Prep Baseball Report

2015 Season Preview: PIAA District III (Class AAAA)

By Jacob Gill
Philadelphia Region Director of Scouting

Make it sixteen down, two to go, for our district preview articles, the main component of our season preview content, which is running 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.

Noah Malone

Nick Stoner

PIAA District III Class AAAA Top Prospects

1. Nick Stoner, 2017, IF/RHP, Elizabethtown Area
2. Eric Mock, 2015, RHP, Governor Mifflin (Penn State)
3. Wyatt Tyson, 2016, RHP, Red Lion Area (Campbell)
4. Noah Malone, 2015, RHP/OF, Cedar Cliff (Xavier)
5. Nate Fassnacht, 2016, SS, Ephrata Area
6. Jon Peterson, 2015, LHP, Hempfield (Longwood)
7. Blair Lewis, 2015, RHP, Lower Dauphin (Pitt)
Grant BrenemanZeb Stough8. Julian Bury, 2016, OF, Cedar Cliff
9. Adam Schwartz, 2018, RHP, Ephrata Area
10. Eric Dressler, 2015, OF, Red Land (Frederick CC)
11. Ty Friedrich, 2016, C, Lower Dauphin (Maryland)
12. Zeb Stough, 2018, RHP/3B, Red Land
13. Kyle Arganbright, 2015, RHP, Hempfield
14. Grant Breneman, 2017, 3B/RHP, Cedar Cliff
15. Niko Hulsizer, 2015, OF, Governor Mifflin (Morehead State)

Nate FassnachtJon PetersonJulian BuryAdam SchwartzEric Dressler

Class AAAA

Coming off a BCIAA championship, Reading needs to replace six starters. A speed-based offense for the Red Knights will be predicated on production from senior outfielders Giovanni Santiago and Kyle Gantert, senior infielder Ramon Bazan, and sophomore catcher Marco Morales. RHP Gantert, an all-Berks Division I honoree, will team with fellow senior RHPs Wandy Brito and Josh Lopez in coach Jason Zeigler's rotation.

Deon Stafford Jr.Lower Dauphin graduated six players who received post-season recognition in the Mid-Penn Keystone Division, including 1st-team selections Kaylor Kulina and Deon Stafford (right), the co-MVPs from 2013. That leaves Lewis, co-MVP from last season, and 2nd-team honoree Freidrich to lead the way for a reloading Falcons team.

Likewise, eight of nine line-up regulars and 84% of innings have departed from Cumberland Valley (including five Mid-Penn Commonwealth choices), leaving senior Alec Johnston (19.2 IP, 30 H, 4 BB, 21 K) as the only Eagle who got more than a cup of coffee last spring.

Gavilan Fogarty-HarnishEphrata welcomes back three pitchers who logged significant innings last spring: senior L-L Section Two 2nd-team RHP Gavilan Fogarty-Harnish (39.1 IP, 34 H, 8 BB, 27 K; left) and 1st-team RHP Austin Lowery (49.2 IP, 44 H, 7 BB, 23 K), plus junior RHP Matt McGillan (28.2 IP, 34 H, 10 BB, 16 K). On the flip side for coach Adrian Shelley, he will be looking to fill seven vacated line-up spots, with only the left side of the infield -- all-Lancaster-Lebanon League shortstop Fassnacht (.413 AVG, .511 OBP, 14 BB vs 10 K, .573 SLG, 10 SB) and junior Section Two 2nd-team third baseman Chase Weik (.342 AVG, .398 OBP) -- returning for the Mounts. Junior Section Two 1st-team outfielder Charlie Warden (.356 AVG, .392 OBP) will be running track this spring after suffering an upper body injury that will prevent him from participating on the diamond.

Aaron GentryExeter Township returns three of six pitchers -- Lock Haven-bound Berks II Honorable Mention RHP Dylan Richards (46 IP, 30 H, 16 BB, 28 K), senior RHP Aaron Gentry (25.2 IP, 28 H, 5 BB, 18 K), and senior RHP Drake Koch (18.1 IP, 20 H, 8 BB, 16 K) -- who logged double-digit innings on a spread-the-wealth pitching staff. The Eagles offense graduated two-thirds of its starters, leaving its top holdovers as All-Berks infielder Gentry (.368 AVG, .464 OBP, 10 XBH; right) and senior outfielder Reed Huntzinger (.304 AVG, .420 OBP).

Brayden LackeyLooking to defend its district championship, Cedar Cliff returns more than half of its athletic starting line-up, including Bury (.293 AVG, .376 OBP, 13 SB), whose strong summer could have him poised for a breakout spring, 1st-team Mid-Penn Commonwealth selection Breneman (.324 AVG, .442 OBP, 13 SB), who is also the Colts starting QB, York College-bound utility Brayden Lackey (.282 AVG, .423 OBP; left), and senior outfielder John McGee (.306 AVG, 10 SB). First-year coach Scott Lackey will call on 2nd-team honoree Malone (39 IP, 27 H, 31 BB, 49 K) and PSU-Harrisburg commit Zach Smith (35 IP, 40 H, 22 BB, 24 K) to ascend to the top two spots on the pitching staff depth chart, while Breneman should also have a chance to increase his role as well.

Hunter ReeserAn accomplished top of the rotation in Kutztown-bound all-Berks RHP John Catchmark (42 IP, 49 K) and all-Berks I RHP Mock (34 IP, 38 K) should keep Governor Mifflin in just about every ballgame, as long as the infield defense holds up its end of the bargain. Coach Chris Hole welcomes back seven starters, most of whom are seniors, including all-Berks Hulsizer (.400 AVG, 8 SB) and Honorable Mention all-Berks I outfielder Zach Weidner (.391 AVG). Senior first baseman Zach Sczepkowski, along with junior shortstop Hunter Reeser (right) and junior catcher Earl Kochel, also will help power the Mustangs offense.

Thomas ElliottJunior L-L Section One 2nd-team RHP Thomas Elliot (24 IP, 23 H, 17 BB, 26 K; left) is poised to assume the role of ace for a Warwick pitching staff that graduated its top two starters and should see junior RHP Tim Griest soak up a bunch of the available innings. With two-thirds of his starting line-up departed due to graduation, coach Bob Locker will turn to inexperienced players such as junior catcher Justin Smith and junior second baseman Tyler Martin to step up and make an impact.

Josh SnyderComing off a state quarterfinal appearance, Red Land needs to replace just about all of its innings (including two 1st-team all-Mid Penn Commonwealth selections) and its 1st-team catcher. What will undoubtedly be one of the youngest pitching staffs in the state will feature sophomore LHP Josh Snyder (right) sophomore RHP Brayden Coe, and Stough, plus senior RHP Chris Keefer. Coach Nate Ebbert's offense is in slightly better shape with the return of Mount St. Mary's-bound shortstop Dalton Clouser (.441 OBP, 22 BB vs 15 K), Dressler (.319 AVG, .437 OBP), and outfielder Snyder (.434 OBP, 17 BB vs 11 K).

With the graduation of its top two starting pitchers (who combined to log 71% of the team's innings), as well as the transfer of sophomore LHP Brandon Knarr to Eastern York, Penn Manor is left with junior RHP Jacob Herr (21.1 IP, 22 H, 9 BB, 20 K) as its lone returner to top six innings last spring. Younger pitchers including junior Collin Whiteside, and sophomores Jeff Taylor and Grant Gale, will look to carve out larger roles for themselves. Senior L-L Section One 1st-team infielder Collin Groff (.393 AVG, .486 OBP, 12 XBH) and Elizabethtown-bound 2nd-team catcher Anthony Knight (.312 AVG, .405 OBP) will spark the offense.

Joseph KroegerCentral York needs to replace 84% of its innings from last year following the graduation of three pitchers and the transfer of another (see below). Senior Collin Smeltzer (13.1 IP, 26 H, 8 BB, 12 K) and junior Alex Myers (11 IP, 8 H, 10 BB, 10 K) are almost assured of increased roles by virtue of being the only returners to see the varsity mound last season. Seniors Adam Reed (.357 AVG, .416 OBP) and YAIAA Honorable Mention Ryan Crum (.358 AVG, .478 OBP, 14 BB vs 13 K, .528 SLG), plus junior Joe Kroeger (.326 AVG, .412 OBP; right), are the only holdovers from a line-up that graduated two-thirds of its regulars.

Chase GilbertDefending Lancaster-Lebanon League champ Hempfield graduated exactly one player who contributed last year, leaving coach Jeremy Morrison with likely the most experienced team among this cohort. The Black Knights top three starters are back -- Peterson (59 IP, 44 H, 32 BB, 87 K), junior L-L Section One 2nd-team selection Alec Miller (45 IP, 41 H, 25 BB, 43 K), and senior Derek Manning (26 IP, 30 H, 11 BB, 28 K) -- and they picked up a real x-factor when Arganbright (25.1 IP, 24 H, 20 BB, 26 K) transferred in from Central York. Returning to power the offense are five post-season honorees, including two all-Lancaster Lebanon League all-stars in outfielder Peterson (.427 AVG, .538 OBP, 12 XBH) and senior catcher Jon Beck (.259 AVG, 12 XBH), plus L-L Section One 1st-team outfielder Manning (.333 AVG, .445 OBP, 18 BB vs 14 K, 11 XBH) and junior 2nd-team infielders Tim Gailor (.299 AVG, .447 OBP) and Chase Gilbert (.382 AVG, 12 XBH, 11 SB; left).

Briar LauerRed Lion Area graduated five of its top six hitters and will turn to a staff that returns four of five pitchers who logged double-digit innings last spring to carry the load this season. Tyson (20.2 IP, 23 H, 11 BB, 10 K) and fellow junior RHP Briar Lauer (26.2 IP, 27 H, 24 BB, 16 K; right) have the stuff to be effective if they can harness their command, and will once again team with junior RHP Stone Hill (21 IP, 12 H, 8 BB, 21 K) and senior RHP Wes Urey (13.1 IP, 9 H, 4 BB, 7 K) on coach Darren Hake's staff. Tyson (.375 AVG, .453 OBP, .536 SLG) will be joined in an inexperienced line-up by senior infielder Alex Zelger (.344 OBP, 13 BB vs 8 K) and Ferrum-bound catcher Jonny Smith (.385 OBP).

Honorable Mention all-Berks I RHP Eli Klick returns to lead a young Muhlenberg pitching staff that will also feature sophomore LHP Alex Bohn, junior RHP Cody Fidler, and senior RHP Jake Miller. C/OF Klick and infielder Fidler will team with senior infielder Joe Rozzi and freshman C/IF Sean Guilbe to power coach Brian Kopetsky's line-up, which could struggle early on following a few pre-season injuries.

Senior all-Lancaster-Lebanon League LHP Hunter Torres (43.2 IP, 41 H, 22 BB, 63 K) is poised to move from co-ace to bona fide ace for a Cedar Crest pitching staff that will need to see command improvement from the rest of its holdovers. Senior 2nd-team outfielder Gavin Smith (.279 AVG, .421 OBP) will spark a Falcons line-up that graduated five regular starters.

Conestoga Valley will be in need of some inexperienced players to step up an help junior L-L Section 2 1st-team infielder Daulton Martin (.411 AVG, .507 OBP, .625 SLG) and senior 2nd-team infielder Kelvin Reyes (.295 AVG) with generating runs on an offense that graduated five regulars. Senior Nick Higgins (20.2 IP, 18 H, 16 BB, 24 K) is the lone Buckskins returning pitcher to log double-digit innings last season.

Sam DeardorffFollowing the graduation of eleven players, Dallastown Area will turn to its sophomore and junior classes to pick up the slack. Sophomore YAIAA Division I 1st-team shortstop Tye Golden (.420 AVG, .483 OBP, 6 BB vs 3 K, .740 SLG, 11 SB), the Wildcats leading returning hitter, will be joined in the line-up by sophomore catcher Bryant Holtzapple, junior first baseman Eric Morrison, junior outfielder Brandon White, while also getting senior second baseman Nick Schuler back from an injury that sidelined him for most of last season. Having lost two of his top three starters, coach Scott Altland will turn to Cecil CC-bound RHP Sam Deardorff (right) and Wilkes-bound RHP Andrew Stambaugh to join junior RHP Riley Hamberger (31 IP, 28 H, 18 BB, 26 K) atop his rotation.

Aidan ZimmermanManheim Township graduated seven line-up regulars, leaving junior L-L Section One 2nd-team outfielder Jack Hankin (.381 AVG, .547 SLG) as the Blue Streaks leading offensive performer, and the door open for inexperienced players like junior catcher Matthew Shatto to step into a large role. The pitching staff appears to be a little more settled, with senior 2nd-team honoree Ryan Dornes (32 IP, 35 H, 11 BB, 18 K), senior Tommy Smeltz (21 IP, 25 H, 15 BB, 22 K), and junior Aidan Zimmerman (14.2 IP, 21 H, 12 BB, 13 K; left) all returning.

Riley McLaughlinA veteran Central Dauphin team can turn to a trio of senior RHPs -- Aaron Gress (43.2 IP, 49 H, 12 BB, 36 K), Tony Zimmerman (22.1 IP, 23 H, 15 BB, 16 K), and Baily Herrold (12 IP, 11 H, 7 BB, 9 K) -- to front the pitching staff this spring. Coach Brian Zellers' experienced offense will be led by senior shortstop Riley McLaughlin (.300 AVG, .383 OBP; right), senior Mid-Penn Commonwealth Honorable Mention outfielder Colby Schearer (.353 AVG, .429 OBP, 10 SB), and senior outfielder Jake Artz (.333 AVG, .440 OBP), who missed the last half of the season due to injury. Senior 1B/DH Gary Smith and sophomore 1B/DH A.J. Millar will push to join that trio with expanded roles for themselves.

Five line-up regulars return for New Oxford, led by junior YAIAA Division II Honorable Mention selection Corban Czap (.277 AVG, .377 OBP, 10 SB) and senior Keegan Romanoff (.283 AVG, .404 OBP, 9 BB vs 6 K). With the Colonials top two starters departed via graduation, seniors Justin Duble (22.2 IP, 20 H, 8 BB, 18 K) and Alex Smith (15.2 IP, 15 H, 19 BB, 17 K) will look to ascend the pitching depth chart.

Elizabethtown Area coach Frank Telenko will be able to utilize a more experienced pitching staff that in the past, which consists of senior L-L Section Two 2nd-team LHP Hunter Thomas, projectable, live-armed Stoner, junior RHP Jeremy Sabathne, and senior RHP Tyler Rosepink. Two all-L-L Section Two infielders -- 1st-team selection Stoner and senior 2nd-team honoree Nick Sweigart -- will team with senior catcher Brady Lefever, sophomore outfielder Justin Shelly, and junior infielder Santino Buonamicci as the Bears primary run-producers.

Brock KauffmanFor the second straight season, Garden Spot will have very few seniors in its starting line-up, one that will be powered by junior outfielder Logan Eby (.371 AVG, .596 SLG), sophomore infielder Brock Kauffman (.421 AVG, .500 OBP, 10 BB vs 5 K; right), and junior infielder Anthony Torreulla (.316 AVG). The biggest question mark for coach J.D Stern will be which pitchers are going to step up to replace three of the five arms who logged double-digit innings last year. Junior RHP Ryan Leid and LHP Torreulla should get the first crack at joining junior RHP Nick Lehman (40 IP, 36 H, 22 BB, 22 K) and sophomore LHP Ryan Smith (13 IP, 24 H, 10 BB, 9 K) as the primary options.

Matthew TaylorSenior YAIAA Division I 1st-team OF/RHP Matt Taylor (left) will team with senior RHP Kyle Raubenstine and junior infielder Miles Francis to lead a South Western team littered with underclassmen. The sophomore duo of RHP Austin Reusing and LHP Austin Yancheski will have an opportunity to contribute on the mound, while youngsters such as infielder Luke Small and Austin Staub, outfielders Adam Reed and Nate VanCampen, and catcher Evan Raubenstine could push coach Mike Resetar for playing time early in their careers.

Central Dauphin East coach Jim Mazzolla will count on his veteran pitching duo of junior RHP Quinton Heckard (28 IP, 16 BB, 24 K) and senior RHP Justin Cherry (36.1 IP, 23 BB, 41 K) to keep the Panthers in ballgames while the offense tries to scratch out runs. Junior Mid-Penn Commonwealth 2nd-team infielder Stephen McInturff (.313 AVG) will lead that charge, along with outfielder Heckard (.300 AVG), junior catcher Andy Pineda, and sophomore first baseman Chaz Stevens.

Despite graduating two-thirds of its innings and the majority of its starting line-up, Lebanon expects to take a step forward in its development on the strength of a large junior class coupled with some young additions to the program. Michael DeLeon (22 IP, 29 H, 15 BB, 24 K) will be joined in logging innings by three other junior RHP: Austyn Yerger, Miguel Acosta, and Logan Blouch. Coach Mike Toomey is looking for shortstop DeLeon, junior third baseman William Scaturro, and junior outfielder Daniel Caricabeur to benefit from the playing time they received as underclassmen, and for them to be joined in the line-up by utilityman Yerger and sophomore C/3B Cody Kissinger.

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