Field Set For 2016 NHSI
January 11, 2016
By Nathan Rode
The fifth annual USA Baseball National High School Invitational is set for March 23-26, 2016, and the 16-team field was announced last week. Four schools return to the event, including two past champions. Mater Dei HS, CA, won the first two editions in 2012-2013 while The First Academy, FL, took the crown in 2014. Huntington Beach HS, CA, is back for the second consecutive year while Bingham HS, UT, participated in 2013. Ten states will be represented with Liberty Christian Academy, VA, being the first from Virginia in the NHSI’s history.
The rest of the field includes Allatoona HS, GA, Chaminade College Prep, CA, Flanagan HS, FL, Florence HS, AL, Houston HS, TN, North Broward Prep, FL, Poly Prep Country Day School, NY, Rocky Mountain HS, CO, Topsail HS, NC, Trinity Christian HS, FL and Walton HS, GA.
As always, the NHSI will attract a crowd of scouts with the level of draft talent in attendance. The top prospect coming is OF Blake Rutherford (Chaminade College Prep, CA), who checks in at No. 4 on the PBR Draft 100. Also coming are LHP Braxton Garrett (No. 15; Florence HS, AL), 3B Carter Kieboom (No. 21; Walton HS, GA), SS Daniel Bakst (No. 44; Poly Prep Country Day School, NY), RHP/SS Gregory Veliz (No. 61; North Broward Prep, FL) and RHP Zack Hess (No. 71; Liberty Christian Academy, VA). A number of top 2017s will also be in attendance including SS Mark Vientos (Flanagan HS, FL), RHP Hagen Danner (Huntington Beach HS, CA), LHP/1B Nick Pratto (Huntington Beach HS, CA), RHP Nick Storz (Poly Prep Country Day School, NY) and SS Sam Hall (Topsail HS, NC).
Returning to the National Training Complex in Cary, NC, for the NHSI will be four members of the 2015 Team USA 18U team that won a gold medal at the WBSC World Cup in Japan last summer. They include Rutherford, Bakst, Pratto and Garrett.
Starting on Feb. 17 and leading up to the event, USA Baseball will release videos with analysis of the bracket from Prep Baseball Report, Baseball America and MLB.com. Below are quick capsules on each of the participating teams.
Allatoona HS, GA: The Buccaneers made it to the 5-A final four and return a bevy of experience in seven starting position players, three starting pitchers and six relief pitchers. Four are signed to play college baseball and a few more that are still contemplating decisions. Senior C/3B Pete Derkay, a Tennessee recruit, is one of the top players on the team, but Allatoona also has two high-level juniors in LHP Brian DeCarlo and OF/LHP Kyle Jacobsen. Jacobsen is already verbally committed to South Carolina. Head coach Keith Hansen says his team’s biggest strength is on the mound with several arms having varsity playoff experience.