Prep Baseball Report

2015 Season Preview: PIAA District II

By Jacob Gill
Philadelphia Region Director of Scouting

From southwest PA the last two days to the northeast corner we go to kick off the second half of our district preview articles, the main component of our season preview content, which will run for three weeks up to the first official competition date for PIAA schools on March 20. Each article includes a list of top prospects from amongst the cohort of schools, as well as write-ups of a number of teams in the cohort.

We have received inquiries regarding how we decide which teams to detail. A team having or not having its own paragraph in the article is less an indication of what type of season we expect it to have and more a function of how much information we are able to compile. For example, if we have not seen a team in person (there are over 600 baseball-playing high schools in the state), stats are not available on-line, and a school district spam filter gobbled up our e-mails to the coach that contained the questionnaire, we might not have enough information to write a full paragraph on that school.

To view all district previews as they are released, please visit our District Previews 2015 page.

PIAA District II Top Prospects

1. Max Kranick, 2016, RHP/IF, Valley View (Virginia)
2. Jake McCarthy, 2015, OF, Scranton (Virginia)
3. Cole Stetzar, 2017, RHP, West Scranton
4. Joey Baran, 2015, LHP/OF, Hazleton Area (Stony Brook)
5. Ryan Hogan, 2016, C/OF, Wyoming Valley West (St. John's) ==>
6. Dante Biasi, 2016, LHP, Hazleton Area (Penn State)
7. Tyler Ksiazek, 2015, RHP/IF, Abington Heights (Monmouth)
8. Tyler Stafursky, 2016, LHP, Scranton Prep
9. Zach Klapak, 2018, C/RHP, Delaware Valley
10. Jordan McCrum, 2015, SS/RHP, Dallas (Monmouth)
11. Colin Maldonato, 2015, RHP, Scranton
12. Chris Panzarella, 2015, SS, Hazleton Area (Lackawanna)

Class A

Old Forge returns virtually its entire line-up, led by two LIAA Division III Honorable Mention selections: junior utility Joe Gutowski and 6-foot-7 senior 1B/OF A.J. Cantarella, who is headed to Hamilton College to play football. RHPs Gutowski and Cantarella will also front coach Tony DiMattia's pitching staff, with sophomore RHP Ben Grochowski slated to rack up innings as well.

Despite graduating four seniors who were regular starters, Lackawanna Trail has a number of quality offensive pieces returning. Three senior all-LIAA Division IV honorees -- 1st-team catcher Cooper Rosiak (.300 AVG), 1st-team utility Liam Dougherty (.400 AVG, .481 OBP, .666 SLG), and Honorable Mention DH Jared Phillips (.455 AVG, .520 OBP) -- are joined by fellow senior Jordan Hannon (.439 AVG, .489 OBP) atop the Lions line-up. Rosiak (23.2 IP, 15 H, 14 BB, 27 K) and Dougherty (13.2 IP, 8 H, 6 BB, 13 K) are the only returning pitchers who logged more than one inning last spring.

With only its leadoff hitter gone to graduation, Forest City Regional will have a veteran line-up this spring, led by senior LIAA Division IV 1st-team second baseman Jon DeEsch (.352 AVG) and junior Honorable Mention utility Dylan O'Dell (.304 AVG), plus junior outfielder Jordan Hicks-Cook (.345 AVG) and sophomore catcher R.J. Kuruts (.362 AVG). Four pitchers -- DeEsch, O'Dell, Kuruts, and junior Honorable Mention Mitchell Blake -- who saw significant action last season are back for the Foresters.

Last year's district champ MMI Prep graduated its mound ace, but returns junior ace-in-waiting Eddie Hebener, plus its senior closer Cory Rogers. The Preppers also lost their 3- and 4-hole hitters, but are still strong up the middle with senior catcher Sam Harmon, shortstop Rogers, and senior center fielder Jacob Dasher.

Other schools and returning all-conference honorees
LIAA (Division IV)
Elk Lake - none
Blue Ridge - senior Honorable Mention C Trey Hilliard
Susquehanna Community - senior Honorable Mention IF Austin Felter, senior Honorable Mention Util Christian Miller

Class AA

Eight graduates who won 40 straight WVC games are gone, leaving only two seniors and four players with varsity experience on the Hanover Area roster. A revamped pitching staff will likely rely on a quartet of RHP who will be toeing the varsity rubber for the first time: juniors Kevin Rimmer and Dave Cook, plus sophomores Kyle Windt and Kyle Kowalski. Chestnut Hill-bound WVC Division 3 all-star Christian Pack (.441 AVG, 9 SB, 0 K!!!) and junior catcher Jake Peters (.349 AVG, .481 OBP) are the only returners with significant at-bats. Coach Mike Zapotoski will turn to senior second baseman Justin Kwiatkowski and third baseman Rimmer, along with Windt, Kowalski, and sophomore first baseman Austin Gately to make up some of the production lost by five players who moved on to college baseball.

Senior 1st-team LIAA Division IV LHP Chris White (56 IP, 42 H, 20 BB, 62 K) and junior RHP Ewan Sands (30.1 IP, 28 H, 16 BB, 25 K) return atop the Mountain View pitching staff, which should see an increased role for junior RHP Sam Flannery. The thumpers from the middle of last year's line-up are gone, but outfielder White (.297 AVG, 13 SB), senior Honorable Mention catcher Eddie Bognatz (.346 AVG, .460 OBP), and shortstop Flannery (.458 OBP, 12 BB vs 3 K, 15 SB) return for coach Ernie Griffis, who will look to get increased production from junior outfielder Deon Faramelli and sophomore infielder Zeb Feduchak.

Mid Valley welcomes back its entire corps of arms, led by senior RHP Alex Varaksa (40.1 IP, 41 H, 6 BB, 41 K), an LIAA Division III Honorable Mention selection. Joining him on coach Ryan Kropa's strike-throwing staff will be senior RHP Zach Nemitz (26.2 IP, 20 H, 8 BB, 28K), junior LHP Cody Petcavage (15.1 IP, 16 H, 1 BB, 13 K), and junior RHP Jacob Dolin (16.1 IP, 16 H, 4 BB, 17 K). The Spartans can also boast an all-1st-team left side of the infield in shortstop Nemitz (.412 AVG, 10 XBH) and junior third baseman Ethan Hasenzahl (.419 AVG, 12 XBH). Catcher Varaksa (.354 AVG, .446 OBP), who was also a 1st-team honoree as a utility player, outfielder Petcavage (.414 AVG, .495 OBP), and Honorable Mention utility player Donlin (.318 AVG) round out the primary run producers.

Greater Nanticoke Area returns its entire pitching staff, led by WVC Division 3 all-star Joe Olszyk (35 IP, 9 BB, 45 K) and sophomore RHP Kyle Pokrinchak (34 IP, 7 BB, 38 K), as the Trojans look to improve upon their district quarterfinal appearance from a year ago. Outfielder Pokrinchak (.453 AVG, 1 K in 59 PA) and Olszyk (.420 AVG) occupied the 3- and 4-holes last year in coach Dean Myers' line-up, which also welcomes back senior shortstop Kyle Rosick (.379 AVG), senior catcher Josh Benscoter (.350 AVG), and senior outfielder Stephen Kreitzer (.330 AVG).

Two-thirds of the starting line-up returns for Montrose, including two senior LIAA Division IV selections -- 1st-team outfielder Andreas Mittmann and Honorable Mention first baseman Kyle Watkins -- plus senior utility Nick Henry and senior catcher Ethan Stankiewicz. First-year coach Josh Winn has four experienced returning pitchers to mix-and-match with as well: senior RHPs Matt Benninger and Michael Vanness, senior LHP Kyle Watkins, and junior RHP Chris Lee.

Coming off its second district title in a row, Lakeland returns six starters, highlighted by two seniors who earned LIAA Division III Honorable Mention recognition: first baseman Shane Rivenburgh (.370 AVG, .478 OBP, 9 BB vs 4 K, 12 SB) and shortstop Josh Natale (.305 AVG, .414 OBP, 21 SB). In addition, coach Larry Piccini will have six pitchers with varsity experience at his disposal, including junior RHP Sean Pittack, sophomore LHP Brad Richards, senior LHP Jordan Misihowsky, and sophomore RHP Jordan Art (right).

GAR Memorial will feature a veteran offense providing run-support for an inexperienced pitching staff. The senior trio of Zach Faust, Sean-Paul Williamson, and Greg Skrepenak will lead coach Vito Pasone, Jr.'s offense, while the Grenadier pitching staff could be fronted by a pair of sophomores: Kris Kolativa and Wilmer Rodriguez.

Coming off a winless campaign, Carbondale Area hopes that its experienced offensive performers, led by senior utilitymen Kyle McLaughlin and Chris Larson, junior shortstop Devin Surace, and sophomore catcher Dominic Gigliotti, can help bring more positive results. Senior LIAA Division III Honorable Mention Jarrod Arendt (who is blind in one eye) will team with Larson, Surace, and senior Karsyn Wright to form the core of coach Dave Borosky's pitching staff.

Holy Cross welcomes back 86% of its innings, led by junior LIAA Division III 1st-team selection R.J. Boyle (42.1 IP, 35 H, 13 BB, 48 K) and St. Bonaventure-bound 1st-team utility James Wetter (34.1 IP,  34 H, 7 BB, 28 K; right). Two-thirds of the starting line-up is back as well, led by junior 1st-team outfielder Gannon Palmiter (.444 AVG, .592 SLG), junior Honorable Mention outfielder J.J. Backus (.472 AVG, .666 SLG), and Wetter (.435 AVG, .478 OBP).

Other schools and returning all-conference honorees
LIAA (Division III)
Dunmore - sophomore Honorable Mention OF Andrew Salzmann
Riverside - sophomore Honorable Mention 2B/Util Nick Sottile, junior Honorable Mention OF Matt Amaral

Elmer L Meyers (Div 3) - none
Holy Redeemer (Div 1-2) - senior 1st-team Matt Dacey
Northwest Area (Div 3) - none
Wyoming Seminary College Prep (Div 3) - none

Class AAA

LIAA Division I Player of the Year Kranick returns to front the pitching staff for Valley View, while senior LHP Dom Bordo appears ready to step up one rung in the rotation and provide what seems to be an endless string of quality 1-2 rotation punches for the Cougars. Kranick and outfielder Bordo will also power coach Jason Munley's offense, along with junior infielders Mitch McHale and Brandon Peters.

Coming off a stellar season, Berwick Area must replace seven of its line-up regulars from last spring. Senior outfielder Zach Andress (.302 AVG) and senior designated hitter Paul Jay Weigand are the only offensive holdovers. Workhorse junior Jordan DiValerio, a 1st-team all-WVC Divisions 1-2 selection, is back to front the Bulldogs pitching staff.

Abington Heights enters this season looking to earn its third straight district title. Ksiazek is a big-game pitcher (he picked up the win in the 2013 district championship, and again in the 2014 semifinal over a Valley View team that beat the Comets twice during the regular-season) who will front a staff that is otherwise short on experience. Jockeying for innings behind him will be senior LHP Zach Manasek, senior RHP Matt McDonald, and sophomore RHP Colin McCreary. A 1st-team LIAA Division I selection at third base, Ksiazek (.441 AVG) will team with Misericordia-bound 1st-team shortstop Jimmy Fayocavitz (.364 AVG), junior infielder Zach Spangenberg, plus seniors Matt McDonald and Eric Salerno (.385 AVG) to power coach Bill Zalewski's offense.

A trio of junior LIAA Division II honorees -- 1st-team outfielder J.P. Walsh (.446 AVG, .530 OBP, 7 BB vs 4 K, 9 SB), 1st-team catcher Matt Fisch (.389 AVG, .452 OBP; right), and Honorable Mention utility Sean Haddock (.314 AVG) -- return to power a North Pocono offense that only has three line-up holes to fill. Those holes are chasms, however, compared to a pitching staff that didn't lose a single inning to graduation. Coach Brian Jardine will be able to call on junior RHP Charlie Lamparter (40.2 IP, 43 H, 25 BB, 33 K) and Northampton CC commit LHP Tyler Fisch (31 IP, 36 H, 20 BB, 27 K), as well as reintegrate junior RHP D.J. Popper, who was only able to make three appearances last year before being shelved by injury.

With ace junior LIAA Division I Honorable Mention RHP Nate Fiala back, if 6-foot-2, 235-pound Stafursky can sharpen his command, Scranton Prep could have a rotation duo capable of carrying it through the district. Seniors RHPs Justin Belardi and Kevin Sompel return to provide rotation depth for coach Joe Ross. Senior shortstop Dan Ryan (.390 AVG) and senior LIAA Division I 1st-team outfielder Dan Timlin (.352 AVG) are the top returning hitters for the Cavaliers, who expect sophomore Kyler McAllister to fill their catching vacancy.

Other schools and returning all-conference honorees
LIAA (Division II)
Honesdale - senior Honorable Mention C/Util Gus Martin
Western Wayne - none

WVC (Divisions 1-2)
Dallas - senior 1st-team McCrum
James M Coughlin - none
Wyoming Area - senior Honorable Mention Zach Lopatka & Jeremy Zezza
Pittston Area - none
Crestwood - senior 1st-team Curt Yenchik (Neumann), junior Honorable Mention Derek Distasio
Tunkhannock Area - junior Honorable Mention Cody Brown
Lake-Lehman - junior 1st-team Tyler Kolb

Class AAAA (forms sub-region with District IV)

Hazleton Area appears well-situated to make a push toward a second straight state tournament berth. WVC Player of the Year Biasi (38.1 IP, 40 H, 10 BB, 43 K) and 1st-team WVC Division 1-2 Baran (33.2 IP, 28 H, 11 BB, 46 K) lead a pitching staff that lost two other 1st-team arms to graduation and will look to replace them with the likes of senior RHP Ryan Heller (13.2 IP, 12 H, 4 BB, 10 K) and junior RHP Michael Reinhart. Coach Gino Cara's offense is equally well-equipped, with six returning starters, including Biasi (.413 AVG, .452 OBP, 8 BB vs 6 K) and Baran (.443 AVG, .506 OBP, .557 SLG, 10 SB). Also back are three senior Honorable Mention selections -- Panzarella (.312 AVG, 9 SB), who is arguably the top defensive infielder in the state; catcher Robbie John (.343 AVG, .522 SLG); and outfielder David Klein (.312 AVG, .411 OBP, 11 SB), a Penn State Harrisburg commit -- as well as Kutztown commit Kyle Rogers (.308 AVG, .553 SLG; right).

Delaware Valley welcomes back its 1-2 rotation punch in the form of senior LIAA Division II 1st-team selections Tim Volvaka, a Lebanon Valley commit, and Coty Amant. The Warriors will need to replace their leadoff man and 2-hole hitter, but five other starters do return, including Penn State Harrisburg-bound Honorable Mention outfielder Justin O'Dell (.372 AVG), junior outfielder Lawrence Cicileo (.347 AVG), and infielder Volavka (.350 AVG). Toolsy Klapak (right) could force his way into the line-up early in his career.

Wyoming Valley West looks to ride a wave of momentum from Swoyersville's American Legion state championship, as a number of Post 644's major contributors will also wear the Spartans uniform this spring. Bloomsburg-bound Logan Zavada and senior all-WVC Divisions 1-2 1st-team selection Billy Gregory (right) will once again top the rotation. Five of the first six hitters in the line-up have departed, but Gregory (.381 AVG) and 1st-team honoree Hogan (.327 AVG), whose extra base prowess earned him Most Valuable Player recognition from the state legion tournament, are back to spark the offense.

For the third straight year, Scranton will turn to Maldonato (right) to front its pitching staff, while also calling upon senior RHP Matt DiStefano to take on a larger role. The Knights welcome back a number of offensive pieces, led by senior LIAA Division I 1st-team selection McCarthy and senior outfielder Cody Miller. The sophomore trio of catcher Nick Montoro, LHP Michael Nunez, and RHP Jack Kelly could push coach Jamie Higgins for playing time sooner rather than later.

Senior LIAA Division II Honorable Mention LHP Pavel Sprague (37.2 IP, 41 H, 11 BB, 21 K) and sophomore RHP Mitchell Guerrieri (26 IP, 40 H, 9 BB, 14 K) return to lead a Wallenpaupack Area pitching staff that will also have junior RHP Wade Gilpin (9 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 8 K) and sophomore RHP Aaron Husson looking to carve out larger roles. Coach Todd Schmalzle will roll out a largely inexperienced line-up, with junior first baseman David Eckert (.275 AVG) getting support from sophomores Austin Gilpin, Chris Brindle, and Morgan Theobald, as well as senior outfielder Brian Gibbons.

Other schools and returning all-conference honorees
West Scranton (Div I) - sophomore 1st-team Util Stetzar, senior Honorable Mention 2B Tyler Jakes

Season Preview Schedule

2/27 - PAISAA
2/27 - District V
2/28 - District IX
3/1 - District VI
3/2 - District IV
3/3 - District X
3/4 - District III (Class A & AA)
3/5 - District VII (Class A)
3/6 - District VII (Class AA)
3/7 - District II
3/8 - District XI
3/9 - District I (Class A, AA, AAA)
3/10 - District III (Class AAA)
3/11 - District VII (Class AAA)
3/12 - District I (Class AAAA)
3/13 - District III (Class AAAA)
3/14 - District VII (Class AAAA)
3/15 - District XII