Finding a seat behind home plate at a Broward County baseball game might be tougher than ever this year.
Expect to see lots of radar guns and notepads as scouts are busy recording velocities and taking notes.
Few counties in the nation will be as rich for baseball talent this year as Broward County.
Broward has the No. 1-ranked team in the nation in Archbishop McCarthy.
American Heritage, its biggest challenger once again, has arguably its most talented team in recent memory with eight Division I baseball commits and 13 players overall that will eventually sign to play in college.
And Calvary Christian and Douglas, each a first-time state champion last season, have some of the best pitchers in the country.
Douglas enters the season ranked No. 12 by MaxPreps thanks largely to one of the most talented pitcher-catcher batteries.
Senior left-handed pitcher Brandon Kaminer, who went undefeated last season (8-0) with a 1.45 ERA, is a University of Miami signee and may hold the key to whether the Eagles can repeat in Class 9A.
Kaminer will once again pitch to Missouri commit Chad McDaniel, Douglas’ talented 6-4, 215-pound senior catcher.
The Eagles will face several tough area rivals but figure to be the favorite to advance to state once again in the largest classification.
The scouts’ eyes will likely be fixed on first base whenever district rivals Archbishop McCarthy and American Heritage are playing.
Senior Alex Toral, ranked No. 46 in Baseball America’s top 100 high school prospects, mans the position for McCarthy, which is seeking to add to its Broward record for state championships. The Mavericks are favorites to win their seventh in the past eight seasons.
Pitcher Joe Perez, ranked No. 57 by Baseball America, leads a deep pitching rotation that also includes sophomore Yordany Carmona and seniors Johnny Leone and Daniel Federman.
Heritage, which plays McCarthy on March 17 in their lone regular-season meeting, has 16-year-old Triston Casas playing first base. Casas, already a member of the USA Under-18 team, helped that squad win the Pan American championship last year and at 6-3, 240 pounds is rated one of the top sophomores in the nation.
Casas and shortstop Mark Vientos, rated the No. 14 overall prospect by Baseball America, make the Patriots a dangerous impediment to McCarthy’s title reign.
Heritage’s pitching got deeper, as well, with the addition of Christian Santana, a senior and FIU commit that’s also expected to be a high-round pick with a fastball that reaches 95 miles per hour.
Calvary Christian, which won its first state title last year, is one of the favorites in Class 4A. The Eagles are led by junior Christian Scott, an early University of Florida commit. Calvary will have to contend with Miami Westminster Christian, which has one of the country’s best catchers in M.J. Melendez.
The two teams could meet in the regional finals.
TOP 10 TEAMS
1. Archbishop McCarthy; 2. American Heritage; 3. Calvary Christian; 4. Douglas; 5. Flanagan; 6. Pompano Beach; 7. Pine Crest; 8. St. Thomas Aquinas; 9. Nova; 10. Coral Springs; On the rise: Chaminade-Madonna, NSU University School, Pines Charter, Sagemont.
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS
P: Kyle Benson, St. Thomas Aquinas, Sr.; Yordany Carmona, Archbishop McCarthy, So.; Jeremy Cook, Flanagan, Sr.; Izzy Cordero, American Heritage, Sr.; Jake Eder, Calvary Christian, Sr.; Daniel Federman, Archbishop McCarthy, Sr.; Trevor Kniskern, Pompano Beach, Jr.; Joe Perez, Archbishop McCarthy, Sr.; Christian Santana, American Heritage, Sr.; Christian Scott, Calvary Christian, Jr.; Brandon Kaminer, Douglas, Sr.; Max Lazar, Coral Springs, Sr.; 1B: Triston Casas, American Heritage, So.; Alex Toral, Archbishop McCarthy, Sr.; 2B: Ubaldo Lopez, Archbishop McCarthy, Sr.; SS: Mark Vientos, American Heritage, Sr.; 3B: Cory Acton, American Heritage, Jr.; Earl Semper, St. Thomas Aquinas, Sr.; C: Jake Holland, Calvary Christian, So.; Chad McDaniel, Douglas, Sr.; OF: Jack Durkin, Calvary Christian, Sr.; Adan Fernandez, Archbishop McCarthy, Sr.; A.J. Hendricks, Archbishop McCarthy, Sr.; Tyler Knierim, Calvary Christian, So.
Others to watch – P: Mason Feldman, Pines Charter, Sr.; Johnny Leone, Archbishop McCarthy, Sr.; Bailey Mantilla, American Heritage, Jr.; Jordan Schulefand, Pine Crest, Sr.; Juan Teixiera, Somerset, Jr.; Brenden Tuttle, Chaminade-Madonna, Sr.; Sam Wurth, Pine Crest, Sr.; 1B: Buddy Heyward, NSU University School, Sr.; SS: Andres Antonini, St. Thomas Aquinas, Jr.; Xavier Edwards, North Broward Prep, Jr.; Christian Sosa, Westminster Academy, Jr.; 3B: Josh Lapriest, NSU University School, Sr.; C: Julian Barcelo, Pembroke Pines Charter, Sr.; OF: Weylin Cleri, Western, Sr.; Diego Fagot, Calvary Christian, Sr.; Anthony Figueroa, Cypress Bay, Sr.; Travis Holt, American Heritage, Sr.; Ryan Keenan, Pine Crest, So.; Jon Lombardi, Coral Springs, Sr.; Leon Paulino, Chaminade-Madonna, So.
NOTE: For complete team-by-team outlooks, go to miamiherald.com/sports/high-school.
1. DOUGLAS (Coach Todd Fitz-Gerald). Last year: 27-2 (State champions). Top players: P Brandon Kaminer, Sr.; C Chad McDaniel, Sr.
2. FLANAGAN (Coach Ray Evans). Last year: 17-5-1. Top players: P Jeremy Cook, Sr.
1. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (Coach Troy Cameron, 5th year, 78-24). Last year: 19-5 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: 3B Earl Semper, Sr.; C Caleb Roberts, Jr.; S Andres Antonini, Jr.; RF Chris Ruckdeschel, Jr.; 1B-P Kyle Benson, Sr.; P Blake Hely, Jr.
2. NOVA (Coach Pat McQuaid, 43rd year, 860-312). Last year: 19-7 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: P-1B Trace Moore, Jr.; RF Gabriel Paulson, Sr.; LF Daniel Hubert, Sr.; 2B-3B Matthew Patella, Jr.; CF Jared Campbell, So.; C Michael Gonzalez, Sr.; SS Andre Martinez, Jr.; P Julio Diaz, Sr.; OF Isaia Goodman, Jr.
3. CORAL GLADES (Coach Joe Franco, 2nd year at CG, 12th overall, 130-104). Last year: 13-13 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: C-DH Joey Juliano, Sr.; INF Robert Joy, Sr. P-OF Justin McDaniel, Sr.; P-UTL Matt Russo, Jr.; 1B-OF Casey Shifrel, Jr.; C-DH Joey Muscat, So.; OF Aaron Cornieles, So.; 3B Freddy Cornieles, So.; LHP-OF Max Brodsky, Jr.; P-UTL Gavin Werner, Fr.; P-OF Gustavo Lino, Jr.; INF Nick Paschal, Jr.; P-UTL Steve Rega, Jr.
4. MCARTHUR (Coach Oddibe McDowell, 3rd year at McA, 9th overall). Last year: N/A. Top players: SS Yordys Valdez, So.; C Jordan Schulman, So.; SS-INF Alejandro Gonzalez, Jr.; P-INF Andres Dilone, So.; OF Nomar Urena, So.; INF-OF Jose Hernandez, Fr.
5. HOLLYWOOD HILLS (Coach Tim Siegel, 1st year). Last year: 3-15. Top players: UT-P Jorge Gonzalez, So.; P-3B Jonathan Campbell, Jr.; P-1B Justin Braden, Sr.; OF-P Chris Maria, Jr.; OF-3B Brandon Marte-Pena, Jr.; SS-2B Juan Rosario, Jr.
1. ARCHBISHOP MCCARTHY (Coach Rich Bielski). Last year: 29-2 (State champions). Top players: P Yordany Carmona, So.; P Daniel Federman, Sr.; P Joe Perez, Sr.; 1B Alex Toral, Sr.; SS Ubaldo Lopez, Sr.; OF Adan Fernandez, Sr.; OF A.J. Hendricks, Sr.; P Johnny Leone, Sr.
2. AMERICAN HERITAGE (Coach Bruce Aven, 6th year, 105-28). Last year: 19-5 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: SS Mark Vientos, Sr.; 1B-P Triston Casas, Jr.; P Christian Santana, Sr.; 3B Cory Acton, Jr.; P Bailey Mantilla, Jr.; INF-OF Travis Holt, Sr.
1. POMPANO BEACH (Coach Joe Giummule). Last year: 20-9 (Regional finalist). Top players: P-2B Trevor Kniskern, Jr.; P-1B Chase Costello, Jr.; SS Max Stein, Sr.; C Jeremy Davis, Sr.; LF Austin Carney, Sr.; OF-P Mike Schuler, Jr.
2. PINE CREST (Coach Mike Green, 2nd year at PC, 7th overall, 42-47-1). Last year: 13-10. Top players: C Mike Rothenberg, Sr.; P-OF-INF Jordan Schulefand, Sr.; RHP Sam Wurth, Sr.; 3B Jake Kessinger, Sr.; OF Nick Pagano, Jr.; OF Ryan Keenan, So.; SS Jacob Singer, Sr.; OF Jared DeFaria, Jr.
3. NORTH BROWARD PREP (Coach Brian Campbell, 10th year). Last year: 12-14. Top players: SS Xavier Edwards, Jr.; 3B Zach Goberville, Jr.; CF Ty Marsh, Sr.; C Logan Clyatt, So.; INF Dylan Ogozaly, Sr.; P Raul Canard, Sr.
4. SOMERSET (Coach Onel Garcia, 8th year). Last year: 24-5 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: SS-RHP Jordan Carrion, Fr.; SS-3B-RHP Jose Varela, Sr.; RHP Juan Teixeira, Jr.; LHP Ryan Cabarcas, So.; C Miguel Useche, So.; OF-LHP Xavier Moronta, So.
5. CORAL SPRINGS CHARTER (Coach Tom Magrann, 1st year). Last year: 11-10. Top players: SS-OF Robert Robinson, Jr.; C-3B Shane Magrann, Sr.; 1B Michad Perugini, Sr..
1. CALVARY CHRISTIAN (Coach Alan Kunkel). Last year: 21-9 (State champions). Top players: P Christian Scott, Jr.; LHP Jake Eder, Sr.; OF-1B Diego Fagot, Sr.; C-1B Jake Holland, So.; OF-P Tyler Knierim, So.; RHP-OF Jack Durkin, Sr.
2. NSU UNIVERSITY SCHOOL (Coach Josh Snyder). Last year: 20-8. Top players: P-1B Buddy Hayward, Sr.; P-1B Jack Schmidt, Sr.; 3B Josh LePriest, Sr.; SS Sammy Guillorme, Sr.; C Jake Pfunstein, Jr.; INF-P Cole Standifer, Sr.
3. CHAMINADE (Coach Jorge Miranda, 1st year at CM, 17th overall, 148-139). Last year: 13-12. Top players: OF Leon Paulino, So.; RHP Brenden Tuttle, Sr.; LHP Dylan Arnett, Sr.; RHP Mac Callari, Sr.; INF Matt Johnson, Sr.; INF Roberto Petit, Sr.
4. SAGEMONT (Coach Alex Arias, 1st year). Last year: 15-7 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: RHP Alejandro Martin, Jr.; LHP Jared Chirino, Jr.; C-3B Alejandro Gonzalez, Jr.; OF Keshav Babu, So.; 1B-LHP Eric Verdera, Jr.; SS-2B David Rodriguez, Jr.; 1B-LHP Alexis Castillo, Sr.; 3B-LHP Anthony Fazzio, Jr.; 2B Dylan Fineberg, So.; OF Jonathan Vega, Fr.; P-3B Adrian Parker, Jr.; RHP Isaiah Cordero, So.