Prep Baseball Report

Field Set For 2020 NHSI

Nathan Rode and PBR Staff

USA Baseball announced the field of 16 for the 2020 National High School Invitational Thursday afternoon. The event is set to take place April 1-4 at the National Training Complex in Cary, NC. This is the ninth annual event and has nine different states represented.

The 16 teams include American Heritage Delray HS, FL, American Heritage Plantation HS, FL, Baylor School, TN, Bob Jones HS, AL, Calvary Christian Academy, FL, Harvard-Westlake School, CA, Mount Carmel HS, IL, North Gwinnett HS, GA, Notre Dame HS, CA, Orange Lutheran HS, CA, Parkview HS, GA, Reagan HS, NC, Red Land HS, PA, Regis Jesuit HS, CO, St. Thomas Aquinas HS, FL and Thousand Oaks HS, CA.

Returning to defend its three straight titles is Orange Lutheran. The Lancers participated in the inaugural NHSI in 2012, returned in 2014, and won it all in 2017-2019. Also returning to the NHSI are Harvard-Westlake, runners-up in 2012-2013 and 2019, as well as American Heritage Plantation, Calvary Christian Academy, Mount Carmel, Parkview and Regis Jesuit.

The NHSI is also heavily scouted with a high concentration of draft talent every year. This year’s field includes 29 players in Prep Baseball Report’s 2020 Overall Rankings, nine of which are in the High School Draft 100: OF Pete Crow-Armstrong (No. 1; Harvard-Westlake School, CA), SS Ed Howard (No. 4; Mount Carmel HS, IL), SS Drew Bowser (Harvard-Westlake School, CA), OF Enrique Bradfield Jr. (No. 37; American Heritage Plantation HS, FL), RHP Max Rajcic (No. 65; Orange Lutheran HS, CA), SS Jordan Carrion (No. 70 American Heritage Plantation HS, FL), LHP Ryan Bruno (No. 71; American Heritage Delray HS, FL), C Corey Collins (No. 86; North Gwinnett HS, GA) and LHP Luke Wagner (No. 93; Red Land HS, PA).

There are also many talented underclassmen, including 10 in the top 100 of the 2021 Overall Rankings—RHP Andy Painter (No. 11; Calvary Christian Academy, FL), LHP Josh Hartle (Reagan HS, NC), 2B Roc Riggio (No. 20; Thousand Oaks HS, CA), SS Daniel Corona (Baylor School, TN), 3B Vytas Valincius (Baylor School, TN), SS Max Muncy (No. 43; Thousand Oaks HS, CA), LHP Devin Futrell (No. 45; American Heritage Plantation HS, FL), C Charlie Saum (No. 62; Thousand Oaks HS, CA), LHP Cole Wagner (No. 65; Red Land HS, PA) and RHP Nick Anello (No. 68; American Heritage Plantation HS, FL).

Read up on the teams and more prospects in the capsules below.

American Heritage Delray HS, FL
The Stallions went 29-3 in 2019, losing in the state title game. They’re poised to make a run again with eight returning position players and five pitchers. The pitching staff has depth and should be anchored by two senior southpaws in Ryan Bruno (Stanford) and Nelson Berkwich (Vanderbilt), plus RHP Jaden Bruno (Stanford). One through nine in the lineup will be a challenge for hitters to navigate, which includes seniors OF Bailey Uderitz (Pepperdine), SS Jacob Lojewski (Florida Gulf Coast) and C Stanley DeMartinis (Bryant). Juniors C Dylan King (North Carolina) and LHP Carsten Finnvold (Florida) also figure to contribute greatly to the depth.

American Heritage Plantation HS, FL
A perennial power in Florida, the Patriots are making their fourth appearance at the NHSI and return a host of senior starters. Eight position players and five pitchers are back from a team that went 20-6 and lost in a region semifinal. The group of seniors have played together for three years now and expectations are high with 10 of them committing to Division I programs. A bulk of the offense will likely come from OF Enrique Bradfield Jr. (Vanderbilt), SS Jordan Carrion (Florida) and 1B Gavin Casas (Vanderbilt). Bradfield hit .542 last season and is a premium defender in center field. Carrion also provides strong defense and gives American Heritage some depth on the mound as well. Casas is the younger brother of Triston Casas (2018 first round, Boston Red Sox) has impact potential with his left-handed bat and 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame. 3B Gio Ferraro (Miami) hit .310 with 22 RBIs last year while OF Matt Ruiz (South Florida) hit .316 with three home runs and 21 RBIs. On the mound, the Patriots have RHP Gavin Smith (Florida State), who went 5-0 with a 3.10 ERA in 2019, and 2021 LHP Devin Futrell (Vanderbilt), who was 6-1 with a 1.74 ERA, plus they added two big-time sophomores in LHP Brandon Barriera (Vanderbilt) and RHP Evan Dobias (Virginia).

Baylor School, TN
In the last two years, the Raiders have gone 51-12 (27-6 in 2019) and won two state titles. In search of a third straight, they return a deep, talented group and added two key transfers. Returning is the state’s top junior in SS Daniel Corona (Wake Forest). He’ll handle most of the shortstop duties and hit .394 with 19 RBIs and 24 runs scored last season. Joining the squad to provide some thump in the middle of the order is 1B/RHP Vytas Valincius (South Carolina). The other transfer is 2022 SS Henry Godbout (Virginia). 1B Christian Martin (Tennessee-Chattanooga; football) is an imposing bat and led the squad with a .402 average in 2019. Cooper Kinney (South Carolina), who hit .371 with five home runs, will hit out of the three hole and contribute at third base, second base and catcher. Also returning to help on offense is SS/C Gehrig Ebel (Virginia Tech). On the mound, Baylor has three arms committed to D-I programs. LHP/OF Colin Ahearn (Tennessee), LHP/OF Nick Kurtz (Wake Forest) and RHP Jay Dill (Missouri) combined for 22 wins last season, as well as 154 strikeouts in 108 innings. Those three can also provide some offense with Ahearn hitting .356 with seven bombs last year, Kurtz hitting .337 with three home runs and Dill driving 17 runs.

Bob Jones HS, AL
The Patriots return just about all of the pieces from 2019 that saw them finish with a 42-10 record and runner-up finish in the 7A state championship series. The roster is loaded with talent, as the Patriots feature a downright scary lineup and they can run out quality arm after quality arm. Ther Patriots are led by five D-I senior signees: MIF/RHP Caden Rose (Alabama), UT/RHP Dylan Ray (Alabama), LHP/1B Cam Hill (Auburn), SS/2B Mitchell Daly (Texas) and RHP Nick Brown (Wisconsin-Milwaukee). Seniors OF/RHP Stuart Edge (Union University) and RHP Sam Maynard (Southern Union CC) are both quality arms as well. RHP Ben Creekmore returns after missing the 2019 season due to injury. Junior 3B/1B Slate Alford (Auburn) is a big-time power bat while 2021 RHP Thomas Ballard adds quality depth to the Patriot pitching staff.

Calvary Christian Academy, FL
After going 25-5 and losing in the state semifinal, Calvary Christian has five position players and three pitchers returning. Experience may be light, but the Eagles like their pitching, defense and combination of power and speed. 2021 RHP Andy Painter (Florida) leads the rotation and has NHSI experience, losing a no-hitter in the seventh inning of the third place game in 2018. The offense has big league bloodlines with 2B Dante Girardi (Florida International), the son of Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi, leading the way. It also includes OF Ty Hollandsworth, the son of Todd Hollandsworth. OF Kyle Tako (Florida Gulf Coast) will provide some power.

Harvard-Westlake School, CA
The Wolverines return to the NHSI for the fourth time with the top overall 2020 in OF Pete Crow-Armstrong (Vanderbilt) and SS Drew Bowser (Stanford), who is No. 30 in the class. Both players are no stranger to the bright lights after a summer of playing in front of scouts. There’s talent and depth in the lineup with OF Sam Biller (Cal Poly), OF Tyler Ganus (Oregon), OF George Cooper (Harvard), and highly regarded underclassmen SS Jordan Kang, C Jacob Galloway, and SS Kai Caranto. On the mound, the Wolverines will look to junior RHP Christian Becerra to fill the role of ace after being thrust into action last season and performing very well in helping Harvard Westlake to a CIF-SS D1 finals appearance. 

Mount Carmel HS, IL
The Caravan will be making their second trip back to the NHSI in the last three years. Headlining the roster is SS Ed Howard (Oklahoma). Howard, a four-year varsity player, has turned himself into arguably the top high school shortstop in the country and early reports have him as a likely first-round pick. Howard will be penciled in at shortstop and somewhere in the middle of the lineup while MIF Tony Livermore (Northwestern) will be at second base and hit at the top of the lineup. At one of the corner infield spots will be Joshua Houston (Southern), one of the top right-handed bats in the class. Houston has been an integral part of the Caravan lineup since his sophomore season. Rounding out the senior-laden infield most likely will be RHP/1B Nick Miketinac (Butler). Miketinac, who has seen his velocity climb into the mid 80s as of late, is set to play an important role on the mound as well. On the mound, there are question marks to be answered but the Caravan have plenty of young talent ready to step up. Outside of Miketinac, look for junior RHP Tom Egan to see quality innings this spring. Egan, who participated in this past summer’s Future Games, runs his fastball up to 87 mph and features two of the better breaking balls in the class. Mount Carmel also has two highly-talented sophomore left-handed pitchers in Julien Hachem (Oklahoma) and Shane Curtin. Hachem is a 6-foot-6, 220-pounder and ran his fastball up to 86 mph this fall. Curtin is undersized, but has an athletic, quick arm and advanced pitchability for his age.

North Gwinnett HS, GA
The greatest challenge to Parkview’s three-peat in Georgia will be the Bulldogs, who boast four D-I recruits all ranked within the top 60 of Georgia’s 2020 class. The most potent offense in Georgia will be led by C Corey Collins (Georgia), OF Josh Shuler (South Carolina), IF John Anderson (Georgia Tech), IF Jarrett Burney, and 2021 C Matthew Strand. Collins and Shuler will provide power from the left-side and be major run producers for the Bulldogs. As for Anderson, who recently transferred, he is without a doubt one of the best overall hitters in Georgia and will give North Gwinnett even more firepower. On the mound, ace RHP Brandt Pancer (Stanford) will be the frontline starter. Look for RHP Coulson Buchanon, RHP Pax Briley III, LHP Anthony Turner (2021), and New York transplant RHP Max Luke to support Pancer.

Notre Dame HS, CA
Notre Dame is arguably the most talented team top-to-bottom in the gauntlet that is the CIF Southern Section. The Knights pitching staff, led by LHP Lucas Gordon (Texas), RHP Tyler Stromsborg (Southern California), and RHP Chris Aldrich (UCLA), is one of the deepest, most talented staffs in the entire state. And while the front three are all standouts, the quality of depth in the bullpen could prove to be the difference this season for the Knights. The offense scored a lot of runs in 2019, but they look more potent coming into the 2020 season. At the plate, Notre Dame is led by IF/OF Devan Ornelas (Texas Christian), IF Daylen Reyes (UCLA), 3B Diego Baquiero (Loyola Marymount), and SS Jeff Pierantoni (Yale).

Orange Lutheran HS, CA
No stranger to the NHSI is Orange Lutheran, who comes into the 2020 tournament with all the necessary pieces for a four-peat. The rotation is talented at the top with RHPs Max Rajcic (UCLA) and Christian Rodriguez (Cal State Fullerton), who will be counted on early while others gain experience. Look for right-handers like Drake Frize, Joseph Wiersma, and Brett Pierson (Lewis & Clark) to play big roles during the season. The Lancers’ lineup should once again be formidable with seniors Rajcic, Elijah Buries, Chad Born (Miami), Tank Espalin (Southern California), junior Justin DeCriscio (San Diego) and highly regarded sophomores Karson Bowen, and Gabriel Miranda

Parkview HS, GA
The Panthers enter 2020 as the two-time defending Class 7A state champions in Georgia and have a real shot at making it a three-peat. The potent one-two punch of RHP Miles Garrett (Vanderbilt) and RHP Xander Stephens (Georgia Tech) gives Parkview arguably the top front-end starting rotation in the state—and the plethora of talent does not stop there. Filling out the rotation will be LHP Graham Yntema (Lawson State CC). Leading things on the offensive side for Parkview will be OF Jonathan Ponder (Georgia State) and C Jack Davis (North Georgia). IF Ryan Spikes (Tennessee), who transferred to Parkview this fall, will provide an immediate impact. Spikes adds veteran leadership after his time spent with Team USA.

Reagan HS, NC
The Raiders return a majority of their 2019 roster, which posted a 21-7 record and landed in the west regional final, one step away from a state championship appearance. The North Carolina representatives and event host have good arms on the bump, plenty to make some noise. 2021 LHP/1B Josh Hartle (Wake Forest) has Team USA experience and a lot of polish to go with advanced stuff. RHP Danny Beal (East Carolina) will run his fastball up to 90 with a slider that can dominate opposing hitters. 2022 RHP Carter Boyd may have the best arm strength of the three, giving the Raiders the depth it can take to make a run in Cary. Offensively, they will be looking for ways to be consistent. There is talent, led by SS/RHP C.J. Boyd (East Carolina), who is an advanced athlete and can create runs in a number of ways. Hartle will be counted on to provide thump in the middle of the order, as he is a potential two-way prospect for Wake Forest.  

Red Land HS, PA
Red Land made a run to the Little League World Series title game in 2015, eventually losing to Japan. That class of players has continued to have success on the diamond, culminating in a 2019 PIAA 5A state title. A roster that currently boasts five D-I recruits is highlighted by a pair of left-handed pitchers—cousins Luke and Cole Wagner, both of whom are committed to Georgia. Mix in OF Benny Montgomery (Virginia), 2B Kyle Hannon (Penn State) and RHP Jaden Henline (Penn State), and the Patriots have the pieces to make another deep playoff run during the upcoming high school season. The Patriots lost some talent to graduation, but return more than enough from last year's 25-3 roster to be highly competitive again in 2020.

Regis Jesuit HS, CO
Regis Jesuit won the 5A state title in 2019 and are considered strong favorites again in 2020.  They have talented juniors and seniors with championship experience. There are three D-I recruits in the starting rotation in RHP Jacob Thompsen (Long Beach State), RHP Alec Willis (Minnesota) and RHP Chase Allen (Michigan). Key positions players returning include  OF Ethan O'Donnell (Northwestern), OF Bryce Parsons (Air Force), who are two of the best outfielders in the state. Depth and leadership is strong behind the plate as two top recruits could share duties in C Owen Best (St. Thomas, MN) and C Craig Kenny (Northern Colorado). SS Brock Weiss is the last of the storied Weiss family tradition at Regis Jesuit. Rounding out this experienced team, the underclass potential will be great to follow. 2022 SS Dallas Macias (Oregon State) is a switch-hitter who will also see time on the mound. 2022 IF/RHP Brooks Gerig also has upside.

St. Thomas Aquinas HS, FL
The Raiders have experience on their side with five position players and six pitchers returning from 2019. They went 24-4 last season, losing in the region championship. RHP Nate Thomas (Miami) has a 14-2 record and 1.20 in the last two seasons and will front the pitching staff while SS Keanu Jacobs-Guishard (South Florida) brings pop and speed to the lineup. He missed 2019 due to injury, but hit .371 in 2018 as a sophomore and will be paired with MIF Jimmy Thies (Florida Atlantic) up the middle. Thies hit .385 in 2019. RHP Blake Purnell (Florida) was 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA last year. OF/LHP Mikel Cuvet (Embry-Riddle) is a two-way player with a fastball in the mid to high 80s and 6.7 speed. His younger brother, RHP/3B Daniel Cuvet (Miami), is a high profile freshman with a fastball up to 88. 1B Otis McDuffie (Tampa) had 40 at-bats last season and hit .385 with three home runs and 20 RBIs.

Thousand Oaks HS, CA
For the Lancers, the conversation begins with their trio of highly-regarded juniors all playing premium positions. OF Roc Riggio (Oklahoma State), SS Max Muncy (Arkansas) and C Charlie Saum (Stanford), along with senior MIF Jacob Wilson (Grand Canyon), will be counted on to lead a lineup that will be one of the more formidable offenses in the area. C Chase Melnick provides a quality receiver with a consistent bat behind the plate in addition to Saum. IF/RHP Jared Miller can impact a game at the plate and on the bases. On the mound, the Lancers lost their top two arms to graduation and will look to seniors Drew Dunaier and Scott Ellis to fill those roles.

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