HomeTeam 25: Baseball players to watch
Matt Adams, Jr., RHP/OF, Countryside: Adams was a key player last year, both at the plate and on the mound. He will have the same role again this season. He hit .373 with 15 RBIs as a sophomore. As a starter, he was 10-2 with a 1.22 ERA in 68.2 innings.
Oakley Albinson, Jr., RHP, Indian Rocks Christian: Albinson emerged as the Golden Eagles’ ace last season. At 6-foot-6, he is a menacing right-hander with an above-average fastball. He was 10-2 with a 1.47 ERA in 71.1 innings pitched as a sophomore. He’s getting looks from schools like Georgia Tech, Duke, Stanford and Northwestern.
Andrew Belcik, Sr., RHP/OF, East Lake: Belcik has already signed with Notre Dame. He is a hard-throwing starter who can top 90. He had a 1.95 ERA last season. At the plate, he hit .286 with six doubles and two homers. Expect an even bigger season in the field and offensively.
Bo Bichette, Sr., INF, Lakewood: Committed to Arizona State, Bichette is good enough to be taken in the first round of the MLB draft and may bypass college. He was injured during the high school season last year, but before he went down he hit .632 in seven games with 18 RBIs. Iin the Under Armour game at Wrigley Field over the summer, he won the home run derby.
Julian Bosnic, So., LHP/OF, Berkeley Prep: Bosnic led his team on both sides of the ball last season, hitting .352 with 15 RBIs and posting a 1.66 ERA, striking out 64 in 46 innings pitched. With a full high school season under his belt, Bosnic should return even better.
Jordan Butler, Jr., LHP/OF, Alonso: The Florida commit was a double threat for the Ravens last season, hitting .372 with a team-high 27 RBIs while tossing 34 innings and posting a 1.43 ERA and three saves. With Butler on the mound and teammate Jose Ciccarello at the plate, Alonso will be tough to stop.
Jose Ciccarello, Sr., SS, Alonso: Ciccarello was the leadoff hitter for the Ravens, hitting .381 with 24 run scored and 12 stolen bases. The Florida commit also had a team-high on-base percentage of .484.
Tim Elko, Jr., 1B, Hillsborough: The Ole Miss commit was one of the best hitters in Tampa Bay, posting team-leading totals in batting average (.412), RBIs (23) and on-base percentage (.500). He also has the tendency to be a clutch hitter, and he came up with big at-bats to help lead Hillsborough to its first postseason appearance since 2006.
Adam Jurco, Sr., OF, Palm Harbor University: Jurco, who hit .350 last season, was named MVP at the Dunedin Spring Tournament, which the Hurricanes won. A speedy outfielder who can chase down balls, Jurco is committed to St. Petersburg College.
Jakob Mattos, So., RHP/SS, Mitchell: Mattos is the rare player who started as a freshman and did well on the mound, in the field and at the plate. He hit .322 while playing shortstop. He was also 6-2 with a 2.78 ERA. Coach Scot Wilcox said Mattos will be his ace this season.
Luis Medina, Sr., C, Tampa Prep: Medina has hit at least .391 in all three of his varsity seasons with the Terrapins, and he has 79 career RBIs at Tampa Prep. Behind the plate, he’s equally solid, averaging just 3.6 errors per season.
Corey Mills, Jr., RHP/SS, Pasco: Mills hit .378 last season with 25 RBIs to lead the Pirates. He also pitched 23.2 innings and had 20 strikeouts. He is expected to be a dual threat again this season.
Matheu Nelson, So., C, Calvary Christian: Nelson has already committed to Florida State. As a freshman, he hit .392 with 12 doubles and 32 RBIs. This season, Nelson may also get some innings as a right-handed pitcher.
Kirby Osborn, Sr., RHP, Land O’Lakes: Osborn was the main starter last season and he should continue in that role this season. He was 5-4 with a 1.80 ERA in 50.1 innings pitched. He also had 50 strikeouts and just 13 walks.
Michael Paul, Jr., RHP, Clearwater Central Catholic: Paul, the brother of former Times’ Pitcher of the Year David Paul, had a bit of a down year as a sophomore. He was 3-2 with a 3.50 ERA in 40 innings. He was overpowering as a freshman and expect him to return to form this season as the Marauders’ ace.
Carson Ragsdale, Sr., RHP/INF, Bishop McLaughlin: Ragsdale fit in perfectly last season as the No. 3 pitcher and first baseman. He was 6-2 with a 1.02 ERA in 41.1 innings. He will become the ace this season after the graduation of Nate Pearson and Franklin German. Ragsdale also hit .418 with a team high 33 RBIs as a junior.
Elijah Ramirez, Sr. RHP, Hernando: Ramirez will be the Leopards’ top starter after a consistent junior year. He had a 1.67 ERA in 46 innings and also had 44 strikeouts. Though he’s not overpowering, he knows how to work the strike zone.
Michael Sandborn, Sr., LHP, Jesuit: Sandborn helped carry Jesuit to a state championship in 2014, but he missed some of last season due to injury, pitching just 25 innings. As a sophomore, the Vanderbilt commit posted a 0.85 ERA and 4-0 record.
Jonah Scolaro, Sr., LHP, Durant: The Florida State commit posted a 9-1 record and 1.24 ERA for the Cougars last season, taking them all the way to the state final four. At the plate he’s just as sharp, and he hit .343 with nine doubles in 2015.
Connor Scott, So., OF/LHP, Plant: Scott played in the shadows of first-round draft pick Kyle Tucker last year in the outfield, but this season could be a breakout year for the Florida commit who hit .311 with 14 RBIs in 2015.
Matthew Steckel, Sr., INF, Robinson: Steckel helped take the Knights on their unlikely journey to the 5A state semifinal last season, hitting .384 with 12 RBIs and 24 runs scored.
Matt Tharp, Sr., 2B, Seminole: Tharp led the team with a .429 average last season. Tharp played leftfield, but was moved to the infield because of his sure hands and decision making. He also has a 4.6 GPA, which has schools like Cornell looking at him.
C.J. Van Eyk, Jr., RHP, Steinbrenner: Van Eyk had a perfect 7-0 record last season and a Hillsborough County-low 0.16 ERA, taking the Warriors to a region semifinal.
Antonio Velez, Sr., LHP, Brandon: Velez, a USF commit, had a 9-3 record and 1.30 ERA last season, earning Times ‘Pitcher of the Year honors. His 122 strikeouts in 75 1/3 innings pitched was among the best in the nation.
Colton Widdows, Sr., LHP, Dunedin: Widdows was the Falcons’ ace and will be again this season. The University of Tampa commit was 7-1 with a 1.70 ERA as a junior.