tate Blackman and Logan Warmoth to make up a significant portion of the core of the Orlando Scorpions, who were one of the most successful travel ball teams in the nation this past summer and fall. Junior outfielder and righthanded pitcher Stephen Wells is another player who has established himself on the national scouting scene after playing at the Junior National Showcase in the Metrodome last summer, and he will be expected to take on a larger role this year as a two-way player.
Despite their losses to graduation, the Patriots boast one of the strongest cores of position players in the talent-rich state of Florida. The biggest question mark will be their pitching depth after graduating their top arm from last year's champion in Mitchell Jordan. Junior lefty Bryce Tucker will likely be counted on to lead the staff, but beyond him they lack experience on the mound.
The Patriots should score enough runs and be strong enough defensively to win on a consistent basis even if they don't find a pair of pitchers to step up and establish themselves as the season progresses. But in order to successfully defend their title and live up to their preseason ranking they will need to find pitching depth.
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