BASEBALL 2013 DUERRISMS PREVIEW
KHQA TOP 25 Roll Call of Top Returning Stars
THE TOP TEN
1) NICK LONERGAN, Routt
Reigning KHQA Player of the year is as complete a weapon as exists in Tri State Baseball. The Rocket Senior is a proven ace on the mound coming off an 8-1 record in 2012 with a 1.71 ERA. He is also the rare combination of a perfect weapon leadoff hitter (.505 BA, 22 stolen bases, 40 runs scored) with four spot power. The kid tied for the area lead in home runs last year with six. There really isn't anything on a baseball diamond this kid doesn't do well. Only trepidation here is that he has had a run of bad luck already this season with injuries. If he stays healthy, Nick seems a shoo-in to repeat as an All State pick.
2) DOMINIC MILES, QND
Great catchers are a godsend in High School Baseball and QND's Senior Backstop is as good as they come defensively. The kid threw out more than half the runners who opted to test his arm last season. He's coming off a Junior campaign that saw him hit better than .450 for Chris Martin last season, but honestly, the kid's swing is so pure that I don't think he has near scratched the surface of his potential as a hitter. Bottom line, Miles is the best homegrown product to end up in Quincy University's coffers since the guys who are now running this program were in high school.
3) MASON FAIRLEY, Quincy High
Power pitcher whose explosive arm also serves him extremely well behind the plate. The Lindenwood Signee has also proven himself extremely adroit at handling pitchers and cleaning up their worst offerings with quick reflexes to protect against wild pitches. Very good hitter with runners in scoring position who produced 31 RBI last season and hit 3 home runs. One of those rare kids who could line up at all nine positions on the field and play them at no less than a B+ level.
4) LANE HANZEL, Liberty
Four of our top seven guys on this list are Catchers. What does that say about the quality of the crop? Hanzel might be the best contact hitter of the lot, batting .598 as junior with just six total strikeouts in 102 at bats. Pure baseball rat who lives and breathes the game. Committed to Anderson University, where his speed and athleticism projects him both as an athletic Catcher and as potential Middle Infielder as well. Will see considerably more work as a pitcher in 2013 for the Eagles, which only increases his relative value here. High character leader with insatiable drive to get better through practice and the weight room.
5) AUSTIN HOEWING, Canton
A true Pit Bull on the hill for the Tigers last season who fashioned a stellar 8-1 overall record and tidy 2.35 ERA in the process in route to All State honors. Relentlessly attacks hitters and pounds the strike zone. He will be the ace of staff for what on paper looks to be the Tri State's most dangerous all around baseball team. Pesky hitter with the speed to hurt opponents on the bases or when playing the field as well.
6) ANDY JACKSON, Jacksonville
El Presidente is the region's premier control freak and arguably the toughest L in the business. Kid simply doesn't make mistakes. He surrendered just 13 walks in 60 innings last season and gave up just 17 total earned runs. He pitches as cleanly and as intelligently as anyone in the region. A true pitcher who hits spots and makes hitters look bad with stuff that may not rank as "elite." Doesn't matter kid is just an undeniable winner and the kid I'd want to trot out to the mound in a must win situation.
7) TYLER NIEMANN, Canton
A year from now, the talented Tiger Junior will probably top this list. Tremendous blood lines, great competitive nature, and a tremendous baseball IQ all packaged up in a kid with the kind of measurables that make college scouts drool. Though he was an All Stater as a Sophomore, not sure Tyler is even close to what he will be as a finished product. More intriguingly this year, he will great protection in the lineup with a pair of All Staters around him in Hoewing and Brandon Berhorst.
8) DUSTIN WOODCOCK, Jacksonville
In fairness to the Crimson star and SIU-E pledge, the handful of games I caught the Crimsons in person last season were not his "red letter" games so his valuation here probably isn't as high as it should be. By the same token, his ceiling is ridiculously high and his talent is obvious. Dustin is a high caliber lefty hurler who won 8 games and did so with a very impressive 2.68 ERA. Dustin also showed a real flair for hitting in big spots with .316 batting average and 29 RBI in a loaded.
9) BRODY GRONEWOLD, Illini West
As ideal a top of the lineup catalyst as you will find after stealing 39 bases and scoring 39 runs a year ago. Kid runs like a gazelle and has an uncanny ability to get on base and wreck havoc. Difference making speed in all aspects of the game and a very discerning eye at the plate. Ultimately, I think baseball might be Brody's best college avenue and he's a guy with a little more seasoning who could make an elite level college centerfielder, considering his ability to cover ground and slay opponents on the bases.
10) AUSTIN HARDY, West Hancock
Superb Shortstop with tremendously soft hands and the ability to make the most difficult plays look easy. Probably the most reliable infielder I saw in 2012. Cagey hitter with good timing and ability to protect the plate. Very tough kid to get out. Proved to be a crafty, resilient pitcher who could make batters miss.
KNOCKING ON THE DOOR
11) BRETT TAYLOR, Macomb
Quality pitcher and top notch hitter with power, but lack of proven protection for him in line-up means he may never see a quality pitch this season.
12) DRYDEN CRAVEN, Griggsville-Perry
Look every bit the ace he was purported to be with eight wins and ninety seven K's in 2013, but will Tornado Run Support figures to take a steep hit given the graduation losses
13) KYLE FULTON, Monroe City
Sky is the limit for this cut from Central Casting Power Pitcher. If he realizes his potential and pitches to his ability consistently, he could well shoot to the top of this list.
14) BRANDON BERHORST, Canton
Explosive hitter hit powered the Canton line up with a .423 batting average and 24 RBI a year ago. His reputation now proceeds him and he may suffer by not seeing a whole lot of quality pitches.
15) PAXTON HARMON, West Hancock
On paper, Paxton has the arsenal to be the best pitcher in Tri State Baseball and one terrific middle of the lineup offensive weapon. Just has to smooth out some of the inexplicable up and down moments he had during his junior campaign.
THE NEXT TIER
16) BRENDAN ROSS, Louisiana
17) BEN BROWN, Macomb
18) WYATT PROPER, South Shelby
19) DALTON POWELL, Hannibal
20) ETHAN BORROWMAN, Pittsfield
21) AUSTIN BOEHS, West Central
22) WES MEFFORD, South Shelby
23) ANDREW EILERS, Quincy High
24) ZACH VAHLE, QND
25) CALEB KIZER, Palmyra