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High School | General | 3/2/2011

HS Regional Preview: Florida

Todd Gold         Ben Collman        

Perfect Game High School will releasing previews for each region in the coming weeks. The previews will be released two weeks prior to first regional rankings. The schedule is as follow:

Pacific (CA, HI)- Week of March 7

Southeast (AR, LA, MS, AL, GA, TN)- Week of March 7

Texahoma (TX, OK)- Week of March 14

Mid-Atlantic (SC, NC, VA, MD, DC, WV, DE)- Week of March 21

Southwest (NM, AZ, NV, UT)- Week of March 28

Midwest (WI, IL, IN, MI, OH, KY)- Week of April 4

Great Plains (CO, MO, IA, MN, NE, KS, ND)- Week of April 4

Northeast (PA, NJ, NY, CT, RI, MA, VT, NH, ME)-Week of April 11

Northwest (WA, OR, ID, AK)- Week of April 11

Florida is the only state that is also its own region, a nod to its geographic placement as well as the quality and depth of teams and prospects the state produces every year. Florida began high school play February 14th a week earlier than any other state in the country and finishes up the regular season up just before Memorial Day making it the longest high school baseball season in the nation. What follows is a look at the top players and teams in one of high school baseball’s richest states.

Top Storylines

1. Jose Fernandez

The Alonso right-hander was initially ruled ineligible for the 2011 season because of a Florida High School Athletic Association rule that gives a player four consecutive calendar years of eligibility from the date he begins ninth grade. Fernandez began 9th grade in Cuba in 2006, but it was ruled in November that his lost year was due to his move from Cuba, and he is eligible for the 2011 season.

His eligibility did not stop him from putting his name near the top of high school pitchers in the 2011 class with a great summer and an overpowering performance at the October WWBA World Championships in Jupiter. He reached 97 with his fastball and showed great feel for an 83 mph slider. He dominated the competition and vaulted up to #2 in the class, and looks to be a very high draft pick in June.

2.Battle for Top Team

The state has many contenders for top team, a distinction that almost guarantees that they are also one of the top teams in the country. Gulliver is the early favorite, but suffered an early season loss to American Heritage, another team worthy of the distinction. Archbishop McCarthy has added transfer RHP/IF Nick Travieso to an already loaded roster, and Bolles School, fresh off a 3A title has AFLAC All American 3B Austin Slater and top 2012 Hayden Hurst.

Tampa Jesuit features a junior class that has four Division 1 commits and top 2013 RHP/IF Spencer Trayner. Other teams in the discussion look to be Jupiter, Sarasota, Orangewood Christian, Flanagan, and Olympia. From top to bottom the state is loaded as usual.

3. Champions Repeat

Bolles looks to again be the favorite in 3A, but it will be a tough road for them as well as other champions looking to repeat in 2011. 6A champ Flanagan has loaded up their schedule with tough games in and out of state headlined by their matchup with defending Georgia AAA champion Columbus. Flanagan returns a lot of their 2010 squad, led by SS Ricky Santiago and OF Ryan Lozada.

5A champion Pace has one of the top 2012 prospects in the nation in SS Addison Russell and 2012 RHP Trent Higginbothem. 4A champ Archbishop McCarthy is a highly touted and very talented team that is the early favorite to repeat. 2A Westminster Christian is coming off a very successful 2010 going 28-6. They look to be very tough again led by OF David Thompson. Trinity Christian, the 1A champ, scored 24 runs in their final two games of 2010 to win the title. They will feature a very young roster with only two seniors, OF Matthew Wisniewski and RHP/SS Evin Lynch.

4. Bishop Verot

The school produced 2009 first rounder Bobby Borchering (16th overall, Diamondbacks)and has two draft prospects ranked in the top 10 in the state of Florida in 1B Daniel Vogelbach and RHP Hudson Boyd. Boyd, a transfer from South Fort Myers HS is a big bodied pitcher that pounds the strike zone with a fastball that has reached 94 and a hard slider with two-plane break at 80. He is currently ranked 8th in the state of Florida, 43rd nationally and has committed to Florida.

His teammate Vogelbach, also a Florida commit, has one of the more interesting builds of any top high school prospects in the 2011 class, standing 5’11 and weighing 260 pounds. Vogelbach seems to do one thing whenever he is on the field: hit, and hit a lot. He has a smooth left-handed swing with easy bat speed and tons of power. He is rarely off balance and has a great approach. He has had some of his best days against top competition at the 17U WWBA in Marietta and the WWBA World Championships in Jupiter.

5. Lindor/Baez

The two top positions prospects in Florida are Francisco Lindor of Montverde Academy and Javier Baez of Arlington Country Day. While the pair both play shortstop for their high school teams, Baez’s pro position is most likely 3B. More than 150 scouts flocked to their matchup in February and even more might be on hand for the rematch March 5.

The players, while not being from traditional baseball powers have stood out during their high school seasons as well as on the showcase circuit. Lindor’s loose and easy actions make him a candidate to stay at short in the future. To go along with his prowess on defense, he is a switch-hitter at the plate with great contact skills and power potential, evidenced by winning the HR derby at the 2010 AFLAC All-American game and an early season power surge in 2011. Baez has a big, strong build and power is his calling card whether it be at the plate or in the field. He has great bat speed and looks to drive the ball at the plate, while showcasing clean actions on the infield with a very strong arm.

Top Teams (alphabetical order)

American Heritage- Led by AFLAC All-American C Brandon Sedell, RHP/SS Brandon Diaz and RHP Jimmy Nesselt, the Patriots have a very talented roster. An early season win over Gulliver Prep showed that they can compete with the top teams the nation.

Archbishop McCarthy- They lost IF Nick Castellanos to the MLB draft (44th overall, Detroit Tigers), but bring back his younger brother Ryan, and bolstered their roster with the additions of junior transfers RHP/IF Nick Travieso and OF Nick Basto.

Bolles School- The defending 3A champs are the team to beat in the class again, and might be the state’s best team. AFLAC All-American IF Austin Slater and RHP/IF Hayden Hurst are two of the state’s top players.

Flanagan- The defending 6A champions have started the season 6-0, scoring over 10 runs in five of the six games. IF Ricky Santiago and 1B Mike Melendez will try to lead the Falcons to their 4th state title in six years.

Gulliver Prep- Debuted as the #1 team in PG National Rankings. They are led by 7 Miami commits and have possibly the most talented team in the country. A 11-5 loss to American Heritage is their only blemish on the season so far.

Jupiter- RHP/OF Ryan Harris is a legit 2-way prospect and figures to be a high draft pick. Brothers Nico and Corey Slater return. A prospect to watch is 2013 C Ronnie Healy.

Orangewood Christian- Might be the best offensive team in the state led by SS Dante Bichette, 2B Vicente Conde, OF Christian Magno, and transfer 1B Tomas Nido. If pitching comes around, sky’s the limit for them.

Olympia- RHP/OF Walker Weickel and OF Jesse Winker are two of the top 2012 prospects in the nation. Brothers Connor and Patrick Lien give the Titans one of the nation’s best outfields in the state.

Sarasota3B Sean Hurley is one of the top seniors in the state, how well sophomore LHP Dylan White and freshman SS/RHP Cameron Varga adjust to varsity ball could determine how far the team goes. They look to be the early favorite for best team in SW Florida.

Tampa Jesuit- RHP/SS Lance McCullers, rated #1 in the 2012 class, is the headliner, but the team is very talented up and down the roster. The team has four Division 1 commits, all from juniors, and sophomore Spencer Trayner looks to be the school’s next star.

Top Matchups

March 5-Montverde Academy vs. Arlington Country Day School @ Jax Suns Stadium

The teams first matchup was our Week 1 National Game of the Week and did not disappoint. Top draft prospects SS Francisco Lindor (Montverde) and SS/3B Javier Baez (Arlington) face off.

March 5- West Boca vs. Palm Beach Central

West Boca, led by 2011 RHP Michael Kelly and SS Tyler Greene, face a very talented Central team with LHP Bobby Poyner and OF Brady Roberson.

March 8- Jupiter vs. Santaluces

If the pitching matchup is Ryan Harris (Jupiter) vs. Kyle Smith (Santaluces) as expected it could be one of the best matchups of the year. Both pitchers are Florida commits and top draft prospects.

March 14-Columbus vs. Archbishop McCarthy

Columbus LHP Andrew Suarez, an AFLAC All-American, faces the team currently ranked #14 in the nation, a talent-laden team led by IF Alex Fernandez and RHP/3B Jose Brizuela.

March 18- Bishop Moore vs. Olympia

AFLAC All-American 3B Sean Trent stars for Bishop Moore while Olympia has two of the top 2012 players in the nation in RHP Walker Weickel and OF Jesse Winker.

March 19- Gulliver Prep vs. Tampa Jesuit

A highly anticipated matchup featuring the teams that have the most underclass talent in the state. Jesuit boasts RHP/SS Lance McCullers and RHP/IF Spencer Trayner, while Gulliver counters with 3B Eric Neitzel and C Chris Chinea, among others.

March 26- Bishop Verot vs. West Boca

Bishop Verot 1B Daniel Vogelbach looks to face a top pitcher either RHP Michael Kelly or LHP Parker Danciu. BV can counter with their own top arm in RHP Hudson Boyd.

April 1- Jupiter vs. Park Vista

RHP Ryan Harris, as well as Cory and Nico Slater, face an underrated team in Park Vista, a team with four 2012s with high Division 1 commits.

April 14- Orangewood Christian vs. Oviedo

Oviedo RHP Ryan Meyer faces one of the most potent offenses in the state with 3B Dante Bichette, IF Vicente Conde, and C AC Carter.

April 18- Tampa Jesuit vs. Sarasota

McCullers and Jesuit take on a very talented and deep Sarasota deep led by Miami commits 3B Sean Hurley and 2013 LHP Dylan White.

April 20- Mater Academy vs. Monsignor Pace

Mater Academy is led by 2012 OF Albert Almora, currently the 11th ranked player in the class, while Pace has a top 2011 draft prospect in Dereck Rodriguez, son of 14-time All Star, 13-time Gold Glove winner, and 1999 AL MVP Ivan (Pudge) Rodriguez.

PG High School Florida Dream Team

C- Tyler Marlette, Hagerty, Sr.

1B- Daniel Vogelbach, Bishop Verot, Sr.

2B- Alex Fernandez, Archbishop McCarthy, Sr.

3B- Dante Bichette, Orangewood Christian, Sr.

SS- Francisco Lindor, Montverde Academy, Sr.

OF- Dominic Jose, Boca Raton, Sr.

OF- Jesse Winker, Olympia, Jr.

OF- Albert Almora, Mater Academy, Jr.

Util- Lance McCullers, Tampa Jesuit, Jr.

P- Jose Fernandez, RHP, Alonso, Sr.

P- Michael Kelly, RHP, West Boca, Sr.

P- Andrew Suarez, LHP, Columbus, Sr.

P- Hudson Boyd, RHP, Bishop Verot, Sr.

P- Ryan Harris, RHP, Jupiter, Sr.

Regional Best Tools

Best Hitter For Average: Francisco Lindor, SS, Montverde Academy

Best Hitter For Power: Daniel Vogelbach, 1B, Bishop Verot

Best Baserunner: Roman Quinn, OF, Port St. Joe

Best Defensive Catcher: Tyler Marlette, Hagerty

Best Defensive Infielder: Francisco Lindor, SS, Montverde Academy

Best Defensive Outfielder: Omar Garcia, Lake Howell

Best Infield Arm: Sean Trent, 3B, Bishop Moore

Best Outfield Arm: Dereck Rodriguez, Monsignor Edward Pace

Best Fastball: Jose Fernandez, RHP, Alonso

Best Offspeed Stuff: Jose Fernandez, RHP, Alonso 

Best Command: Hudson Boyd, RHP, Bishop Verot

Best Pitchability: Michael Kelly, RHP, West Boca

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