Baseball: Teams to watch in 2012
Drum roll, please. Here's projections on teams to watch in baseball for 2012:
Santa Ana Mater Dei starts out as the team to beat, returning its top two pitchers in Ty Moore and Davis Tominaga, not to mention its outstanding catcher in Jeremy Martinez. Good luck trying to get out the Moore-Martinez duo in the lineup. They're committed to UCLA and USC, respectively.
North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake might have the No. 1 pitching prospect in the state in Lucas Giolito. The Wolverines' catcher, junior-to-be Arden Pabst, is headed to elite status. And sophomore-to-be Jack Flaherty, a pitcher-outfielder, figures to be even better.
Irvine Beckman deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence with the Trinty League top teams. Well coached and fundamentally sound, the Patriots return their top pitcher in James Kaprielian and a solid shortstop in Garret Brown.
La Puente Bishop Amat is loaded again with Rio Ruiz and Adam Alcantara.
Division 1 champion Riverside North has standout shortstop Gabriel Franca and pitcher Jack Johnson back.
Orange Lutheran is loaded with experience and pitching. The Lancers were inconsistent this season but the talent is there to make a big run in Division 1.
Lakewood and Long Beach Wilson each return their ace pitchers in Shane Watson and Chase DeJong, respectively. Let's see who beats them next season.
Placentia El Dorado and Anaheim Servie each missed the playoffs but there are plenty of highly regarded players returning. They will have to prove themselves and produce results instead of relying on their college potential.
Mission Hills Alemany returns outfielder Corey Sims, shortstop Peter Van Gansen and ace pitcher Cody Thompson. Simi Valley made a strong Division I playoff run with a bunch of young players. Ditto for Westlake Village Westlake, which won the Marmonte League behind a freshman, Luke Dykstra.
There's a lot more teams to mention, but let's see what happens during the summer.
-- Eric Sondheimer