3/27/2011 11:35:15 AM
Leading Off: Top 25 Regional Rankings for Florida, Southeast, and California were released Friday. Who is the best team to not make it?
Ben Collman: Acadiana (LA) was the toughest omission in our regional rankings. They just missed the Southeast Top 25 which, no surprise, is a loaded region. The Rams have shown they can beat some of the top teams in the state with two wins over Regional #15 Lafayette, as well as wins over Teurlings Catholic and Evangel Christian. They have dropped five games on the year, one apiece to Louisiana powers Catholic, Barbe, and Parkview Baptist. They have also dropped contests to Central (Baton Rouge) and Franklinton. Two big games await over the next two weeks with road tests April 2 vs. Regional # 13 Barbe and another game vs. Lafayette.
Acadiana is led by C Stryker Trahan, currently ranked #25 in the Class of 2012 rankings, and have a deep, experienced roster with eight seniors. Senior and LA-Lafayette commit Cord Cockrell and junior Chance Vincent are two other top performers for the Rams.
Todd Gold: Alhambra (Martinez, CA) just missed the Pacific Top 25 and a big reason being their strength of schedule and the presence of several other undefeated teams who have played a slightly tougher schedule. Make no mistake, Alhambra is probably a top 20 team in terms of talent, they are led by ace Robert Stephenson, who threw back to back no-hitters to open the season and looks like a potential first round pick come June.
But the Pacific Region is loaded, and the Bulldogs have only faced one team with a winning record, so in spite of outscoring their opponents 55-3 and not allowing more than one run in any game to this point, somehow the difficult decision had to be made to leave them out, for now. The work done by the teams that did make the rankings is equally impressive and came against tougher competition. While I fully expect Alhambra to keep up their dominant winning ways and work their way into the Pacific Regional Top 25 in the coming weeks, they haven’t had the opportunity to earn it yet. They will be tested come April 12th and 14th when they face Alcalanes and San Marin, at which time we will have a better feel for just how good Alhambra really is. The fact that they missed the top 25 is a testament to the quality of those teams that did make it.
2-hole: Which teams has had the biggest turnaround from a year ago?
TG: Langham Creek (TX) has really taken the Houston area by storm with their play in the early part of this season. After going 11-17-1 last year the Lobos are back, off to a 15-2 start to the season. They have been in the conversation for a spot in the National Top 50 for the past couple of weeks and look to be a shoe-in for the Texahoma Top 25 Regional Rankings when they are released this coming Friday. The Lobos have knocked off an impressive list of quality opponents including Clements (16-2), Atascocita (10-5), Nederland (6-2), CyLakes (12-6), Spring (10-5), Lee (10-5), The Woodlands (11-4) and defending state champion Carroll (11-3). They came through with a 12-6 win last night against conference rival Cy Ranch, all but assuring themselves a spot in next week’s Top 50. Congratulations to Armando Sedeno’s ballclub for their early season success, they still have a lot of work to do but the early returns are very promising.
BC: Kell (GA) struggled through the worst year in the school’s ten year history in 2010, finishing 8-18. The Longhorns have gotten back on track this year, holding a 10-4 record and looking like a definite contender in Region 5-AAAA. They have posted wins over Norcross, Roswell, and Hiram among others. Their four losses (to Duluth, Wheeler, Douglas County, and Walton) have been by a combined five runs.
The competition looks to get tougher as Kell gets into Region play this week with games against Pope, Chapel Hill, and South Paulding, all who won at least 18 games a year ago. The Kell offense has been potent so far with Jamari Moore, Reid Michalek, and Parker Madden playing big roles. Madden has also been one of the team’s top pitchers, along with Benjie Grifenhagen and Jacob Brabon.
Clutch Time: Which team has the best OF in the country?
BC: Olympia HS in the Orlando area would have an argument for the best OF in the nation just with the duo of Jesse Winker and Connor Lien. But then adding Walker Weickel on days that he doesn’t pitch puts this group over the top. Winker, a Florida commit, is ranked #16 in the 2012 class and has impressed at showcases and tournaments with FTB Mizuno as well as during the high school season. He has an athletic build and a very strong arm with velocities up to 90 mph from the outfield and 87 from the mound. It is Winker’s bat that will carry him. He has a strong, patient approach with strong, quick hands and present power with more to come when he gains strength.
Lien is a Central Florida commit, whose brother Patrick is the Titans starting catcher. He is a tremendous athlete, running his 60 yard dash in 6.5 and throwing 88 mph from the outfield. He has strength in his swing and hits the ball to all fields very well. Weickel is a top prospect on the mound, recently joining Miami’s loaded 2012 class, and is ranked #10 in the nation. His future is as a pitcher, but is also a very strong athlete, running his 60 at 6.78, very impressive number for a 6’6 220 lb player.
They future is bright for the Titans as all three players are juniors and look to only get better. They also feature freshman Nick Gordon, son of MLB P Tom, and brother of top Dodgers SS prospect Dee. The team is 11-4 this year and has a good chance to make noise in the 6A playoffs this year.
TG: J Serra (CA) has a loaded OF, with Clay Williamson, Tyler Krause, Hayden Cornwell and Tanner Bily, all of whom will be playing division one baseball in college. Most of the attention for J Serra, #24 in the National Rankings, has focused on All-American C Austin Hedges, but with a D1 player at nearly every position, this is one of the deepest teams in the nation. All three of their outfielders do a lot of damage at the plate and they play good defense. Williamson is a captain, Cornwell is a good athlete who also excels on the gridiron, Bily looks like he could be a key player for the Lions as a senior next season, and Krause impressed PG scouts at the WWBA World Championship tournament last fall.