Optimism is high for most area teams as yet another high school baseball season gets underway. And as is usually the case, Tampa Bay is loaded with talented players this season. Here are 25 to watch.
RHP/3B Jeremy Adams, Sr., Osceola: Committed to Bethune Cookman, Adams will be the Warriors' ace and play the infield. He had 47 strikeouts in 33 innings and hit .314 as a junior.
CF/P Matt Adams, Sr., Countryside: Multi-talented player who can pitch, play the outfield and hit for average. He hit over .300 last season and was the ace on a team that won 19 games.
RHP Oakley Albinson, Sr., Indian Rocks Christian: A third-year starter, Albinson was 5-3 but had a 1.08 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 39 innings pitched. Expect the innings and strikeouts to increase this season.
RHP Jack Anderson, Jr., Jesuit: It's not easy for a sophomore to break into the Tigers' rotation, but Anderson was more than worthy. He was 5-2 with a 0.60 ERA in 58 innings pitched. Committed to FSU.
RHP/OF Colton Bierly, Jr., Wesley Chapel: A double threat at the plate and on the mound. Hit .394 as a sophomore. Also threw 55.1 innings and was 5-4 with a 1.90 ERA.
LHP/1B Julian Bosnic, Jr., Berkeley Prep: Was an impressive 7-1 with a 0.95 ERA in 44.1 innings pitched. Also had 84 strikeouts, second best on the team. Missed the final nine games of the season due to an ankle injury. Committed to Wake Forest.
RHP/2B Kaemic Brown, Jr., Boca Ciega: An offensive bright spot for the Pirates last season. Hit .373 in 26 games. Part of a solid junior class, Brown will hit third in the lineup.
LHP/1B Jordan Butler, Sr., Alonso: Times' Hillsborough County player of the year should be dominant again this season. He had an 11-1 record with a 0.54 ERA as a junior and also hit .406 with 27 RBIs and four home runs. Committed to Florida.
CF Jose Cadenas, Sr., Gaither: Had the highest average of all Cowboys' hitters last season at .398. Also had 11 RBIs and six doubles. A big-time defensive player who was crucial in Gaither's Class 7A state title run.
RHP/1B Conor Churchill, Sr., East Lake: At 6-foot-5, he is an intimidating presence on the mound. Throws between 89-91 mph, according to coach Zack Roper, and also has an above-average curveball. Will play first base when not pitching. Committed to Florida.
INF Tim Elko, Sr., Hillsborough: Top hitter for the Terriers last season. Had a .434 average with 26 RBIs, tops on the team. Also had some power, with three home runs and 13 doubles.
LHP/1B Jonathan Gates, Jr., Nature Coast: A dominant player on the North Suncoast as a sophomore. He hit .486 with 43 RBIs and 14 doubles. On the mound, Gates was 6-0 with a 0.56 ERA and had 98 strikeouts in 62 innings.
INF/P Graham Hoffman, Sr., Calvary Christian: Will continue to be a part of the pitching staff, but is perhaps more valuable at the plate and in the field. He hit .355 with a team-high 27 RBIs last season. On the mound, he was 2-2 with a 3.09 ERA.
OF Jordan Lala, Jr., Steinbrenner: Tore it up as a sophomore. Had a .448 average, and that included 22 walks. Also had nine doubles and a home run.
OF Robby Martin, Jr., Jefferson: Was the one player opposing pitchers did not want to face last season. He hit .403 with 21 RBIs and eight doubles as a sophomore.
RHP/SS Jakob Mattos, Jr., Mitchell: Has been the Mustangs' ace since he was a freshman. He was 7-2 with a 1.03 ERA in 61.1 innings as a sophomore. Armed with an above-average fastball, he had 70 strikeouts in 2016. Also had 17 RBIs.
LHP/1B Andrew Mills, Sr., Seminole: A three-year starter, Mills is mainly a hard-throwing pitcher. He threw 40 innings last season and was 4-3 with a 2.26 ERA. Also a capable hitter, mostly used last season as a pinch hitter or designated hitter.
C Dillon Morton, Sr., Bishop McLaughlin: Was hard to get out last season. Morton hit .438 with 30 RBIs to lead the Hurricanes. Also valuable at catcher and handling a talented staff.
SS Spencer Myers, Sr., Berkeley Prep: Coming off a junior season where he hit .460 with 13 RBIs and seven doubles. A slick-fielding shortstop, he is committed to Notre Dame.
C Michael Novak, Sr., St. Petersburg Catholic: Had a solid junior year, with a .358 average, seven doubles and three triples. He'll be placed in the middle of the lineup and also provides good defense behind the plate.
RHP/3B McCabe Sargent, Sr., Land O'Lakes: With the graduation of Kirby Osborne, Sargent will step in as the ace. He was 7-0 with a 0.47 ERA in 44.1 innings as a junior. Hit .384 with 16 RBIs.
LHP Jonah Scolaro, Sr., Durant: A power pitcher who ate up over 68 innings last season and had 127 strikeouts. He was 8-4 with a 1.23 ERA and will be the Cougars ace again this season.
RHP/INF CJ Van Eyk, Sr., Steinbrenner: Was undoubtedly the Warriors' big-game pitcher last season. He was 12-1 with a 0.77 ERA and helped lead Steinbrenner to the Class 8A state title. Committed to Florida State.
INF Michael Wu, Sr., Sunlake: A versatile infielder, Wu was a tough out last season. He hit .407 with six doubles and two home runs. Only struck out three times in 66 plate appearances.
RHP/INF Cory Yawn, Jr., Northside Christian: Florida State commit is a triple threat. He can hit for power and average (.477, five home runs), play shortstop and pitch. Last year he was a reliever with a 0.00 ERA in 22.2 innings pitched. This year, coach Raul Hernandez said he will likely move Yawn into a starting role.