Tournaments : : Story
Monday, April 01, 2013

Showdown: Sarasota High School

Jeff Dahn         Todd Gold        
Photo: Perfect Game
2013 Perfect Game High School Showdown event page

Perfect Game High School Showdown Team Previews:

Florida Georgia
Venice Indians Parkview Panthers
Sarasota Sailors Blessed Trinity Titans
Mater Academy Lions
Cartersville Hurricanes
Montverde Academy Eagles Savannah Christian Raiders

Sarasota SailorsRoster | Schedule

When Sarasota (Fla.) High School head coach Clyde Metcalf was selected to be the head coach of the East Team at the 2012 Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings last August, it was really just one more jewel in a coaching crown filled with thousands of them.

Metcalf has led the Sarasota High program since 1982 and has elevated it to a level where it truly ranks among the nation's elite -- the Sailors even won "mythical" national championships under Metcalf in 1989 and 1994 and Metcalf was named by various entities as the national coach of the year after both of those seasons.

Metcalf will bring all that national recognition -- along with his 2013 group of Sailors -- the short distance down I-75 to Fort Myers on Thursday to take part in the first Perfect Game High School Showdown, an eight-team tournament that pits four of the top teams from Florida head-to-head against four elite teams from Georgia.

As the winner of eight Florida high school state championships -- including six under Metcalf in 1987, '89, '93, '94, '96 and 2007 -- there was no way Sarasota could be left off the Showdown's guest list.

"We have a lot of tremendous support in the community," Metcalf told PG. "A lot of our former players give us a lot of support and I think it helps that I've been there a long time and you get that consistency; it's really a good community program."

This year's Sailors won 12 of their first 16 games -- including 10 of 12 at one point -- and features a young group with just five seniors on the 15-man roster. That senior class is headed by first baseman/outfielder Jason Sierra, a Vanderbilt signee, and left-hander/first baseman Dylan White, a Miami (Fla.) recruit. Junior catcher Brandon Chapman has committed to George Washington and sophomore right-hander Jordan Gubelman to Alabama State.

"I like this team a lot," Metcalf said. "We pitch very well, which has been good; offensively we've struggled a little bit but I think a lot of that was the fact that our one- and three-hole hitters had been out with injuries. I like the way these guys play the game -- we play defense, we pitch well and they're very fundamentally sound. I like this club and I think they have a chance to make a run near the end of the year.

"We're playing well, increasingly well," he continued. "We had a lot of injuries early in the year, but we're getting all of our guys back and getting them healthy. We're playing a lot better ball."

The 2013 Sailors certainly have rich tradition to uphold. Eight former Sarasota High players became first-round picks in the MLB draft, including San Diego Padres right-hander Casey Kelly, the 30th overall pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2008. Former Sailor Ian Desmond -- an alumnus of the 2004 PG World Showcase --was a third-round pick of the Montreal Expos in 2004, and in 2013 will begin his fourth season as the starting shortstop for the Washington Nationals.

"We've been very fortunate to have had some great players come through our program and I've been fortunate to have worked with some great coaches," Metcalf said. "What we've tried to do is build a program that's consistent in what we do, and we've tried to progress with the times and make changes that we've felt are necessary. But out biggest thing is to put out a quality product every year."

High School Team Breakdown: Sarasota High School

Top Prospects (Position, Class, PG National Rank):

1.  Jason Sierra, 1B/OF, 2013, 338
2.  Dylan White, OF/1B, LHP, 2013, 449
3.  Zachary McMullen, LHP/OF, 2014, Top 1,000
4.  Joe Cavallaro, RHP/3B, 2014, High Follow
5.  Brandon Chapman, C, 2014, High Follow

After initially making his mark (and earning an offer from Miami) as a left handed pitcher, Dylan White has reemerged as a high level position prospect. The left handed hitter likely profiles at first base long term, but with the presence of 2013 1B Jason Sierra, White primarily contributes to the Sailors as a centerfielder and designated hitter when he's not on the mound, serving as the team's closer after recovering from a torn labrum. While neither is quite the calliber of hitter as the top prospects in this tournament's field like Nick Longhi or Josh Hart, they are both high level Division I prospects who form a very good nucleus for the Sailors offensive attack.

2014 C Brandon Chapman is one of the young hitters in the lineup who is counted on to help the senior duo of Sierra and White. How much production they can get from the bottom of the order will make a big impact on how the Sailors fare in the Showdown. While they've got the top end hitting talent to match up with the rest of the field, it's going to come down to depth when teams of this calliber match up against one another.

Depth is the strength of Sarasota's pitching staff. While they don't have a true ace, they have gotten quality innings from several pitchers this year: 2014 RHP Joey Cavallaro, 2014 LHP Zach McMullen, 2013 1B/LHP Dylan White and 2014 RHP Evan Mendoza. Meanwhile, 2015 RHP Jordan Gubelman made his first varsity start last week and threw a five inning shutout.

On the year they've allowed just 28 runs over 16 games (1.75 per game), and the only time they've given up more than four runs was in a 6-2 loss to fellow PG High School Showdown contender (and nationally ranked) Venice on March 12.

If they can continue to get quality pitching from their staff, even against talented lineups from the state of Georgia, and add in some production from the bottom part of the order, the Sailors have a chance to compete for the title. It would be expecting a bit much to think that Sierra and White can carry them in every game, but they'll both need to do their part if Sarasota is going to have a chance, given the level of competition they'll be facing.
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