Prep Baseball Report

Ohio Division I Power Rankings: No. 6 - No. 10

By Chris Valentine and Dylan Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Director and Senior Writer 

No. 6 Grove City HSnakivell
The Grove City Greyhounds have become a familiar face at Huntington Park the past two years. Coach Alexander’s squad put together a record of 27-4 in 2012 with an OCC-Ohio conference title. This year, the Greyhounds find themselves replacing key graduated players such as ace Mitchell Stephens (Otterbein recruit), shortstop Jimmy Gravett and centerfielder Tyler Kent (Otterbein recruit). Still, coach Alexander’s squad has plenty of talent returning, including six starters and four pitchers who saw time on varsity. C/OF Drew Nankivell was named second team all-state as a junior. He has led the Greyhounds in hitting the past two seasons and remains one of the state’s top unsigned seniors. RHP/1B Drew Artrip, who has started since he was a freshman, was limited on the mound last year but when healthy shows a low- to mid-80’s fastball. At the plate, Artrip hit better than .400 as a sophomore and junior. LHP Kyle Bennet went 6-1 last year with wins in the district title game and the regional finals. Keep an eye out for junior RHP Josh Schaffer. Early reports have him being clocked in the mid- to upper-80's in practice.

previtNo. 7. Strongsville HS
Strongsville High School’s spring preparations have been anything but typical. Immersed in a teachers’ union strike, the Mustang players have found their season disrupted by issues out of their control. The start of their season won't come easy as they open with defending state champ Cincinnati Moeller. After compiling a 17-4 record in 2012 with a 9-1 conference finish, Strongsville has reloaded for the 2013 season. The Mustangs lost several key players to graduation such as Forrest Perron (UC recruit), Austin Pritchard (UC recruit), Aaron Caputo (Ohio Wesleyan recruit), Kory Hall (Lee recruit), Connor Ryan (Marietta recruit), Kyle Toma (Mercyhurst recruit) and Brennan Singleton. The pitching staff will be anchored by senior RHP/OF Austin Previt (Lake Erie recruit), who has a fastball that gets into the upper 80’s, and junior RHP Warren Spragg, who may be the next big arm to come through Strongsville. The remainder of the lineup will rely on returning starters such as senior OF Brad Wiemken (Case Western recruit), senior IF Ben Szymczak,and senior catcher Brendan Lange. 

No. 8 Dublin Jerome HSjohnson
The Dublin Jerome Celtics are coming off a 15-12 record in 2012. Now, with plenty of experience under their belt, the Celtics have high expectations heading into the spring. Coach Huesman’s only major loss comes in the form of his son Aaron, who has graduated and is starting as a freshman at the University of Dayton. With seven starters returning to the lineup and six pitchers in the rotation, the Celtics are poised to be one of central Ohio’s top squads. The pitching staff is led by a pair of Division I recruits in the form of right-handers Jason Johnson (Dayton recruit) and Masashi Sakamoto (Akron recruit). Meanwhile, the defense will be anchored by OF Sakamoto, C/IF Kyle Lento (Tiffin recruit) and OF Cam Willms. While Tom Coon will provide a consistent offense threat, the Celtics' biggest challenge will be maintaining a consistent offense throughout the season.

No. 9 Brunswick HSSALISBURY
The Blue Devils and head coach Todd Winston could quickly find themselves moving up the rankings. The pitching staff is one of the deepest in the Northeast region and should make Brunswick a tough opponent no matter the day of the week. Senior RHP/SS Kyle Michalik (Ohio State recruit) will serve as the staff ace and will be complemented by unsigned senior LHP Gerald Salisbury, who earned first team all-county honors last season, unsigned senior RHP/IF Kyle Burson and unsigned senior RHP Kyle Wheeler. The rest of the lineup will feature a good mix of upperclassmen such as senior 3B/C Brian Lees (Cincinnati recruit) and talented left-handed hitting sophomore OF Gary Clift, Jr, who started as a freshman last season. 

No. 10 Mentor HSmcclure
After falling to Mayfield HS in last year's district championship game, the Cardinals have their eyes set on a regional bid this spring. The lineup features some of the top prospects at their position in the state of Ohio. Junior RHP Kade McClure (Louisville recruit) is a 6-6, 200-pound prospect with a fastball that reaches into the high 80's. This year, he assumes the role of ace on the pitching staff. McClure will throw to senior catcher Dan Trimble (St. Bonaventure recruit), who is a talented left-handed hitting receiver. The outfield features junior Caleb Potter, who has a nice blend of speed and power and is rated as one of the top players at his position in the Midwest. Meanwhile, junior 1B/RHP Sam Vilk will provide a big power bat from the left side in the middle of the Cardinals' order.