As 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.
Team No. 5 - Elk Grove Thundering Herd (Elk Grove, Calif.)
Team No. 4 - Jesuit Tigers (Tampa, Fla.)
Team No. 3 - Mater Dei Monarchs (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Team No. 2 - Cathedral Catholic Dons (San Diego, Calif.)
Team No. 1 - American Heritage Patriots (Plantation, Fla.)
National Top 50
6. Venice Indians (Venice, FL)
Florida 7A District 11
Head Coach: Craig Faulkner
2012 Result: 24-8, Florida Class 7A State Champions
Key Losses: 3B/RHP Kevin Guthrie (Brown), MIF/RHP Michael Knott (Florida Tech), OF Grant Banko (East Coast College)
Top Players (with college commitment): 1B/LHP Nick Longhi (LSU), SS Dalton Guthrie (Florida), C Michael Rivera (Florida), RHP Cooper Hammond (Miami), OF/RHP Brandon Elmy (Furman), C/OF Ryan Miller (Florida Atlantic), RHP/3B Tyler Atwell (St. Petersburg College), RHP Tyson Albert (St. Petersburg College)
The defending Florida class 7A champions boast a pipeline of Division I talent spread throughout the diamond. 1B Nick Longhi is the team's top draft prospect and will draw scouts to the yard to determine how interested they are in trying to sign him away from the LSU Tigers. Longhi is an advanced hitter with a lot of power, and he is also an interesting left handed pitcher.
If you're looking for something to nitpick, the Indians don't have a top notch ace on the mound, but they have plenty of pitching depth and several quality arms to go with a very impressive lineup. But they're more than just a talented team, they also bring a lot of skill and grit to the table as well. Longhi can work a count as well of better than many professional hitters. 2014 SS Dalton Guthrie has an advanced feel for the game and plays with a high level of intensity. 2014 C Michael Rivera is a polished receiver who not only has a strong arm and good hitting tools, he's a very good defensive catcher. The list goes on and on, as the Indians boast the depth and talent of the five teams ranked ahead of them in the preseason poll. If one of their quality pitchers can take the next step and become a dominant force, they have a very realistic chance of defending their state championship and climbing even higher in the national rankings.
The Indians were very good last year, and they should still be very good again next year thanks to the strength of their 2014 class. But with Nick Longhi in his senior season, this looks to be their best team during a strong three year stretch.
7. T.C. Roberson Rams (Asheville, NC)
4A Mountain Conference
Head Coach: Eric Filipek
2012 Result: 26-3-1 North Carolina 4A Quartefinals
Key Losses: OF James Nevant (Notre Dame), MIF Tim McKeithan (Brown)
Top Players (with college commitment): 1B Braxton Davidson (North Carolina), C Dominick Cammarata (Georgia), RHP/C Parker Johnson (Wake Forest), 1B/LHP Nathan Blaylock (Liberty), OF/LHP Tanner Bush (UNC-Asheville), RHP Katon Harwood (Clemson)
It was a rebuilding year in 2012 for the Rams, after graduating their one through four hitters in the lineup. Yet, they managed to go 26-3-1, they eventually stumbled in the quarterfinals but will return a very experienced and deep lineup in 2013. That playoff experience will come in handy for a group that appears to be head and shoulders above their peers in the Tar Heel state.
In addition to the six division I commits, 2014 MIF Connor Lind has the type of talent to give the Rams seven next level prospects. That is a high number for top teams from the hotbed states of Florida and California, but it is downright rare for the rest of the country. On top of that, 2014 1B Braxton Davidson is viewed as a high level 2014 draft prospect, and is already the type of impact hitter who can put a team on his shoulders. Couple that with the depth of the rest of the lineup and the production out of the catcher position that Dominick Cammarata provides and you have a very potent lineup to go with a pair of pitchers with sholarships to ACC programs.
8. Parkview Panthers (Lilburn, GA)
Georgia AAAAA Region 8
Head Coach: Chan Brown
2012 Result: 31-6, Georgia AAAAA State Champions
Key Losses: 1B/RHP Matt Olsen (1st round, Oakland Athletics), MIF Jack Esmonde (Georgia), MIF Edwin Arias (North Georgia), OF/RHP Jesse Foster (Chattahoochie Valley College), IF Jeff Ronpirin (Chattahoochie Valley College)
Top Players (with college commitment): OF/LHP Josh Hart (Georgia Tech), 3B/RHP Jarrett Freeland (Georgia), IF Rob Youngblood (Georgia), RHP Sam McCoy (North Georgia), C/1B Hunter Thornton (Mercer)
is no getting around it, the Panthers will have a hard time replacing
Matt Olson. In fact, the 2012 state championship team graduated a lot,
making them a bit of a risky proposition as a national top 10 team. That said,
the players that they do return are equally impressive and this team has enough upside with their talent that if they are able to fill their holes they could be just as good as their 2012 squad which finished the season ranked No. 5 (after opening it in the same No. 8 spot).
CF Josh Hart has a reputation for being on of the best leadoff hitters in the nation and will get a lot of draft interest throughout the spring, he will be a critical piece of the puzzle in 2013. They also have a pair of seniors committed to Georgia in the infield and their experience level should keep them at the top of the heap in Class AAAAA again.
9. Loganville Red Devils (Loganville, GA)
Georgia AAAA Region 8
Head Coach: Jeff Segars
2012 Result: 31-9, Georgia AAAA State Champions
Key Losses: LHP Garrett Ford (Georgia State), LHP Christian Miller (Lipscomb), RHP Brandon Pergantis (Gulf Coast College)
Top Players (with college commitment): OF Clint Frazier (Georgia), RHP Avery Fagan (Georgia Southern), MIF David Mayo (Georgia State)
The nation's leading home run hitter in 2012 and current No. 1 ranked prospect in the class of 2013, OF Clint Frazier, powers a very potent lineup for the defending AAAA State Champions. The Red Devils will have to replace innings on the mound and will miss the 2012 AAAA Player of the Year (LHP Garrett Ford), but they return plenty of offense to a team that put up a lot of runs last year. If they can avoid the injury bug that should continue to be the case in 2013.
The question mark will be the pitching staff, but if they can get even modest contributions on the hill beyond ace Avery Fagan, the Red Devils will be the favorites to defend their title and claim their third state championship.
10. Harvard-Westlake Wolverines (Studio City, CA)
CIF Southern Section Division II, Mission League
Head Coach: Matt LaCour
2012 Result: 24-5-1, Mission League Champions
Key Losses: LHP Max Fried (1st round, San Diego Padres), RHP Lucas Giolito (1st round, Washington Nationals)
Top Players (with college commitment): SS/RHP Jack Flaherty (North Carolina), C Arden Pabst (Georgia Tech), OF/1B Joseph Corrigan (Southern California)
Losing a pair of 1st round draft picks to graduation would deplete most teams well out of the top 10 teams in the nation. But the Wolverines went started the season at 1-2 last year before losing co-ace and 16th overall pick Lucas Giolito for the season. They responded by going 23-3-1 the rest of the way even without the flame throwing monster. Beyond Fried, much of the core of that 2012 team is back and 2014 grad Jack Flaherty will now be counted on as the leader.
Flaherty is an impact player in every phase of the game, he is likely going to be the staff ace, the starting shortstop and the impact bat in the heart of the lineup. But more importantly, he won't be forced to do everything himself, even though he has the talent to do so. C Arden Pabst doesn't get as much attention as he would if he were a member of a different graduating class, as the extreme depth of talent at the catcher position in the 2013 class causes him to be overlooked at times, but he will be another impact player for the Wolverines.