Champion Presents: Baseball Top 25

With the winter sports seasons all coming to an end, SchoolSports.com unveils its Preseason National Baseball Top 25. This year's preseason rankings have a Sunshine State feel as six teams from the Top 25 are from Florida, including preseason No. 1 <b>Monsignor Pace (Fla.)</b>.


2005 Preseason Rankings

1. Monsignor Pace (Opa Locka, Fla.)
Last Year's Record: 24-2
Outlook: The Spartans lost only one starter to graduation from a team that finished the year ranked No. 19 in the SchoolSports.com National Top 25 rankings. Pace's returning players will be looking for something to prove this year after it was bounced by Archbishop McCarthy in the District 14-3A semifinals last season. University of Miami recruits and senior right-handed pitchers Anthony Perez (8-0, 0.49 ERA) and Thomas Mendoza (4-0, 1.31) anchor the pitching staff. Junior shortstop Adrian Cardenas (.500, three homers, 30 RBI), senior catcher Jose Jimenez (.400, five homers, 25 RBI) and junior third baseman Chris Marrero (.300, 20 RBI) lead the offense.

2. Moody (Corpus Christi, Texas)
Last Year's Record: 42-1
Outlook: The Trojans won their last 22 games last season and captured the first state championship in school history with a win over 2005 preseason No. 5 Flower Mound in the Class 5A final. Moody, which finished last year ranked No. 5 in the SchoolSports.com National Top 25, will go as far as senior right-hander/catcher Luis Flores and senior left-hander/outfielder Jason Rodriguez will take it. Flores, a Houston recruit, went 14-0 last season with a 0.00 ERA and 161 strikeouts on the mound and hit .405 with six homers, 40 RBI and 31 walks at the plate. Meanwhile, Rodriguez went 12-1 last season with a 1.09 ERA and 92 strikeouts and batted .410 with 33 runs and 23 RBI.

3. Rancho Bernardo (San Diego, Calif.)
Last Year's Record: 28-7
Outlook: Rancho Bernardo has some serious pop at the plate in seniors John Drennen and Allan Dykstra. Drennen, who signed with UCLA, is rated the No. 22 overall prospect in the Class of 2005 by SchoolSports.com. As a junior, he batted .460 with 53 runs, 18 doubles, 11 homers, 26 RBI and 11 stolen bases. Dykstra, who hit four homers last year, signed with Wake Forest. The Broncos are in good hands on the mound with senior lefty John Dutton, a San Diego State recruit who went 8-1 with a 2.02 ERA last year.

4. Russell County (Seale, Ala.)
Last Year's Record: 30-15
Outlook: The Warriors have the balance to make a run at the No. 1 ranking. Leading the way is senior outfielder/left-handed pitcher Colby Rasmus, who is rated the No. 29 overall prospect in the Class of 2005 by SchoolSports.com. Rasmus, an Auburn recruit, batted .483 last year with 18 homers, 56 RBI and 33 stolen bases. He went 2-4 on the mound with a 1.91 ERA. Rasmus' brother Cory, a junior third baseman/right-handed pitcher, batted .450 with 11 homers and 44 RBI and went 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA on the hill. Junior left-hander Kasey Kiker (3-0, 1.60 ERA last year) is another top pitcher.

5. Flower Mound (Flower Mound, Texas)
Last Year's Record: 37-8
Outlook: Seniors Craig Italiano, Brandon Gaviglio, Jordan Meaker and Paul Kelly give Flower Mound arguably the nation's top pitching staff. Italiano, a TCU recruit, is rated the nation's No. 38 overall prospect by SchoolSports.com. The right-hander's fastball has been clocked as high as 98 mph. Gaviglio, a left-hander and Oklahoma State recruit, carried an 18-1 career record into this season. TCU recruit Kelly, who had 10 saves as the team's closer last year, is also the team's best hitter. Flower Mound would like to avenge last year's loss in the Class 5A state final to this year's preseason No. 2, Moody.

6. Roberson (Asheville, N.C)
Last Year's Record: 25-1
Outlook: Roberson lost only one game last year, but it happened to come in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs. With superstar senior outfielder Cameron Maybin back this year, Roberson looks poised to bounce back in a big way. Maybin, who is rated the No. 2 overall prospect in the Class of 2005 by SchoolSports.com, will likely be a Top 10 pick in June's MLB Draft. The SchoolSports All-American batted .500 with 13 homers and 31 RBI last season. Maybin is a cousin of North Carolina hoops superstar Rashad McCants.

7. Roswell (Roswell, Ga.)
Last Year's Record: 25-7
Outlook: Roswell's 1-2 on the mound can match up with anyone in the country. Senior left-hander Miers Quigley throws a 90-plus fastball mixed in with a nasty curve and change. The Alabama recruit went 12-2 last year with a 1.38 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 91 innings. He's rated the No. 30 overall prospect in the Class of 2005 by SchoolSports.com. Senior right-hander and Georgia recruit Brent Hallman is no slouch either. Last year, he went 4-3 with a 2.74 ERA and 41 strikeouts, while batting .440 with 10 homers and 35 RBI.

8. Nova (Davie, Fla.)
Last Year's Record: 29-3
Outlook: Nova rolled its way to the Class 5A state title last season. While superstars Warren McFadden and Anthony Swarzak have both graduated, don't shed any tears for the Titans, who bring back a ton of talent. Senior right-hander Pablo Lopez will lead the pitching staff. Last year, he went 13-1 with a 0.80 ERA. His battery mate, senior Robert Lara, is one of the nation's top catchers. The LSU recruit batted .368 with 35 RBI last year. Senior third baseman and Florida Atlantic recruit William Block hit .400 with seven homers and 32 RBI.

9. Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
Last Year's Record: 31-2
Outlook: Chaparral has won the past two Class 4A state titles and the Firebirds show no signs of slowing down. It helps that Chaparral has the best first-base prospect in the country in senior Ike Davis, who is rated the No. 13 overall prospect in the Class of 2005 by SchoolSports.com. Last year, he batted .425 with three homers and 33 RBI. Davis, who signed with Arizona State, is also a top-notch left-handed pitcher and went 8-0 on the hill last year. Senior right-hander/third baseman Austin Yount, who is the nephew of Hall of Famer Robin Yount, batted .480 last year and went 7-1 on the mound. He signed with Stanford. Senior outfielder Tim Sherlock (.413, 11 doubles and 20 RBI), who signed with Duke, provides solid hitting along with senior catcher John Murphy.

10. The Woodlands (The Woodlands, Texas)
Last Year's Record: 32-6
Outlook: The Highlanders bring back the nation's top junior in senior right-hander/shortstop Kyle Drabek, the son of former Major League All-Star pitcher Doug Drabek. Kyle, a SchoolSports All-American, went 5-0 last year with a 1.45 ERA and showed off his skills at the plate with a .444 average, four homers and 14 RBI. Senior left-hander Kyle Walker, who signed with Texas, went 6-0 with a 2.83 ERA as a junior.

11. Farragut (Knoxville, Tenn.)
Last Year's Record: 46-2
Outlook: The Admirals have gone 94-3 and won two straight Class AAA state titles over the past two seasons and there seems to be no signs of slippage this year. Junior left-handed pitcher Rob Catapano went 13-0 with a 1.05 ERA last season, while junior shortstop Tony Delmonico batted .368 with three homers and 18 RBI and provides stellar defense. Farragut also has senior third baseman Cody Brown, a Tennessee recruit who hit 14 homers last year, and senior outfielder Clay Ivy, who signed with Missouri. Second baseman Riley Jennings is a three-year starter.

12. Pioneer (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Last Year's Record: 37-4
Outlook: Pioneer has the luxury of bringing back senior right-hander/third baseman Zach Putnam. The Michigan recruit is considered the nation's top prep pitching prospect and is rated the No. 4 overall recruit in the Class of 2005 by SchoolSports.com. He led Pioneer to the Division 1 state title last year by going 9-0 on the mound with a 0.53 ERA, 61 strikeouts and only five walks in 53 innings. At the plate, he batted .466 while setting school records in triples (six), homers (16) and RBI (67). Joining Putnam on the mound is senior left-hander Casey Keenan, while senior first baseman Alex Seyferth and junior catcher Derek Mosher provide solid skills at the plate.

13. Clovis West (Fresno, Calif.)
Last Year's Record: 24-11
Outlook: Eight starters return from last year's Central Section champs, including senior right-hander/first baseman Mike Colla, who tossed a no-hitter in the win over Fresno in last year's title game. Colla, who signed with Arizona, went 9-2 last year with a 1.60 ERA and 102 strikeouts. He batted .378 with a team-leading 37 RBI. Remember the name Alan Ahmady, a junior right-hander who forms a tough one-two punch on the mound with Colla. The Golden Eagles also have senior shortstop J.J. Jelmini, who signed with Stanford, and senior third baseman Jameson Smith, who signed with Clemson.

14. Key West (Key West, Fla.)
Last Year's Record: 20-11
Outlook: Senior catcher Ralphie Henriquez and senior right-hander Chas Spottswood lead a veteran squad that looks to make noise this year. Henriquez, who signed with Oklahoma State, batted .412 last year with 32 runs, four homers, 30 RBI and 17 stolen bases. Spottswood, who signed with Florida, is joined by fellow senior right-handers Daryl Lewis and Bobby Hernandez to give the Conchs a stellar pitching staff. Lewis signed with South Florida, while Hernandez signed with Barry University.

15. Brownsburg (Brownsburg, Ind.)
Last Year's Record: 27-7
Outlook: Brownsburg looks to get over the hump this year after finishing as the Class 4A state runner-up the past two seasons. The Bulldogs will look to do so with a powerful lineup that includes senior third baseman Nick Shipley, who hit a school-record 17 homers last year with 54 RBI. Senior right-hander/first baseman Lance Lynn, who signed with Ole Miss, batted .507 with 14 homers and 46 RBI and went 10-3 with a 1.26 ERA and a school-record 160 strikeouts. Senior second baseman Cory Dragstrem (10 homers) and sophomore shortstop T.J. Baumet (eight homers) add punch to the lineup.

16. Southridge (Miami, Fla.)
Last Year's Record: 25-8
Outlook: The Spartans have all the makings for a big run this year with the return of their entire pitching staff, including senior Phil Roy (8-1 with a 1.59 ERA last year) junior Corey Polizzano (8-2, 2.00 ERA), and senior Ernest Castellano (6-2, 2.10 ERA. Seniors Leo Alvarez (third base), C.J. Lauriello (shortstop), Tom Romanowski (second base) and Ed Pichardo (center field) lead the offense.

17. Columbus (Columbus, Ga.)
Last Year's Record: 35-2
Outlook: It's hard to believe the Blue Devils will be stronger than last year's squad, which won 31 of its last 32 games en route to the Class AAAA state championship. But with the return of senior right-hander/first baseman Iain Sebastian, who's to argue they won't be. Sebastian, who signed with Georgia, is rated the No. 45 overall prospect in the Class of 2005 by SchoolSports.com. Last year, he went 13-0 with a 1.86 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 79 innings. He batted .355 with 30 runs, 12 homers and 38 RBI. Senior infielder and Auburn recruit Zack Martin is also a stellar hitter.

18. Cypress Bay (Weston, Fla.)
Last Year's Record: 30-2
Outlook: Senior left-hander/first baseman Mitch Houck is back after a dream junior season. Last year, Houck threw a no-hitter in a 2-1 win over Miami Killian in the Class 6A state championship to give Cypress Bay its first state title in school history in any sport. Houck, who signed with Central Florida, finished the year 4-1 with a 0.62 ERA and batted .493 with 25 runs, three homers and 37 RBI. Teammates Eric Kallstrom (shortstop) and Alex Sada (infielder/outfielder) also signed with Central Florida.

19. Owasso (Owasso, Okla.)
Last Year's Record: 34-3
Outlook: Oklahoma high school baseball begins and ends with Owasso, which has won two consecutive state titles and five since 1998. The Rams have the goods to make it three in a row this season. Junior left-hander Chris Armstrong went 10-0 last year with 122 strikeouts after going 10-1 with 97 K's as a freshman. Senior left-hander Kevin Humphrey forms a dynamic duo on the mound with Armstrong. The lineup is paced by senior third baseman Arin Fowble, an Oklahoma recruit who has batted .375 with 75 runs, 25 doubles, nine homers and 78 RBI going into this season.

20. Barron Collier (Naples, Fla.)
Last Year's Record: 25-4
Outlook: The Cougars have won at least 25 games over the past two seasons and look to continue that tradition this year behind a trio of Division I recruits. Leading the charge is shortstop/right-hander Clayton Pisani, a Florida recruit who made the Class 5A All-State second team last year after going 9-1 on the mound with a 1.02 ERA and 41 strikeouts, while batting .319 with 21 RBI. Senior right-hander/outfielder Kyle Leith, who signed with Richmond, was also named to All-State second team after he went 8-1 with a 1.14 ERA and 67 strikeouts and batted .362 with 15 RBI. Senior catcher and Mississippi State recruit Ryan Duffy batted .471 last year with three homers and 26 RBI.

21. Mills Godwin (Richmond, Va.)
Last Year's Record: 18-8
Outlook: Mills Godwin has a potential first-round pick in this June's MLB Draft in senior shortstop/right-hander Justin Bristow, who is rated the No. 3 prospect in the Class of 2005 by SchoolSports.com. Bristow, an Auburn recruit, hit .490 with seven homers and 18 RBI last year and went 9-1 on the mound with a 0.80 ERA. Junior right-hander Graham Stoneburner, who went 4-2 with a 2.25 ERA last year, is a promising prospect.

22. Deering (Deering, Maine)
Last Year's Record: 24-0
Outlook: Deering is going for its sixth state title in the past seven years and the Rams look like they can achieve the feat with eight returning starters from last year's championship squad. Senior shortstop Ryan Flaherty and senior catcher Andrew Giobbi anchor a strong lineup. Both players signed with Vanderbilt. Flaherty led the state with a .500 average last year and had one homer and 19 RBI. Giobbi hit .456 with five homers and 32 RBI. Junior right-hander Mike Powers is the staff ace.

23. Kingwood (Humble, Texas)
Last Year's Record: 32-11
Outlook: The Mustangs have a solid squad this year highlighted by six returning starters. Senior left-handers Blake Hancock, a Stanford recruit, and Austin Wood, who signed with Texas, give Kingwood a pair of studs on the mound. Senior shortstop Johnny Whittleman, who also signed with Texas, was named district MVP last year after batting .475 with 10 homers and 55 RBI.

24. La Cueva (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Last Year's Record: 28-0
Outlook: La Cueva won its second straight Class 5A state title last year and finished ranked No. 2 in the SchoolSports.com National Top 25. The Bears carried a state-record 58-game winning streak into the season. Senior catcher Zach Arnett and senior outfielder Seth Johnson pace the lineup. Arnett batted .500 with five homers and 36 RBI last year, while Johnson, who signed with BYU, batted .425 with seven homers, 26 RBI and 15 stolen bases. Junior J.J. Muse hit .456 last year with four homers and 38 RBI. Junior left-hander Nathan Solow will lead the staff after going 9-0 with a 1.58 ERA last year.

25. Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland, Calif.)
Last Year's Record: 22-9
Outlook:
Bishop O'Dowd is stacked this year, plain and simple. For starters, the Dragons have a terrific trio on the mound in senior right-hander Tyson, Ross, senior left-hander Rashad Tucker and junior right-hander Jeff Kobernus. Ross, who signed with Cal, is the best of the bunch. Last year, he went 8-2 with a 1.53 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 73 innings. Tucker signed with Fresno State. Senior shortstop Bryce Mendonca brings tremendous speed to the lineup.


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