Tuesday, April 15, 2014

OC Top 10

After a busy week for several teams in the Top 10 which led to some losses at the top, we have a new number one team for the first time this season. On the heels of winning two games, Huntington Beach, takes over the top spot from JSerra which was 2-1 last week.

Other teams moving around the Top 10 include San Clemente, Dana Hills, Trabuco Hills. Dropping out of the polls this week are Servite, Esperanza, and Laguna Beach.

It is important to note that I vote on where a team stands this week. If they're the best team right now, that's where they'll be ranked. 

Below is how I voted in this weeks poll. Previous rankings in parentheses. Records are as of Sunday, April 13th. 

1. Huntington Beach - 13-2 (2) - The Oilers haven't lost in five weeks and are getting it done with pitching and hitting. Noah Davis (UCSB) and Sean O'Toole (St. Mary's) are providing quality innings as starters and Logan Pouelsen (UCLA) and Hagen Danner (UCLA) are proving they're the best closers in the county. The offense has come alive in the last two weeks for Huntington Beach who has scored 55 runs in their current 11 game win streak. 

Next Up: National Classic


2. JSerra 12-3 (1) - The Lions dropped a tough one to a streaking Santa Margarita team last week before bouncing back to win its next two league games. The encouraging sign was seeing Quentin Longrie (UCLA) on his game in a marvelous 2-1 win against Mater Dei. The offense continues to stay hot for JSerra who appears to be vulnerable at times although they're still the favorites in one of the best leagues in the country. 

Next Up: 4/16 - Cypress (DH)

3. Dana Hills 14-4 (7) - The Dolphins defeated then number three, San Clemente, in what can only be described as a classic, walk-off fashion. Dana Hills is the surprise team for many this year, but when you break down their roster you'll see plenty of talent there. With a team ERA under 2.40 and a batting average just under .300, it's easy to see what's carrying this team. We'll how legit a title contenders they are after this week.

Next Up: 4/15 - Aliso Niguel; 4/17 @ Aliso Niguel 

4. Trabuco Hills 14-3 (5) - After splitting their two league games last week, the Mustangs entered the Ryan Lemmon Classic looking to make a deep run. Matt Torretto provided a spark throwing a no-hitter against Tustin in the first game of the tournament. Pitching and defense is the name of the game for the Mustangs who have the potential to break out at the plate,

Next Up: Ryan Lemmon Classic.

5. San Clemente 15-5 (3) - A rough week against the top two teams in league sees the Tritons take a little drop in this weeks polls. This is still a very strong team with not only league, but CIF, title aspirations. The good news for San Clemente is they'll have a shot at redemption and that league title as they'll face Dana Hills and Aliso Niguel the final two weeks of the season. 

Next Up: 4/16 @ Laguna Hills; 4/17 Laguna Hills


6. Fountain Valley 10-4 (NR) - I have purposely kept the Barons off the Top 10 because of their schedule with the thinking being that I wanted to see how they handle the better teams in league. Well, last week they destroyed Los Al (who is a good team despite their record) twice in league play. Pitching was a big question mark for Fountain Valley and they're getting plenty of it. The offense is loose and relaxed and seeing the ball incredibly well. 

Next Up: National Classic

7. Beckman 11-2 (NR) - The Patriots are back in the Top 10 on the strength of a 3-0 week including a win over a good Oak Park team. Beckman has scored 31 runs in it's last 5 wins to go with stellar pitching from their starters and bullpen. This is a team that will make noise come post-season time despite it's lack of many challenges so far. 


Next Up: Beach Pit Classic


8. Aliso Niguel 11-7 (NR) - The Wolverines are also back in the Top 10 because of the consistency they've shown the last couple of weeks. If you look at their schedule, two losses came to national powers in the NHSI, another came to the top team in OC, two more came to out of area teams in the Boras Classic. Aliso Niguel is taking care of business against teams it's going to face in the post-season. Blake Sabol is beginning to find his rhythm at the plate which, coupled with Kyle Molnar (UCLA) and the veteran seniors on the roster, could be dangerous. 

Next Up: 4/15 @ Dana Hills; 4/17 Dana Hills

9. Edison 13-5 (8) - Coming off a two-win week, Edison is continuing to cruise along despite no expectations from the outside world. What first year head coach, Cameron Chinn, has done with this program is simply remarkable. With many of the same kids as last year on the roster he has them believing they're a post-season caliber team that can make a run. The interesting thing is they're doing it with a young roster comprised of mainly sophomores and juniors. This is a very good team that should be around for a while. 

Next Up: 4/19 Tesoro

10. Santa Margarita 8-5 (NR) - The Eagles got hot at the right time last season and carried that momentum deep into the post-season and it looks like they're primed to repeat that performance in 2014. Going 3-0 in the Trinity League in a week is no joke. Mixing in JSerra and Mater Dei among the victims makes it eye-opening. Griffin Canning (UCLA) along with Dillon Miyashiro (APU) have found their form on the mound and at the plate. Santa Margarita is a genuine threat in the Trinity League.

Next Up: National Classic

Others: Tesoro (14-5), Capo Valley (11-8-1), Laguna Beach (14-2), Cypress (9-6), Pacifica (12-5), Mission Viejo (11-7), Servite (9-6)

--Les Lukach


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Chaminade prospects

Chaminade Prep is loaded with baseball prospects. You can start with the obvious prospect, Blake Rutherford (UCLA), who may potentially be the best 2016 prospect in all of SoCal, but the prospects don't end there.  

Below are some notes for three of Chaminades top prospects. 

Dallas Tessar (SS): Does all the little things right. Is the prototypical middle infielder for Chaminade. Looks to have the abililty to stay at shortstop at the next level. At the plate he shows good pitch recognition which alllowed him to avoid the negative AB. Runs well and makes all the plays/throws from the middle of the infield. Committed to the University of Washington. 

Nick Kahle (C) Popping anywhere from 2,02 - 2.15, Kahle also shows a very good approach at the plate to supplement his ability defensively. Showing very good footwoork, along with catch & throw ability. Has the ability to hit to all fields and flashes power potential. Runs well for a catcher. Being recruited by Cal State Northridge, Washington, Oregon State, and Cal State Fullerton. 

Blake Rutherford (CF) Unquestionably the top 2016 player in SoCal in my mind. Rutherford didn't have the best day offensively but still showed what many scouts love about him. When he grounded out he ran a 4.24 down the line, showing his run tool. He did have a pop-up and not many opportunities defensively to show he's the top guy in his class. Defensively, though, he's as graceful as he is skilled. Tracking balls seems effortless for him and he has a near plus arm. Committed to UCLA. 



Ryan Lemmon Invitational Notes

Had the opportunity to see Trabuco Hills, Tustin, Valencia (Placentia), and Long Beach Wilson this morning in the first games at the Ryan Lemmon Invitational at Windrow Park in Irvine. 

Below are some notes on players from the first game. 

Matt Torretto (Trabuco HIlls): The 2014 LHP didn't over power anybody but consistently hit spots with a loopy curveball and mixed in a nice change up. He commanded his fastball despite it's lack of velocity. Threw a no-hitter to open the tournament.

Erik Voller (Trabuco Hills): The junior catcher was best catcher in the first two games. Regularly popping 2.11 - 2.19, he showed very good receiving skills and footwork. At the plate he shows an advanced approach which allowed him to draw two walks.

Adalberto Carrillo (Tustin): The senior shortstop was impressive all day with the glove showing range in both directions along with an impressive arm. At the plate he was a bit over-aggressive at times...likely trying break up the no-hitter. Impressive player on a team that doesn't have many college level players. 

Coby Kauhaahaa (Valencia): The shortstop, a 2015 Cal State Fullerton commit, flashed very good defensive skills with the glove and arm. Moves laterally with ease. Didn't see too much at the plate from him, in part due to not seeing many hittable pitches, which indicates good plate discipline.

Matt Ruff (Valencia): The senior catcher showed impressive defensive skills - receives very well and shows very good footwork and catch and throw skills. Popped 2.0 in throwing out a would-be base stealer. 

--Les Lukach


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

SoCal NTIS 13U and 14U Players Identified

The first step toward making the USA Baseball National Team was taken by a group of players last weekend when they participated in the National Team Identification Series (NTIS) workout in Southern California.

The players were separated into two groups - 2000 and 2001 birth dates - as they vie for an opportunity to make the 14U and 13U National Teams. These initial group of players identified by scouts are put into a pool of players to be considered for the Southern California team which will participate in the USA Baseball NTIS in Cary, NC.

The Southern California team is to be selected by June 1, 2014 and will be comprised of 16 players. 

The NTIS will feature 16 regional teams from around the country that will compete in a tournament format event. From the NTIS, USA Baseball will invite a minimum of 56 players to future National Team Trials and National Team Development Program opportunities, with the ultimate goal of being selected to represent our country as part of Team USA.

Below is the list of players, along with their travel ball teams, that have been identified for the Southern California teams.

2001 Birth Date Players - 13U
Carsen Falsken - Alliance
Dylan Swanson - Alliance
Ian Bonham - Alliance
Andres Lopez - CBAVictory Gold
Taylor Johnson - CBA Angels
Nicolas Gio - CBA Angels
Kellen Kozlowski - CBA Angels
Kyle Nevin - CBA Angels
Cody Freeman - CBA Bulldogs
Gabe Briones - CBA Bulldogs
Jordan Sprinkle - CBA Bulldogs
Daylan Acevedo - Upland Nationals
Zach Chonkich - Upland Nationals
Sebastian Murillo - Upland Nationals
Troy Taylor - Upland Nationals
Emilio Morales - Upland Nationals
Riley O’Sullivan - MIT
Spencer Jones - MIT
Ethan Sakata - MIT
Matthew Noce - MIT
Joseph Naranjo - CBA Bulldogs
Gunnar Antillion - RC Bulldogs
Nico De la Rippa - GBG
Max Flame - GBG
Carter Graham - GBG
Brandon Madrigal - GBG
Chris Aldrich - GBG
Robert Sharar - GBG
Derek Diamond - CBA Wave
Josh Paino - CBA Wave
Michael Campagna - CBA Wave
Eddie Aldama - CBAVictory Navy
Tony Jacobs - Placentia Mustangs

2000 Birth Date Players - 14U
Gavin Dohrn - RC Bulldogs
Jason Myers - RC Bulldogs
Ryan Meza - RC Bulldogs
Joseph Monets De Oca - RC Bulldogs
Brian Leonhardt - CBA Wave
Nate Smolinsky - CBA Wave
Justin Pablo  -CBA Wave
Nash Johnson - CBA Wave
Mason Pelio - CBA Wave
Mike Paredes - CBA Wave
Ja’Craron Bellinger - CBA Cavs
Jason Einobiden-Padilla - CBA Victory Gold
Diego Barrera - CBA Victory Gold
Cameron English - CBA Victory Gold
Danny Ramirez - CBA Victory Gold
Justin Lucas - CBA Bulldogs
Diego Santiago - CBA Bulldogs
Ryan Lamastra - CBA Bulldogs
Johnny Cuevas - CBA Bulldogs
Dylan Cook - CBA Bulldogs
Ethan Lu - CBA Bulldogs
Tristan Thomas - CBA Cavs
Noah Zamora - Renegades
Ryan Maciel - Renegades
Caden Matheny - Renegades
Taylor Juliene - Renegades
Garret Beltran - Placentia Mustangs
Ian Ramirez - Placentia Mustangs
Hayden Faunce - CBA Victory Navy
Darryl Ruiz - CBA Victory Navy
Collin Hoff - Alliance
Jerrett Howery - Alliance
Cole Coombes-Mickelson - Alliance

--Les Lukach

Sunday, April 6, 2014

OC Top 10


The Top 10 this week has no movement in the top five but sees some shuffling in the second five. There are three new entrants into the Top 10 this week and a couple in the “others” list.

This is how I voted in the Top 10 this week with previous rank in parentheses:

1. JSerra 9-2 (1): Coming off a strong 3-1 performance in the Boras Classic, the Lions continue their stranglehold on the top spot. While the pitching and hitting have been a little inconsistent, JSerra is winning games by doing the little things like taking the extra bag and getting bunts down along with playing stout defense. This week will tell us a lot about how serious a title contender the Lions are as they face three league threats.

Up Next:
Santa Margarita (Mon.), Mater Dei (Wed.) and Orange Lutheran (Fri.)

2. Huntington Beach 10-2 (2): The Oilers needed two unearned runs to beat a very good Edison team 3-2 in a game that will serve as a very good win when it comes to playoff seedings. The pitching staff has been lights out carrying a 1.96ERA and Hagen Danner is quickly becoming the toughest closer in the county. The offense should see an uptick with warmer weather coming in the next few weeks.

Up Next:
Newport Harbor (Tues. & Thurs.)

3. San Clemente 15-3 (3): The Tritons continue to go about their business while not being talked about too much and it appears they’re just fine with that. San Clemente is getting it done with pitching (1.79 team ERA) and hitting (.310 team BA). After a 5-0 run through the Lions Tournament, the Tritons get back into league action this week and look to build on their perfect record (2-0).

Up Next:
Dana Hills (Tues.), Aliso Niguel (Fri.)

4. Esperanza 8-2 (4): The Aztecs are as impressive a team as I’ve seen and if it weren’t for a loss to Brea last week they likely would have moved up instead of staying put. Featuring six players hitting over .300 (min. 15 PA) highlighted by Tristan Hildebrandt (.500), Esperanza is proving they’re back after a bit of a drop off last season. The pitching has been outstanding for Coach Curran as well. Harrison Pyatt gets a lot of the pub, and rightfully so, but it’s Dominic Potlongo who is stealing the show. Three games this week will get the Aztecs ready for the always-difficult National Classic next week.

Up Next:
El Modena (Mon.), Foothill (Tues. & Thurs.)


5. Trabuco Hills 12-2 (5): The Mustangs continue to roll after sweeping Paramount in a double header this past week. They’ll get an opportunity to take the outright lead in league this week when they face Capo Valley. Trabuco Hills is a lot like San Clemente in that nobody talks about them much but they just keep winning games and climbing rankings.

Up Next:
Capo Valley (Wed.), Mission Viejo (Fri.)

6. Tesoro 13-3 (7): The Titans went 5-1 in the Lions Tournament and continue to prove they aren’t going anywhere. Jordan Martini, Colton Richardson, Bryan Fettis, and Spencer Heinsius are all sophomores that you’ll be hearing about for the next few years. That core of youngsters is playing beyond expectations so far and could help lead Tesoro into a deep postseason run.

Up Next:
Long Beach Wilson – Edison Tourney (Mon.), El Toro (Tues.), Capo Valley (Fri.)

7. Dana Hills 13-4 (6): The Dolphins hit a bit of a hiccup against a good Sonora team in the Lions Tournament, but still managed a 4-1 record in the event. Pitcher, Louis Raymond (USF signee), has been impressive so far boasting a 6-1 record and a 1.76 ERA. Sophomore infielder, Shawn Kany, is doing it both with his bat (.370 BA) and his glove for Dana Hills, which plays only one game this week, but it’s a big one.

Up Next:
San Clemente (Tues.)

8. Edison 11-5 (NR): First-year head coach, Cameron Chinn, is getting results with his aggressive approach on the bases and his insistence on quality pitching and defense. Junior pitcher, Noah Kronfly, is having a breakout season for the Chargers both on the mound and in the field. Brian Schales and Jake Scott are providing quality support for Edison. The Chargers had Huntington Beach on the ropes but couldn't deliver the knockout blow. Look for the rematch in the second-to-last week of the season to carry league title implications.

Up Next:
Marina (Tues. & Thurs)

9. Laguna Beach 13-2 (NR): The Breakers enter the Top 10 this week red-hot, winners of nine-of-their-last ten games. Laguna Beach is hitting .392 as a team and has 12 players hitting over .300 (min. 15 PA), led by Richie Nunis’ eye-popping .455 batting average. On the mound, the Breakers are tough to hit against (1.80 team ERA), especially when Grant Wilhelm (5-0, 1.17ERA) is throwing.

Up Next:
Capo Valley Christian (Wed.)

10. Servite 8-5 (NR): Since beginning the season 1-3, the Friars have gone 7-2 including a controversial 7th inning loss to JSerra in Angels Stadium (see video here). Second-year coach, Jeff Sears, is beginning to see the results he expected when he took the job last year. The Friars boast one of the most underrated pitching staffs in the county and have used timely hitting and excellent defense so far.

Up Next:
Mater Dei (Mon.), Orange Lutheran (Wed.), St. John Bosco (Fri.)

OTHERS:
El Dorado, Mater Dei, Woodbridge, Valencia, Beckman

--Les Lukach

Monday, March 17, 2014

OC Top 10

A lot of movement in the Top 10 this week due to the quantity of games played last week in tournament play. It's beginning to be easier to qualify a win as a good win, and a loss as, well, a loss, although it could be seen as a loss to a quality team.

There are a couple of new entrants into the Top 10 this week as Tesoro and Beckman join the party after hot starts to the season. Of course, if new teams are added that means some teams dropped out and this week they are Mater Dei and Orange Lutheran due to each going 1-2 last week in the Elks Tournament. Both teams have been uncommonly inconsistent so far this season.

As league play begins around the county this week the race for postseason seeding will begin in earnest.The Trinity League has moved to a three-game-a-week schedule while most other league remain in their usual home-and-home format.

Below is how I voted in this week's Top 10 poll. Previous ranking in parentheses.

1. JSerra 4-1 (1) The Lions offense is beginning to click on all cylinders as they head into Trinity League play this week. Parker Joe Robinson, Jake Pries, and Brady Shockey are off to good starts while the pitching is getting contributions from a lot guys. The Lions beat Foothill, Capo Valley, and Corona last week in the Elks Tourney.

This Week: 3/17 @ OLu; 3/19 @ Bosco; 3/20 Servite

2. Huntington Beach 3-2 (2) The Oilers are using pitching and defense along with timely hitting to get the job done. They scored a big 2-1 win over OLu before dropping a tough 5-4 decision to Trabuco Hills that was decided late. Noah Davis is proving he's one of the better 2015 pitchers in the county. But the highlight of the game had to be freshman Hagen Danner's 91MPH fastball that left some scouts floored.

This Week: 3/17 Aliso Niguel; 3/21 Newport Harbor

3. Esperanza 5-0 (6) It's time to begin considering the Aztecs as a legitimate contender after winning the Lerner Bracket of the Elks Tournament in big fashion. The pitching staff, once considered a one man show, is proving to be a strength. Last week they allowed 9 runs with only six of them earned. The offense is putting up big time numbers early in the season and will be tested as the enter Century League play.

This Week: 3/19 El Dorado; 3/21 @ El Dorado

4. Aliso Niguel 4-1 (4) Kyle Molnar is the best pitcher in Orange County in this voters eyes. He proved that Saturday by tossing an 8 inning no hitter against Los Al where he faced the minimum (24) batters and allowed one runner (reached on an error). The big question for the Wolverines is, how good is the rest of the staff? Ryan Randel was very impressive against Vista Murrieta before giving way to the bullpen that lost the game. Aliso Niguel needs the offense to get going before they head to North Carolina to play in the NHSI next week.

This Week: 3/17 @ Huntington Beach; 3/21 Dana Hills

5. Mission Viejo 5-2 (NR) The Diablos outscored opponents 36-6 last week in three wins. They're also sporting a 1.46 team ERA through the first seven games of the season. Their two losses were to good teams in Northwood and Newport Harbor. Mission Viejo is sitting pretty as they head into South Coast League play where they were the preseason favorites but will get tested by a very good challenge from Tesoro. The two teams will meet once this week to kick of league play. 

This Week: 3/21 @ Tesoro; 3/22 Mira Costa

6. Tesoro 7-1 (NR) The Titans are doing it with a young roster that's hitting the snot out of the ball; they outscored opponents 30-11 last week in going 3-1. Sophomores Jordan Martini and Colton Richardson are providing some outstanding play for Tesoro both on the mound and at the plate. Tesoro has a huge showdown with Mission Viejo that will have league implications early.

This Week: 3/21 Mission Viejo; 3/22 Canyon Springs

7. El Dorado 3-2 (6) The Golden Hawks lost two one-run games to two very good teams. A Chris Betts HR was the difference in a 1-0 loss to Long Beach Wilson (Loara Tourney Finalist), and Los Alamitos scored two runs in the eighth to win 3-2. El Dorado is getting great pitching from Nick Sprengel and Austin Fresquez, and the hitting has been good too. There is no doubt this team is built for a special season. A huge two games against Esperanza this week which will tell us a lot more about this team and this league.

This Week: 3/18 Foothill; 3/19 @ Esperanza; 3/21 Esperanza

8. Los Alamitos 3-2 (3) The Griffins were not only no hit by Kyle Molnar, but they were thumped by San Clemente 5-0 which sandwiched their win against El Dorado. Darren McCaughan matched Molnar pitch-for-pitch and took a no hitter of his own into the bottom of seventh before allowing a knock down the line. With Jacob Nix and Kyle Mora, along with McCaughan, Los Alamitos has arguably the most talented starters in the county, now they need the offense to catch up.

This Week: 3/21 Fountain Valley; 3/22 Serra (Gardena)

9. Beckman 4-1 (NR) The Patriots are once again a typical Kevin Lavalle coached team, they have very good pitching and are uber aggressive at the plate and on the bases. The difference this year is they have some big bats in their lineup that are resulting in lots of runs scored. Beckman went 3-0 on the week including the 7-2 win over Tesoro. They have only one game this week but it's a big one against a quality University team as both kick of Pacific Coast League action.

This Week: 3/21 University

10. San Clemente 5-3 (5) The Tritons will be happy when they are no longer playing Moore League teams. Two of their losses are to Long Beach Wilson and the other is to Lakewood. San Clemente handled Los Al and Norwalk pretty easily last week. The Tritons will look to get back to their winning ways against a couple of teams that are rebuilding and off to slow starts to the 2014 season.

This Week: 3/19 El Toro (Saddleback College); 3/21 Laguna Hills

Others: Mater Dei; Orange Lutheran; Edison; Santa Margarita; Fountain Valley; Capo Valley; Laguna Beach; Northview

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Game Thoughts: Vista Murrieta v Aliso Niguel


Had a chance to see Vista Murrieta play Aliso Niguel last night in a Lions Tournament game at Glover Stadium in Anaheim.

This was the second time in a week I’ve seen Vista Murrieta and the third time since the fall ball season that I’ve seen Aliso Niguel.

While the game was a pitchers duel for the first five innings, Vista Murrieta broke it open in the fifth before adding a couple more runs in the sixth eventually winning 5-1. The Broncos proved to be too much for the Wolverines bullpen after starter, Ryan Randel, had pitched a gem for Aliso Niguel.

Below are some thoughts on individual players.

Vista Murrieta:

2016 RHP Jack Moberg: Moberg was the starter last week when I saw VM against Tustin. While he looked average in that start, he looked incredible against Aliso Niguel. The sophomore was dialed in from the outset. Sitting 83-85 with the FB, 73-76 CH, and 67 CB, it was his command that stood out the most. Working quickly, Moberg’s off speed stuff got better as the game wore on as he began using the fastball as a secondary pitch. He’s listed at 6’0” but appears shorter than that. Also hammered a 2 RBI double to left field that one-hopped the wall.

2014 C Ryan Lillie (UCR): Absolutely impressed with Lillie again. The UC Riverside signee does so many things well behind the plate – frames, moves laterally, blocks, catches & throws (1.89 best pop). At the plate he is aggressive but in control and shows very good pitch recognition – also had a 2 RBI double. An absolute steal for the Highlanders in this class!

2014 OF Coltin Gerhart (ASU): The right handed hitting outfielder is an impressive physical specimen. Aggressive at the plate with a lot of power, the Arizona State signee also possesses a lot of speed (4.56 with a turn). In the outfield he didn’t get a chance to show off the arm although last week he gunned a runner at first base from right field. A scout told me last night that he’d be shocked if he continues with football after one year in college.

2014 1B/RHP J.T. McLellan: A broken leg his sophomore year and an injured wrist last year are the only things keeping McLellan from being committed. A clear D1 player, his future is likely at 1B although he’s playing 3B for Vista Murrieta at the time. A big powerful bat, McLellan shows a patient approach along with very good pitch recognition. On the mound last week he touch 87 with a very effortless and repeatable delivery.

Aliso Niguel:

2014 RHP Ryan Randel: The big righty was on his game early and often. Sitting 84-86 with the FB, 73-76 with a deep changeup, and 69-71 with a tight spinning, late breaking, two-plane curveball, he was masterful in his five innings pitched. His off speed pitches got better and better as his outing wore on while his curveball was unhittable from the outset. His command of all pitches was impressive and left one scout to tell me “on any other team, this guy is the dude.”

2015 RHP/OF Kyle Molnar (UCLA): The UCLA commit saw two pitches in his first two at-bats and place both in the same spot, center field for base hits. In his third at-bat he grounded out to shortstop flashing his speed (4.33) down the line. In the outfield he is as graceful as he is intimidating on the mound. Shows great awareness and takes great routes to the ball although he didn’t have an opportunity to throw anyone out.

2014 OF/RHP Anthony Sommer: One of the captains for the Wolverines was impressive at the plate in that he laid off bad pitches and was aggressive with good ones. His RBI single led to the only run on the evening for Aliso Niguel. Came in to pitch in relief and showed some good stuff. Sitting 84-86 FB he flashed a very sharp, late breaking CB that was 67-69.

2016 1B, C, OF Blake Sabol: Although he’s off to a slow start offensively, the sophomore catcher has not let that affect his defense. Flashing pop times in the 1.97 – 2.09, Sabol has demonstrated that his skills behind the plate have improved enough that he may be able to stay back there at the next level, something which hasn’t always been considered until recently.

--Les Lukach

Monday, March 10, 2014

OC Top 10


This weeks Orange County Top 10 didn’t see any movement among the top five teams. Although JSerra lost at Palm Desert, it’s tough to penalize a team that traveled two hours and lost in walk-off fashion. Huntington Beach also lost a game; it was to number one JSerra.

There was however some movement at the bottom of the list.  Cypress dropped out of the top ten after going 1-1 with their win coming in a one run game against Loara, and their loss to Long Beach Wilson.

Esperanza checks into the Top 10 at number eight after a 2-0 week that included a 10-6 win over Mater Dei where the Aztecs scored 9 runs over the final four innings.

Below is the Top 10. List and records only reflect games played from 3/3/14 – 3/9/14.

Previous rank in parentheses.

1. JSerra 1-1 (1): The Lions lost at Palm Desert before winning a wild game against Huntington Beach. HB had a 5-0 lead before JSerra ultimately won 11-8. Brady Shockey had a big week for the Lions who are still looking for more consistency from their pitching staff.

This Week: Foothill; Newport Elks Tournament

2. Huntington Beach 1-1 (2): The Oilers took care of Foothill with relative ease winning 7-2 before dropping the aforementioned game to JSerra on Saturday.  Senior Jesse Kuet and junior Tyler Murray are off to good starts for the Oilers, as is junior pitcher Noah Davis.

This Week: Palm Desert; Newport Elks Tournament

3. Los Alamitos 2-0 (3): The Griffins have yet to play a team that’s presented any serious competition, which makes their 3-2 win over Downey a bit surprising. It’s surprising because of how close the game was and because Jacob Nix started on the mound. Los Al pounded El Modena 14-5 later in the week.

This Week: Loara Tournament

4. Aliso Niguel 2-0 (4): The Wolverines got off to a hot start with the bats in a season opening 7-5 victory over Edison. In game two, Kyle Molnar went five strong innings allowing zero runs before ceding to the bullpen in a 2-1 win over Long Beach Millikan. Molnar is also hitting .500 on the season.

This Week: Vista Murrieta; Loara Tournament

5. San Clemente 3-1 (5): The Tritons won their season opener in big fashion over Covina 11-0 before dropping a game at Long Beach Wilson 4-1. San Clemente bounced back with a solid 1-0 win against a tough Sonora team before getting a big 4-3 win over Santa Margarita and their ace, Griffin Canning. The Tritons need more consistent offensive production if they’re going to hang around the top of the rankings. 

This Week: Norwalk; Loara Tournament

6. El Dorado 2-0 (9): The Golden Hawks got a dominating performance out of junior, Nick Sprengel, en route to a 5-0 win over Woodbridge, but it was the performance from their number two pitcher that has people taking. Austin Fresquez shut down a powerful Marina lineup and got enough offense to secure a 1-0 win for El Dorado.

This Week: Long Beach Wilson; Loara Tournament

7. Fountain Valley 3-1 (10): The Barons split a double header with Sonora before pounding El Toro 10-4 and sneaking past a gritty and improved Pacifica team, 3-2. Pitching was a big question mark for Fountain Valley coming into the season and so far it’s held up.

This Week: Loara Tournament

8. Esperanza 2-0 (NR): The Aztecs are the surprise of the early season starting with their 5-1 win over a good Trabuco Hills team. If that wasn’t enough, the Aztecs made some noise with a 10-6 win over Mater Dei. Esperanza was trailing after the third inning before scoring 9 runs over the last four innings en route to the win. The Aztecs are getting it done with pitching and hot hitting, lead by senior Tristan Hildebrandt.

This Week: Bishop Amat; Newport Elks Tournament

9. Orange Lutheran 1-1 (7): The Lancers got a gem of a pitching performance from Garret King in a 2-1 extra-inning win over Capo Valley in the season opener. In game two against Gahr, the Lancers couldn’t buy a break in a 3-2 loss. The depth of the pitching staff was a question coming into the season and it’s being tested early.

This Week: Corona; Newport Elks Tournament

10. Mater Dei 1-1 (8): The Monarchs got a nice 2-1 win in their season opener against Bishop Amat. Senior Charlie Vorschek showed his improved delivery which has added velocity to his fastball and more effective offspeed stuff. Mater Dei took one on the chin against Esperanza in game two, dropping a 10-6 game. Pitching depth has to be a concern for Mater Dei, but if the bats can get hot, they’ll score enough runs to ease that concern.

This Week: Trabuco Hills; Newport Elks Tournament

Others: Santa Margarita (1-1); Mission Viejo (2-2); Trabuco Hills (2-1); Tesoro (4-0); Laguna Beach (2-0); Edison (2-2); Capo Valley (3-1-1); Canyon (1-1)

--Les Lukach

Friday, February 28, 2014

2014 Dick's Sporting Goods Tournament

Another in a long line of early season tournaments is scheduled get underway this weekend but due to the inclement weather will likely get pushed back to the second day on the schedule. If that is the case, first round games will take place on 3/5 and second round games will take place 3/8 with the playoffs later the following week.

The Dick's Sporting Goods Tournament traditionally host a very strong field and that holds true in 2014. With teams like San Dimas, Los Osos, Fullerton, South Hills, and Charter Oak, this tourney will have plenty of prospects to follow.
 Below is the complete schedule.


Pool 1: Arcadia, Yucaipa, Arroyo, Tahquitz
            3/1       Arcadia vs. *Yucaipa  @ Mt. Sac 4pm                                    3/5       1-0 vs 1-0
                        Arroyo @ Tahquitz                                                                              0-1 vs 0-1

Pool 2: Bonita, Elsinore, Whittier, Carter
            3/1       Carter @ Bonita                                                                      3/5       1-0 vs 1-0
                        Elsinore @ Whittier                                                                              0-1 vs 0-1

Pool 3: Claremont, Baldwin Park, Alta Loma, Pasadena
            3/1       Pasadena @ Claremont                                                          3/5       1-0 vs 1-0
                        Alta Loma @ Baldwin Park                                                                 0-1 vs 0-1

Pool 4: Northview, Crescenta Valley, La Canada, Los Altos
            3/1       La Canada @ Crescenta Valley (Stengel Field 6PM)            3/5        1-0 vs 1-0
                        Los Altos @ Northview                                                                        0-1 vs 0-1

Pool 5: San Dimas, San Gabriel, Charter Oak, Los Osos
            3/1       Los Osos @ San Gabriel                                                        3/5       1-0 vs 1-0
                        Charter Oak vs. *San Dimas @ Mt. Sac 7pm                                     0-1 vs 0-1

Pool 6: South Hills, Montebello, Paloma Valley, Rancho Cucamonga
            3/1       Montebello @ South Hills                                                        3/5       1-0 vs 1-0
            3/4       Rancho Cucamonga @ Paloma Valley                                                0-1 vs 0-1

Pool 7: Etiwanda, Fullerton, Cantwell, Knight                                                 3/5      1-0 vs. 1-0
            3/1       Fullerton @ Etiwanda                                                                          0-1 vs. 0-1
            3/1       Cantwell @ Knight     
* Is designated home team


Playoffs: The top team from each pool will move into bracket A for playoffs. One 1-1 team will move into the top bracket as well, determined by  head to head, fewest amount of runs allowed, and total runs scored in that order. The next ten 1-1 teams, determined by runs allowed, will move into bracket B for playoffs. The bottom two 1-1 teams, determined by runs allowed, along with the 0-2 teams will move into bracket C.


Game Times: Saturday game times will be 1pm unless agreed upon by both coaches for a change. Weekday games will be at 3:30 unless agreed up by both coaches for a change.
 
--Les Lukach

Thursday, February 27, 2014

2014 Don Lugo Tournament

The preseason is loaded with tournaments as teams work their way into the season with some good out of conference competition. There are a lot of longstanding tournaments that generally draw some top teams. The Don Lugo Tournament, hosted by Don Lugo HS (Chino, Calif.), is one of those tournaments.

This year the event hosts some team that have high expectations for deep post season runs. Among those teams are Glendora, Ayala, Oak Hills, and Damien high schools.

With the weather certain to wipe out first and possibly second round action, the schedule is flexible. Early must see games include Glendora vs Ayala, Roosevelt vs Damien, and La Salle vs Chaffey.


GROUP A GROUP B
Big Bear Ayala
Colton Glendora
Don Lugo Ontario
Oak Hills Santiago (Corona)
Ontario Christian Walnut


GROUP C GROUP D
Chaffey Damien
Diamond Bar Diamond Ranch
El Rancho Duarte
La Salle Roosevelt
 
SATURDAY--MARCH 1 (11:00 AM)
BIG BEAR @ DON LUGO
OAK HILLS @ ONT CHRISTIAN
AYALA @ SANTIAGO
ONTARIO @ GLENDORA
COLTON @ WALNUT
ROOSEVELT @ DAMIEN
DIAMOND RANCH @ DUARTE
EL RANCHO @ LA SALLE
CHAFFEY @ DIAMOND BAR

MONDAY--MARCH 3 (3:15)
DON LUGO @ ONT CHRISTIAN
COLTON @ OAK HILLS
GLENDORA @ AYALA
WALNUT @ SANTIAGO
BIG BEAR @ ONTARIO
DAMIEN @ DIAMOND RANCH
DUARTE @ ROOSEVELT
LA SALLE @ CHAFFEY
DIAMOND BAR @ EL RANCHO

WEDNESDAY--MARCH 5 (3:15)
OAK HILLS @ DON LUGO
ONT CHRISTIAN @ COLTON
SANTIAGO @ GLENDORA
AYALA @ ONTARIO
BIG BEAR @ WALNUT
DUARTE @ DAMIEN
ROOSEVELT @ DIAMOND RANCH
EL RANCHO @ CHAFFEY
LA SALLE @ DIAMOND BAR

FRIDAY--MARCH 7 (3:15)
SEMI-FINAL GAMES
SEMI FINAL #1 1ST PLACE GROUP A vs 1ST PLACE GROUP D
SEMI FINAL #2 1ST PLACE GROUP B vs 1ST PLACE GROUP C

CONSOLATION GAMES
MONDAY—MARCH 10 (3:15)

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
WINNER SEMI-FINAL #1 vs WINNER SEMI-FINAL #2
LOSER SEMI-FINAL #1 vs LOSER SEMI-FINAL #2

--Les Lukach

Preseason OC Top 10

With the 2014 season just a few days away it's time to release the initial Orange County Top 10. 

The list is limited to Orange County teams and teams who play in leagues that are primarily Orange County leagues and is based on evaluation of teams during the fall/winter seasons

Here is how I voted for this weeks poll.

1. JSerra: The Lions have the deepest pitching rotation in the county led by UCLA commit, Quentin Longrie, and Texas signee, Parker Joe Robinson. Mix in Dartmouth commit, Clay Chatham, and standout freshman, Jack Owen, and the Lions will have the arms for the long season. Offensively, the Lions, led by Chase Strumpf (UCLA), Brady Shockey (USC), Jake Pries (UCLA), Sam Cohen (UCSB), Longrie, and Robinson, show no holes in their lineup. Freshman Royce Lewis and sophomore Davis Wendzel will battle it out at third base with the recent transfer of Blake Burton. Lyle Lin provides quality depth for the Lions at multiple positions. 

2. Huntington Beach: The expectations are high for the Oilers as they return just about everyone from last years team that made it to the second round of the CIF Playoffs. Junior pitcher, Noah Davis (UCSB), is fully healthy and is the ace of a good rotation that also features Sean O’Toole (St. Mary’s). Offensively the Oilers lineup is stacked with likes of Jessie Kuet (Stanford), Logan Pouelsen (UCLA), Tyler Murray, Hagen Danner (UCLA), and Jake Brodt (Santa Clara). You can expect to see Pouelsen and Danner on the mound too.

3. Los Alamitos: The Griffins are loaded on the mound this year led by senior Jake Nix (UCLA), who many believe will be high round MLB draft pick in June and features a 92-94 MPH fastball. But Los Al is not a one-man show. Darren McCaughan (Long Beach State) and Kyle Mora (UCLA) provide the Griffins good depth on the mound. There are some questions offensively for Los Al, but the consensus is they have enough hitting to go with their great pitching to win a lot of games.

4. Aliso Niguel: Everyone knows about Kyle Molnar (UCLA) and his mid-90’s fastball and wipeout slider, but the Wolverines look like a complete team this season thanks in part to a quality lineup that features some big hitters. Blake Sabol, Domenic Colacchio (SDSU), Anthony Sommer (UC San Diego), and Justin Fowler (Dartmouth) all provide Aliso Niguel with power and consistency in their lineup. The schedule, playing in the NHSI and The Boras Classic in back-to-back weeks, could take its toll later in the season.

5. San Clemente: The Tritons return some nice pieces from last season with their minds set on a league championship. Kolby Allard (Cal State Fullerton) is one of the best LHP in the county. Lucas Herbert (UCLA) is a line drive or home run waiting to happen. Kent Burckle, Trevor Beard, and Tanner Lawson all provide quality hitters for the Tritons. Don’t sleep on Andrew Sim, if he can fully recover from Tommy John surgery he'll be a nice addition late in the season. 

6. Cypress: The defending CIF Division II champs are back and should once again compete for league and postseason championships. Trevor Hall (Long Beach State) and Joe Mercado (St. Mary’s) provide the Centurions a solid 1-2 punch on the mound. Elijah Skipps (Arizona), Brandon Alamo (Cal State Fullerton), Dominic Fletcher, and Mikhail Izraylev all provide the offense with power and consistency. Remember the name, Isaiah Parra, the freshman shortstop looks to be the next in a long line of stars for Cypress.

7. Orange Lutheran: The Lancers are replacing some important pieces with guys who’ve been in the program but don’t necessarily have the experience. Josh Morgan (UCLA) is arguably the best shortstop in the county and expected to be a high pick in the MLB draft come June. Garret King (Nebraska) is a three-year starter and leads a talented, yet inexperienced, pitching rotation. Lance Simpson (Westmont), Cole Spear, and Toby Dunlap will all have a chance to show their stuff on the mound. Joey Sanchez (Long Beach State), Bobby Fulkerson, Tristan Hanoian, Josh Bissonnette, and transfer, Garrett Calvert, all provide good depth in the lineup.

8. Mater Dei: The Monarchs have a ton of questions coming into 2014, but the coaching staff feels they have the players to provide the right answers. Senior Charlie Vorsheck (Notre Dame) and freshman, Nick Pratto (USC), lead a pitching staff that lacks the depth of last season. There is some inexperienced talent behind those two which will need to step up. Brandon Perez (Oregon), Josh Stephen (USC), David Clawson (BYU), Brian Call, and freshman Jonathan Schiffer all provide a presence at the plate. Look for junior Austin Reyes to emerge as a bona-fide standout for the Monarchs this season.

9. El Dorado: The Golden Hawks look to be the favorites in the Century League with a deep lineup that features multi-year starters Nate Alam, Nathan Rodriguez (Arkansas), Julian Romo, and Austin Fresquez. On the mound, El Dorado will need to shore up the number two starter role to compliment Nick Sprengel (USD). This is a team that’s heavy on upperclassmen that have been in the program and the expectations are high.

10. Fountain Valley: Led by power hitting first baseman, Brock Lundquist (Long Beach State), slick fielding shortstop, Daniel Patzlaff (Oregon), first team all-league OF, Dillon Persinger, and co-rookie of the year winner OF/P, Justin Cobb, the Barons look to defend their title in the uber tough Sunset League. After winning 20 of their first 21 in 2013, the Barons will need some inexperienced pitchers to step up if they are to repeat. The offense should be able to score runs in bunches, but pitching will be a cause of concern.

Others: Santa Margarita, Mission Viejo, Trabuco Hills, Tesoro, Laguna Beach, Servite, Edison, Capo Valley, Dana Hills, Canyon

--Les Lukach

Monday, February 24, 2014

2017 Players to Watch

The 2017 class of baseball players in SoCal is shaping up to be one of the best classes in recent memory. With more-and-more kids committing earlier, it's a testament to more aggressive recruiting and the talent available. While it's always a risk for a school, and the player, to commit before they play a high school game, there are plenty of players on this list that are as close to "can't miss" prospects as they come.

Below is a list of 2017 players I've had the opportunity to see since last summer, some several times, and others just a couple times. There are a few players on the list that were recommended to me by coaches/scouts whose opinion I hold in high regard.

Like the other lists I've published, there are certain to be a few players that likely should be on the list, but unless I've seen them or they were recommended by coaches/scouts, I left them off. 

The players are listed alphabetically by first name.


Position Player School College  Notes 
3B/1B Ben Ramirez Eastlake USC LHH third baseman that flashes power potential and already has gap-to-gap power. Big frame that should fill out over the course of his high school career. Does a solid job at third base but most scouts project him at first when he adds more mass to his frame. 
RHP/1B Charlie Nies Jserra   Strong athletic frame which should only get bigger. Sits low-to-mid 80's with fastball. Offspeed pitches should contine to develop as he works on his mechanics. At the plate showed power potential with good bat speed. Has a real chance to hit. 
RHP/INF CJ Fernandezees Gardena Serra   RHP/1B with a fastball that currently sits at 79-81 and has touched 83. Power and lift in his swing from both sides of the plate. Great frame with room to fill. Loose and free arm action with a controlled release from multiple slots.
INF/RHP Cole Cummings  Corona Centennial   LHH MIF that shows great defensive ability to get to balls and make strong accurate throws. On the mound shows a very good understanding of how to pitch. Has a chance to be a very special player once his body fills out some. 
RHP/OF  Danny Zimmerman Redondo Union   Big, phyiscal body (6'3"/220). A bit raw on the mound but sits 81-84 with fastball. Has a slider that flashes good movement and sits 71-82. Generates very good bat speed and doesn't get cheated. When he barrels it up, he hits the ball as hard as most upperclassmen. Big time prospect moving forward. 
P/C/INF Hagen Danner Huntington Beach UCLA An absolute beast of a player! Danner is a line drive machine with big time power potential. Very advanced hitter for his age that shows a smooth one-piece swing. Showed very well during scout ball against competition 3-4 years older. Defensively is a very good blocker with good feet and a quick exchange. On the mound he throws downhill and features a nasty curveball with an excellent delivery. 
SS Hunter Greene S.O. Notre Dame UCLA Advanced defender with a very strong arm. The bat will get better with added strength as he will be able to drive the ball. Not the fastest runner out there but quick enough to make plays. If/when he bulks up he may move to 3B for college.
C Hunter Montgomery Corona Centennial   Arguably one of the top catchers in his class. Physically mature beyond his age. Inredibly athletic behind the plate. Receives very well and calls pitches with an understanding of what hitters are looking for. Plus arm with consistent sub-2 pop times. 
MIF Isaiah Parra Cypress   Big shoes to fill replacing David Fletcher but Parra seems to have acclimated well. Very good lateral quickness and arm strength allows him to get to most balls and make the throw. Has a good plan at the plate. Needs to add strength in order to drive the ball more consistenltly but should fit in the Cypress lineup nicely. 
LHP/OF Jack Owen  JSerra   Long/lean frame that will fill out with further conditioning. Has a real chance to earn some innings this year. Crafty pitcher that understanding how to mix pitches and spots well. Doesn’t back down from hitters. 
SS Jacob Amaya Northview   One of the top defensive shortstop in the class that I've seen in person. Has incredible lateral ability and a very powerful arm. At the plate shows discipline although is a bit over aggressive at times. Pitch recognition could improve, but is pretty advanced at this stage. Also pitches where he sits 84-86 with his fastball. Still raw on the mound but has plenty of time to improve that area of his game. 
3B Jonathan Schiffer  Mater Dei   Physically mature player that shows incredible pull power which should play well at Mater Dei's home field. Good enough defensively to start at 3B this season where he'll likely stay for his career. Once he shows the ability to hit to all fields will be a dangerous player. 
2B Jonny DeLuca Agouara Oregon LHH that attacks pitches with an open stance. Has a chance to be a very special player despite his smaller size. Possesses a strong arm and very high baseball IQ which will fit nicely with what coach Horton likes to do at Oregon. 
P/1B Kyle Hurt Torrey Pines   Big, physical RHP that was one of the standouts at the PG SoCal Underclass Showcase. Sits mid-80's with his fastball and flashes a tight spinning curve ball that has potential to be a plus pitch. Changeup is a work in progress that has major upside.
OF/LHP Matthew Rudick Scripps Ranch   Currently sits 82-84 with the fastball which he commands very well. Member of the gold medal winning 15U national team last summer where he was a stalwart in the lineup. Has a very advanced approach at the plate showing the ability to use all fields. 
LHP/OF Max Sterner Culver City   Tall lean frame with room to fill. LHH with short quick swing using an aggressive middle of the field approach. Fleet base runner with instincts. Throws multiple pitches with a short arm action and consistent release.
C/RHP Nate Webb MLK (Riverside)   Very advanced catcher with a huge arm. Needs to improve on his footwork a bit which will improve his pop times. Very good approach at the plate which results in gap-to-gap power. Has a smooth swing with an open stance. Sits 83-84 with fastball on the mound.
SS Nick Allen Francis Parker USC Despite his small frame this SS was one of the most highly sought after prospects in his class. Generates incredible bat speed to produce surprising power. Has incredible lateral quickness that allows him to get to balls deep in the hole and the arm strength to make all the throws. Chose SC over SEC and other Pac12 offers.
LHP/OF Nick Pratto Mater Dei USC Pitches well beyond his years with a swing-and-miss curveball and the poise of an upperclassman. Fastball is low-to-mid 80's and is used as a secondary to pitch compliment the advanced offspeed stuff. Swings the bat incredibly well and should start in the field when not pitching. Has a chance to be Mater Dei's next big two-way star. 
RHP Noah Dettman Capo Valley Christian   Very big body (6'6"/260) that needs a little refinement but provides power at the plate. Despite his frame he generates pretty good bat speed. On the mound he sits 80-83 with fastball to compliment a true 12-6 curveball. 
OF RJ Lan  La Mirada   Big, physical OF that should earn the starting CF spot for the Matadors. Has an advanced approach at the plate with great pitch recognition. Line drive hitter that doesn't get cheated. Strong arm and good speed give him a chance to be a force defensively. 
C/OF Robbie Brue Bishop O'Dowd   RHH. Plus defensive catching skills and plus arm with quick actions. Aggressive hitting approach with tools to develop over time. High baseball IQ and leadership qualities.
MIF Royce Lewis  Jserra   Fluid defender which flashes advance defense and arm strength. Will likely play 2B or 3B due to an established player at SS. Has shown some skills at the plate which will improve over time. Has a chance to be a special player for coach Kay. 
MIF Tristan Hanoian  Orange Lutheran   Will likely be the leadoff hitter for the Lancers this year after proving he can hit at this level. A bit on the smaller side, he shows well at times defensively but plays like a freshman at times at 2B. Has shown the ability to play in the OF too, where he'll get a shot.