Players To Watch
Keon Barnum, King, Sr. – The Miami signee, tabbed as a top-100 prospect for the 2012 MLB draft by Baseball America, hit .491 with six homers last season.
Richie Martin, Bloomingdale, Sr. – Bulls shortstop, who has signed with Florida, is team's top returning hitter (.366 average, 17 RBIs in 2011).
Peter Alonso, Plant, Jr. – Jesuit transfer, who hit .485 with a county-best 49 RBIs last season, provides big pop in heart of Panthers order.
Ryan Valdes, Alonso, Sr. – Outfielder hit .388 with five homers, 19 RBIs for last season's 6A state champs.
Oscar Mercado, Gaither, Jr. – Cowboys shortstop, a Florida State commit, is slick defensively and can swing it as well (.338 average, 23 RBIs in 2011).
Pitchers To Watch
Lance McCullers, Jesuit, Sr. – Preseason All-American and one of country's top prospects boasts upper-90s fastball, career ERA of 1.45
Dylan Drawdy, Riverview, Sr. – USF signee had a 1.51 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 601/3 innings pitched in 2011.
Jimmy Herget, Jefferson, Sr. – Reigning Saladino Tournament MVP and USF signee is 11-3 with six complete games over last two seasons.
Trey Oest, Durant, Sr. – Virginia-bound hurler has posted combined 2.00 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly 5-to-1 over last two seasons.
Chris Williams, Steinbrenner, Sr. – Warriors ace, who has signed with Saint Leo, is 13-5 during last two seasons.
Teams To Watch
Alonso – Lost a lot of talent from last season's 6A state title squad, but coach Landy Faedo likes his pitching depth and defense this year. The key is finding more offense behind proven hitters Ryan Valdes and Juan Bracamonte.
Durant – Cougars were one win shy of reaching the state tournament in 2011, and despite losing a few key pieces, coach Butch Valdes is optimistic. Those returning include shortstop/pitcher Tyler Danish, a Florida commit.
Jefferson – Dragons roster includes 11 seniors, a group headlined by a pair of Division I-bound hurlers (Jimmy Herget and Corbin Olmstead). Coach Pop Cuesta's squad could be a big-time force.
Jesuit – The Tigers enter the year ranked as high as second nationally in one preseason poll and aim to make the push toward a third consecutive trip to the state tournament in Port St. Lucie.
Plant – With six senior starters back this season, the Panthers have plenty of experience to go along with what coach Dennis Braun calls the most talented freshman class in his tenure.