Conference Preview: Inter-Academic League



By Jacob Gill
Philadelphia Region Director of Scouting

Springside Chestnut Hill, Penn Charter, and Episcopal Academy will all have first-year head coaches, adding a new level of intrigue to the Inter-Ac this season. On the player side, however, there is a lot of stability, with half of the all-Inter-Ac 1st-team, and virtually the entire 2nd-team, returning.

Returning 2013 all-Inter-Ac honorees

1st-team
'16 C/OF Kenny Bergmann, Penn Charter
'15 OF/RHP Chris Butera, Malvern Prep
'15 IF Kevin McGowan, Haverford School
'14 RHP Ross Mintzer, Springside Chestnut Hill (Ursinus)
'14 RHP Gardner Nutter, Malvern Prep (Eckerd)
'14 OF Steve Scornajenghi, Haverford School
'14 OF Zeke Zabinski, Germantown Academy

BergmannButeraMcGowan

2nd-team
'15 C Ryan Calhoun, Germantown Academy
'14 IF Steve Cohen, Penn Charter (Lafayette)
'14 1B Dan Grandieri, Malvern Prep
'14 OF Zach Jancarski, Springside Chestnut Hill (Maryland)
'14 IF Matt Maul, Malvern Prep (St. Joseph's)
'14 1B Owen McAdoo, Springside Chestnut Hill
'15 C Mike Melady, Springside Chestnut Hill
'14 1B TJ Pagan, Penn Charter
'14 RHP Russell Rhoads, Episcopal Academy (Penn)
'15 LHP Zach Wielgus, Penn Charter (East Carolina)

MeladyPaganWielgus

Despite coming up short in the PAISAA championship game, defending regular-season champ Malvern Prep appears to be the team to beat again this spring. Coach Freddy Hilliard returns two 1st-team pitchers (Nutter, Butera) and has a promising, albeit untested, group of youngsters behind them, including '15 LHP Brendan Inglis. Maul, one of the smoothest infielders in the state, will slide from 2B over to SS and team with '15 3B Mark Gentilotti (Delaware), whose recent cage work is drawing rave reviews. Butera has good speed and gap pop, while Grandieri (who has re-opened his recruiting process with the announcement that Temple has discontinued its program) provides juice from the left-side of the plate. '15s such as OF Parker Abate and C Clay Koniencki will stake their claim to up-for-grabs line-up spots. With the Friars enviable depth, he may not be called upon much, if at all, this season, but keep an eye on 6-foot-2, 225-pound RHP/C Shane Muntz to have an impact sooner rather than later in his career.

A young, but talented, Penn Charter squad is poised to make a run up the standings. The pitching staff will be fronted by Wielgus and '15 RHP/OF Gabe Smith, while Pagan provides a different look after Smithconverting to a sidearm slot last summer. RHP/SS Matt Gorman, who will be featured prominently when PBR's initial class of 2017 rankings are released, will play a major role on the staff and likely start the season at 3B. Other young (not to mention sizeable) colts in the stable include: '16 RHP Harrison Timberlake (6-foot-2, 175-pounds), '17 LHP Brendan Cellucci (6-foot-2, 170-pounds) and '17 RHP Justus Sanders (6-foot-3, 205-pounds). The return of the athletic Smith (left), who missed last season due to injury, should provide a boost to a line-up already featuring Bergmann, Cohen, Pagan and '14 C Jordan DellaValle (Penn).

HarkinsGermantown Academy is another program that appears to have a significant amount of young talent in the pipeline. Leading the way is athletic, switch-hitting SS John Aiello, the top-ranked player in the PA class of 2015. Helping him power the offense will be Zabinski, Calhoun (a solid catch-and-throw guy), and '16 1B Billy Brittingham (who, along with Gorman, will represent Team PA at the 2014 PBR Future Games). '17 IF Vince Capone is another young hitter to watch closely. The pitching staff should prominently feature the RHP duo of '16 Emmett Harkins (right) and '15 Ryan DeWalt, an IF who could have an impact on the offense as well.

TracyDefending PAISAA tournament champ The Haverford School has a number of holes to fill, most notably two of their three primary pitching slots. Likely sliding into the ace role is 6-foot-4 '14 RHP Connor Burke, who started and won the PAISAA championship game. 6-foot-3 '16 RHP Ben Tracy (left) and '15 RHP Nick Greco will jockey for innings behind him. Coach Bob Castell's suffered a big blow when '14 IF Chris Sukonik suffered a knee injury playing football that required surgery in November and has him questionable to return to the diamond this spring.  Sukonik's top-of-the-order running-mate Scornajenghi and doubles machine McGowan will be called upon to take an even bigger load on their shoulders. Two young position players looking to take a step forward in their development are '16 1B Frank Cresta and '16 C James McConnon, who was the everyday starter behind the plate for the Fords as a freshman.  [Author's Note: This section was updated post-publication to reflect the news of Sukonik's injury]

Springside Chestnut Hill will have the opportunity to put a ton of speed into its line-up, with Jancarski, '14 OF Craig Alleyne and '16 2B/SS AJ LaBella back at the top of the order. In addition, '16 IF Nick Rowland and '16 OF Tom Trullinger, both plus runners, are hoping to step into one of the four line-up spots vacated by graduated seniors. Melady and McAdoo will be expected to be the middle-of-the-order run-producers.  Mintzer returns to front an otherwise inexperienced pitching staff.

BurmanThe familial pair of '15 C/3B Ben Burman (left) and '16 1B/OF Alex Burman will team with '15 1B John Minicozzi to provide punch for an Episcopal Academy offense that was held to three or less runs in all but two Inter-Ac games last spring. However, the ability of the Churchmen to compete this year likely will hinge on whether or not they can develop a consistent second starter behind Rhoads. The obvious candidate is 6-foot-6 '14 RHP Adam Seibert (Hofstra), who has flashed potentially dominating stuff, but has struggled with command issues throughout his career. 6-foot-5 '15 RHP Kevin Henriksen could also find himself in the mix.

 

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