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 follows:
Florida - Week of March 3
Southeast (AR, LA, MS, AL, GA, TN)- March 10
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
The Pacific region may only have two states (California and Hawaii), but it is arguably the strongest. The concentration of talent in Southern California is traditionally among the strongest of any part of the country, rivaling hotbeds South Florida, the Houston area and north Georgia. But this year the crop of talent in Northern California is especially strong. Hawaii also provides some exciting players and teams to watch, making for a very strong region. Last year Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, CA) finished the season with the number one ranking in the PG National Top 100, and though they lost a lot of talent to graduation, they are still a very strong team in 2011.
1. New bat regulations in CA
The NCAA has ruled that all bats must meet BBCOR regulations this year. The National Federation of High Schools has ruled that the same changes will go into effect nationwide in 2012. However, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has implemented the rule for the state of California for this season.
While the rule change is not a big story itself, the effect it has had in the early part of the season is, as the early indications are that pitchers are able to be more aggressive with fastballs. Teams like Chaminade Prep have seen an abundance of pitcher’s duels, with a combined nine total runs scored in their first four games (down from 56 over their first four games last year). While its still too early to tell just how big of an impact the bats have made, the number of runs scored appears to be down across the board.
2. Robert Stephenson
Robert Stephenson stood to benefit greatly from a breakout season this spring. Following a successful summer and fall and intense offseason workout regimen (details) he looks to have made a big jump this season. 14 innings into the season and Stephenson has 32 strikeouts without a hit. Reportedly the All-American’s fastball has been up to 97 MPH and his command has come along well. Stephenson was generally considered to be a likely first round pick heading into the spring season, if he can sustain this level of pitching he has a chance to really shoot up draft boards. The Washington commit will be followed very heavily by MLB organizations throughout the season.
3. Depth of Edison
Edison (Huntington Beach) has a quartet of top level prospects up the middle. LHP Henry Owens is the top ranked player in the state (and 7th in the nation) while the Lopes brothers (Chrisitian and Timmy) form one of the top double play combinations in the country. CF Eric Snyder is also ranked in the top 100 nationally (70). The Chargers have as much star power as anyone in the country, but it takes more than four players to win in California. This team will need other players to step up and contribute if they are going to win a CIF section championship and compete for the #1 national ranking at the end of the year.
RHP/IF Jonathan Torres and 1B Johnson Brooks will be important players for Edison this year, as successful seasons from them could very well put Edison over the top from good team to great team. RHP Dalton Douty is an unproven entity at the HS level, though he had a good showing on the travelball circuit last summer and fall and could provide a big boost.
4. Punahou dynasty
The last time a team other than Punahou was crowned Hawaiian State Champion was 2003. The Buffanblu have a huge target on their back to be sure, but can anyone knock them off? Punahou made an ugly game of the 2010 state championship game on Maui, bludgeoning MIL Champion Baldwin 13-2, invoking the first-ever run rule in a state title game. But Punahou was hit hard by graduation, OF/RHP Michael Suiter is one of the few experienced starters to return from last year’s powerhouse. Though, as they showed in 2009, after going 11-8 in the regular season, Punahou consistently finishes the year with a much stronger team than they begin with. A lot of credit is belongs to the coaching staff, led by Eric Kadooka.
Defending ILH champion Iolani looks to have a shot to end the Punahou reign, as they feature the state’s top prospect in LHP Carlos Rodriguez and a very solid 2-way player in OF/RHP Jensen Park. The two teams opened the season with a 3 game series. Punahou took two out of three, beating Rodriguez both times. But the win could be big for Iolani as the season wears on, as they have seen first-hand that anyone is beatable.
5. Northern California
Though the northern part of the Golden State is generally quite strong, it generally is a couple notches below SoCal. But in 2011 that is not the case. The top ranked team in the state is St. Francis from Mountain View. Six (Robert Stephenson, Bill Flamion, Joe Ross, Tyler Goeddel, Shawon Dunston, Kevin Kramer) of the top 15 ranked players in the state are from the north (compared to just two in 2010). While you could argue that the talent in the hotbed that is southern California is a bit down (relatively), NorCal is very strong this year.
Top Teams (alphabetical order)
The Monarchs, who went 31-3 in 2010 and captured the CIF Central Section championship. They were hit hard by graduation but the perennial power is still strong in 2011. With a formidable pitching staff led by seniors RHP Tyler Davis and RHP Brett Fuller the Monarchs will have a chance in almost every game on their schedule. The pitching staff benefits greatly by slick fielding SS Gordy Madej, but what they will really need this season is run support.
The Lancers were an absolute powerhouse last year, going 25-3 in the regular season, earning the top seed in the CIF Southern Section tournament. Their third round upset came as a big surprise to many, as has their slow start to 2011. But before overreacting to a couple of early losses to quality opponents it is important to keep in mind that Bishop Amat has the lethal combination of depth in the lineup from top to bottom as well as premium start power in 3B/RHP Rio Ruiz. The Lancers have rebounded with quality wins against Orange Lutheran and Mission Viejo and have the talent to match up with anybody in the country.
Cathedral Catholic is led by one of the top 2-way players in the state, All-American Daniel Camarena. Armed with a low 90’s fastball, solid athleticism and good hitting tools, Camarena can do it all. Sophomore OF/LHP Stephen Gonsalves is similar to Camarena and topped out at 89 MPH at the WWBA World Championship in October and is currently the fifth ranked player in the class of 2013. Randy Wynne posted a 1.78 ERA as a junior last year and provides another quality arm, along with 2-way righty Nico Garbella. The Dons had a disappointing start to the season, getting shut out 5-0 by Granite Hills, but expectations are still high.
The Eagles are a team built around pitching and defense. Ace RHP Matt Troupe is ranked in the top 100 players in the nation, featuring a fastball that has been clocked at 92 MPH and one of the best breaking ball-changeup combinations in the state. Sophomore Chad Gubicza (son of former MLB P Mark) is coming along well and RHP Dalton Brown is yet another quality arm. The Eagles won’t have to produce many runs to win games this year, which is the biggest question mark thus far.
Edison (Huntington Beach)
Much has been made of the Chargers’ prospects for 2011. The fifth ranked team in the nation is off to a 4-0 start, with a big matchup against Vista Murrieta coming up tomorrow in the Loara Tournament Championship game. They have as good of a chance as anyone to win a CIF section championship and contend for the #1 spot in the final top 100 rankings.
This is a good team already and they have a chance to become arguably the best team in the state next year. The Wolverines impressive roster is highlighted by the fifth ranked player in the class of 2012, RHP Lucas Giolito, the 7th ranked sophomore C in the nation, Arden Pabst, and a potential star-in-the-making in freshman CF/SS/RHP Jack Flaherty. RHP/OF Sam Horn (Penn commit) is one of just five seniors on the roster, and his experience will be important for a team that lost to the eventual champions, Glendora, in the second round of the playoffs last year.
The conversation starts with All-American C Austin Hedges, who is arguably the best backstop in the nation, but it certainly doesn’t end there. Tanner Bily, Clay Williamson, and Tyler Krause form one of the top Outfields in the state. Trevor Charpie and Grant Davis are a solid double play combination and with solid pitching and a future Division 1 player at just about every position on the diamond, JSerra is extremely deep. They play in the very tough Trinity League (also features Orange Lutheran, Mater Dei and Servite) where teams tend to beat up on each other. It will be tough for the 4-0 Lions to continue to compile an impressive record, but the experience will be very beneficial come tourney time.
La Costa Canyon
Coming off a 26-6 campaign in 2010, the Mavericks are led by one of the best shortstops in the country in senior Phillip Evans. They will miss C Will Swanner who enjoyed a successful start to his pro career in the Colorado Rockies organization last summer, the first player to sign straight out of La Costa Canyon. So far the Mavs are off to a good start at 3-0. This is still a fairly young program that has seen a lot of success in the past decade. Coach Justin Machado, the only coach the school has ever had, always seems to find a way to get a lot out of his players and with the talent he has to work with they are a team you have to watch out for again in 2011.
St. Francis (Mountain View)
The Lancers are a very experienced and talented group that boasts one of the best infields in the nation. Expectations for St. Francis couldn’t be higher, as they are currently the top ranked team in the state, and number four in the entire nation. They are led by seniors Tyler Goeddel, George Saba, Alex Blandino, Colin Reed and Jon Nelson, all committed to play for big time division 1 colleges next year. They also feature the 31st ranked junior in the country, OF/3B Steven Golden. The 6-0 start is impressive, but they will get a big test tonight against Bishop O’Dowd.
The Vikings feature arguably the best lineup in the state. With the top ranked junior in the state (and 3rd in the nation) in Trey Williams and one of the top 2B in Quincy Quintero, the Vikings are a pitchers nightmare. SS Shane Zeile would be the top player on most teams, and though he gets overshadowed by his teammates in the infield, he is a dangerous hitter who has collected eight hits in his first twelve at bats (.675 AVG). RHP Nick Rivas is coming off a 2-hit shutout of Chaminade Prep yesterday. More performances like that from the Viking pitching staff and this could be a special season.
St. Francis @ Bishop O’Dowd – March 11
The top ranked team in the state (4th in the nation), St. Francis takes on the 10th ranked pitching prospect in the nation, Joe Ross, in a huge early season matchup.
Bishop Amat vs Chatsworth – March 14
Two powerhouse programs square off in a matchup featuring several high profile prospects. Rio Ruiz of Amat and Aaron Brown of Chatsworth are the main attractions, but certainly not the only prospects that will be on display.
Rancho Bernardo @ Cathedral Catholic – March 15
The fifth ranked player in the class of 2013, Stephen Gonsalves will get the start for Cathedral Catholic as they take on Max Homick and Rancho Bernardo.
Valencia vs Hart – April 13 & 15
A good cross-town rivalry of Foothill League contenders in a home and home set could have postseason implications. Can Hart slow down the potent Vikings lineup?
Chaminade Prep vs Harvard Westlake – April 26 & 29
A very strong Chaminade Prep squad which boasts 7 division 1 commits takes on one of the top up and coming teams in the nation in Harvard Westlake in a pair of games that should have a big impact on the Mission League race.
Mater Dei vs Junipero Serra – April 26 & 30
A loaded JSerra squad takes on the defending CIF Southern Section champions, Mater Dei. The Monarchs may be down a bit, but they are still a very dangerous team and these games could very well decide the Trinity League regular season title.
La Costa Canyon @ Cathedral Catholic – May 6
Big late season matchup featuring plenty of prospects Phillip Evans of La Costa Canyon and Daniel Camarena of Cathedral Catholic.
PG High School Pacific Dream Team
*Based on players’ current primary position with High School team and present tools
C- Austin Hedges, JSerra, Sr.
1B – Max Homick, Rancho Bernardo, Sr.
2B –Quincy Quintero, Valencia, Sr.
SS – Phillip Evans, LaCosta Canyon, Sr.
3B – Trey Williams, Valencia, 3B, Jr.
OF – Travis Harrison, Tustin, Sr.
OF- Eric Snyder, Edison, Sr.
OF- Billy Flamion, Central Catholic, Sr.
Util – Rio Ruiz, Bishop Amat, Jr.
P- Robert Stephenson, RHP, Alhambra, Sr.
P- Henry Owens, LHP, Edison, Sr.
P- Joe Ross, RHP, Bishop O’Dowd, Sr.
P- Kyle Twomey, LHP, El Dorado, Jr.
P- J.D Davis, RHP, Elk Grove, Sr.
Regional Best Tools
Best Hitter For Average: Corey Oswalt, SS, James Madison, Jr.
Best Hitter For Power: Travis Harrison, OF, Tustin, Sr.
Best Baserunner: Desmond Henry, OF, Compton Centennial, Sr.
Best Defensive Catcher: Austin Hedges, JSerra, Sr.
Best Defensive Infielder: Phillip Evans, SS, LaCosta Canyon, Sr.
Best Defensive Outfielder: Shawon Dunston, Valley Christian, Sr.
Best Outfield Arm: Aaron Brown, Chatsworth, Sr.
Best Fastball: Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard Westlake, Jr.
Best Offspeed Stuff: Max Fried, LHP, Montclair Prep, Jr.
Best Command: Robert Stephenson, RHP, Alhambra, Sr.
Best Pitchability: Henry Owens, LHP, Edison, Sr.
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