Madison junior Kevin Abel was 9-2 this season with a 0.36 ERA. He struck out 103 batters in 772/3 innings.
Outside of one at the top, the 2016 MLB Draft was a major disappointment for the region’s high school players.
After the Philadelphia Phillies took La Costa Canyon outfielder Mickey Moniak with the first pick of the draft, 375 players were chosen before the second San Diego prep player — pitcher Andrew Brown of Granite Hills — was taken.
Another 410 players were chosen before Steele Canyon outfielder Avery Tuck heard his name called.
Finally, Cathedral Catholic shortstop Quinn Hoffman went to the Padres with pick 1,074.
One of the most talent-rich baseball areas in the country had four players drafted.
That doesn’t figure to be the case in 2017.
“Next year is San Diego’s year,” said a scout, who spoke on the condition he not be named. “It’s way early, but there were dozens of good juniors in San Diego this season. Those players will be seniors next season, and San Diego will be back on the map.”
The county’s top two players for 2017 are Francis Parker shortstop Nick Allen and Torrey Pines right-hander Kyle Hurt.
Allen ran a blazing 6.69 seconds in the 70-yard dash at last week’s invitation-only showcase, put on by the local coaches’ association at Poway High. He showed a plus arm, good hands and outstanding range.
“Nick is a special talent,” said Parker coach David Glassey.
Batting leadoff for the Lancers, Allen hit .469 with five homers, 12 doubles and 32 steals.
“He’s the best player in the county,” a scout said.
At 6-feet-3, Hurt is a big, hard-thrower with a fastball that sits at 91-93 mph.
Against Granite Hills late in the playoffs, Hurt threw a four-hitter with 11 strikeouts in a 3-1 Torrey Pines win.
“He’s the best pitcher we saw all season,” said Granite Hills coach James Davis. “He has an awful lot going for him.”
Granite Hills went on to win the Division I championship.
Allen and Hurt are the leading candidates from San Diego to be named to August’s Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park. Both are committed to play for USC.
San Diego rarely has more than two players in that game. This season could be different.
Madison’s Kevin Abel could be that third player.
Committed to Oregon State, Abel was 9-2 this season for the Warhawks with a 0.36 ERA. He struck out 103 batters in 772/3 innings.
The Area Code Games in Long Beach are the week after the Perfect Game All-American Classic. San Diego generally has five to eight players on the Milwaukee Brewers team at the Area Codes. That number could go up this summer.
“Kevin Abel is a special player,” said Madison coach Robert Lovato. “He has a bright future.”
Eastlake has a pair of special players in shortstop Ben Ramirez and third baseman-pitcher Casey Schmitt.
A rangy left-hand hitter, Ramirez has good hands, a great arm and a plus bat.
Schmitt has a strong arm. They did him a disservice at the San Diego showcase having him throw from right field and shortstop, then starting on the mound in a game.
Still, his fastball sat at 89 mph.
“He was impressive at all three positions,” said a scout. “With a fresh arm, that 89 would have been 91-92-93.”
Ramirez is committed to USC, Schmitt to San Diego State.
St. Augustine outfielder Nico Anderson was very impressive at the showcase as was Rancho Bernardo center fielder Tora Otsuka, the son of former Padres pitcher Akinori Otsuka. Both showed tremendous range in the outfield with plus arms.
While he didn’t have a good showcase, Rancho Bernardo outfielder Calvin Mitchell flashed huge power during the season, hitting 12 home runs.
He’s committed to USD as is Granite Hills utilityman Sean Ross, who was impressive.
“The 2017 draft should be a bonanza for the San Diego high schools,” a scout said. “This season was kind of embarrassing, but 2017 should more than make up for that.”
MLB DRAFT OUTLOOK
The following high school players, who will be seniors in 2017, are top prospects for next year’s MLB Draft (listed in alphabetical order):
Name, Pos., School
Kevin Abel, RHP, Madison
Nick Allen, SS, Francis Parker
Nico Anderson, OF, St. Augustine
Jacob Blas, SS, San Marcos
Alex Blaszyk, RHP, Poway
Trevor Halsema, OF, Madison
Kyle Hurt, RHP, Torrey Pines
Michael Mercado, RHP, Westview
Bennett McCaskill, C, Torrey Pines
Calvin Mitchell, OF, Rancho Bernardo
Noah Nunez, RHP, Santana
Casey O’Sullivan, RHP, Valhalla
Tora Otsuka, OF, Rancho Bernardo
Ben Ramirez, SS, Eastlake
Matthew Richardson, SS, Helix
Sean Ross, Utility, Granite Hills
Matt Rudick, OF-LHP, Scripps Ranch
Tate Samuelson, SS-RHP, Serra
Casey Schmitt, RHP-3B, Eastlake
Alex Verdugo, LHP-OF, Bonita Vista
Blake Wagenseller, OF, Poway
Alika Williams, SS, Rancho Bernardo