Player of the Year: Christian Arroyo, Sr., Hernando
If MLB draft gurus were surprised Hernando shortstop Christian Arroyo flew off the board in the first round, few in Brooksville were. • “The kid’s definitely got it all going on,” Leopards teammate and USF signee Brandon Lawson said.
Arroyo was the school’s salutatorian. He’s a tireless worker and a potential engineering student at Florida — if he doesn’t sign a seven-figure deal with the Giants first. And he’s also one of the most accomplished players in North Suncoast history.
As a senior, he ranked among the state’s leaders with a .524 batting average and 42 runs scored. He racked up 35 RBIs as a leadoff hitter, and his 11 home runs were among the most in Florida.
Arroyo also starred defensively to lead the Leopards to the Class 5A, District 7 championship and their fourth consecutive trip to the region finals or beyond.
Lawson said his star teammate’s success shouldn’t be a surprise to those who watched him come to games three hours before the first pitch to hone his craft.
“He’s the first one there, and he’s the last one off,” Lawson said.
The hard work on the diamond, in the weight room and on yoga mats made Arroyo the first-ever first-round pick from Hernando County when he went No. 25 overall to San Francisco this month. He added a few more accolades, including the Florida Dairy Farmers’ 5A player of the year and runnerup to Durant ace Tyler Danish as the state’s Mr. Baseball.
“It was a good way to end my career at Hernando High School,” Arroyo said. “I couldn’t ask for a better year.”
Pitcher of the Year: Tyler Danish, Sr., Durant
Once upon a time, that million-dollar arm hurled fastballs and footballs and could launch a fairly reliable jump shot. • Yes, Tyler Danish delivered on all the hype and promise that preceded his freshman year at Durant High.
His first pass attempt on the varsity football team? A 24-yard touchdown against the Cougars’ biggest rival. He hit .268 and homered in 13 games with the baseball team. He was a starter on the junior varsity basketball team.
Danish seemed destined to be the catalyst of an athletic renaissance at the far east Hillsborough school.
“I would have loved to have had him,” Durant football coach Mike Gottman said. “He could’ve been a good one.”
Danish and his arm were even better than good. But only at baseball.
Danish decided to focus solely on the diamond after his freshman year, a choice that has turned out pretty well for him.
As a senior, Danish went 15-1 with a 0.00 ERA and 156 strikeouts over 94 innings — all numbers that ranked him among the nation’s top five high school pitchers. He led the Cougars to their first district and region championships and first appearance in the state tournament. Durant went on to lose in the Class 8A final.
He’s reaped all the awards deserving of that kind of dominance: Danish was drafted No. 55 overall by the Chicago White Sox last week, and named the Florida Dairy Farmers’ Mr. Baseball and the Saladino Memorial Baseball award winner.
But even Danish wonders how far he could have gone if he had stayed with football.
“They were trying to create the future around me, running the spread offense,” he said. “The kids in my class were upset at first. But after they saw me play (baseball), they began to accept it.”
Gottman thinks Danish could have been a college prospect as a quarterback.
“Oh, absolutely he could’ve been that,” Gottman said. “He had a great arm, was a good leader and was very competitive. I was sad to lose him.”
P Brett Morales, Sr., King: UF signee went 11-2 with a 0.58 ERA and 127 strikeouts, leading Lions to the Class 6A state semifinal.
P David Paul, Jr., Clearwater Central Catholic: Was 11-1 with a 1.37 ERA with 92 strikeouts in 81.2 innings. Led Marauders to the Class 3A state semifinal.
P Brandon Lawson, Sr., Hernando: USF signee finished 11-0 with 128 strikeouts and only three earned runs for 5A region finalist.
P Nick Nolan, Sr., Seminole: 8-2 with a 1.60 ERA and quality wins over Venice and Jesuit.
C Grant Hodges, Sr., East Lake: Solid defensive catcher hit .388 and had 15 stolen bases. Also had seven doubles and three triples.
IF Spencer Trayner, Sr., Jesuit: North Carolina signee hit .463 with 24 RBIs and eight doubles; also the Tigers’ ace with a team-high seven wins, 1.25 ERA and 56 innings pitched.
IF Kellen Brown, Sr., Dunedin: Hit .500 with 30 RBIs and 17 stolen bases. Had only three strikeouts in 105 at-bats.
IF Cobi Johnson, Jr., Mitchell: FSU commit led the district champ and region finalist with .426 average. Also posted 1.68 ERA with 103 strikeouts.
IF Brandon Brosher, Sr., Springstead: Oral Roberts signee pitched a no-hitter and batted a team-best .451 during the best season in program history.
OF Kyle Tucker, So., Plant: UF commit led Hillsborough County with a .556 batting average and tied for first with nine homers.
OF Matt Piatt, Sr., Calvary Christian: Hit a gaudy .543 with 36 RBIs and 18 doubles.
OF Alex Hanson, Jr., Steinbrenner: Led one of area’s most potent offenses in batting average (.464), tied for first with RBIs (33).
DH Marcus Begg, Sr., Mitchell: Knocked in 35 runs while batting .420 with seven homers for 6A region finalist.
UTIL Corey Baptist, Sr., Seminole: Slugger had six home runs and a .455 average with 28 RBIs. Solid at first base and recorded three saves.
P Nick Eicholtz, Sr., Cambridge Christian
P Blaine Duncan, Sr., Pasco
P Jake Mielock, Sr., Countryside
P Jose Pupo, Sr., Leto
C Jesse Haney, Sr., Steinbrenner
IF Scott Withrow, Sr., Seminole
IF Tanner Williams, King
IF Cornelius Copeland, Sr., Lakewood
IF Josh Nissen, Sr., Land O’Lakes
OF Troy Strominger, Sr., East Lake
OF Diamond Johnson, Jr., Hillsborough
OF Johnny Karaphillis, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic
DH Cole Gordon, Jr., Steinbrenner
UTIL Zach Drury, Jr., Wiregrass Ranch
Coach of the Year
Todd Vaughan, Clearwater Central Catholic: The 25-year Marauders veteran had one of his better turn-around seasons. The Marauders were 11-15 last season but improved to 26-4 this year with a Class 3A state semifinal appearance. It was the seventh time Vaughan has taken a CCC team to the state tournament.
Alonso: Alex Faedo; Bloomingdale: Justin Ambrosino, Logan Crouse, Jamal Wilson; Brandon: Eric Hinostroza; Brooks-DeBartolo: Brendan Rivera; Calvary Christian: Nate Reed; Cambridge Christian: Levi Gilcrease; Clearwater Central Catholic: Derek Gibree, Brenden Overton; Countryside: Charlie Skantze; Dunedin: Aaron Chesson; Durant: Luke Heyer; East Lake: Brad Deppermann, Keegan Maronpot; Hernando: Trae Ratliff, Jake Johnson; Jefferson: Nelson Maldonado; Jesuit: Ryan McCullers, Vincent Miniet, Daniel Portales; King: Brandon Caples, Devon Pedro; Land O’Lakes: Zachary Whitaker, Jake Rawls, Dylan Harris; Largo: Steven Petrilyak; Mitchell: Eddie Goscicki, Chris McCormick; Newsome: Erik Dowse; Ryan Tauscher; Northeast: Bret Maxwell; Northside Christian: Hayden Peiker; Osceola: Keith Weisenberg; Pasco: Lane Stancil, Robbie Hanlon, AJ Rainaldi; Pinellas Park: Brandon Grigsby, Ryan Reinoso; Plant: Pete Alonso; Plant City: Kevin Long; Ridgewood: Joseph Hloska, Thomas Moschner; River Ridge: Jason Heinrich; Springstead: Ryan Nicoll, Will Pagan; St. Petersburg: Richie Rivera, Ian Smith; St. Petersburg Catholic: Max Geller; Seminole: Tylor Craft, Michael Mann; Tampa Prep: Luis Medina; Tarpon Springs: Shane Ludlow; Wesley Chapel: Chase Ingram, Turner Imhoff, Kyle Custer; Wiregrass Ranch: Ryan Girard, Austin Drury, Michael Campoamor; Zephyrhills: Blake Roberts