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Pinellas baseball preview: County pitching's deep this season

East Lake senior right-hander Brad Deppermann is making the move from closer to starter this season.

AUSTIN ANTHONY | Times

East Lake senior right-hander Brad Deppermann is making the move from closer to starter this season.

East Lake coach Dan Genna will get no sympathy from rival coaches, but so far this season he is having trouble getting his deep pitching staff enough innings.

With four legitimate starters, the Eagles have the best luxury in baseball: too much pitching.

Senior right-hander Brad Deppermann has moved from closer to ace and has been dominant. But there is also RHPs Cameron Churchill, Ryan Wall and Steven Plaskett. And Genna said LHP Riley Choate has also emerged as a legitimate arm.

"Sometimes it's hard to find enough innings,'' Genna said. "If you have a two-game week, that's 14 innings and you've got four quality pitchers. That makes it hard to get all of them innings.''

Not a bad problem to have.

Pitching is the key every season, and in 2014 there are a group of teams with at least a top-notch ace, if not two to make things interesting.

Clearwater Central Catholic, which played in the Class 3A state semifinals last season, return senior righthander David Paul, the Tampa Bay Times' reigning Pitcher of the Year. Paul has won his first two starts this season.

"David has been a proven pitcher for us since his sophomore year," veteran CCC coach Todd Vaughan said. "Every game he's out there on the mound you think you have a pretty good chance. He's good at keeping his pitch count down, at least he has been so far this season."

CCC can also rely on No. 2 starter Michael Del Monte, who got plenty of innings last season.

Osceola has RHP Keith Weisenberg, a senior committed to Stanford who also could be a high MLB draft pick. Weisenberg drew 22 scouts to Tuesday's game against Pinellas Park, according to coach Stefan Futch.

"I definitely feel like when he's on the mound we have a chance to win," Futch said. "But then again, Keith is going to go against all the tough teams. Every night he pitches he's going to get every team's best."

Futch said Weisenberg reached the low 90s in five innings against the Patriots. He can also rely on RHP Buddy Dougherty, who had five strikeouts in two innings against Pinellas Park.

Then there is Countryside, which has two reliable starters in Charlie Skantze and Christian Townsend. Both were pivotal in Countryside's district championship last season.

Could they be even better this year?

"I'll let you know in about 25 games,'' coach Kemo O'Sullivan said. "But I will say that I'm very comfortable with those guys on the mound. They won't miss as many bats as maybe some of the other guys around here, but they'll throw strikes and they'll compete.''

Deppermann is one of those "miss the bat'' guys. He has a lively fastball and durable arm that are sure to keep the Eagles in every game he starts.

"He's kind of like (Durant's Tyler) Danish was last year," Genna said. "You get one run and you're feeling pretty good. You get two runs and you're really comfortable.

"He's just so reliable. He's the most in-shape player we have. He worked harder than anybody else in the offseason. He hit 92 (mph) against Palm Harbor."

Times' super 7

Records through Thursday.

1. East Lake (4-0): The Eagles are loaded. Aside from a deep pitching staff, East Lake also plays stellar defense and disciplined, station-to-station offense. Shortstop Keegan Maronpot could be one of the best all-around players in the area.

2. Clearwater Central Catholic (4-0): The Marauders made the state semifinals last year and are poised to do the same this season. Ace David Paul is back. So are top hitters Brenden Overton and Derek Gibree.

3. Osceola (3-1): The Warriors have three Division I players — P Keith Weisenberg (Stanford), C Michael Kleinman (Tampa) and St. Petersburg Catholic transfer OF Jacob McFadden (USF). Throw in Jaret Helinger and Abiezer Jimenez, and the Warriors are deep.

4. Countryside (4-0): The Cougars have the one-two punch of Charlie Skantze and Christian Townsend on the mound, and Mike Adams, Kyle Kania, Kevin Rosinski, Tommy Labella, Zach Taylor, Skantze and Townsend are all hitting over .300.

5. Calvary Christian (3-0): The Warriors have a solid lineup. RHP Daniel Broeseker and 1B Grant McDaniel highlight a team that should put up some runs this season.

6. Pinellas Park (3-2): Led by eighth-year senior Brandon Grigsby (just kidding), the Patriots should make some noise. Daniel McHenry, Richard Benn, Zach Roberts and Ryan Griffith will all be relied on this season.

7. St. Petersburg (2-3): Don't let the record throw you; all of those losses came last weekend in Tallahassee. The Green Devils boast a veteran squad with nine seniors.

On the bubble: Northeast, Indian Rocks Christian, Palm Harbor University

Key dates

March 24-28: Dunedin Spring tournament; March 24-28: Steve Georgiadis tournament (at Seminole); April 17: PCAC final; April 21-25: District tournaments; April 30: Region quarterfinals; May 14-22: State tournament (JetBlue Park, Fort Myers)

Players to watch

RHP/SS Brian Auerbach, Sr., Palm Harbor University: Auerbach, who hit .318 with 19 RBIs last season, already has six RBIs. He will be a threat on the mound and at the plate for the Hurricanes.

RHP Brad Deppermann, Sr., East Lake: The North Florida commit has one of the liveliest fastballs in the area and is the ace of a deep staff.

Sr. RHP/SS Brandon Grigsby, Pinellas Park: A four-year starter for the Patriots, Grigsby is the clear ace and also one of the top bats.

SS/3B Keegan Maronpot, Sr., East Lake: The Wake Forest-bound Maronpot is a solid three-tool player.

C Bret Maxwell, Sr., Northeast: Maxwell hit .405 last season with 18 RBIs and 12 extra-base hits. One of the best catchers in the area, he is committed to Florida State.

3B Brenden Overton, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic: A power threat for the Marauders who can also play the field. He'll hit in the middle of the lineup and make things miserable for opposing pitchers.

RHP/1B David Paul, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic: Paul remains the ace of the Marauders' staff, coming off a year in which he went 11-1 with a 1.37 ERA and 92 strikeouts.

OF/INF Richie Rivera, Sr., St. Petersburg: A versatile player who hit over .300 last season, Rivera is the biggest threat in a Green Devil lineup full of them.

OF Jacob Silverstein, Jr., Seminole: One of the few returning starters for the Warhawks, Silverstein already is hitting near .500. He is a speedy outfielder who should get on base plenty.

RHP/INF Charlie Skantze, Sr., Countryside: Skantze is already hitting close to .500 and will be relied on as a pitcher as well.

RHP/1B Tanner Watkins, Sr., Boca Ciega: Watkins is a hard thrower who had an ERA of near 2.00 last season. He'll take the mound in most of the Pirates' big games, and he can also hit for power, as his two-run homer against Countryside on Thursday proved.

RHP Keith Weisenberg, Sr., Osceola: The likely MLB draft pick and Stanford commit is a power pitcher who can thrown 90-plus.

Pinellas baseball preview: County pitching's deep this season 02/21/14 [Last modified: Friday, February 21, 2014 10:40pm]
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