Prep Baseball Report

2013 Inter-Academic League Preview

By Jacob Gill
Philadelphia Region Director of Scouting

Inter Academic League 2013:      teams listed in order of 2012 Finish

Malvern Preparatory School (31-5, 10-0)

Notable Losses: Nick Bateman (Winthrop), Mike DeMatteis (Washington & Lee), John Durkee (2nd-team all-Inter-Ac), Matt Greskoff (1st-team), Drew Hayes (Navy), Joe Ravert (La Salle)
Key Returnees: Joe Poduslenko (2013 IF - Seton Hall), Stephen Robinson (2013 1B/C - Penn State), Billy Ford (2013 RHP/C - West Chester), Gardner Nutter (2014 RHP), Mark Gentilotti (2015 IF), Brian Giacchino (2013 OF)

It's hard to imagine coming off a 30-plus win campaign, an unblemished regular-season in the Inter-Ac, and an Independent Schools Tournament championship, but coach Freddy Hilliard anticipates his team actually improving in certain facets this year.  Nutter (4-2, 3.67 ERA) will lead a group of young arms that should provide quality depth after Ford (8-0, 1.42 ERA), who will play both football and baseball at the next level.  The defense behind that staff will be anchored by the athletic Poduslenko (1st-team all-Inter-Ac), who is expected to set the table for power threats Robinson and Ford (also a 1st-teamer).  Despite those three, the biggest unknown for the Friars heading into the start of the season is how quickly they will be able to replace the production of six departed everyday players.

Germantown Academy (20-8-1, 6-4)

Notable Losses: Ryan Dolan (UNC-Wilmington), Mike Fitzgerald (Northeastern), Danny Hoy (Princeton), Ryan Obrecht (Franklin & Marshall), Luke Reilly (La Salle), Cameron Retif (New Orleans), David Wolfson (Swarthmore)
Key Returnees: John Aiello (2015 IF/RHP), Rob Gorman (2013 OF), Zeke Zabinski (2014 OF/C), Bobby Flood (2013 C/IF), Logan Sneed (2014 RHP/IF), Matt Dale (2013 RHP/IF)

If there ever was an excuse for a rebuilding year, it might be one after which you send seven seniors to college baseball and your top returning player is just a sophomore.  However, when that sophomore (Aiello) is a two-way standout coming off a freshman campaign in which he hit .348 while also posting a 2.79 ERA, and you return two other arms (Dale & Sneed) who combined for seven wins and nearly 60 IP, building blocks for success are still in place.  In addition to Aiello, coach Tyler Stampone returns three other position players (Gorman, Zabinski, Flood) who posted an OBP over .400 last year.  They will be joined by 2015 C/IF Ryan Calhoun, a transfer from La Salle College HS, whose bat is expected to earn him one of the many spots in the Patriots' line-up still up for grabs.

William Penn Charter School (25-7, 6-4)

Notable Losses: Demetrius Jennings (Wofford), Kenny Koplove (Duke), Nick Lamb (Muhlenberg)
Key Returnees: Steven Cohen (2014 SS), Jordan Della Valle (2014 C), TJ Pagan (2014 RHP/1B), Zach Wielgus (2014 LHP), Gabe Smith (2015 RHP/OF), Kenny Bergmann (2015 OF/C), Demetrius Isaac (2014 IF), Zach Kurtz (2014 OF/3B)

Coming off a semi-final appearance in the 2012 PA Independent Schools Tournament, coach Jon Cross will roster only three seniors in his second year at the helm.  The trio of Pagan, Wielgus, and Smith combined to go 11-4 in 116.2 IP as underclassmen last season.  Unfortunately, Smith will miss the 2013 season due to ACL surgery suffered in an off-field accident.  His absence could free up more innings for Ted Foley, the only senior on this year's squad who received significant playing time (23.1 IP) last year.  A stable of talented youngsters comprise a line-up that features left/right and speed/power balance.  Della Valle is coming off a 2nd-team all-Inter-Ac campaign.  1st-teamer Cohen, who has added some strength to his frame since last year, is a smooth defender with good footwork and soft hands coupled with a short stroke and a feel for going the other way at the dish.  6-foot-3, 230-pound Pagan is an imposing presence in the middle of the line-up, while Bergmann boasts a linebacker's physique and power potential as well.  The talent well even stretches down to the freshman class, as IF/RHP Joey Lancellotti could find a way to make an impact this season.

Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (16-10, 4-6)

Notable Losses:
 Danny Hull (Marywood - soccer), Matt Primavera (Dickinson)
Key Returnees: Zach Jancarski (2014 OF - Maryland), Matt Kozemchak (2013 LHP/OF - Lehigh), Matt Rowland (2013 IF - Louisville), Matt Caldwell (2013 IF), Zac Gerard (2013 1B - Widener), Jake Banks (2013 IF)

A decade after he was named the Gatorade National High School Baseball Player of the Year and the Kansas City Royals selected him in the first round of the draft, rookie skipper Chris Lubanski inherits a wealth of talent that should ease his transition to the coaching ranks.  His senior-laden infield is anchored by Rowland, whose bat- and foot-speed (sub-6.7 60) will make him one of the primary run-producers.  Jancarski, a tremendous athlete with a number of plus tools (6.8 60, 90mph arm) will captain the outfield and serve as a catalyst for the offense.  Kozemchak (6-2, 2.15 ERA, 31 H, 51 K in 52 IP) gives his team a chance to win every time out, but the Blue Devils fate may be tied to how quickly younger arms develop behind their ace.

Haverford School (24-15, 3-7)

Notable Losses: Eric Close (West Chester), Andrew Landolfi (Lafayette)
Key Returnees: Steve Fitzgerald (2013 OF/RHP - Lehigh), Pat Valentine (2013 RHP/1B - Holy Cross), Matt Galetta (2013 OF/LHP - Haverford), Kevin McGowan (2015 IF), Steve Scornajenghi (2014 OF/LHP), Drew Field (2013 OF)

The Fords appear poised to build off their appearance in the Independent Schools championship game, as coach Bob Castell returns two of his top three pitchers and four players who hit over .300 (including Fitzgerald at .379).  The defense will miss the slick fielding Landolfi and his double play partner Gus Costalas, but McGowan, the only freshman to earn 1st-team all-Inter-Ac honors a season ago, looks ready to step up and captain the infield.  The line-up will be well-balanced from the right and left sides, although there will be a number of inexperienced starters on the infield and behind the plate.  Valentine (7-1, 0.36) and Galetta (4-4, 2.79) front the rotation, while Fitzgerald is expected to expand his influence to the mound and soak up some of the work left behind by departed innings leader Close.

Episcopal Academy (15-15, 1-9)

Notable Losses: Burk FitzPatrick (Maine), Noel Swanson (Johns Hopkins)
Key Returnees: Doug Trimble (2013 IF - Delaware), Anthony Perretti (2013 OF), Russell Rhoads (2014 RHP), Adam Seibert (2014 RHP/OF), Jay Farrell (2013 1B)

With a starting duo that should match up with any in the league, coach Aaron Barras expects to rely on his pitching and defense this spring, as EA tries to move its way up the standings.  The polished Rhoads features a quality 3-pitch mix and a fastball in the 82-84 range.  Seibert, a very good athlete (6.75 60) for someone 6-foot-6, recently made the velocity jump (FB 89-91 at PBR's Pre-Season All-State event in February) that has been expected of him.  Offensively, Perretti led the team in runs scored (30) and is expected to provide leadership for a youthful group of Churchmen.  Trimble hit .351 on his way to 1st-team all-Inter-Ac honors, while Farrell garnered 2nd-team recognition.

AielloPre-Season Player of the Year - John Aiello
Under normal circumstances, deference would be given to an experienced upperclassman such as Billy Ford in this situation.  However, when a sophomore is the only player from a region other than the south or west to earn a spot on the 2012 USA Baseball 15U National Team, standard operating procedure gets thrown out the window.  The starting shortstop and mound ace for GA as a freshman, Aiello could emerge as the top all-around player in the league as soon as this year.

PoduslenkoPre-Season Position Player of the Year - Joe Poduslenko
The unassuming Poduslenko is a quick-twitch athlete with plus bat speed and the ability to impact the game with his legs as well as his bat.  His defensive versatility, which could see him slide over from third base to shortstop this season, makes him extremely valuable even beyond his significant offensive contributions (.424 AVG, .641 OBP, 30 SB).

KozemchakPre-Season Pitcher of the Year - Matt Kozemchak
While guys like Billy Ford and Adam Seibert will light up the radar gun, a lefty who commands his breaking ball and averages a strikeout per inning will undoubtedly have a ton of success.  Backed by potentially the top offense in the league, Kozemchak is poised to improve on his impressive 1st-team all-Inter-Ac junior campaign.

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