Florida and California dominate the MaxPreps preseason high school baseball rankings, combining for 27 of the top 100 teams.
Florida has the edge with 14 teams, with Jesuit (Tampa) coming in the highest at No. 5. California, meanwhile, comes in second with 13 teams including the No. 1 overall team in Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks.
1. Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, Calif.)
Coach: Tom Dill
2019 Record: 24-7, Mission League champion
2019 National Ranking: 37
All-American candidates:Lucas Gordon, LHP/1B (.366, 1.39 ERA, 56 Ks, 5-1, Texas).
Other key returners:Devan Ornelas, Sr., CF/SS (.423, 20 RBI, 2 HR, TCU); Daylen Reyes, Sr., 2B (.398, 17 RBI, UCLA); Tyler Stromsborg, Sr., RHP (1.58 ERA, 36 Ks, 6-0).
Toughest games: National High School Invitational, April 1-4; Boras Classic, April 13-17; Harvard-Westlake, April 21, 22 and 24.
Outlook: The Knights check every box necessary to win a national championship: 1. They were successful last year, winning the always-tough Mission League; 2. They return a multitude of starters, including their top eight offensive performers as well as 20 pitching wins; 3. Those returning players have plenty of talent with Gordon, Reyes and Ornelas all ranked among the top 35 players in the state of California; 4. They play a national schedule, participating in the nation’s toughest tournament — the National High School Invitational — along with the Boras Classic South; 5. They face tough playoff competition, as the Southern Section Division 1 playoffs may be the toughest playoff bracket in the nation. If the Knights can get through those three tournaments relatively unscathed, there’s no reason they won’t be the No. 1 team in the nation at the end of the 2020 season.
2. Barbe (Lake Charles, La.)
Coach: Glenn Cecchini
2019 Record: 38-3, Class 5A state champions
2019 National Ranking: 5
All-American candidates:Brody Drost, Sr., CF/LHP (.364, 11 DB, 7 HR, 37 RBI, 8-0, 0.98 ERA, 52 K, LSU).
Other key returners:David Meche, SS/RHP, Sr. (.354, 11 DB, 3 HR, 39 RBI, 0.64 ERA, Mississippi State); Ben David, C, Sr. (.308, 17 RBI, McNeese State); Bailey Juneau, 2B, Sr. (.333); Kyle Debarge, 3B, Jr. (.388, 27 RBI, Louisiana); Adam Guth, LHP, Jr. (5-0, 0.56 ERA, 44 Ks, Louisiana).
Toughest games: Southwest Louisiana Tournament, March 5-7; Sam Houston, March 24/26; Sulphur, March 28/31; Lafayette, April 16-18.
Outlook: The Buccaneers posted the second-best record in school history last year with a 38-3 mark and a Class 5A state championship. National Coach of the Year Cecchini returns the majority of that team, including three starting pitchers, the entire infield and five hitters who batted over .500 last year. The Buccaneers will miss all-state junior pitcher Jack Walker, who is recovering from a UCL injury. Barbe has some tough games in its own district, including Lafayette and returning Class 5A runner-up Sam Houston. Barbe has great team speed this year, can hit for power and had great team chemistry, according to the coaching staff.
3. De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)Coach: David Jeans
2019 Record: 29-1, North Coast Section Division 1 champions
2019 National Ranking: 2
All-American candidates:Kyle Harrison, P/1B, Sr. (MaxPreps All-American, .286, 24 RBI, 10-0, 1.26, 103 Ks).
Other key returners:Charles McAdoo, 3B, Sr. (.333, 26 RBI); Vince Bianchina, SS, Sr. (.419); Keoni Coloma, OF, Sr. (.386); Ben Parker, C, Sr.; Ryan Barger, Sr., P; Mason Carvacho, Sr., P; Joey Donnelly, Jr., C/1B (.286); Zeke Berry, Soph., CF (.250); Blake Burke, Jr., P/OF (.395, 4 HR, 34 RBI); Anthony Martinez, Soph., C/1B.
Toughest games: Bellarmine College Prep, Feb. 29; Elk Grove, March 4; Saint Francis, March 7; All Faith Classic (Las Vegas), April 6-9.
Outlook: The Spartans are looking to make their 10th straight trip to the North Coast Section championship game. The past two seasons, De La Salle has finished No. 2 in the MaxPreps national computer rankings and the top player from those two teams, Bay Area player of the year Harrison, is back for his senior season. He is 19-1 on the mound the past two seasons including wins over Bishop Gorman, Monte Vista (Danville), Jesuit (Sacramento) and Heritage (Brentwood). The Spartans get a serious test in the All Faiths Tournament in Las Vegas, a tournament that features some of the top Catholic and Christian private schools in the country. Almost the entire infield returns for the Spartans along with the entire outfield.
4. Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.)
Coach: Mke Woods
2019 Record: 26-7, Arizona Division 1 champions; 2019 National Ranking: 30
All-American candidates: Michael Brueser, Sr., OF (12 HR, 36 RBI).
Other key returners:Tyler Wilson, Sr., 1B/C (.412, 7 HR, 31 RBI); Brock Selvidge, LHP/OF (4 HR, 21 RBI); Will Maxey, Sr., 3B (.419, 16 RBI); Isaiah Adams, MIF, Sr. (.367); Logan Saloman, Soph., RHP/1B (5-1, 1.35 ERA).
Toughest games: Boras Classic, March 12-14; Mountain View, March 7; Corona del Sol, March 24.
Outlook: The Huskies have won seven state championships, including four of the past six titles (2014, 2016, 2017, 2019). Six starters return from last year’s squad, including one of the nation’s top home run hitters in Brueser. He accounted for 12 of the team’s 32 home runs last year, but Hamilton has 23 home runs returning, including Wilson with seven and Selvidege with four. The pitching staff should be solid with sophomore Saloman back on the mound after an outstanding freshman season (5-1 record). Hamilton gets a test in the Boras Classic in March and the always competitive Arizona Division 1 playoffs in April.
5. Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.)
Coach: Miguel Menendez
2019 Record: 27-5, Class 6A state champions; 2019 National Ranking: 46
All-American candidates:Camden Minacci, Sr., P (12-1, 1.12 ERA, 85 Ks, 62.2 IP, Wake Forest)
Other key returners:Bennett Lee, C, Sr. (.442, 19 RBI, 12 DB, 7 TR, 3 HR, Tulane); Cole Russo, 1B, Jr. (.342, 27 RBI, 3 DB, 2 HR, Central Florida); Bradke Lohry, Jr., SS (.250); Nick Rodriguez, Jr., 3B (.375); BJ Graham, Jr., LF (.357, 18 RBI, 9 DB, 1 HR); Jonathan Shoop, Sr., CF (.235, 14 RBI, Butler); Josh Mallitz, Sr., P (2-1, 24 Ks, Ole Miss); Justin Clark, Sr., P (5-0, 2.95 ERA, 58, Ks, West Virginia); Turner Thompson, Sr., P (1-1, 2.45 ERA, 35 Ks, Tulane); Alex Bryant, Sr., P (3-1, 1.62 ERA, 26 Ks, Holy Cross); Tripp Russo, Sr., P (1.29 ERA, 22 Ks, Adrian); AJ Karabenick, Sr., P (2.71 ERA, 2-0, 15 Ks, Wesleyan); Dominic Castellano, Jr., P (1-1, 12 Ks, Central Florida).
Toughest games: Calvary Christian Academy, March 6; Calvary Christian, April 17; Venice, April 21.
Outlook: The Tigers are loaded, especially in the rotation where every single pitching win returns from last year, including Class 6A state player of the year Minacci. The starting lineup isn’t quite as stacked as the pitching staff, but Jesuit has one of the state’s top catchers in Lee along with three other every day starters who have committed to play Division 1 next year. At least eight pitchers who figured in a decision last year will play college ball as well. Toughest opponents will come at the end of the season at the Saladino Tournament and matchups with Calvary Christian and Venice in late April.
6. Carroll (Southlake, Texas)
Coach: Larry Vucan
2019 Record: 33-11, Class 6A state champions
2019 National Ranking: 12
All-American candidates:Justin Grech, Sr., OF (.318, 17 RBI);
Other key returners:Cade Manning, Sr., 3B (.432, 28 RBI); Riley Garcia, Sr., 2B (.337, 28 RBI); Grant Golomb, Sr., 1B (.337, 20 RBI); Jaxon Osterberg, Sr., SS (.237); Homer Bush Jr., Sr., CF (.208); Brandon Howell, Sr., LF (.369, 31 RBI); Yanluis Ortiz, Sr., C (.317, 28 RBI).
Toughest games: Prosper, Feb. 21; Keller, March 17/20; Colleyville Heritage, March 28; Coppell, April 25.
Outlook: After struggling at the beginning of the season last year (3-8 after the first three weeks), Carroll righted the ship to go 30-3 over the final three months en route to its second straight Class 6A state championship. The title came a year ahead of schedule, considering Carroll had lost nearly its entire lineup from the 2018 championship and played mostly underclassmen in 2019. Now, nearly the entire lineup is back to make a run at a third straight championship. The feat would be a first as no school has won three straight Texas baseball state championships in the largest classification. Grech earned state tournament MVP honors last year while Howell was second team all-state and Manning was honorable mention all-state.