Prep Baseball Report

Season Preview: Lehigh Valley Conference

By Jacob Gill
Philadelphia Region Director of Scouting

               lehigh valley conference

Returning all-lvc honorees

Easton Area - 2013 Kevin Cooley (Hon. Men. 3B)

Emmaus - 2013 Luini Ortiz (Hon. Men. DH)

Freedom Area - 2013 Sean Wrobel (Hon. Men. OF)

Liberty - 2013 Pat Donnelly (Hon. Men. SS)

Northampton Area - 2013 Cody Kramer (Hon. Men. C), 2013 Mark Szoke (1st-team 1B)

Parkland - 2013 Damin Muth (Hon. Men. C)

college bound

Allentown Central Catholic - 2013 RHP/OF/1B Mike Kammerer (Kutztown)

Freedom Area - 2013 OF Dylan Frankenfield (Johns Hopkins)

Liberty - Donnelly (Lehigh)

Northampton Area - Kramer (New Jersey Tech)

Parkland - Muth (Bloomsburg)

Whitehall - 2013 RHP/IF Jake Wloczewski (Binghamton), 2013 RHP/IF Elliot Mortimer (York)

Lehigh valley vignettes

A heart-breaking 1-0 loss in the first round of district play a year ago should serve as motivation for the remaining members of coach Matt Garza's Allentown Central Catholic squad.  Despite the loss of David Rosenberger (Virginia), Kammerer and 2013 RHP/IF Walter Roland will lead a staff that should keep the Vikings in most games.  2013 Justin Schalles, a three-year starter in the outfield, will transition to shortstop for his senior year.  Filling Schalles' spot in the outfield (as well as providing depth on the bump) could be 2014 LHP/OF Vinny Romano, a transfer from Emmaus, where he earned Honorable Mention recognition as a sophomore.

There's no doubt that first-year head coach Rob Leskosky will have a chance to put his imprint on the William Allen program, as he inherits a club that lost seventeen players from last year's roster.  2013 holdovers RHP/OF Brady Yocum and RHP/C Leo Mendez will be counted upon to provide senior leadership to their young, inexperienced teammates.  2015 IF/RHP Justin Kratz and 2014 RHP/IF Felix Martinez join the varsity squad after both finished in the top three in batting average and ERA on the Canaries junior varsity last season.

Louis E Dieruff graduated two-thirds of its starting line-up and its entire starting rotation.  2013 C Sammy Santiago is expected to be an anchor behind the dish, having thrown out 37% of attempted base-stealers last year.  2013 RHP/Util Alex Rodriguez and 2014 IF Javier Rivera are anticipated to provide solid defense for coach Dave Stoudt as well.  Rodriguez is the only returning pitcher with more than one varsity inning; he will be joined by 2014 RHP Dakota Shiffert, who utilizes a knuckleball as his signature pitch.

While the loss of sparkplug Nick Rabasco (New Jersey Tech) will hurt Parkland, the family legacy lives on in his younger brother, 2015 IF/RHP Chris Rabasco, who hit .391 as the only freshman on the varsity roster last year.  He will be joined at the top of the line-up by Muth (.406 AVG, 13 BB, 3 K), 2013 OF/RHP Tyler Graeff (.328 AVG), and 2013 OF Brandon Evans (.304 AVG), all of whom return as full-time players from last season's LVC North regular-season champions.  The situation gets a bit dicier on the run-prevention side of the ball, as coach Tony Galucy will be counting on a revamped infield and a young pitching staff that graduated nearly 70% of its innings.  Keep an eye on 2015 hurlers, 6-foot-2 LHP Connor Higgins (FB 83-85, touch 87) and 6-foot-3 RHP Rhett Jacoby (FB 82-84), to make an impact as the season progresses.

Bryan Lock has the pleasure of taking over a Nazareth Area program that won the LVC tournament and District XI class AAAA championships one season ago.  2013 RHP Dan Horvath (4-1, 0.82, 42 K in 34.1 IP) is expected to front the pitching staff following the departure of Dan Shepherd and Karl Keglovits (NC State), who combined for 11 wins and 99.2 IP last spring.  Graduation depleted two-thirds of the Blue Eagles starting line-up, which will rely on its team speed to generate offense and should be led by 2013 OF Anthony Gaetaniello.

The Konkrete Kids have a chance to be rock-solid on offense, as Northampton Area returns six starters from last season, led by Kramer, a PHSBCA class AAAA 1st-team all-state honoree.  Szoke and 2013 IF/RHP Eli Shoemaker hold down the corner infield spots in a predominantly right-handed hitting line-up, while 2015 Harley Davidson, the starting SS as a freshman, provides a left-handed bat and solidifies the middle of the diamond.  How quickly coach Mick Sugra can coax along an inexperienced pitching staff will determine how high his team climbs in the standings.

Whitehall coach Shaun O'Boyle returns an experienced group that, if they can shore up their defense, could certainly improve their place in the standings.  While he will contribute offensively as well, Wloczewski (5-3, 1.78 ERA) will head to college as a pitcher after serving as the ace of a staff that will also rely heavily on his fellow 2013 RHPs, Mortimer and Tyler Sweeney.  They will respond to the fingers put down by 2014 C Ryan Bonshak, who caught every inning last year and threw out 43% of potential base-stealers.  2013 OF Matt Bonshak (.306 AVG, 13 R) is a four-year starter  who will set the table for run producers Mortimer (.350 AVG, 17 RBI) and 2013 IF Zachary Delp (.265 AVG, 3 HR, 17 RBI).