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Preseason OC Top 10

With the 2014 season just a few days away it's time to release the initial Orange County Top 10. 

The list is limited to Orange County teams and teams who play in leagues that are primarily Orange County leagues and is based on evaluation of teams during the fall/winter seasons

Here is how I voted for this weeks poll.

1. JSerra: The Lions have the deepest pitching rotation in the county led by UCLA commit, Quentin Longrie, and Texas signee, Parker Joe Robinson. Mix in Dartmouth commit, Clay Chatham, and standout freshman, Jack Owen, and the Lions will have the arms for the long season. Offensively, the Lions, led by Chase Strumpf (UCLA), Brady Shockey (USC), Jake Pries (UCLA), Sam Cohen (UCSB), Longrie, and Robinson, show no holes in their lineup. Freshman Royce Lewis and sophomore Davis Wendzel will battle it out at third base with the recent transfer of Blake Burton. Lyle Lin provides quality depth for the Lions at multiple positions. 

2. Huntington Beach: The expectations are high for the Oilers as they return just about everyone from last years team that made it to the second round of the CIF Playoffs. Junior pitcher, Noah Davis (UCSB), is fully healthy and is the ace of a good rotation that also features Sean O’Toole (St. Mary’s). Offensively the Oilers lineup is stacked with likes of Jessie Kuet (Stanford), Logan Pouelsen (UCLA), Tyler Murray, Hagen Danner (UCLA), and Jake Brodt (Santa Clara). You can expect to see Pouelsen and Danner on the mound too.

3. Los Alamitos: The Griffins are loaded on the mound this year led by senior Jake Nix (UCLA), who many believe will be high round MLB draft pick in June and features a 92-94 MPH fastball. But Los Al is not a one-man show. Darren McCaughan (Long Beach State) and Kyle Mora (UCLA) provide the Griffins good depth on the mound. There are some questions offensively for Los Al, but the consensus is they have enough hitting to go with their great pitching to win a lot of games.

4. Aliso Niguel: Everyone knows about Kyle Molnar (UCLA) and his mid-90’s fastball and wipeout slider, but the Wolverines look like a complete team this season thanks in part to a quality lineup that features some big hitters. Blake Sabol, Domenic Colacchio (SDSU), Anthony Sommer (UC San Diego), and Justin Fowler (Dartmouth) all provide Aliso Niguel with power and consistency in their lineup. The schedule, playing in the NHSI and The Boras Classic in back-to-back weeks, could take its toll later in the season.

5. San Clemente: The Tritons return some nice pieces from last season with their minds set on a league championship. Kolby Allard (Cal State Fullerton) is one of the best LHP in the county. Lucas Herbert (UCLA) is a line drive or home run waiting to happen. Kent Burckle, Trevor Beard, and Tanner Lawson all provide quality hitters for the Tritons. Don’t sleep on Andrew Sim, if he can fully recover from Tommy John surgery he'll be a nice addition late in the season. 

6. Cypress: The defending CIF Division II champs are back and should once again compete for league and postseason championships. Trevor Hall (Long Beach State) and Joe Mercado (St. Mary’s) provide the Centurions a solid 1-2 punch on the mound. Elijah Skipps (Arizona), Brandon Alamo (Cal State Fullerton), Dominic Fletcher, and Mikhail Izraylev all provide the offense with power and consistency. Remember the name, Isaiah Parra, the freshman shortstop looks to be the next in a long line of stars for Cypress.

7. Orange Lutheran: The Lancers are replacing some important pieces with guys who’ve been in the program but don’t necessarily have the experience. Josh Morgan (UCLA) is arguably the best shortstop in the county and expected to be a high pick in the MLB draft come June. Garret King (Nebraska) is a three-year starter and leads a talented, yet inexperienced, pitching rotation. Lance Simpson (Westmont), Cole Spear, and Toby Dunlap will all have a chance to show their stuff on the mound. Joey Sanchez (Long Beach State), Bobby Fulkerson, Tristan Hanoian, Josh Bissonnette, and transfer, Garrett Calvert, all provide good depth in the lineup.

8. Mater Dei: The Monarchs have a ton of questions coming into 2014, but the coaching staff feels they have the players to provide the right answers. Senior Charlie Vorsheck (Notre Dame) and freshman, Nick Pratto (USC), lead a pitching staff that lacks the depth of last season. There is some inexperienced talent behind those two which will need to step up. Brandon Perez (Oregon), Josh Stephen (USC), David Clawson (BYU), Brian Call, and freshman Jonathan Schiffer all provide a presence at the plate. Look for junior Austin Reyes to emerge as a bona-fide standout for the Monarchs this season.

9. El Dorado: The Golden Hawks look to be the favorites in the Century League with a deep lineup that features multi-year starters Nate Alam, Nathan Rodriguez (Arkansas), Julian Romo, and Austin Fresquez. On the mound, El Dorado will need to shore up the number two starter role to compliment Nick Sprengel (USD). This is a team that’s heavy on upperclassmen that have been in the program and the expectations are high.

10. Fountain Valley: Led by power hitting first baseman, Brock Lundquist (Long Beach State), slick fielding shortstop, Daniel Patzlaff (Oregon), first team all-league OF, Dillon Persinger, and co-rookie of the year winner OF/P, Justin Cobb, the Barons look to defend their title in the uber tough Sunset League. After winning 20 of their first 21 in 2013, the Barons will need some inexperienced pitchers to step up if they are to repeat. The offense should be able to score runs in bunches, but pitching will be a cause of concern.

Others: Santa Margarita, Mission Viejo, Trabuco Hills, Tesoro, Laguna Beach, Servite, Edison, Capo Valley, Dana Hills, Canyon

--Les Lukach
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