Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.) pitcher and third baseman Jack Flaherty spent part of his summer in Taiwan, helping the Team USA U18 squad win its second consecutive World Cup Baseball Championship.
“Being able to play against different competition, I think, has prepared me for this year,” Flaherty said. “You got a chance to see how much baseball means to everyone in other parts of the world.”
Two of Flaherty’s teammates on that U18 squad are also on the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Preseason High School Baseball Team: pitcher Brady Aiken of Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) and catcher and pitcher Jakson Reetz of Norris (Firth, Neb.).
Flaherty is the only player on the preseason team who was on the 2013 season-ending ALL-USA squad, but he has plenty of company in that there are seven Californians on the 20-man team, the most of any state.
“I think the weather here plays a big part in it,” Flaherty said of his state’s baseball edge. “We can play every day, plus being able to play good competition in California makes you a better player.”
American Family Insurance ALL-USA Preseason High School Baseball Team
(All statistics are from last season)
Brady Aiken | Cathedral Catholic, San Diego | LHP | 6-3, 210
UCLA signee was 5-3 with a 0.92 ERA with 80 strikeouts and only 25 walks in 80 innings.
Jack Flaherty | Harvard-Westlake, Studio City, Calif. | RHP-3B | 6-3, 217
Was 13-0 with a 0.63 ERA with 112 strikeouts in 89 innings. Also hit .360 and led team to CIF Southern Section Division I championship. Has signed with North Carolina.
Tyler Kolek | Shepherd, Texas | RHP-1B | 6-5, 260
Missed much of last season with a broken right arm but was impressive in summer league play, with a fastball that topped out at 102 mph. Has plenty of power as a hitter. Has signed with Texas Christian.
Touki Toussaint | Coral Springs (Fla.) Christian | RHP | 6-2, 195
Had 65 strikeouts with a 0.95 ERA and was 5-2. Throws a 98 mph fastball. Has committed to Vanderbilt.
Alex Jakson | Rancho Bernardo, San Diego | C | 6-2, 210
Oregon signee hit .343 with 14 homers and an .806 slugging percentage.
Jakson Reetz | Norris, Firth, Neb. | C-RHP | 6-1, 195
Hit .444 with 49 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 28 games. Was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA. Has signed with Nebraska.
Jackson Fite | Decatur, Ala. | 1B | 6-3, 200
Hit .482 with nine homers and 53 RBI. Was his high school’s starting quarterback.
Gavin LaValley | Carl Albert, Midwest City, Okla. | 1B | 6-3, 220
Hit .477 with 20 homers and led the country with 76 RBI in 128 at-bats. Led team to its second consecutive 5A state title.
Ti’Quan Forbes | Columbia, Miss. | SS | 6-4, 175
Ole Miss signee hit .391 and had 39 RBI with only seven strikeouts in 87 at-bats.
Jacob Gatewood | Clovis, Calif. | SS-3B | 6-5, 190
Had a .555 slugging percentage with five homers and 25 RBI in 33 games. Threw a no-hitter as well. Has committed to Southern Cal.
Nick Gordon | Olympia, Orlando | SS-RHP | 6-2, 170
Son of former Major League pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon hit .505 with 30 RBI and had 44 strikeouts in 35.2 innings as a pitcher. His older brother Dee is an infielder in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ system.
Matt Heck | Midlothian, Texas | 2B | 5-9, 175
Hit .444 with five homers, 16 doubles and 39 RBI.
Michael Chavis | Sprayberry, Marietta, Ga. | 3B | 5-11, 185
Clemson commit and four-year starter won the Perfect Game All-American Home Run Derby this past summer.
Charlie Cody | Great Bridge, Chesapeake, Va. | 3B | 6-1, 180
Virginia commit hit .407 with five homers and 28 RBI, helping lead his team to a state AAA runner-up finish.
Braxton Davidson | T.C. Roberson, Asheville, N.C. | OF-1B | 6-3, 215
North Carolina signee hit .403 with eight homers in 31 games.
Michael Gettys | Gainesville, Ga. | OF-RHP | 6-2, 205
Georgia signee hit .470 with 29 stolen bases. As a RHP, throws 94-95 mph.
Derek Hill | Elk Grove, Calif. | OF | 6-1, 185
Oregon signee hit .417 with 27 RBI in 84 at-bats to lead team to Sac-Joaquin Section title.
Beau Jordan | Barbe, Lake Charles, La. | OF | 5-10, 200
Hit .466 with six homers and 46 RBI. Has signed with Louisiana State.
Trenton Kemp | Buchanan, Clovis, Calif. | OF | 6-2, 190
Leadoff hitter hit .442 with seven homers and 26 RBI and a .791 slugging percentage. Has signed with Fresno State.
Marcus Wilson | Serra, Gardena, Calif. | OF | 6-2, 205
Arizona State signee hit .383 with 12 RBI in 47 at-bats. Only high school player to hit a home run at Dodger Stadium during last year’s playoffs.