Video: Early Contenders No. 1 Archbishop McCarthy (Fla.)
See all the fun that occurred when we traveled down to Florida to meet the nation's top team.
Rich Bielski2015-16 record:
29-2, Florida Class 6A state champion, No. 3 in MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Baseball Rankings, presented by the Army National GuardState Association:
Florida High School Athletic Association Class 6AEnrollment:
If you had to come up with a blueprint for determining which team should be the nation's No. 1 preseason team in, Archbishop McCarthy is a good place to start.
First, there should be plenty of experienced, talented players returning. The Mavericks fit that to a tee with 13 returning players who saw action as a starter in the field or on the mound last year. Of those 13, every one of them has either signed or committed to play at the college level.
Second, some of the players should be Major League caliber. Check that off the list, as Mavericks first baseman Alex Toral is considered a possible first round pick due to his power hitting ability. And pitcher Joe Perez, who throws between 92-95 mph, could also be a high selection.
Third, the team should have some history. Very few teams in the nation can match the Mavericks' success over the past seven years. Archbishop McCarthy set a state record by winning four straight state championships between 2010 and 2013. The Mavericks have since won back-to-back state crowns, giving them six state titles in the past seven seasons.
Fourth, the team should play a tough schedule. A team can't be a preseason No. 1 if it plays a cream puff schedule. Archbishop McCarthy has put together one if its toughest schedules in the past seven years, competing in the National High School Invitational (which figures to have its toughest lineup in the event's history) and will play in-state powerhouses American Heritage (in district play), Flanagan, Gulliver Prep, Westminster Christian and Chiles. The Mavericks also have an out-of-state game against Georgia powerhouse Lambert (Suwanee).Gallery: Archbishop McCarthy preseason Top 25 Early Contenders photo shoot
Fifth, the team should have an experienced coach. Rich Bielski fits the bill there. In eight seasons at Archbishop McCarthy, his teams are 186-31. He was named the National High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2016 and he has a lifetime coaching record of 436-118 with eight state championships (two at Hialeah).
Thus it is a no-brainer that Archbishop McCarthy begins the 2017 season as the No.1 team on the MaxPreps Preseason National Baseball Early Contenders list.
Players to watch
Alex Toral (1B, Senior)
- .310 batting average, 19 RBIs, 4 home runs... MaxPreps Junior All-American... Signed with Miami
Joe Perez (3B/P, Senior)
- .375 batting average, 8 doubles, 4 home runs, 8.2 innings pitched, 13 strikeouts... Signed with MiamiDaniel Federman (RHP, Senior)
- 1-0 pitching record, 8 innings pitched, 10 strikeouts... Signed with MiamiAdan Fernandez (RF, Senior)
- .400 batting average, 32 RBIs, 7 home runs... Signed with Florida InternationalAndrew Fernandez (C, Senior)
- .239 batting average... Signed with Florida InternationalYordani Carmona (LHP, Sophomore)
- 8-0 pitching record, 42 strikeouts, 41.1 innings pitched... Committed to MiamiAJ Hendricks (CF, Senior)
- .463 batting average, 10 doubles, 28 RBIs, 3 home runs... Signed with Belmont AbbeyUbaldo Lopez (2B, Senior)
- .308 batting average, 28 RBIs, 9 doubles, 4 home runs... Signed with DartmouthStorylines
The Mavericks will compete in the National High School Invitational for the first time. The tournament figures to feature the toughest competition the Mavericks will face all season and will be a good test for Archbishop McCarthy's stellar pitching staff. The tournament is very deep and features the best lineup in the six-year history of the event, including three teams in the MaxPreps preseason Top 5 - Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.), Orange Lutheran (Calif.) and Archbishop McCarthy.
* While the Mavericks figure to be the easy pick as the No. 1 team in the nation, there is some debate as to whether Archbishop McCarthy is the best team in its own district. Already expected to be one of the top teams in the nation in 2017, American Heritage received a boost when potential first round draft pick Mark Vientos transferred in from Flanagan. American Heritage handed the Mavericks one of their two losses last year in winning the district tournament. Archbishop McCarthy returned the favor a week later with a win in bi-district play. The two teams meet once in district play on March 17 and could potentially play four times this year (including the district tournament, the NHSI and bi-district play).
March 6 - vs. Westminster Christian (Miami)
March 14 - vs. Chiles (Tallahassee, Fla.)
March 17 - vs. American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.)
- key district game
March 29 - April 1 - National High School Invitational in Cary (N.C.)
April 5 - vs. Lambert (Suwanee, Ga.)
- notable out-of-state opponent
April 6 - vs. Flanagan (Pembroke Pines, Fla.)
April 18 - vs. Gulliver Prep (Miami)