From individual awards to game-wide trends, our own Jason Jordan offers 10 bold predictions for the 2013 baseball season.
COMING WEDNESDAY: The Preseason American Family Insurance ALL-USA Team
1. Thompson will win Alabama’s POY
Cullman (Ala.) pitcher Keegan Thompson was named Gatorade State Player of the Year as a sophomore. After posting 119 strikeouts last season as a junior, he was named 5A Pitcher of the Year. Now, Thompson, an Auburn signee, is primed to finish as the state’s top player again.
2. Vista’s pitching will be even better
Last season Vista won the San Diego Section Division I title for one reason: its team ERA was 1.21. The Panthers, who finished 31-4, had 13 shutouts and allowed only one run in eight other games.
The best part? The vast majority of the team’s pitching staff will return.
Expect more goose eggs.
3. Grayson vs. Loganville will be the game of the year
On March 12, it’s Grayson (Loganville, Ga.) pitcher Austin Meadows, a Clemson signee who is widely regarded as the country’s No. 1 prospect, going head-to-head against Loganville (Loganville, Ga.) infielder Clint Frazier, a Georgia signee who is widely regarded as the country’s No. 2 prospect. Enough said.
4. Percival will turn Moreno Valley around
Now that former Major League baseball star Troy Percival is coaching his alma mater, Moreno Valley (Calif.), expect the Vikings to turn around their abysmal 3-21 record from last season. Percival, a four-time American League All-Star, played on the Anaheim Angels World Series championship team in 2002.
5. Puk won’t play for Warriors
After sitting out most of last season with a thumb injury, Washington (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) pitcher A.J. Puk won’t suit up for the Warriors this season. He’s planning to enroll at Florida this June and has said that he doesn’t want to have to stop in the middle of his high school season. (In Iowa, the high school season starts in the summer, rather than the spring.) Still, Puk hasn’t said outright that he’s not playing. But we are.
6. Hollon will have a record-breaking season
Depending on which rankings you fancy, Woodford County (Versailles, Ky.) pitcher Clinton Hollon is the No. 1 player in the country. Still, more rankings list Grayson’s Meadows as top dog. Consider that fact the fuel to drive Hollon’s competitive fire. He posted a 1.68 ERA last season.
7. 6A competition won’t affect Parkview
Parkview (Lilburn, Ga.) won its second straight 5A state title last season and also took home the Baseball America national title. Despite the Georgia High School Association adding 6A teams to Parkview’s schedule, don’t expect the Panthers to miss a beat. Yes, even with Matt Olson, who was selected by the Oakland Athletics with the No. 47 pick, gone.
8. Beware of Buckner’s bat
North Shore (Houston) outfielder Nick Buckner, a Houston signee, hit 10 home runs last season and batted .500 en route to being named 5A Hitter of the Year. Expect those numbers to increase slightly.
9. McGuire ready for breakout season
After recently being named USA Baseball’s 18U Player of the Year for helping to lead USA to the gold medal in South Korea in September, Reese McGuire, a San Diego commit, seems primed to elevate his already impressive numbers. The Kentwood (Covington, Wash.) catcher, who hopes to lead the Conquerors to a third state title in four years, batted .460 last season.
10. Home run numbers will drop significantly
With new bat standards from the National Federation of High Schools, which favor pitching and defense, expect home runs to drop in a major way. The good news is the new batted-ball coefficient of restitution (BBCOR) standard will keep players safer. And don’t expect any cheating. The alteration of bats is now considered unlawful and subject to possible legal action. Yikes!
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter @JayJayUSATODAY.