County full of future stars


Broward County has more than a dozen top prospects headed to college and the pros.

American Heritage catcher Zach Collins is the highest-ranked baseball player in South Florida’s class of 2013, but he isn’t the only Broward County prospect with a bright future.

Baseball America ranks Collins 42nd among the nation’s prep prospects, and Heritage coach Bruce Aven won’t disagree.

“I’d have to imagine he’s one of the top five catchers in the country, primarily because of his bat, which is so far beyond his age,” Aven said. “He is ready to play at another level.”

Collins, a University of Miami recruit, is one of six American Heritage players who already have secured Division I scholarships, matching the number on last year’s team.

The others are right-handed pitcher Shaun Anderson (Florida); outfielder Dean Pelman (Florida); third baseman Danny Zardon (LSU); center fielder Brandon Diaz (FIU); and shortstop C.J. Chatham (FAU). Pelman and Chatham transferred in from Nova after last season.

Another advanced Broward prospect is Coral Springs Christian junior Touki Toussaint, a right-handed pitcher who has been selected to compete in the Under Armour All-American game Aug. 24 at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.

Aven said he thinks Toussaint could be among the top five players chosen in the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft, putting him in rare company even among elite prospects.

Toussaint, who also has a nasty curveball, has increased the speed of his fastball to 97 mph this year after ranging from 88 to 91 last season.

Toussaint also grew an inch since last year as well — he’s now 6-2 — and put on 10 pounds of muscle.

“If he stays healthy, he has the talent to be special,” said Coral Springs Christian coach Matt Cleveland of Toussaint, who will also play center field. “His fastball sits between 92 and 95 [mph].”

Two other top underclassmen are the Pine Crest duo of sophomore shortstop Zack Kone and junior pitcher/outfielder Chris Koppenhaver. Both players have committed to Duke.

Other top senior prospects include: St. Thomas Aquinas pitcher/first baseman Alec Byrd (FSU); Douglas catcher Derek Fritz (FSU); Coral Springs Charter shortstop Stephen Kerr (FAU); University shortstop Sebastian Diaz (Miami); and Pompano Beach pitcher Tyler Keller (Stetson).

Among the kids headed out of state to play are West Broward catcher Daniel Vasquez (Siena); Pompano Beach shortstop Shaw Pinnell (Troy); West Broward outfielder Danny Pardo (Campbell); Pine Crest pitcher Steven Goldberg (Lehigh); and Western shortstop Max Balter (Tennessee-Martin).

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