2004 Preseason Rankings
1. Riverside (Greer, S.C.)
Last Year's Record: 29-1
Outlook: The Warriors return all but one starter from last year's team, which won the Class AAA state title and finished the year ranked No. 2 in the SchoolSports.com National Top 25 rankings. Clemson-bound outfielder/pitcher Brad Chalk, rated the nation's No. 39 senior prospect by SchoolSports.com, leads Riverside, which features a total of seven players who have either committed or signed to play Division I college baseball. Reigning state Player of the Year Brad Hocking, a South Carolina recruit, and Army-bound twins Adam and Andrew Crisp also add punch to Riverside's lineup. The Warriors got off to an 11-1 start this spring, losing to Stratford, 8-2, in the championship of the International Paper Classic on March 6, snapping a 13-game winning streak.
2. Rancho Bernardo (San Diego, Calif.)
Last Year's Record: 26-7
Outlook: The Broncos have it all this spring — outstanding starting pitching, pop throughout the entire lineup and tremendous speed. Senior right-handed pitchers Brandon Burke and Chris Boros form a dominant one-two punch. Burke, a 6-foot-3, 198-pound Fresno State recruit, went 11-1 with a 1.06 ERA last spring, while Boros, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound San Diego recruit, went 9-2 with a 2.48 ERA. The continued development of No. 3 starter Brian Ozols, Rancho Bernardo's starting quarterback this past fall, and junior John Dutton add depth on the mound. Junior John Drennan, who last year hit .385 with 14 home runs, and senior third baseman Roberto Lopez, who hit .417 with nine home runs, lead the Broncos' offense. Rancho Bernardo started this spring 6-1, including a 3-0 win over reigning San Diego Section Division I champion and No. 13 La Costa Canyon on March 24. Dutton struck out five and allowed only two hits in the complete-game shutout.
3. Farragut (Knoxville, Tenn.)
Last Year's Record: 48-1
Outlook: A year removed from setting a state record for wins in a season with 48 and winning the Class AAA title, Farragut looks just as strong this year. The Admirals are stacked at the plate and on the mound. They return seven regulars, including first baseman/pitcher Kyle Waldrop and outfielder Harrison Eldridge, who hit .446 last spring. Waldrop, a senior Vanderbilt recruit, hit .503 last spring with 10 home runs and 67 RBI and led the pitching staff with an 8-0 record and a 0.78 ERA. In all, Farragut led the state with a 1.22 team ERA last spring and a single-season state record 16 shutouts. Pitcher/third baseman Philip Sherrard is a threat both at the plate and on the mound. Last spring he went 6-0 with a 0.49 ERA on the mound and hit .459 with 40 RBI at the plate. Sensational sophomore shortstop Tony Delmonico looks to continue to progress this spring after hitting .382 last season. After winning its final 35 games last spring, Farragut won its first two games this spring.
4. Owasso (Owasso, Okla.)
Last Year's Record: 36-4
Outlook: Senior Dallas Trahern leads Owasso's quest to repeat as Class 6A state champion this spring. Trahern, a right-handed Oklahoma-bound pitcher/shortstop, hit .403 last spring with six home runs while going 10-2 on the mound. Lefty sophomore Chris Armstrong, who went 10-1 last spring with 97 strikeouts, also looks to contribute on the mound. Junior third baseman Arin Fowble and senior outfielders Brian Majors and Kevin Thulin look to add punch at the plate. The Rams started this season 11-2.
5. Monsignor Pace (Opa Locka, Fla.)
Last Year's Record: 21-10
Outlook: With the addition of senior left-handed transfer Gio Gonzalez to the starting rotation, Pace should contend for its first state title since 1988. Gonzalez, a Miami-bound SchoolSports All-American, went 5-2 with a 0.99 ERA and 120 strikeouts for Hialeah High last spring and is rated the nation's No. 10 overall prospect by SchoolSports.com. Junior right-hander Anthony Perez, who went 8-1 with a 1.54 ERA and 70 strikeouts last spring, teams up with Gonzalez to form a deadly one-two punch. Junior All-American first baseman Chris Dominguez and brothers Christian and Chris Marrero power the Spartans' lineup. Christian, a Florida State-bound senior outfielder, hit .400 with eight home runs and 38 RBI last spring, while Chris, a sophomore, is considered one of the top underclassmen in the nation. Junior Tommy Mendoza adds left-handed pop to the lineup and another solid lefty arm to the pitching rotation. Pace won its first 11 games this spring.
6. Bellaire (Bellaire, Texas)
Last Year's Record: 30-4
Outlook: One of the nation's top programs doesn't look to have a down year anytime soon. At least not this year. Already, 11 Bellaire seniors have earned college scholarships, including nine Division I recruits. Derek Myers, who signed with Rice, leads the Cardinals this spring as they look to defend their District 18-5A championship. The shortstop hit .451 last spring with 31 RBI and 30 stolen bases. TCU recruit Andrew Walker is one of the best defensive catchers in the nation and adds pop to the Cardinals' lineup. He hit .353 last spring with 25 RBI and four home runs, and he hit three homers in Bellaire's first three games this spring. Bellaire's pitching staff is solid, albeit inexperienced. University of Houston recruit Donnie de Regnier and Southern Nevada recruit Corbin Rayburn, both senior left-handers, lead the pitching staff. Bellaire started this season 14-2.
7. Wolfson (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Last Year's Record: 28-3
Outlook: A pair of top prospects lead a Wolfson team that returns six starters from last year's squad. Right-handed pitcher Eric Hurley, who's rated the No. 33 prospect in the country by SchoolSports.com, anchors the pitching staff. Hurley went 13-1 with a 1.80 ERA last spring. Reigning team MVP Billy Butler, a pitcher/third baseman, hit .604 last spring with 10 home runs and 38 RBI. On the mound, Butler complemented Hurley well by going 9-1 with a 1.80 ERA. Both Butler and Hurley have signed with Florida. The Wolfpack started out 10-1 this spring and won the Orlando National Baseball Classic.
8. Westminster Academy (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)
Last Year's Record: 27-5
Outlook: The Westminster Academy lineup will miss the pop of graduated second baseman Val Miklausich, but with the return of catcher Brian Van Kirk and eight other seniors, the Lions should be fine. Van Kirk, who signed with Florida Atlantic, hit .460 with eight home runs and 33 RBI last spring and is solid defensively. Van Kirk's No. 1 battery mate, Tommy Wynn, isn't overpowering but is effective. Last spring, the Florida recruit went 12-2 with a 2.33 ERA and 67 strikeouts. First baseman/pitcher Elih Villanueva is an all-around threat. He hit .344 with five home runs last spring and went 5-2 on the mound. The Lions jumped out to a 10-1 start this spring.
9. Elkins (Missouri City, Texas)
Last Year's Record: 31-8
Outlook: Elkins' bid for a third consecutive Class 5A state title took a serious hit just weeks into the season when the Knights lost ace pitcher Stephen Porlier for the remainder of the season with a torn ligament in his pitching elbow. Porlier, a Tulane-bound senior right-hander, won his first two starts of the season, striking out 33 in 15 innings of work before going down. Senior right-handers Cody McCutcheon and Grant Taylor now lead the makeshift pitching staff, which also includes sophomore Kevin Hernandez and senior lefty John Tolleson. A trio of power hitters look to compensate for the pitching problems. Senior shortstop Will Carpenter, who committed to Texas A&M, hit .336 with seven home runs and 38 RBI last spring, while senior third baseman Matt Carpenter, who committed to Texas Christian University, hit .377 with seven homers and 35 RBI. Senior outfielder Spencer Jackson, who also committed to TCU, hit .452 last spring with five home runs. Despite the injury to Porlier, the Knights managed to start off 13-4 this spring.
10. Nova (Davie, Fla.)
Last Year's Record: 28-4
Outlook: SchoolSports All-American Warren McFadden, who's rated the No. 18 prospect in the senior class, leads a fast Nova team. The Tulane recruit, who is expected to be an early-round selection in June's Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, hit .518 last spring with 31 stolen bases and 28 RBI. Senior LSU recruit Brett Sager, junior shortstop Nick Arata and junior third baseman William Block should also play prominent roles in the Titans' lineup. Pitching-wise, Nova has a one-two punch that's rivaled by few schools in the state, let alone the nation. Senior ace Anthony Swarzak and junior Pablo Lopez combined to go 27-3 last spring. Swarzak, who signed with LSU, went 14-1 last spring with a 0.58 ERA, 142 strikeouts and nine shutouts. The Titans started the season 8-1.
11. Chatsworth (Chatsworth, Calif.)
Last Year's Record: 33-1
Outlook: With the graduation of star pitcher Justin Cassel, who is now a freshman at UC Irvine and was drafted by the Oakland A's last June, Chatsworth will struggle to finish No. 1 in the SchoolSports.com Top 25 for a second consecutive year. But that doesn't mean the Chancellors aren't among the nation's elite teams. Senior right-handed pitcher Jason Dominguez should ease into the role as ace. The Pepperdine recruit went 11-0 last spring with a 2.60 ERA, 84 strikeouts and 24 walks in 70 innings. He also led the Chancellors' offense by hitting .449 with nine home runs and 47 RBI. Left-handed transfer Jacob Norton and seniors Zach Oasheim and Adrian Pereya fill out the pitching staff. Dominguez's younger brother, Matt Dominguez, hits cleanup for Chatsworth and has pop unprecedented for a 6-foot, 165-pound freshman. Seniors Willie Cabrera and Mike Fernandez bolster the lineup at the plate.
12. La Cueva (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Last Year's Record: 29-0
Outlook: With the return of four-year starters James Parr, Jordan Pacheco and Matt Quillen, La Cueva should be the favorite to repeat as Class 5A state champion. Pacheco, a University of New Mexico-bound pitcher/infielder, hit .545 last spring with six home runs and 31 RBI. On the mound, he went 3-0 with a 2.37 ERA and 32 strikeouts. Parr, a University of Hawaii-bound pitcher/infielder, went 8-0 on the mound last spring and hit .573 with 14 home runs and 61 RBI. Quillen hit .436 with 17 home runs and 50 RBI. The Bears started out 7-0 this spring.
13. La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.)
Last Year's Record: 32-1
Outlook: La Costa Canyon graduated its entire infield from last year's team but returns its top two outfielders, its top two top pitchers and outstanding junior catcher Scott Clement, who hit a team-high .495 last spring. Nick Burke, Michael Scharbarth, who hit .410 with 46 RBI, and Clement lead the Mavericks at the plate. Pepperdine-bound senior Doug Konoske and fellow senior Michael Kenney each won nine games last spring. The Mavericks started out 4-1 this season.
14. Clay-Chalkville (Pinson, Ala.)
Last Year's Record: 36-5
Outlook: The pitching-heavy Cougars look to repeat as Class 6A state champions this spring. Senior right-hander Brandon Flaherty and junior righty Josh Styes lead the team. Flaherty went 12-2 with 130 strikeouts last spring, while Styes went 13-1 with 111 strikeouts. The Cougars got off to a mediocre 15-6 start this spring, but look to rebound.
15. Tomball (Tomball, Texas)
Last Year's Record: 23-7
Outlook: The Cougars are led by SchoolSports All-American pitcher Troy Patton. Patton, who's rated the No. 15 prospect in the senior class by SchoolSports.com, went 9-2 last spring with a 1.15 ERA and 95 strikeouts. Trevor Hurley, Mitch Nelson and Dustin Rasco are also solid on the mound. Offensively, transfers Byron Wiley and Kyle Russell are solid additions to Tomball's lineup. Russell is one of the top junior outfielders in the nation, while Wiley has tremendous pop and is solid in the outfield. Trae Williams, Tyler Hohman, Rasco and Patton also have potent bats. Tomball coasted to a 19-1 start this spring.
16. The Woodlands (The Woodlands, Texas)
Last Year's Record: 30-5
Outlook: The Highlanders feature an experienced lineup that is stacked with future Division I players. Rice recruit Jordan Dodson leads the Highlanders both on the mound and at the plate. The right-hander led the Highlanders in wins last spring and can play several positions in the field as well. This year, he's hitting cleanup in The Woodlands' lineup, which also gets solid contributions from second baseman David Macias and third baseman Shea Robin, who both committed to Vanderbilt. Air Force recruit Matt Ghigna has a solid bat as well and can play anywhere in the field. Kyle Drabek and Kyle Walker boost the Highlanders' pitching staff. The Woodlands jumped out to an 18-1 start this spring.
17. Valencia (Valencia, Calif.)
Last Year's Record: 23-7
Outlook: Seniors Jared Clark and Matt Aidem lead Valencia's powerful offense. Clark, who committed to Cal State Fullerton, has amazing power for a high school hitter and is also the team's ace pitcher. Aidem, a catcher who committed to UC Santa Barbara, hits leadoff for the Vikings and set a team record last spring by hitting .581. Valencia stumbled out the gates this season, losing its first three games before rebounding with a five-game winning streak to improve to 5-3.
18. Destrehan (Destrehan, La.)
Last Year's Record: 28-7
Outlook: Strong pitching could help Destrehan win the state title this spring, a year after losing to East Ascension, 10-6, in the Class 5A title game. Louisiana Tech-bound senior Andrew Lassere and junior Beau Jones lead Destrehan's pitching staff. Lassere went 12-2 last spring with a 1.68 ERA and 86 strikeouts and Jones is one of the top junior pitchers in the nation. LSU-bound senior Trey Simon leads Destrehan's offense. Simon hit .483 last spring with eight home runs, 45 RBI and 40 runs scored. Tyrone Wethers is also one of the team's top players. Destrehan started the spring 15-1.
19. Rockwall (Rockwall, Texas)
Last Year's Record: 29-10
Outlook: Rockwall returns all but one starter from last year's team, which advanced to the Class 5A regional semifinals. Seniors Preston Clark and Drew Bishop, who have been playing together since they were 12, lead the way. Clark, a catcher who's rated the No. 38 senior prospect in the nation by SchoolSports.com, signed with Texas. Bishop, a pitcher/outfielder, signed with Arizona. Junior transfers Derek VerHagen and Graham Martin bolster the pitching staff, which has been the team's lone weakness in recent years. Rockwall started off 14-2 this spring.
20. Tottenville (Staten Island, N.Y.)
Last Year's Record: 36-2
Outlook: Tottenville graduated most of its stars from last year's PSAL city champion team. Still, the perennial powerhouse looks to be solid this season. Veteran catcher Tom Ambersole leads Tottenville, which won its first four games this spring.
21. Crespi (Encino, Calif.)
Last Year's Record: 27-6
Outlook: SchoolSports All-American Trevor Plouffe leads a strong Crespi team this spring. Plouffe hit .500 with 55 hits, 47 RBI, 17 stolen bases and six home runs last spring while going 13-1 with a 0.71 ERA on the mound. The USC-bound pitcher/shortstop is rated the No. 14 senior prospect in the nation by SchoolSports.com and is expected to be an early-round selection in June's Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. Junior second baseman Mike Gilmartin and sophomore third baseman Sean Camacho combine with Plouffe to form a tremendous defensive infield. Outfielder Ollie Linton adds pop to the Crespi lineup. The team started out 9-1 this spring.
22. Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
Last Year's Record: 32-3
Outlook: Chaparral returns seven starters from last year's Class 4A state championship team. The Firebirds are led by junior pitcher/first baseman Ike Davis and junior infielder/pitcher Austin Young. Davis hit a team-high .559 last spring and went 9-0 on the mound with a 1.58 ERA. Curt Miaso and Ryan Weimar also look to add pop to the Firebirds' lineup. Chaparral started out 11-1 this year.
23. Gulliver Prep (Miami, Fla.)
Last Year's Record: 21-7
Outlook: A trio of solid starting pitchers make Gulliver Prep one of the most dangerous teams in Florida. In his first year of pitching, senior Chris Garcia is quickly becoming one of the nation's top prospects on the mound. The 6-foot-4, 190-pounder is also one of the top catchers in the nation and could be drafted at either position this June. University of Louisville recruit Matt Moser and Florida International recruit Jorge Lorie, both right-handers, are also top-shelf pitchers. Jorge Castillo, a Louisville-bound first baseman, leads Gulliver's offense. The Raiders started out 10-3 this spring.
24. Milton (Alpharetta, Ga.)
Last Year's Record: 19-9
Outlook: Dexter Fowler, who is rated the nation's No. 21 senior prospect by SchoolSports.com, leads a strong Milton squad. Fowler hit .476 last spring with seven home runs, 39 runs, eight doubles, 22 RBI and one triple. Troy Norton, Brandon Henderson, Eddie Prasch and Trey Sheffield also lead Milton, which looks to rebound from a 3-3 start this season.
25. Heritage (Littleton, Colo.)
Last Year's Record: 20-6
Outlook: Pitchers Luke French and Chad Murray lead Heritage's starting rotation. French, a UNLV-bound left-hander, went 8-1 last spring with a 1.81 ERA on the mound and hit .493 with eight home runs at the plate. Nate Ence and Austin Krum are also dangerous both on the mound and at the plate, and shortstop Jake Opitz is one of the state's top infielders. Heritage won its first five games this spring.