By Kevin Askeland
Like most media outlets that cover high school sports, we tend to get caught up following the “big boys” – schools with massive enrollments and numerous next-level talents.
With that in mind, MaxPreps is aiming to look beyond the big schools in naming our first medium schools baseball All-American team.
For the purposes of compiling this team, MaxPreps defines the following state divisions as medium schools:
Alabama 5A; Alaska – all schools; Arizona 3A; Arkansas 6A, 5A; California – Northern Section Div. 1; North Coast Section 2A; Sac Joaquin Section Div. 4; Central Section Div. 3; Southern Section Div. 4, 5; San Diego Section Div. 3; Central Coast Section Div. 3; Colorado 4A; Connecticut LL, L; Delaware Div. 1; Florida 4A, 3A; Georgia 4A, 3A; Hawaii Div. 2; Idaho 4A; Illinois 3A; Indiana 3A; Iowa 3A; Kansas 6A, 5A; Kentucky 5A, 4A; Louisiana 4A; Maine A; Maryland 2A; Massachusetts Div. 2; Michigan Div. 2, 3; Minnesota 2A; Mississippi 4A; Missouri Class 3; Nevada Class 3A; New Hampshire Class M, I; New Jersey Public Group 3, 2, Non Public Group B; New Mexico 4A; New York A; North Carolina 3A, 2A; North Dakota A; Ohio Div. 2; Oklahoma 5A, 4A; Oregon 5A; Pennsylvania 3A; Rhode Island Div. 1; South Carolina 3A; Tennessee 2A, Div. 2; Texas 3A; Utah 4A, 3A; Vermont Div. 1; Virginia 2A; Washington 3A, 2A; West Virginia 3A; Wisconsin Div. 2
With that out of the way, we present the inaugural MaxPreps.com medium school baseball All-American team, led by Illinois Jake Odorizzi;
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jake Odorizzi, Highland (Ill.), Senior, Pitcher
Jake Odorizzi started the 2008 season as the 70th best prospect in the country, according to Baseball America. He finished it as quite possibly the best player in the nation.
Odorizzi rapidly rose up the prospect list this year as he posted a dream season with some astounding numbers. In leading his Highland team to a state championship, Odorizzi did not allow an earned run until the playoffs and he finished with a ridiculous 0.08 ERA.
The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder posted a 14-0 record his senior year, but he hasn’t lost since his sophomore season. He went 11-0 as a junior, giving him 25 straight wins. He also finished with 146 strikeouts in 89.2 innings pitched and completed his final two years on the varsity with 250 strikeouts. His fastball also reached close to 97 miles per hour, prompting the Milwaukee Brewers to make him the No. 32 pick in the Major League Baseball draft. He was the third high school pitcher chosen. Odorizzi was also spectacular at the plate.
He batted .409 with 15 home runs and 41 runs batted in. He also was outstanding on the base paths, racking up 31 stolen bases. Besides being the Gatorade state player of the year for Illinois, Odorizzi was also the Metro player of the year by the St. Louis Dispatch and the state player of the year by the Prep Baseball Report. The University of Illinois recruit completes his senior year by being named the MaxPreps national player of the year.
Charles Lowell, Winfield (Mo.), Senior, Pitcher
Lowell was named the pitcher of the year in the St. Louis area, after allowing just one earned run during the season and striking out 129 batters and walking only 11 in 58 innings. He had an 8-1 record and opponents batted just .084 against him according to the Post Dispatch. He also batted .517 and is headed to Wichita State. He was drafted with the No. 813 pick by the Rangers.
Trevor May, Kelso (Wash.), Senior, Pitcher
May led Kelso to the state finals and was named the top state’s top player in the 3A division. He went 11-1 on the season and had a 1.02 ERA while striking out 128 batters in 68 innings. May was the first player chosen from Washington, going to the Phillies with the No. 136 pick in the MLB draft.
Jason McEachern, Saint Stephens, Hickory (N.C.), Senior, Pitcher
McEachern came on strong at the end of the season and posted an 11-0 record for St. Stephens with a 0.97 ERA and 140 strikeouts in only 79 innings pitched. He was named the pitcher of the year by Impact.com, which covers the Carolinas and Virginia. He was drafted by the Tampa Rays with the No. 383 pick in the MLB draft.
Phillip Byrd, East Central, Moss Point (Miss.), Senior, Pitcher
Byrd was the top pitcher in Mississippi, going undefeated with a 14-0 record that included a 0.97 ERA and 164 strikeouts in 94 innings pitched. He will play at South Alabama next year on scholarship.
Nick Maronde, Lexington Catholic, Lexington (Ky.), Senior, Pitcher
Maronde posted an 8-1 record with a 0.54 ERA while earning all-state honors. He was also the Lexington co-pitcher of the year. He struck out 129 batters in 77 innings pitched with only 21 walks. He was drafted by the Oakland A’s with the 1,294th pick in the Major League baseball draft.
Alex Meyer, Greensburg (Ind.), Senior, Pitcher
The Boxton Red Sox nabbed Meyer with the 622nd pick in the MLB draft. Meyer is a two-time all-state player in Indiana, posting a 7-0 record with a 0.95 ERA. He struck out 91 batters in just 44.1 innings pitched.
Brent Bollinger, Snyder (Texas), Senior, Pitcher
Bollinger earned Texas 3A player of the year honors after leading Snyder to the state championship. He lost his first outing of the season and then won 16 in a row including a 3-2 victory over Pleasant Grove in the finals. Bollinger had a 0.858 ERA and struck out 159 batters in 106 innings. He also batted .391 with 31 RBI and six home runs.
Kyle Skipworth, Patriot, Riverside (Calif.), Senior, Catcher
There weren’t many honors Skipworth didn’t earn during his stellar senior season. He led Patriot, which was in its first year of fielding a varsity team, to a 27-3 record and a spot in the Southern Section Division 4 semifinals, where it eventually fell to Diamond Ranch. Along the way, Skipworth set a state record, according to Cal-Hi Sports, with 18 straight basehits. He also ranked among the state leaders with 13 home runs while batting .543 with 47 RBI. Skipworth was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year, the Riverside County Player of the Year and was also the third high school player selected in the Major League Baseball draft, going to the Florida Marlins.
Luke Maile, Covington Catholic, Park Hills (Ky.), Junior, Catcher
Maile was named the Cincinnati area Kentucky player of the year for the second straight season after batting .567 with 55 hits, 53 runs scored, seven home runs and 37 RBI. He was also named the region player of the year and was selected to the Kentucky All-State team.
Adrian Nieto, American Heritage, Plantation (Fla.), Catcher
Nieto was the second high school catcher chosen in the Major League baseball draft, going to the Washington Nationals with the 151st pick. He was named to the Florida 3A All-State team as a designated hitter after batting .362 with 16 doubles, seven home runs and 43 RBI during the Patriots’ state championship season.
Eric Hosmer, American Heritage, Plantation (Fla.), Senior, First Base
Considered one of the top power-hitting high school players in the country, Hosmer was drafted with the No. 3 overall selection in the Major League draft by the Kansas City Royals. He led American Heritage to the Florida state 3A championship while batting .471 with 11 home runs and 31 RBI. He also scored 49 runs and stole 16 bases for the Patriots.
Adam Westmoreland, Brookland Cayce, Cayce (S.C.), Senior, First Base
Westmoreland was the 3A player of the year in South Carolina after leading Brookland Cayce to the state championship. He went 9-1 on the mound with a 0.85 ERA and 132 strikeouts. He was also stellar at the plate with a .396 batting average, 10 home runs and 41 RBI. He was drafted the by Dodgers with the No. 1,057 pick in the MLB draft.
Wade Hinkle, Del Norte, Albuquerque (N.M.), Senior, First Base
Hinkle was named the 4A player of the year in New Mexico after leading the state with 15 home runs on the season. He also batted .589 (33-56) and drove in 44 runs. He was the state Gatorade player of the year and ranks high among the all-time leaders in New Mexico history with 29 career doubles, 97 career hits and 26 career home runs.
Tim Beckham, Griffin (Ga.), Senior, Infield
The No. 1 overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft by the Tampa Rays, Beckham was considered the best fielding shortstop in the country. He was also pretty strong at the plate, batting .499 with 40 runs scored, nine doubles and five home runs to go with 36 RBI. He helped lead Griffin to the Georgia 4A state championship game.
Derrick Gibson, Seaford (Del.), Senior, Infield
The Seaford shortstop was the state player of the year after racking up some impressive offensive numbers. He batted .652 with 40 runs scored, seven doubles, five triples and six home runs. He also drove in 27 runs and stole 14 bases. He was the fourth high school shortstop chosen in the MLB draft, going to the Red Sox in the second round.
Jason Esposito, Amity (Conn.), Senior, Infield
The player of the year in Connecticut, Esposito batted .441 with nine home runs and 29 RBI. He is a three-time all-state pick and is the Gatorade state player of the year. He was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the seventh round but will play baseball at Vanderbilt next year.
Destin Hood, St. Paul’s Episcopal, Mobile (Ala.), Senior, Infield
One of the best two-sport athletes in the country, Hood has signed to play wide receiver for the Crimson Tide of Alabama next year, but he was also the No. 55 pick in the MLB draft by the Washington Nationals. Hood earned Alabama 5A state player of the year honors after batting .485 with eight home runs, 32 RBI and 17 stolen bases. He also led St. Paul’s to the 5A state semifinals.
William Arnold, Mt. Pleasant (Mich.), Senior, Infield
Arnold earned state player of the year honors after helping lead his team to the state finals. Arnold batted .443 and scored 30 runs while rapping eight doubles. He is headed to Central Michigan University next year.
Ethan Martin, Stephens County, Toccoa (Ga.), Senior, Infield
Martin started out the season as a power-hitting infielder and ended it as a pitcher selected with the 15th pick in the first round of the MLB draft by the Dodgers. Martin came up huge at the plate and on the mound for Stephens County in leading the Indians to the state championship game. He batted .509 with 55 hits and also blasted 18 home runs with 39 RBI. On the hill, Martin was 11-1 with a 1.50 ERA and 162 strikeouts in 84 innings.
Ryan Westmoreland, Portsmouth (R.I.), Senior, Outfield
Westmoreland was the player of the year in Rhode Island and was selected by the Red Sox with the 172nd pick in the MLB draft. He batted .478 with four home runs and 33 runs scored. He was also solid on the mound with a 6-0 record that included a 0.35 ERA. He struck out 89 of the 129 batters he faced during the season.
Chase Pickering, Nitro (W.Va.), Senior, Outfield
Pickering earned player of the year honors in West Virginia after leading Nitro to the 3A championship. He batted .448 with 12 doubles, 10 home runs, 48 RBI and 34 stolen bases. He also had a strong senior season on the mound, posting an 11-1 record. He has a career mark of 22-6 with 400 strikeouts in 222 innings. He was selected in the 43rd round by the Twins, but he has also signed to play at West Virginia University.
Jay Austin, North Atlanta (Ga.), Senior, Outfield
Considered for player of the year honors in the Atlanta area, Austin was selected in the second round of the Major League baseball draft by the Houston Astros. He batted .515 with nine doubles, six triples and 15 home runs for North Atlanta. He also drove in 46 runs and stole 34 bases.
Xavier Avery, Cedar Grove, Ellenwood (Ga.), Senior, Outfield
A football standout headed to Georgia on scholarship, Avery was also a highly-coveted outfielder after batting .561 with 42 runs scored, 37 stolen bases, seven doubles and eight home runs. He was selected in the second round with the 50th pick by the Baltimore Orioles.
Chris Smith, Centennial, Compton (Calif.), Senior, Outfield
Oddly enough, Smith was not selected to any All-Southern Section team, but his statistics and talent cannot be denied. Smith was second in the state, according to MaxPreps, with a .708 batting average (51-for-72). He drove in 43 runs and had seven doubles, two triples and 12 home runs. He also struck out just three times during the season and stole 24 bases. He made the All-District 8 team by the Baseball Coaches of America and was on the USA Today All-American second team. The New York Yankees made him the 170th pick in the Major League Baseball draft.
Joey Belviso, American Heritage, Plantation (Fla.), Senior, Outfield
Selected as the 3A state player of the year by the Florida Dairy Farmers, Belviso was the top power hitter for the state champion American Heritage Patriots. He rapped 15 home runs and 11 doubles while knocking in 37 runs with a .494 average. Belviso was named to the 6A all-state team and was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels with the 1,501st pick in the Major League draft.
Nolan Belcher, Greenbrier, Evans (Ga.), Senior, Utility
Belcher was outstanding on the mound, in the field and at the plate for Greenbrier. He is a three-time August Chronicle player of the year award winner. He has a 47-2 career pitching record with 516 strikeouts in 282 innings. He had a 12-1 record this year with 142 strikeouts in 78 innings with a 0.89 ERA. He also batted .527 and is headed to the university of South Carolina next year.
Tyler Wilson, Greenwood, (Ark.), Senior, Utility
The Arkansas Gatorade player of the year went 11-0 for Greenwood and had a 1.42 ERA while striking out 92 batters in 64 innings. He also batted .415 with four home runs, 14 doubles and 30 RBI. For his career, he has struck out 386 batters in 251.1 innings with a 32-9 record.
Denny Clement, Cascia Hall, Tulsa (Okla.), Senior, Utility
It’s been quite a year for Clement. Besides posting a 9-1 record with a 0.68, Clement was also drafted by the Oakland A’s with the 1,174th pick in the MLB draft. Clement was an All-State running back in the fall, leading Cascia Hall to a 15-0 record and a state title. In the winter, Clement won his third straight individual wrestling crown. He will play baseball at Texas A&M next season.
Hunter Scantling, Episcopal, Jacksonville (Fla.), Senior, Utility
The 6-foot-8 pitcher/infielder was named the First Coast player of the year by the Jacksonville Times-Union after batting .567 with 12 home runs and 38 RBI and going 7-3 with a 1.87 ERA and 75 strikeouts. He was also named to the Florida 3A All-State team.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Todd Fitz-Gerald, American Heritage
Fitz-Gerald’s Patriots put it all together this year, winning the Florida 3A state championship and rising to the No. 2 spot in the MaxPreps national rankings. Four of his players were chosen in the Major League baseball draft including first baseman Eric Hosmer with the third selection by the Kansas City Royals. Fitz-Gerald, a graduate of American Heritage, has a 170-50 record in his seven years as the Patriots’ head coach.