The 8th annual Florida League High School Invitational offers some of the best high school baseball matchups in the entire country. This year will mark the first time that the FHSI has extended into three separate weeks: March 16-20, March 23-27 and March 30-April 2. With 42 total teams competing over three weeks, this will set the record for largest FHSI in its eight year history.
Today, we will take a look at the second week of the tournament, known as “The Showcase”. Week 2 will be a 14-team pool play style tournament that guarantees four games for each school. This year’s pool of teams feature nationally ranked squads, future first round draft picks and two teams from California, as well as Florida.
Fans can expect scouts to swarm Sanford Memorial Stadium during The Showcase, as it features one of the top teams in the entire country in Olympia High (Orlando, FL). The Titans are the defending champions of the tournament, and feature a roster loaded with talent. A total of eight of their players are committed to play college baseball, including Juan Hillman, one of the top LHPs in the entire country and a likely early draft pick in June. Other Titans of note include: Michael Byrne (Florida), Kirk Sidwell (Stetson) and Cameron Montgomery (USF).
The Showcase is not just a one team exhibition, however. There will be many other elite teams and highly touted prospects taking the field. Orangewood Christian (Maitland, FL) has a strong roster that includes six Division 1 signees, headlined by C Jackson Lueck, who will be headed to Florida State. Pembroke Pines is coming off of a 19-5 season, and will look to compete for the title behind the play of Danny Rodriguez and Anthony Gomez. Trinity Christian’s Derek West has a live arm that has pro scouts drooling. Julio Medina of University High is a two-way star committed to play at Ole Miss. Coming all the way from Los Angeles, CA are the Windward Wildcats and USC commit Tyler McMorrow.
The Showcase will begin play at Sanford Memorial Stadium at 9 am on Monday, March 23rd. For a full schedule of the week, please click here.
The Deltona Wolves will make their FHSI debut in 2015. Head Coach brings a veteran group of players, including most of his starting lineup for 2014. Brian Rey, a junior shortstop, will lead the team offensively. He is ranked the #20 SS in Florida for the 2016 class and will attend North Florida. On the mound, look for senior Marc Colon and junior Zach Shinsky to help the Wolves stay in the game.
The Edgewater Eagles return to the FHSI for the first time since 2009. 1st year head coach Eric Brink will bring a veteran squad that has a lot of talent: “This year I am hopeful for a great season. We have strong leadership from our senior class who is hungry for success. As a team, we have a very high ceiling but we must stay healthy. This year our goals are to win the district title for the
3rd time in 4 years and move on to the state tournament after winning the region.” The left side of the infield features two top recruits in senior SS Jonah Garrison, a USF signee, and junior 3B Riley Hogan, who is a Top 150 National prospect who has verbally committed to South Carolina.
El Rancho Dons
We welcome the El Rancho Dons to their first ever FHSI. Head coach Frank Llanes will bring a talented, young team that features eight underclassmen in starting positions. The talent is there however, and the Dons are looking to compete for a division title. Hard throwing righty Vince Fuentes leads the young pitching staff, while Johnny Banuelos and Jesus Rojo will do damage at the plate. Runs will be hard to come by for teams facing this staff and defensively sound roster.
Flagler Palm Coast Bulldogs
Jordan Butler returns his Flagler Palm Coast Bulldogs to their second consecutive FHSI. After winning two games in the tournament last year, they will look to make a run to the championship. Coach Butler likes his team’s chances, stating: “We have a talented team who has the ability to compete with anybody. Lots of big bats in the lineup and good arms on the mound.” Josh Alvarado leads the team at the plate and in the field as a Top 30 IF in the state of Florida for the 2015 class. Sam Colasanti and Kenny Lewis will also chip in with strong bats. On the mound,
look for Brett Cain to throw some tough innings for the Bulldogs.
Florida Christian Patriots
Florida Christian will travel to Central Florida from Miami for their first FHSI tournament. Chris Brigman’s Patriots will look to repeat as district champions again in 2015, and will do so with a roster that focuses on team defense and speed. SS Brandon Chinea, a University of Tennessee commit, ranks as a top
50 recruit in Florida for the 2016 class and will use his wheels and glove to help the team. A couple of LHPs in Alex Nodarse and Frank Chacon highlight a strong pitching staff for the Patriots.
Montverde Academy Eagles
The Montverde Academy Eagles return for the 5th time to the FHSI. Since their debut at the tournament in 2011 with MLB prospect Francisco Lindor, the Eagles have fielded some great teams. Head Coach Tim Layden has high
hopes for his 2015 squad, led by the senior core of Gabriel Garcia, Bryan Scheker, Julian Quintana and Leo Rodriguez. In addition to the seniors, look for Ryan Williams and Josh Reynolds ot perform on the mound. Behind them in the field, MVA continues its trend of high caliber infielders. Shortstop Cash Case and the tandem of Ryan Williams and Julian Quintana will defend the middle of the diamond a look to sit atop the lineup this spring.
The FHSI welcomes Joe Nedoroscik and the Niceville Eagles to their first FHSI tournament. The Eagles are a well rounded team, with an emphasis on pitching and team speed. Trevin Eubanks, a senior RHP who ranks as one of the top 40 pitchers in the state, leads the team on the mound. Fellow senior Chance Riley and junior Will West round out a strong starting staff for the Eagles. On offense, look for Drew Frederic and Tyler Head to produce runs for Niceville.
Chuck Schall and the Olympia Titans return to the FHSI to defend their 2014 crown. Though they lost #5 overall pick Nick Gordon to the MLB draft, this team returns with tons of talent, and a Top 5 National ranking. Their amazing pitching staff is led by Top 10 National prospect Juan Hillman. He is joined on the staff by 5 more pitchers who will be playing college baseball in Byrne, Senich, Whitehead, Dorso and Dearing. If that wasn’t enough to strike fear into opponents, the
team also features two Top 50 Florida prospects in outfielders Kirk sidwell and Cameron Montgomery.
Orangewood Christian Rams
Scott Hiliniski returns his Orangewood Christian Rams to the FHSI for the fourth time in school history. The private school based out of nearby Maitland has been a baseball powerhouse in recent years, supplying both D1 programs and the MLB with young talent. The young Rams lost 13 seniors after last season, but still have plenty of talent to compete. The strength of the team is the battery, with two strong starting pitchers in Erik Keating (FAU) and Sam Lanier (ECU) throwing to a possible top 3 round draft pick in Jackson Lueck, who is committed to Florida State. The Rams are part of a tough district but don’t be surprised to see them make a good run into the post season as they attempt to repeat an appearance in the state final.
Pembroke Pines Jaguars
The Pembroke Pines Jaguars will make their debut at the FHSI in 2015. Head Coach Carlos Iglesias brings a district championship team to the tournament with aspriations of making it to state this year. Senior 1B Danny Rodriguez
leads the way on offense with a power bat that is headed to Bethune-Cookman next year. Keep an eye on th middle infield combo of Anthony Gomez and Alex Monge-Rodriguez as well. Michael Tang and Anthony Garcia will lead
the pitching staff.
Trinity Christian Eagles
The Eagles have ben a staple at the FHSI of late, playing in four of the past five editions. Despite being one of the smaller schools in the tournament, skipper Bryan Maples routinely fields a competitive team. Derek West is the ace of the Eagles’ staff. The senior RHP ranks as a top 50 player in the state of Florida, and a Top 100 RHP in the country. He is joined by Sam Brunnig and Trenton Brickhouse to form a solid staff. Offensively, look for Spencer Taylor and Jacob Bowen to produce runs for the Eagles.
Head Coach Frank Martello and the University High Titans will make their FHSI debut in 2015. From Coach Martello: “We are a young team that will do our best to compete and play the game the right way. We have seniors at 2nd (Vega) and SS (Acevedo) and sophomores at 1st (Vandehey) 3rd (Peden) and C (Molle). Pitching staff is well rounded with sophomore Logan Allen leading the way. Junior (Stevens) and Senior (Medina) will also start. Center fielder (Rutledge) is a fine addition from football and will lead off.”
The Viera Hawks and Head Coach Bob Doty will make their 2015 FHSI debut this year. The Hawks have a young roster on offense, but strong senior pitching. Viera’s pitching staff is led by Jacob Buck, Alec Neal and Sebastian
Samuels, all right handed pitchers. Offensively, C Alex Brait and youngster Christian Robinson will produce for the Hawks. Coach Doty is excited for the 2015 season, and thinks his team can make a deep run in the playoffs.