For the 9th consecutive year, the Florida League High School Invitational will play host to some of the best high school talent in the country for one week in Sanford. The 2016 FHSI will cover two weeks of games, March 14-18 and March 21-25. A total of 35 teams from four states will compete in the event.
The first installment of the FHSI is “The Showcase”. Week 1 will be an 11-team pool-play style tournament. Ten of the top programs in Florida will compete, as well as Broken Arrow High School, traveling all the way from Oklahoma.
Dozens of players who have played in the FHSI have been drafted by MLB ballclubs. Three players … Francisco Lindor, Greg Bird and Javier Baez … have already made their MLB debuts, while more than a dozen others have been named All-Americans. Fans can once again expect scouts to swarm Sanford Memorial Stadium during The Showcase, as it features a number of pro prospects and some great teams. Though it is a relatively “small” school with a 3A ranking, North Florida Christian boasts one of the top programs in the country, led by Head Coach Mike Posey. In fact, MaxPreps named them the National Champion after the 2014 season. They come to the Showcase with a strong roster, bolstered by starting pitcher Cole Ragans, one of the top LHPs in the entire country. They return six starters from last year’s 21 win team, and add freshman Brandon Walker, a Florida State commit who is one of the nation’s top freshmen.
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) is a perennial powerhouse in Central Florida, and features junior Michael Spears in the outfield, one of the top players in the 2017 class. The Osceola Kowboys will make their FHSI debut with All-American Francisco Thomas at shortstop and top catching prospect Herbert Iser. The Barron Collier Cougars feature senior Marc Coffers, a Mississippi State signee.
The Showcase will begin play at Sanford Memorial Stadium at 9 am on Monday, March 14th. For a full schedule of the week, please click here.
Charlie Maurer and the Cougars return for their third consecutive FHSI. They will be chasing the title, after falling a game short last spring. Though they lost a number of seniors, the 2016 team still has plenty of talent on the roster. Marc Coffers, who had 6 RBI in last year’s tourney, is one of the top players in Florida and is headed to Starkville, MS to play for the Bulldogs. On the mound, senior John D’Amelio and junior Nick Geller lead a strong pitching staff. Coach Maurer thinks his team speed will help the Cougars win ballgames, and contend for a district title.
We welcome the Broken Arrow Tigers to their first ever FHSI tournament. Coach Shannon Dobson brings a young roster and more than 450 career victories to the Showcase. He says that his team strengths are speed on offense, and the ability to throw strikes. The arm to watch on the mound belongs to Declan Spurlock, who is ranked as the #7 RHP in Oklahoma for 2017. Look for 1B Colton Croft, who hit .485 in 2015, and C Mark Davis, the #5 ranked catcher in the state, to lead the offense.
Flagler Palm Coast
For the third consecutive season, Head Coach Jordan Butler will bring the Bulldogs to the FHSI. Last year, the team took home the 8A-District 1 championship, though they lost many starters. Still, Coach Butler thinks the team will have a bright outlook if they reach their potential. Leading the way are seniors OF Austin Massebeau (Daytona State), P Nik Bitner (Indian River State) and C Danny Rodriguez, who has a rocket arm behind the plate. Nick Zipf is a two-way threat to watch, showing plenty of pop with the bat and a solid arsenal of pitches on the mound.
The 2016 Florida High Seminoles have a young but talented team says Coach John Hollenbeck. They will be making their FHSI debut during the Showcase in 2016. Coach Hollenbeck has been the head coach for the past 23 seasons amassing 427 wins during that time. For the current team, he expects junior John Michael Jones and sophomore Brandon Mitchell to lead the way. Offensively, Mason Thornton, Tanner Godwin and Makel Young can all get on base. The Seminoles will compete in a strong district and look to fight for a chance at the 4A state title in 2016.
Lincoln High School will make their FHSI debut in 2016 under Head Coach Joe Vallese, who has more than 250 wins in his career. The Tallahassee school brings an upperclass heavy team, with thirteen seniors suiting up for the Trojans. The offense will be anchored by a trio of seniors in OF Dylan Carlson, OF Seton Bentz and C Bo Seccombe. Seccombe is one of the highest ranked catchers in the state of Florida. Coach Vallese thinks his team has what it takes to hang with anyone in the tournament.
Maclay was part of the original FHSI tournament all the way back in 2008, and we welcome them back to the Showcase in 2016. Head Coach Drew Sherrod brings a small roster full of potential. After reaching the regional semi-finals last year, the team is “on the rise” according to Sherrod. The 2016 squad returns seven starters from last year’s team, and is headlined by senior Max McKinley, a College of Charleston commit. He ranks as one of the top pitchers in the state. Look for Billy Grant and Tanner Stafford to contribute as well.
North Florida Christian
Mike Posey is a legend in Florida High School baseball, winning more than 600 games in his 30+ year career. North Florida Christian has turned into a powerhouse, and has enjoyed plenty of recent success, including state championships in 2011 and 2014, and a runner-up finish last year. The 2014 team was named the National Champion among small schools by Max Preps. The Eagles will look to add another title to the collection in 2016, led by senior LHP Cole Ragans. Ragans is ranked as the best LHP in the state of Florida and the 3rd best in the country. He is not alone, as the Eagles return six starters from last year’s team. Freshman Brandon Walker is another name to keep an eye on. Perfect Game has him ranked in the Top 15 nationally for the 2019 class.
Okeechobee is another team making their FHSI debut this year. The Brahmans are led by Head Coach Eric Kindell, and a deep pitching staff. Eli Finney and Jarred Morgan are both senior RHPs who lead the staff, and are headed to Indian River State college in the fall. A pair of sophomores are intriguing in the forms of Sean Osceola and Baron Stuart, both of whom rank in the Top 100 in the state of Florida for the 2019 class.
The Rams have been a stalwart at the FHSI, with this being their 5th appearance. One of the perennial powerhouses in Central Florida, Coach Scott Hilinski brings another roster full of talent to the diamond. The 2016 team is a young but balanced team that loves to play very aggressive with a pitching staff that does not allow many runs. They are led by Seniors Jake Leiffer and Jake Lefever on the mound, while juniors Michael Spears, an Ole Miss commit, and Jeremiah Davis boost the Rams offense.
The Kowboys are coming off a very impressive 26-4 campaign in 2015 that included a district championship and regional runner-up. Scott Bircherl is excited for his team as he enters his 23rd season as a coach. Senior captain Dallas Beaver leads the team from behind the plate, while Francisco Thomas earned Louisville Slugger preseason All-American accolades at shortstop and Herbert Iser is ranked as a Top 50 national prospect according to Perfect Game.
Palmetto Ridge will make the trek from Naples to debut in the 2016 FHSI Showcase. Kyle Mason enters his first season as head coach of the Bears, and will look to make an impact. He has a very young roster, though a duo of seniors lead the team. Catcher Alex Sweigart leads the team defensively, while Jose Rodriguez anchors the staff on the mound. Jeff Pelletier and Stephen Gomez are the bats to watch in the lineup