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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Oakland County Baseball Preview - Top Players

1. Matt Ruppenthal - Birmingham Brother Rice
Ruppenthal was as dominant as it gets in his freshman and sophomore campaigns and only figures to get better in the next two seasons on the mound for the Warriors. The junior ace finished last year with an ERA of under 1.00 and averaged about 1.5 strikeouts per inning last year and will help lead the way for a loaded but youthful Brother Rice squad this year which has its eyes on a state title. Ruppenthal has already committed to play for perennial college power Vanderbilt.

2.  Nick Deeg - Lake Orion
The OC's "Big Unit," Deeg is the definition of a power lefty who can carve batters up, or just simply overpower them. Last year Deeg averaged nearly two strikeouts per inning and finished with an ERA of just a hair over 2.00 and should have another big year as one of the two aces for the Dragons. The senior will also be one of the most dangerous hitters in Oakland County this year as well as he hit over .400 last year and drove in just under 40 runs in his junior campaign. Deeg has signed with Central Michigan.

3. Brad Schaenzer - Lake Orion
Speaking of dominant lefties, Schaenzer is another Lake Orion left handed hurler that can shut down opposing offensive attacks. Much like Deeg, Schazenzer had an ERA just over 2.00, while tallying nine wins last season and showed the ability to rack up the strikeouts at any given time. Schaenzer has continued to pick up some big time D-1 offers and the 1-2 punch of him and Deeg could help lead the Dragons to Battle Creek this year.

4. Sterling Sharp - North Farmington
Whenever Sharp is on the mound for the Raiders, it's almost a guarantee that North Farmington will pick up the win after the senior hurler went a perfect 7-0 as a junior last year with an ERA south of 2.00. Sharp is committed to Eastern Michigan, but could be one of a handful of Oakland County players who could be drafted in the MLB draft.

5. Garrett Schilling - Madison Heights Bishop Foley
Only a junior this year, but in the past two seasons Schilling has become one of the best aces in Oakland County this season. In his freshman and sophomore seasons, Schilling has yet to lose a game on the mound for the Ventures as he's posted a 15-0 record while playing a key role on the back-to-back Division 3 state championship teams at Bishop Foley. The junior ace is also a dangerous hitter and is an outstanding defensive shortstop as well.

6. Johnny Slater - Southfield-Lathrup
Slater is already arguably the best player in Southfield-Lathrup history after hitting almost .600 in his junior season last year. This year you can expect more of the same from the Charger's star as he figures to be not only one of the best hitters in the area, but he's also an excellent defender in the outfield and will once again be the ace of the Southfield-Lathrup staff. Slater has signed to play for Michigan in college.

7. Connor Mohr - Farmington
Mohr has shown over the last few years that he can do just about everything as the Michigan State commit has proven to be a stellar defensive player and has been an ace on the Falcon pitching staff. Mohr is also a big time hitter and a speedster on the base-paths as he continued to rack up the triples and steals in his junior season which got him serious recognition from D-1 colleges.

8. Grant Reuss - Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood
Another Oakland County pitcher that can impose his will on hitters as Reuss has a lethal fastball that can blow batters away and also has the off-speed pitches to fool hitters as well. Reuss fanned a number of batters last season in his sophomore campaign and should continue to pile up the strikeouts in his junior season. Reuss has already committed to play for Michigan at the next level.

9. Dazon Cole - Pontiac
Much like Slater, Cole is arguably the best player in Pontiac history, and will have a chance to solidify that in his final two year of high school. Cole is as good of an ace as there is out there as he had an ERA under 1.00 as a sophomore last season and averaged more than a strikeout per inning. The junior is also a dangerous offensive player after hitting over .400 in his sophomore season and is a defensively sound shortstop as well. Cole has committed to play for Central Michigan.

10. Andrew Gonzalez - Walled Lake Western
Gonzalez is the definition of a fireballer, a pitcher who can just blow hitters away with his fastball and also knows how to put hitters away with some of his off-speed pitches as well. After sitting behind Cam Vieaux and Jason Gamble in the rotation last year, Gonzalez will step into the role of being the Warrior's ace this season. Look for Gonzalez to be a key contributor in the Western lineup as well as he's proven to be a dangerous hitter as well. The junior has already committed to play for Michigan State.

11. Nik Heglin - Walled Lake Western
Heglin is as pure of a hitter as you're going to find as he's been a .500 hitter in each of the last two seasons and we'll likely see more of the same in his senior season this year. Heglin is also a standout defensively as he's made big time plays from the outfield with his glove and can get to just about any ball hit in his general direction with his speed. Heglin hasn't committed as of yet, but could start to see the offers start to pile up late, like his former teammate Cam Vieaux saw last season.

12. Ty Kiafoulis - Birmingham Brother Rice
Arguably the most powerful bat in the county this season, Kiafoulis can flat out punish opposing pitching on at almost any time and against almost any pitch. This year, Kiafoulis will be one of the few veteran presences on this year's Warriors squad as he will be playing in his third season at the varsity level. Kiafoulis recently committed to play for Michigan.

13. Nick Plummer - Birmingham Brother Rice
Plummer is the definition of a 5-tool player as the Brother Rice star soph proved in his freshman season that he can do it all. A very good hitter who can hit for average and power and is a legitimate threat to swipe a bag at any time and is one of the best outfield defenders you're going to find in terms of his glove as well as his arm.

14. Nate Morris - Oxford
Another fireballer with a live arm that Oakland County has to offer this season, whenever Morris is pitching for Oxford, the Wildcats have a better than good chance to win because of the junior ace's ability to shut down opposing bats. Morris has verbally committed to play for Michigan State.

15. Mike Azzopardi - Birmingham Detroit Country Day
Azzopardi proved that he could do it all last season as a junior, showing the ability to be one of the most consistent bats that Oakland County had to offer, hitting just under .500 for the season, while also flashing the leather several times in the field as well. Look for Azzopardi to take over the Country Day pitching staff as well as the senior could step into the role of being the Yellowjackets' ace this spring.

16. Nick Bredeson - Bloomfield Hills Andover
It's not often you see a Division one commit transfer into a school, but that's exactly what Andover saw this season. Bredeson, who spent the last few seasons at Brother Rice and caught the eye of several college scouts while led to him receiving and accepting an offer to play for Ohio. Look for Bredeson to help manage an Andover pitching staff which should be good once again this year.

17. Will Salter - Orchard Lake St. Mary's
Salter, much like Bredeson, is a stellar defensive catcher that will not only does a good job of helping pitching staffs, but also makes life hard for opposing base-stealers. Look for the junior to also do some damage offensively this year as he will look to help solidify the middle of the Eaglets batting order. Salter has committed to play for Michigan State

18. Ryan Roman - Madison Heights Lamphere
Roman can do just about everything offensive and showed that last year in his junior season where he showed he could hit for average and for power, while also proving to be one of the area's biggest base-stealing threats. Look for much of the same this year from Roman, who is also a top of the rotation pitcher for the Rams.

19. Josh Smith - Birmingham Brother Rice
One of the unknown stars that Oakland County has to offer, but is likely to have a big breakout year as he will pair with Ruppenthal to make a stellar 1-2 punch for the Warrior rotation. Smith, a lefty, obviously shined in the high school offseason and during the summer where he pitched so well that he earned a scholarship offer from Kentucky, which he later accepted.

20. Nate Grys - Madison Heights Bishop Foley
Grys, who was a key contributor for the Ventures in their state championship run, has proven to be a lethal hitter in the Bishop Foley lineup, and made opposing teams pay all year long from his No. 9 spot in the order. Grys, who's committed to Western Michigan, figures to only get better in the next three seasons at Bishop Foley.

21. Marlon Pruitt - Bloomfield Hills Andover
Pruitt has some big shoes to fill at Andover as he will look to step into the role of being the ace of the Baron's pitching staff, replacing Gabe Berman, who was the ace last season. But so far, so good for Pruit who looks like he's in midseason form as he pitched a complete game one-hitter on Tuesday as he struck out 16 Avondale batters for the win. Look for Pruitt to continue to dominate in the role of ace of the final edition of the Andover squad.

22. Brad Baldwin - Madison Heights Bishop Foley
Baldwin is entering his third year as a starter for the Ventures this year, where he will be the everyday second baseman for Bishop Foley in his junior season. Baldwin has been one of the most consistent offensive and defensive players in Oakland County over the course of his career and hit .450 last year and committed just three errors as a sophomore.

23. Nick Harris - Novi Franklin Road Christian
Harris is as consistent as it gets for Franklin Road as he's shown the ability to be not only one of the most consistent and dangerous hitters around, but one of the most sure-handed players around from his shortstop position. Harris hit over .500 last season offensively for the Warriors and rarely makes any defensive mistakes in the field.

24. Trevor Bonnivier/Todd Bonnivier - Waterford Mott
The brotherly duo makes up one of, if not the best 1-2 punch on the left side of the infield as Trevor handles the duties at third base, while Todd holds down shortstop. Last season, Trevor batted nearly .450 last season, while Todd hit well over .300 and both hit over 25 RBI to help lead the offensive attack for the Corsairs.

25. Nick Mazzone - Clarkston
Mazzone is a flat-out speed demon on the base-paths and uses that same speed to track down just about any ball hit his way in the outfield. Mazzone hit over .450 last season in his junior season and also swiped 20 bases as well and will help solidify the Clarkston lineup this spring.

15 More players to keep an eye on (NO ORDER)
1. Tyler Thompson - Farmington
2. Michael Hodgins - Orchard Lake St. Mary's
3. Brett Gustafson - Walled Lake Central
4. Randy Righter - Birmingham Brother Rice
5. Ryan Lambrecht - Lake Orion
6. Julian Jones - Orchard Lake St. Mary's
7. Alex Malzone - Birmingham Brother Rice
8. Jack Flynn - Lakeland
9. Austin Lukaschewski - Madison Heights Bishop Foley
10. Nick Vogelmeier - Lake Orion
11. David Walczyk - Walled Lake Western
12. Cole Lubin - Walled Lake Northern
13. Nate Wierzgac - Novi Detroit Catholic Central
14. Ian Kobernick - Berkley
15. Billy Malak - Madison Heights Bishop Foley

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