Prep Baseball Report

2015 Season Preview: PIAA District IX

By Jacob Gill
Philadelphia Region Director of Scouting

Today marks the third installment of our season preview content, which will run for three weeks up to the first official competition date for PIAA schools on March 20. To view all district previews as they are released, please visit our District Previews 2015 page.

PIAA District IX Top Prospects

1. Dylan Cyphert, 2015, LHP, Cranberry Area (Pitt)
2. John Matthews, 2016, SS/RHP, Punxsutawney (Kent State)
3. Ryan Sloniger, 2015, C/RHP, Punxsutawney (Penn State)
4. Braxton Giavedoni, 2016, OF, Punxsutawney
5. Jake Mikinis, 2016, SS, DuBois Central Catholic
6. Ben MacDonald, 2015, C, Ridgway Area (St. Bonaventure)
7. Adam Bankovich, 2016, C, DuBois Area
8. Michael Beimel, 2017, C, St. Mary's Area
9. Matthew Yough, 2015, 1B, Karns City
10. Jakob Felix, 2015, 1B, DuBois Area (Pitt-Bradford)

Class A

Dan SingerElk County Catholic lost just one game last year, but it just so happened to be the state championship game. The Crusaders return five line-up regulars off that squad, led by senior infielders Dan Singer (.369 AVG, .455 OBP, 12 BB vs 10 K, 9 SB; right) and Jonathan Dippold (.389 AVG, .506 OBP, 17 BB vs 6 K). A trio of sophomores -- utility Brad Dippold (.322 AVG, 10 SB), infielder Jeff Wehler (.473 AVG, .608 SLG, 9 SB), and catcher/outfielder Dan Stauffer (.377 AVG, .500 OBP) -- also return looking to build on strong rookie campaigns. The pitching is a bigger question mark, as ECC's top two starters graduated, leaving junior Ross Brennan (22 IP, 16 H, 5 BB, 26 K) and senior Mitchell Struble (11.1 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 11 K) as the most likely candidates to assume those roles.

Max LaneClarion Area returns two of its top three pitchers from a season ago -- Carleton College-bound RHP Max Lane (20.1 IP, 15 H, 9 BB, 38 K; right) and junior RHP Brendan Miller (28.1 IP, 22 H, 6 BB, 16 K) -- and could receive additional quality innings from sophomore RHP Jimmy Smathers. Coach Robert Jewett's line-up brings back six regulars, led by Lane (.410 AVG, .615 OBP, 23 BB vs 2 K) and Miller (.341 AVG, .487 OBP, .659 SLG), and could make some hay on the basepaths (four returning players had at least eight stolen bases last year).

DuBois Central Catholic returns virtually its entire roster, including three veteran arms in senior LHP Philip Myers, senior Ryan Anderson, and junior RHP Jake Miknis, who is also the starting shortstop and primary power source in the line-up. Utilityman Myers ably provides offensive support, while sophomore utilityman Jack Frank is coming off a strong rookie season.

Cameron County welcomes back seven of nine starters, led by senior utilityman Keith Spehalski (.304 AVG, .407 OBP), senior infielder Dominic Guisto (.360 AVG, .459 OBP, 10 BB vs 8 K, 16 SB), senior utilityman Luke Newhouse (.362 AVG, .553 SLG), and junior infielder Trae Smith (.324 AVG, .444 OBP, 8 BB vs 7 K). The bulk of the innings are likely to go to Newhouse (28 IP, 28 H, 19 BB, 25 K), sophomore Derek Rieder (16 IP, 14 H, 11 BB, 21 K), and Spehalski (14.1 IP, 16 H, 8 BB, 16 K).

All but one line-up regular returns for Port Allegany, led by senior infielder Chris Lashway (.392 AVG, .508 OBP, 10 BB vs 7 K), junior utilityman Garrett Talkington (.341 AVG, .455 OBP), senior outfielder Chad Gaines (.370 AVG, .483 OBP, 11 BB vs 9 K, 8 SB), and senior infielder Casey Vollmer (.325 AVG, .481 OBP, 11 BB vs 5 K). The pitching staff graduated its ace, but welcomes back the rest of the group, including Talkington (22.2 IP, 29 H, 16 BB, 16 K), Gaines (12.1 IP, 10 H, 12 BB, 12 K), and junior Dylan Kio (22 IP, 23 H, 12 BB, 13 K).

Class AA (forms sub-region with District VIII)

Dylan CyphertCranberry Area rode the left arm of Cyphert (right) to a district runner-up finish last year in class A and hopes to top that feat this spring as it moves up to class AA. Here are edited excerpts from an August report on Cyphert, one of the top pitchers in the state, let alone the district, at the Metropolitan Baseball Classic, a national-level tournament hosted by the New York Mets:
Cyphert has done a nice job adding strength to his frame (now 6 feet, 185 pounds). He pitches with a quick arm and up-tempo, attacking delivery that features a little hop at the top of his balance point. He pounded the strike zone (70 percent strikes) with his fastball at 84-87 and was able to get in on right-handed hitters. In addition, the Pittsburgh recruit has improved his slurvy breaking ball over the past year and a half.

Having carried only one senior on its roster last year, Moniteau is poised to have another strong season. Juniors Derek Boben (32.2 IP, 32 H, 9 BB, 33 K) and Aaron Marterella (29.1 IP, 23 H, 10 BB, 18 K), along with senior Zack Jewart (18 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 19 K) are the top returning innings-eaters. Offensive leaders include senior utilityman Josh McBride (.462 AVG, .552 OBP, 11 BB vs 1 K, .654 SLG, 8 SB), senior catcher Austin Blauser (.391 AVG, .533 OBP, 13 BB vs 5 K), and senior outfielder Cody Skiver (.312 AVG, .460 OBP, 13 BB vs 9 K, 14 SB).

Class AAA (forms sub-region with District VIII)

Braxton GiavedoniJunior RHP John Matthews (50 IP, 70 H, 10 BB, 57 K) and senior RHP Ryan Sloniger (22.2 IP, 32 H, 3 BB, 32 K) return to anchor the Punxsutawney Area pitching staff, which should see increased roles from senior RHPs Dakota Thomas and Pitt-Johnstown commit Dakotah Byers. Coach Mike Dickey's team is strong in the middle of the diamond as well, with Sloniger (.524 AVG, 10 XBH) behind the plate, Matthews captaining the infield, and toolsy junior outfielder Braxton Giavedoni (.382 AVG, 10 XBH, 9 SB; right) roaming centerfield.

Michael BeimelFollowing the graduation of two-thirds of its starting line-up, senior infielder Dillon Gallagher, junior utilityman R.J. Johnston, and sophomore switch-hitting catcher Michael Beimel (right), who has added an inch and fifteen pounds of strength since last summer, are the last men standing who saw significant at-bats for Saint Mary's Area last season. The pitching staff is even more lacking in experience, with only two returners who saw mound time last spring; they combined for 12.1 IP.

Junior OF Logan Puit joins a group of seniors including catcher Josh Sorbera, infielder Spencer Harrington, OF/1B Thomas Summers, and third baseman Cole Kephart, as Clearfield Area looks to change its fortunes from a 2014 season that saw it lose seven one-run games. Coach Sid Lansberry will hand the ball to LHP Summers and junior RHP Brandon Orsich to keep opposition offenses in check.

Class AAAA (forms sub-region with Districts VI, VIII & X)

Adam BankovichSenior LHP Ben Hayes (39 IP, 45 H, 9 BB, 23 K) returns to lead what will be an otherwise revamped DuBois Area pitching staff that could include at least three sophomores. Senior first baseman Jake Felix (.494 AVG, .571 OBP, 14 XBH), senior infielder Bryson Paulinellie (.370 AVG, .505 OBP, 17 SB), and junior catcher Adam Bankovich (.354 AVG, .500 OBP, 13 BB vs 9 K, .625 SLG; right) will power coach Todd Stiner's offense.

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