CINCINNATI -- The Ohio high school baseball season is right around the corner. Teams are practicing and games will begin March 25.
As usual, the Cincinnati area is deep with talented ballplayers across multiple classes.
Mason, which has won three of the past five Greater Miami Conference titles, is ranked No. 26 nationally by Baseball America in the preseason. The Comets have nine college commitments this spring.
“I think Mason is going to be a very deep team,” said JD Heilmann, scouting supervisor for Ohio and Michigan for Prep Baseball Report.
La Salle, the Division I state runner-up in 2016, and Badin, the Division II state runner-up, will also carry the spotlight early this season.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at nine players to watch this season. The list is based off input from area coaches, 2016 statistics and perspective from Prep Baseball Report.
(In alphabetical order)
Cole Ayers, Loveland: The junior right-handed pitcher is one of the premier players in the area’s 2018 class. The University of Kentucky commit is Loveland’s ace and can reach 91 miles per hour and has a good breaking ball.
Cal Conley, Loveland: The junior hit .417 with five doubles, 21 RBI and nine stolen bases. He is verbally committed to Miami (Fla.).
Sebastian Fabik, Moeller: The senior left-handed pitcher/outfielder signed with Ohio University. He was first-team all-GCL South in 2016. He hit .348 with six doubles, two home runs, 19 RBI and nine stolen bases. He was 5-1 with 37 strikeouts and a 2.67 ERA in 39.1 innings of pitching.
Lane Flamm, New Richmond: The junior right-handed pitcher is verbally committed to Xavier. He can reach 92 miles per hour on the radar gun.
Will MacLean, Mason: The 6-foot-4, 235-pound senior right-handed pitcher signed with UC in November. He had a 1.17 earned-run average in helping the Comets to a 2016 co-GMC championship. “We have three current players from Mason and they all understand the game and what it takes to be successful at our level,” UC coach Ty Neal said in November. “We feel Will has been a bit under the radar and think we have the best pitcher in the city joining the Bearcats.”
Brock Mathis, Fairfield: The senior catcher was named the Ohio preseason player of the year, according to MaxPreps. The Louisville signee hit .406 including eight doubles, three home runs and 16 RBI his junior season for the GMC co-champion Indians.
Evan Miller, Harrison: The senior right-handed pitcher is a Xavier signee and is capable of throwing in the low 90s. He won nine games with a 0.84 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 58 innings in 2016. "We had a chance to see Evan as much as anyone during the recruiting process,” Xavier coach Scott Googins said in November. “My takeaway from those outings is how well he can compete with his fastball. He has a big arm, but also shows great touch when he takes some off of his fastball."
Nick Northcut, Mason: The junior pitcher/third baseman was the GMC player of the year in 2016. He hit .425 with 37 hits including 12 doubles, six home runs and 29 RBI. He is verbally committed to Vanderbilt.
Luke Waddell, Loveland: The senior has started at shortstop and hit leadoff since his freshman season. He was Division I first-team all-state in 2016 after he hit .500 with 42 hits, including nine doubles, six triples, 22 RBI and 11 stolen bases. “I don’t think there is a better player in the city than Luke Waddell,” Heilmann said.
Others to watch in alphabetical order:
Micah Allen, La Salle: The senior pitcher helped the Lancers to the Division I state final in 2016. He hit .356 with 22 RBI and four stolen bases. As a pitcher, he threw 48.2 innings and had 25 strikeouts. He signed with Ashland.
Sam Dobrowolski, Milford: The senior catcher was Division I honorable mention all-state and first-team all-ECC. He hit .421 with six doubles and 29 RBI for the Eagles (28-3), who were a regional runner-up last season. Dobrowolski, who is uncommitted to a college program, is a middle of the order hitter who is one of seven starting position players returning. “He is an outstanding student and is considering a number of academic choices first and then see if baseball can work also,” Milford coach Tom Kilgore said.
Michael Hall, Mason: The senior catcher signed with Montevallo. A second-team all-GMC selection as a junior, he hit .363 with four doubles, a triple, 17 RBI and two stolen bases.
Trevor Kuncl, St. Xavier: The senior shortstop signed with George Washington. He was second-team all-GCL South as a junior.
Aaron Levy, Princeton: The senior infielder signed with Ohio University. He hit .310 with 12 doubles, six triples, two home runs, 38 RBI, 27 runs scored, 16 stolen bases and posted a .377 on-base percentage over the past two years.
Tyler McDonough, Moeller: The junior catcher is verbally committed to Missouri. He was second team All-Greater Catholic League South division last season. He hit .276 with 24 hits, including seven doubles, 15 RBI and 12 stolen bases last season.
Connor McMurry, Summit Country Day: The senior pitcher was the Miami Valley Conference co-player of the year last season and Division III second-team all-state. He was 7-2 on the mount with 81 strikeouts and a 1.56 ERA. A four-year starter, he is described as the “heart and soul of this team” by Summit coach Triffon Callos.
Kyle Music, Milford: The junior pitcher was 6-0 with 32 strikeouts and a 1.43 ERA. He is verbally committed to Kentucky.
Will Pfennig, Mason: The junior pitcher has offers that include West Virginia and Ball State. He was 2-0 with 23 strikeouts, three saves and a 0.36 ERA in seven games.
Wes Reid, Milford: The senior shortstop hit .481 with 11 doubles, 24 RBI and 11 stolen bases in 2016.
Jake Schrand, Colerain: The senior right-handed pitcher signed with Wright State. He had 48 strikeouts and a 2.60 ERA in 37.2 innings last season.
Kyle Service, Elder: The son of former Reds pitcher Scott Service, Kyle was second-team all-GCL South as a junior in 2016. The NKU signee had a 1.70 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 49.1 innings.
Cameron Swanger, Moeller: The junior first baseman/third baseman had 35 to 40 at-bats as a sophomore. He is verbally committed to Missouri.
Tyler Wardwell, La Salle: The senior switch-hitting shortstop signed with Duke. He was second-team all-GCL South last season in helping to lead the Lancers to the Division I state final. He hit .404 with nine doubles, 12 RBI and three stolen bases. “Tyler has surprising power from both sides of the plate for his size,” Duke coach Chris Pollard said. “He’s also a very smooth infielder with plus hands and a plus arm at short. Tyler’s certainly a good runner and his ability to generate offense from both sides of the plate makes him a very versatile commodity at the ACC level.”
Sam Wirsing, Madeira: The junior pitcher was 4-1 with 36 strikeouts and a 1.68 ERA in 41.2 innings last season as a sophomore. He is verbally committed to Wright State.