Prep Baseball Report

Field Set For 2022 NHSI

Nathan Rode
Director, Multimedia & Scouting

After a two-year hiatus at the mercy of COVID-19, USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational is back with 16 of the country’s top teams competing for the coveted title. It will take place April 6-9 at the National Training Complex in Cary, NC. There are five previous participants returning, including three champions in The First Academy, FL, Huntington Beach HS, CA, and Orange Lutheran HS, CA. The First Academy is the only school outside of Southern California to claim a title, doing so in 2014. Huntington Beach won in 2016 and Orange Lutheran is seeking its fourth straight NHSI championship after staking claim from 2017-2019. Also returning to the event are Hamilton HS, AZ and Regis Jesuit HS, CO.

Making their debuts in Cary are Basic Academy, NV, Bishop Verot HS, FL, Buford HS, GA, DH Conley HS, NC, Don Bosco Prep, NJ, Hanover HS, VA, McQuaid Jesuit HS, NY, Servite HS, CA, St. Johns Country Day School, FL, Stoneman Douglas HS, FL and Yucaipa HS, CA.

The NHSI routinely features the nation’s top prospects, making it a main focus for the scouting community each spring. This year, there are 28 players nationally ranked in the Class of 2022, including nine in the top 100. The highest ranked player is RHP Dylan Lesko (Buford HS, GA), who checks in at No. 3. There is plenty to be seen for the future as well, with 18 players currently ranked nationally in the Class of 2023, 16 in the Class of 2024 and eight in the Class of 2025.

Read up on the teams in the capsules below and see the charts for a complete list of ranked players who go to attending schools.

Basic Academy, NV
Nevada’s high school association didn’t have a state tournament last year, but one was put together by PBR and the Wolves claimed the title, finishing the season 16-5. There are seven returning starters, as well as 16 seniors who played a highly competitive schedule in the fall. The offense is led by a couple of dynamic athletes in 2022 OF Mason Neville (Arkansas) and 2024 SS Ty Southisene (Tennessee), as well as corner pieces in 2022 3B Chase Ditmar (Nevada-Las Vegas) and 2023 1B Cooper Sheff (Oregon). Ditmar, Neville and Sheff are all listed as two-way options, lending support to 2022 RHP Aaron Rubio (JC of Southern Nevada).

Bishop Verot HS, FL
After going 19-9 in 2021, the Vikings return six starters and will have a mix of upperclass experience and young, dynamic players. The pitching staff is deep, led by 2022 LHP Josiah Velazquez (Florida Gulf Coast), 2023 RHP/IF Aidan Knaak (Clemson), 2022 RHP Kolton Curtis (Barry) and 2022 RHP/IF Dylan Peck (State JC of Florida). They also have the No. 2 freshman in the country in RHP Carter Smith. In addition to the two-way contributions of Knaak and Peck, Bishop Verot also has three players that could see time behind the plate in seniors Kevin RisCassi (Flagler), senior Preston Heben and junior Andrew Hanlon. Filling out the lineup will be 2024 MIF Joe De La Nunez, 2024 1B/LHP Timmy Lawson and 2022 1B Joe Citrola.

Buford HS, GA
The Wolves were marching toward an undefeated season in 2021 before a second-round series loss put them at a 32-2 finish. They possess one of the strongest rosters in the country with two top 50 prospects, at least eight players currently committed to Division I programs and more on the way. They have one of the best one-two punches on the mound in RHP Dylan Lesko (Vanderbilt) and RHP/OF Riley Stanford (Georgia Tech), but the lineup should strike fear into any opponent. Outside of the two-way contributions from Lesko and Stanford, Buford has a host of impact position players including 2022 SS Brant Baughcum (Georgia Tech), 2022 SS Jackson Gaspard (Georgia Tech), 2022 OF Parker Walsh (Lafayette), 2022 OF Stan Zagrodnik (Wofford), 2022 2B Andrew McMurry (Mercer), 2024 SS Ethan Murray (Georgia Tech) and 2025 OF Cannon Goldin (South Carolina). They also got a big transfer in 2022 OF Kaden Martin (Miami), a left-handed power bat and two-sport athlete.

D.H. Conley HS, NC
The de facto host as the North Carolina representative, D.H. Conley went 15-2 in 2021, losing in the fourth round of the playoffs to the eventual 3A state champion. On the mound, the Vikings are led by RHP Matthew Matthjis (North Carolina), as well as 2024 RHP Riley Treadway. 2022 SS Dixon Williams (East Carolina) and 2022 1B Braden Murray bring experience to the lineup, and OF Riley Williams (East Carolina) should add impact. 2025 RHP Sawyer Sawyer could also be a factor on the mound.

Don Bosco Prep, NJ
One of New Jersey’s premier programs, the Ironmen are coming off a 22-5 season with nine returning starters. The lineup is littered with D-I recruits, including 2023 SS Eric Becker (Virginia), 2022 SS Pablo Santos (Rutgers), 2023 2B Nick LoCurto (Virginia Tech), 2022 C J.P. Kuczik (Fairfield), 2022 C Jack Cannizaro (James Madison) and 2023 1B Allen Hernandez (Florida Gulf Coast). The pitching staff looks like a college weekend rotation, featuring 2022 RHP Caden Dana (Kentucky), 2022 RHP Kevin Jaxel (Virginia), 2022 RHP Clayton Poliey (Rider) and 2023 RHP Carlo Lalomia (Iona). They also have a top freshman in SS Nick Becker (Virginia).

The First Academy, FL
The Royals might not have two first-round picks like they did when winning it all in 2014, but they won a 3A state title last year with a 30-1 record and essentially return the entire squad, which includes nine players currently committed to playing at the next level. Leading both sides of the ball is 2022 RHP/3B Ben Barrett (Florida State). On the mound, he’ll be supported by 2022 LHP Isaac Sewell (Virginia Tech), 2022 RHP Harrison Miller (Wingate), 2022 RHP Caleb Palmer (Daytona State JC) and 2023 RHP/OF Nathan Seeber (Maine). In addition to Barrett and Seeber as two-way players, the offense also features 2022 SS Greg Pettay (Central Florida), 2022 C Riley Parker (Central Florida), 2022 OF Tyler Rondon (Thomas University), 2023 OF Jaden Bastian (Jacksonville), 2023 2B Mathew Perez and 2023 1B Trent Kelly.

Hamilton HS, AZ
The Huskies went 20-3 last spring, losing in the state semifinals. They did lose a third of their innings on the mound with LHP Brock Selvidge (New York Yankees, third round) graduating, but 2022 LHP Logan Saloman (Arizona State), 2022 RHP Kole Klecker (Texas Christian) and 2023 SS/RHP Joshua Tiedemann (Texas Christian) are back to lead the pitching staff. Tiedemann was the club’s leading hitter in 2021 and is supported by the powerful 2022 OF Gavin Turley (Oregon State) and 2023 SS Roch Cholowsky (UCLA). The Huskies also have 2023 SS Ryan Kucherak (Baylor), 2023 OF Will Shelor (Arizona), 2023 1B Zach Wadas and 2024 SS A.J. Diaz (Arizona) to fill out the lineup.

Hanover HS, VA
The Hawks went 13-3 last year, finished as runners-up in 4A and are primed to make another run with everyone but one starter returning. They’ll be led by a pitching staff that features four D-I recruits, starting with a top 100 prospect--2022 LHP Levi Huesman (Coastal Carolina). 2022 RHP/SS Seth Keller (Old Dominion), who also had a strong season at the plate in 2021, and 2022 RHP/OF Chase Hustead (James Madison) will be key members of the rotation while 2022 RHP Macus Van Alstine (Virginia Military Institute) is Hanover’s stopper, closing games and getting them out of jams. Handling that staff will be 2022 C Cannon Peebles (North Carolina State), a leader behind the plate who can shut down a running game. Solidifying the Hawks’ strength up the middle is 2022 SS Owen Deshazo (Boston College) and 2022 1B Brett Alvis (Mount St. Mary’s) returns to anchor the middle of the lineup.

Huntington Beach HS, CA
The Oilers are making their fifth trip to the NHSI, reaching the semi-finals in 2015 and winning it all in 2016. They went 24-5 in 2021, returning five starting position players and four pitchers for 2022. The pitching staff is deep with experience, but has some young power arms to help out as well. Anchoring the rotation will be 2022 LHP Ben Jacobs (UCLA), with fellow seniors RHP Jack Smith (Cal State Northridge), RHP Wyatt Thomas (Biola), RHP Adyn Lucero (Navy), RHP Ryker Sullivan (Colorado Christian), RHP Tyler Prystajko and RHP Matt Lopez bringing that depth and experience. 2025 RHP Ethan Porter (Oregon State) is among the top 100 freshmen in the country, as is C Trent Grindlinger (Long Beach State). Huntington Beach is likely to score runs in bunches with a lineup that has a balance of power and contact hitters. 2023 OF Aidan Espinoza (UCLA) and 2023 3B/1B Ralph Velazquez (Arizona State) will set the tone, with 2022 OF Nick Dumesnil (Cal Baptist) and 2023 SS Dean Carpentier (Loyola Marymount) providing support.

McQuaid Jesuit HS, NY
New York didn’t have a state tournament in 2021, but McQuaid returns 18 players, including seven starting position players and four arms, from a team that went 16-5. The Knights are senior laden and have a pitching staff with D-I recruits in 2022 RHP/DH Daniel McAliney (SUNY Binghamton), 2022 LHP/OF Will Taylor (Wofford) and RHP/1B Edward Hall (Davidson). They will also contribute on the offensive side, adding to a lineup that is led by SS Aiden Stewart (Siena). McQuaid will also welcome back 2022 C C.J. Phelps, who had his season cut short last year with a broken thumb. 2022 OF Zach Allen (Potomac State JC), 2022 MIF Tanner Degrazia (Pomona-Pitzer) and 2023 1B Luca Ciaramitaro bring support to the offense. 2024 Matt Wilmarth, a top 20 prospect in the state, adds to the Knights’ depth on the mound.

Orange Lutheran HS, CA
The Lancers are making their sixth trip to Cary and defending three consecutive NHSI titles. They have eight returning starters from a 30-6 club that was semifinalist in the Southern California regional. The lineup doesn’t have any easy outs with four seniors currently committed to D-I programs in SS Mikey Romero (Louisiana State), C Karson Bowen (Texas Christian), 1B Gabe Miranda (Texas Christian) and OF Bryan Martinez (Long Beach State), a top junior in 3B Casey Borba (Texas) and two of the country’s top sophomores--OFs Derek Curiel and Ben Reiland. Of course, Orange Lutheran wouldn’t be a dynasty without good pitching, with the 2022 staff being led by 2022 RHP Louis Rodriguez (Texas Christian), 2022 LHP Oliver Santos (Duke) and 2022 RHP J.D. Rodriguez (Southern California).

Regis Jesuit HS, CO
The Raiders went 12-5 in 2021, suffering an upset loss in the regional round. They did lose a big arm to graduation in RHP Alec Willis (St. Louis Cardinals, seventh round), but still have several key members returning. Leading the offense will be dynamic 2022 SS Dallas Macias (Oregon State), as well as 2022 OF Isaac Wachsmann (Xavier) and 1B Charlie Rogan (Wichita State). The lineup is deep with seniors, including 2B Finn O’Connor (Rhodes College) and C Nate McHugh (Iowa Western CC) and adds newcomers 2022 OF Ben Gonzales (Augustana College) and 2023 OF Nate Lewis. 2022 RHP Brooks Gerig (Colorado School of Mines) will step into the ace role with 2023 LHP Jack Carey and 2022 RHP Brian Fischer (Augustana College) filling out the rotation.

Servite HS, CA
A member of the gauntlet that is the Trinity League, the Friars finished 13-15 in 2021, but have seven returning starters with a solid group of experienced players and some young talent with impact potential. Pitching stood out for them in the fall, with the staff being made up of 2022 LHP/1B Kai Negrete (San Diego), 2023 LHP Jonathan Rodriguez (Long Beach State), 2022 RHP Xavier Cardenas (San Diego State) and 2022 LHP Chris Grothues (UCLA). 2022 OF/LHP Trevor Schmidt (Arizona), as well as Negrete, are two-way weapons, adding to an offense that can make for big innings. Also in the lineup are 2023 SS Roman Martin (UCLA), 2022 OF Jarrod Hocking (UCLA) and 2022 IF Agustin Gutierrez.

St. Johns Country Day School, FL
The 2A runner-up last year, the Spartans have five position players and three arms returning from a team that went 24-7. Atop the rotation is 2022 LHP Bradley Hodges (Virginia) with SS/RHP Finn Howell (North Florida) serving as the No. 2. Pitching depth is needed at an event like the NHSI and St. Johns has a strong No. 3 in 2023 LHP Jacob Thomas, as well as 2023 RHP Isaiah Mamea (South Florida) providing quality innings. The Spartans are sound and athletic in the field with Howell and 2023 MIF Shawn Andrade (South Florida) up the middle and 2022 OF Jordan Taylor (Florida State) patrolling center. Taylor can also lend his arm strength to the mound. Some pop was lost to the graduation of Connor Moore, so St. Johns will look to Taylor and 2022 3B Tyce Moore (Tallahassee CC) to drive runs in.

Stoneman Douglas HS, FL
The Eagles went 28-2 in 2021, claiming the 7A state title in Florida. A good chunk of that group is back, plus some young talent with impact potential will be seeing more playing time. 2023 RHP Christian Rodriguez (Florida) and 2022 LHP Chris Arroyo (Florida) front the rotation, but have additional depth in 2022 RHP Sammy Beir (Florida Atlantic) and 2022 RHP/OF Jake Clemente (Florida). Leading the offense will be 2022 OF Roman Anthony (Mississippi), with significant support from Clemente and Arroyo, as well as 2024 SS Devin Fitz-Gerald (North Carolina State), 2022 C Santiago Ordonez (Florida State), 2022 2B Cameron Harris (Wingate) and 2023 OF Dillon Moquin (Appalachian State).

Yucaipa HS, CA
The Thunderbirds went 21-10 in 2021, reaching the quarterfinals of the Southern Section playoffs, and have nine returning starters. 2022 SS Jacob Reimer (Washington) leads a deep offense that also includes 2023 OF/RHP Owen Egan (UCLA), 2023 C/RHP Luke Scherrer (Cal Poly), 2024 IF Daniel Arambula (Louisiana State) and 2024 OF Wes Hickey (Washington). Yucaipa gets deep on the mound too, with 2022 RHP Carter Herrera (Cal State Fullerton), 2022 RHP/1B Wyatt Doty (Cal State San Bernardino) and 2022 RHP Carter Elliott (Arizona State).

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