Picking a preseason watch list is never easy, and with a senior class as loaded as this one, the task was even more difficult this year.
In order to be eligible for the annual lohud baseball “Elite 9,” ballplayers must play for a team from Westchester, Rockland or Putnam counties. The power rankings include the best from Section 1, as well as any Catholic or private school teams from the Lower Hudson Valley.
With two defending state champions in Mamaroneck and Byram Hills, along with several local players who are receiving national recognition, the 2016 high school baseball season promises to be one to remember.
The lohud baseball Elite 9
Justin Drpich, John Jay — The Binghamton-bound senior will slide over from third base to shortstop to replace an “Elite 9” selection from last year, Jack Weiller. He’s a power bat who will also serve as the Indians’ closer, bringing high-80s heat out of the bullpen.
Chris Dutra, Iona Prep — No catcher in the area has as much raw power at the plate. The Duke-bound senior led the Gaels with 26 RBI last season while flashing a sub-2.0 pop time and strong throwing arm behind the dish.
George Kirby, Rye — It probably feels like the 6-foot-4 right-hander has been around forever because he’s been terrorizing local hitters for years. Finally a senior, the strikeout artist was clocked as high as 93 mph over the summer and is committed to Elon.
Daniel Lotito, White Plains — You may not see Lotito’s name pop up on many fancy scouting websites, but he’s about as valuable as they come at the high school level. The Adelphi-bound senior hit .421 last season and throws in the mid-80s from the left side.
Peter Matt, Mamaroneck — The No. 3 hitter for the state champs last year, Matt will undoubtedly be the most feared hitter in the Tigers’ lineup. The Penn-bound senior third baseman had 24 RBI last season and has gap-to-gap power.
James Reilly, Albertus Magnus — The James Madison-bound senior made a name for himself by pitching six innings of one-hit ball in the Class B final last season. The righty bulked up in the offseason and was reportedly clocked as high as 92 mph.
Greg Satriale, Eastchester — One of the most versatile players in Section 1, the Binghamton-bound senior is a true ace on the mound and a slick-fielding shortstop when he’s not pitching. He hit a ridiculous .544 last season with six homers and had 86 strikeouts in 51 innings pitched.
Frankie Vesuvio, Byram Hills — The reigning Journal News Westchester/Putnam player of the year is considered by scouts to be the most well-rounded player in the area. The West Virginia-bound righty throws in the low-90s and broke the school record for home runs in a single-season with seven last year.
Aaron Winkler, Fox Lane — The Richmond-bound senior posted a microscopic 0.89 ERA last season while averaging over a strikeout per inning. The power righty will use his cutter to get ground balls and gets his fastball into the high-80s.
The Next 9
Brian Bohlander, Sr., North Rockland, 3B (Pace)
Bill Flatow, Sr., Mamaroneck, RHP (uncommitted)
Steven Franzese, Sr., Valhalla, LHP (Fairfield)
Tyler Mandel, Jr., Scarsdale, 3B (uncommitted)
Daniel Marcillo, Sr., Nyack, OF/RHP (uncommitted)
Drew Marino, Sr., Pleasantville, RHP/1B (Polk State)
Dean McCarthy, Sr., Harrison, LHP/OF (Elon)
Austin Pope, Sr., Tuckahoe, RHP/1B (Fairfield)
Enzo Stefanoni, Jr., Rye Country Day, RHP/C (uncommitted)
Preseason lohud baseball power rankings
1. Mamaroneck — The defending Class AA state champs begin 2016 where they ended 2015, but there is work to be done. Six of nine starters graduated, including New York state Class AA player of the year Kumar Nambiar.
2. Byram Hills — Section 1’s other defending state champ may be better positioned to take aim at a repeat in Class A. The Bobcats will add senior righty Anthony Russo, who missed most of the 2015 season due to labrum surgery, to an already deep pitching staff.
3. North Rockland — Mamaroneck is the defending champ in Class AA, but it’s clear that the Red Raiders are right on its heels. They played two extremely tight games against the Tigers last season, and North Rockland is probably returning the deepest pitching staff in Section 1.
4. Iona Prep — The Gaels got tripped up by crosstown rival Salesian in last year’s CHSAA playoffs, but they look like the top Catholic league school in the area this season. Lefties Joe LaSorsa and Anthony Piccolino will lead a sturdy group of pitchers.
5. Rye — What the Garnets have is the most feared pitcher in the area in George Kirby and some mashers in the middle of the lineup in Chase Pratt and Mat Bruno. What they need to find is pitching depth beyond Kirby and a few new starters to fill out the lineup.
6. Arlington — Let’s not forget that it was the Admirals who nearly knocked off Mamaroneck in a 13-inning marathon in last year’s Class AA semifinals. They return plenty of talent, led by right-handed pitcher Mike Pascoe and slugging third baseman Simon Alvarez.
7. Fox Lane — The Foxes are a perennial contender, and this year will be no different. Aaron Winkler gives them a bona fide ace at the top of the rotation, and a Matt Hillis-coached team will always hit. Watch out for sophomore catcher Henry Davis.
8. Ketcham — Last year’s Class AA runner-up has some voids to fill, none bigger than the loss of Tim Zehnbauer. He was one of the best pitchers in Section 1 for the last few years and a force in the middle of the order. But let’s not go counting the Indians out yet.
9. Horace Greeley — If your friends ask you for a sleeper pick, take the Quakers. Coming off of one of its best seasons in recent memory, there’s a lot to like about Greeley. Sophomore transfer Brandon Neeck has drawn rave reviews.
10. Stepinac — It’s a new regime under first-year head coach Keith Richardson, and the Crusaders are looking to get back to prominence. Talent won’t be an issue with the likes of Nick Antenucci, Steven Boscia and Kendell Luquis.
2. North Rockland
4. Fox Lane
6. Horace Greeley
7. Clarkstown South
9. John Jay-EF
10. White Plains
1. Byram Hills
3. John Jay
10. Pearl River
3. Albertus Magnus
7. Putnam Valley
8. Dobbs Ferry
10. Blind Brook
2. North Salem
4. Solomon Schechter
1. Iona Prep
5. Rye Country Day