Recruiting Notebook: Osbourn Park Frosh Shepard Commits to Hoosiers


February 27 - A.J. Shepard earlier this month became Osbourn Park’s second freshman catcher to commit to a Division I program before stepping on a high school field, announcing his intention to play at Indiana University.

The 6-foot, 175-pound backstop is part of the Yellow Jackets’ talented first-year tandem behind the plate, where he’ll compete for playing time with University of Virginia recruit Mason Balsis. Shepard is also listed as a corner infielder and outfielder.

He will become the first player from Virginia to suit up for the Hoosiers since Chris Behrens, a 6-foot-6 left-handed pitcher from Brooke Point who pitched at Indiana from 2001-04. Brad Edwards, a first-team All-Met selection as a senior at C.D. Hylton in 1998, pitched for three seasons with the Hoosiers prior to being drafted in the 16th round by the Baltimore Orioles in 2001.

As a member of the EvoShield Canes 2022 national team last year, Shepard hit .318 with 21 RBI in 31 games at Perfect Game events. He was 7-for-14 with five RBI to help the Canes win the WWBA 14U National Championship in Georgia in June, and went 8-for-15 with five doubles and 10 RBI over six games as they advanced to the semifinals of the Freshman World Championship in Florida in October.

Patriot’s Eikhoff, Briar Woods’ Cmeyla Shine at PBR’s Preseason All-State Showcase

Two of the area’s top juniors, Patriot shortstop and right-hander Riley Eikhoff and Briar Woods catcher Nathan Cmeyla, were among the top performers at Prep Baseball Report’s Preseason All-State Showcase earlier this month. The event was held over two sessions in Henrico and Ruther Glen.

Eikhoff, who has committed to the University of Virginia and is currently ranked No. 5 by PBR among the state’s Class of 2020 players, had his fastball reach 89 MPH and recorded a velocity of 85 MPH while throwing across the infield. The uncommitted Cmeyla, meanwhile, turned in the fifth-best pop time among catchers who attended the two sessions. His top time was recorded at 1.99.

Over 100 players participated in the showcase, which was attended by PBR and Major League Baseball scouts.

NCAA’s Recruiting Contact Period Begins on Friday

The five-month contact period for Division I and Division II coaches to contact high school underclassmen begins on Friday. College coaches have been under a quiet period since Nov. 16 - with a dead period from Jan. 3-6 - per the NCAA’s 2018-19 recruiting calendar.

During the contact period, Division I and Division II coaches can have “face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents, watch student-athletes compete and visit their high schools, and write or telephone student-athletes or their parents,” the NCAA states on its website.

A contact occurs anytime a college coach says more than “hello” while off the college’s campus. High school baseball players are able to take official visits to college campuses beginning on Sept. 1 of their junior year.

The contact period will run through July 31. The NCAA’s recruiting calendar does not apply to Division III coaches, who are not permitted to offer athletic scholarships.

Photo of A.J. Shepard courtesy of EvoShield Canes

Broad Run’s Wayt Shines at Under Armour Preseason Tournament in Arizona


January 25 - Broad Run’s Cameron Wayt homered on his first and last at-bats at the Under Armour All-America Preseason Tournament in Mesa, AZ last weekend.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound senior outfielder and right-handed pitcher was one of six area players to travel to compete in games and workouts at the spring training home of the Chicago Cubs from Jan. 18-20. He registered an exit velocity of 95 MPH on one of his home runs, one of the top velocities recorded at the event.

Wayt was one of nearly 500 players from 32 regionally-based teams to participate. Carrying a 4.0 grade point average and a 1450 SAT score, he has been accepted to attend the University of Alabama with the offer of academic scholarships and an opportunity to walk on to the baseball team.

Spartans coach Tommy Meier is hopeful Wayt’s success on the travel and showcase circuit this offseason translates to the field this spring after an inconsistent junior campaign in which he hit .238. “He performed great last weekend,” Meier said. “[Wayt ] is a gym-rat, constantly seeking improvement. He’s a great example for the younger players in our program … absolutely a weight-room warrior and puts on a show in [batting practice].”

The other five players attending from the area included Osbourn sophomore Alex Brown, Bishop O’Connell junior Eddie Eisert, Yorktown senior Ben Koomey, Paul VI Catholic sophomore Daniel Quintana and Riverside senior Carson Swank. Eisert has committed to play at N.C. State, and Swank, a member of the 2018 NOVA Nine Team, has signed to play at Yale.

The showcase event, which is sponsored by Baseball Factory, stresses instruction over competition, with daily sessions focused on hitting and fielding work with each team. Games were structured to change sides after five batters, with each hitter starting with a 1-1 count.

“We look a lot at how they can use those skills in the game,” Steve Bernhardt, Baseball Factory’s executive vice president of baseball operations, told Baseball America. “Can they really play or is it just an impressive workout? We also want good people. We want guys that have the makeup that seems to lead to future Major Leaguers … guys that are driven, have that work ethic, are coachable and are good teammates.”

The son of Dayton Moore, a former player and coach at George Mason University and the current general manager of the Kansas City Royals, was one of the top standouts at the showcase. Robert Moore, a switch-hitting junior shortstop at Shawnee Mission East High School in Leawood, KS who has committed to Arkansas, was named to this summer’s Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field in Chicago after his performance in Arizona.

Photo of Cameron Wayt courtesy of Broad Run Baseball

Recruiting Notebook: Mitchell Named to Perfect Game 17U All-Tournament Team


December 19 - Tucker Mitchell, an Oakton resident who attends the IMG Academy in Florida, has been named a Perfect Game 17U All-Tournament first-team selection for events held in 2018.

A senior committed to Florida Atlantic University, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound catcher hit .378 with a .491 on-base percentage in 39 games at Perfect Game events. Playing mostly with the Alabama-based Triton Rays, he had 13 extra-base hits - including three home runs - and 25 RBI in 112 plate appearances.

Mitchell played with the Ohio Warhawks/643 DP Cougars combined team at the WWBA World Championship held in Jupiter, FL in October. He was one of 18 position players named as a first-team selection.

Mitchell attended Flint Hill for his first two prep seasons before transferring to IMG prior to his junior year. He was among the state’s top-10 rated players in his class by Prep Baseball Report prior to transferring schools.

His older brother, Cooper, played at Oakton and later at Division II Florida Tech.

Prep Baseball Report Releases Initial ‘22 Class Rankings

Six area players were among the top 10 listed in Prep Baseball Report’s first Class of 2022 rankings. The rankings were released on Monday, and include players from Virginia and Washington, D.C.

James Triantos, a freshman shortstop at St. John’s (D.C.) and resident of McLean, was the highest-rated player from Northern Virginia at No. 3. Triantos committed earlier this fall to play at the University of North Carolina.

Others among the top 10 were St. John’s right-hander Jack O’Connor (5), Paul VI Catholic left-hander Bradley Gagen (6), Patriot lefty Eli Serrano (7), Osbourn Park catcher Mason Balsis (8) and McLean outfielder Griffin Stieg (9). O’Connor, an Arlington resident, as well as Gagen and Balsis have committed to play at Virginia.

PBR’s top-ranked player in the class is catcher Ethan Anderson from Virginia Beach’s Cox.

NVTBL Expecting Over 30 College Coaches at Next Month’s Showcase

The Northern Virginia Travel Baseball League and its Premier Showcase League will be co-hosting their winter college showcase for current sophomores, juniors and seniors on Sunday, Jan. 27 at the St. James Indoor Sports Complex in Springfield.

Coaches from the following schools as listed as confirmed for the showcase: Catholic, Chowan, Gettysburg, Hamilton, Hampden-Sydney, Hood, Johns Hopkins, Marymount, McDaniel, Muhlenberg, Patrick Henry CC, Randolph-Macon, Rochester, Shenandoah, Stevenson, St. Mary’s (MD), Ursinus and Washington (MD).

For more information or to register, visit www.nvtblbaseball.org.

Photo of Tucker Mitchell courtesy of Mitchell Family

Recruiting Notebook: Where Northern Virginia’s Top D3 Commits Will Play


December 11 - After advancing to the Division III College World Series last spring, Randolph-Macon College has continued its success on the recruiting trail this offseason.

According to the latest Class of 2019 state rankings by Prep Baseball Report, the Yellow Jackets have commitments from seven players ranked in PBR’s Top 200, including four in the Top 100. Much of the recruiting by the Ashland school’s coaching staff has been focused in the greater Richmond area.

None of the players in Randolph-Macon’s current class are from Northern Virginia schools.

The opposite is the case at Mary Washington and Christopher Newport, who have comparable classes based on the PBR rankings. Mary Washington has four recruits from the Top 200 state ratings - including Potomac Falls catcher Andrew Gerhart (168) and Paul VI Catholic left-hander Nick Ortega (200) - and the Eagles also have area commits in right-handers Noah Adcock-Howeth (Lake Braddock), Zach Adams (W.T. Woodson) and Logan Watts (Hayfield) in addition to middle infielders Jonathan Sedmak (Loudoun Valley) and Xavier Herring (Fairfax). The Fredericksburg school has 16 total recruits in its incoming class.

Christopher Newport, meanwhile, has four ranked in PBR’s Top 200, including Kettle Run right-hander Zach Ewald (73), West Springfield lefty and outfielder Alec Reilly (173) and Chantilly righty Connor Pennell (174). The Captains also have commitments from Yorktown lefty Aiden Henning, T.C. Williams righty Evan Waldner and Freedom-South Riding catcher Drew Caroline.

Roanoke, which is just two years removed from its own College World Series appearance, has two Top 200 recruits, including Fauquier lefty and outfielder Carson McCusker (82). Marymount also has two in the Top 200 - Paul VI Catholic catcher John Barrie (152) and Lake Braddock middle infielder Bobby Leitzel (167) - along with a third area recruit in Robinson righty and outfielder Max Henry.

Other Top 200 area players committed to Division III schools include: Jefferson lefty Todd Hartman (71) to Johns Hopkins; Spotsylvania righty Brian Baker (151) and George Mason righty Jay Nesson (163) to Washington (MD); and Highland School outfielder Dylan Fisher (170) to Lynchburg.

O’Connell Grad Liverpool to Transfer from WVU to UNCW

Will Liverpool, a 2017 graduate of Bishop O’Connell, is transferring to UNC-Wilmington after one season at West Virginia, he announced via Twitter on Sunday.

A 5-foot-11, 165-pound right-handed pitcher, Liverpool did not make an appearance in his one campaign with the Mountaineers. He was awarded a redshirt and has four years of eligibility remaining, and will play for UNCW as a scholarship player.

Liverpool earned first-team All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference honors as an outfielder in his senior season with the Knights, and earned second-team honors as a junior in 2016.

“Will has a really quick arm and loves to compete,” West Virginia coach Randy Mazey told 247Sports.com when the Mountaineers announced their recruiting class in November 2016. “With a year of size, strength, and development, Will could be extremely successful as a pitcher at this level.”

He will join a Seahawks program that went 39-23 and 14-9 in the Colonial Athletic Association last spring, when they won the CAA championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament under coach Mark Scalf.

Photo of Zach Ewald courtesy of Kettle Run Baseball

Perfect Game's Departure Opens Door for PBR at Georgia's LakePoint Facility


December 5 - The nation’s premier baseball facility is getting a new tenant, as Perfect Game has announced it will pull operations from the LakePoint Sporting Community after next summer’s WWBA National Championship tournaments and Prep Baseball Report will begin hosting events at the Emerson, GA facility next May.  

LakePoint is a 200-acre multi-sports facility that opened in 2014 with eight 90-foot artificial turf diamonds, three multi-use fields for soccer, lacrosse and football, 12 basketball courts, 24 indoor volleyball courts and a 170,000-square-foot indoor sports center. Other surrounding development - including hotels, restaurants and retail businesses - has pushed LakePoint’s price tag to $1 billion.

Area players and teams travel each summer to Georgia to participate in the national tournaments hosted by Perfect Game, which will reportedly now seek other venues throughout the state to host the events. Perfect Game is also building a 17-field complex on 128 acres near its headquarters in Cedar Rapids, IA, and hosts national events in Florida and regional events throughout the country.

Established in 1994, the organization had its national WWBA tournaments based at a nearby facility in East Cobb, GA for a number of years prior to LakePoint opening.

PBR, which has partnered with Rimrock Capital Management LLC, will move some of its operations staff from its headquarters in Chicago to Georgia. Launched in 2005, PBR now operates in 41 states with over 150 scouts forming the country’s largest recruiting service. PBR’s local affiliate covers Virginia and Washington, D.C. and has a three-man scouting staff: president Jerry Shank, scouting director John Nolan, and Richmond area scouting coordinator Jason Burton.

Other baseball tournament outfits could also utilize the LakePoint facility, according to its owners.

"[Perfect Game] will continue to operate their largest tournaments at LakePoint during the summer of 2019, but we are also excited to begin hosting other baseball tournament operators at our nationally recognized baseball complex,” said Dan Berman of LP Investments I, an affiliate of Rimrock Capital, in a story on Monday in Cartersville, GA’s Daily Tribune News. “We fully expect to sustain and grow our visitation as we move down this new path."

Rimrock Capital is driving the effort to revive LakePoint from the financial issues that forced LakePoint Land LLC and its subsidiaries to file for bankruptcy in June. That ultimately led to Perfect Game’s departure.

PBR has six events currently scheduled to be held at LakePoint in May and June, beginning with its Southeast Super Select for 13U and 14U players.

Marshall’s Kelley Commits to Pitch at UMBC


November 30 - Robert Kelley becomes the latest Marshall hurler bound for the Division I level, as the junior made his commitment earlier today to pitch at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County.

Kelley, who pitches in the offseason with the Marucci Stars travel program, made his announcement official via Twitter.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound right-hander went 3-1 with a 1.85 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 34 innings as a sophomore last spring, earning first-team All-National District and second-team All-Region 6D honors. He was the winning pitcher in the district championship game against Edison as the Statesmen (18-5) won their fifth consecutive league title. His lone loss came in a 7-2 setback at the hands of Chantilly in the region quarterfinals.

Kelley scattered three hits and allowed one run in seven innings in Marshall’s 2-1 extra-inning win over Madison on April 9, then had a career-high 14 strikeouts over six innings in a 5-4 win over Stuart on April 30.

“He gets a lot of swings and misses because he can throw whatever he wants in any count,” Marshall coach Aaron Tarr said of Kelley, who had his fastball reach 88 MPH this fall and also boasts a plus-curveball and an efficient changeup. “He throws strikes, the command is there. He was up to 88 [MPH] this fall … he’s a reliable 84-86 guy with a good clean arm action, and he can throw all day.”

Kelley will become the eighth Marshall pitcher since Tarr’s first season in 2013 to move on to pitch at the Division I level, joining Michael Evans (James Madison), Riley Cummins (Virginia), Will Brooke (Coastal Carolina), Jamie Handley (UMBC), Nick Cintron (Cornell), Steven Johel (Coastal Carolina) and Patrick Halligan (George Mason). Johel and Halligan were members of our NOVA Nine Team in 2016 and 2018, respectively.

UMBC has added five Northern Virginia players over its previous three recruiting classes, pitcher Cameron Taylor (Heritage), catcher Reese Varley (Battlefield), infielder Blaze O’Saben (Fauquier), pitcher Trey Shepard (C.D. Hylton via Walters CC) and infielder Dylan Wilkinson (Fairfax). The Retrievers were 22-29 overall and 12-11 in the America East Conference last spring under coach Bob Mumma, who is in his eighth year.

Photo of Robert Kelley by Jim Halling

A Look Inside George Mason’s 2019 Recruiting Class


November 29 - Lyle Miller-Green and Tyler Rulapaugh are among the five players inked by George Mason during the NCAA’s early signing period this month, and the Patriots could still add a player or two to their 2019 recruiting class.

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Miller-Green, the headliner in the class, is coming off a monster junior season at Lake Braddock and will have the opportunity to both play first base and pitch once he arrives on campus next fall. He hit .416 with five home runs and 29 RBI and recorded a 1.68 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 25 innings en route to second-team Class 6 all-state honors last spring. Fully healthy after an injury limited his innings in the spring, the 2017 Patriot District Pitcher of the Year had his fastball reach 89 MPH while on the showcase circuit with his Marucci Stars travel team.

“I found a school that thinks really highly of me and values me as a hitter and not just as a pitcher,” Miller-Green said when he committed to the Patriots in July. “I really like the coaching staff, and they’re a winning ballclub right now.”

Rulapaugh is part of a talented pitching staff at West Potomac, and is eyeing a big senior campaign after an injury slowed the 6-foot, 165-pound right-hander last spring. The two local players are joined in the recruiting class by Miller School’s Matt Sykes, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound left-hander who has a fastball that has reached 87 MPH, and two Virginia Beach-area infielders in Kellam’s Corey Leadenham and Cox’s South Trimble.

“George Mason is a great fit for me because of how the coaches care about you and developing you as a player,’ Sykes told Charlottesville’s Daily Progress after making his commitment in August. “I like the baseball program because of the winning culture it has established over the past couple of years.”

Sykes, who plays for former Major League pitcher Billy Wagner, commands a slider and splitter and comes with tremendous upside and potential. He was used primarily in relief last season - compiling a 3.50 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 21.2 inning as Miller School repeated as VISAA Division II state champions - but is expected to take on a larger role as a senior this spring. At George Mason, he’ll become teammates once again with 6-foot-6 right-hander Stuart Barrett, who tossed a two-hit shutout in the state final last spring against Steward.

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Leadenham, who also pitches, will graduate as a four-year letterman and has earned all-league honors in each of the past two seasons. Trimble, an athletic 5-foot-11, 170-pound middle infielder who has run a 6.90 in the 60-yard dash, was teammates with current Patriots pitcher Austin Cabone when Cox reached the Class 6 state final in 2017.

George Mason is coming off a 29-27 season in which it advanced to the Atlantic-10 Conference championship game, and is seeking its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2014. The Fairfax school has made seven NCAA appearances in coach Bill Brown’s 37 seasons at the helm.

The Patriots have 32 players currently listed on their roster, nearly half of whom are newcomers. They have nine incoming freshmen and four transfers, a group that includes catcher Devon Adams, a Paul VI Catholic grad who joins the team after two years at Old Dominion, and right-hander James Beasley, a Battlefield grad who transferred from Frederick (MD) Community College after previously spending one year at Hofstra.

George Mason will graduate nine seniors and could also lose two juniors - right-hander Jared DiCesare (Chantilly) and all-conference catcher Logan Driscoll (Lake Braddock) - who could be selected in next June’s Major League Baseball Draft.

Photos of Matt Sykes, Lyle Miller-Green Tyler Rulapaugh, Corey Leadenham and South Trimble courtesy

Warhawks' Southpaw Howat Will Pitch at William & Mary


November 28 - Madison senior left-hander Matt Howat committed earlier today to pitch at the College of William & Mary, Warhawks coach Mark ‘Pudge’ Gjormand confirmed tonight.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound southpaw chose the Tribe over several other suitors. He was the Pitcher of the Year in the Concorde District and a first-team Region 6D selection last spring after going 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA. Over the past two seasons, Howat is 11-3 with a 1.19 ERA and has totaled 112 strikeouts to 20 walks in 94.2 innings.

“The chance to play at a college that not only has great academics but a great baseball program is something that makes me eager to grind and be the best player I can be this spring and at the next level,” he wrote via text tonight.

Howat, who pitches in the offseason with the Marucci Stars travel program, becomes the latest in a long line of Warhawks hurlers to move on to the collegiate level. Since 2013, Madison has produced six Division I pitchers, with Howat joining Jake Nielsen (Brigham Young), Matt Favero (Brigham Young), Brian Eckert (Radford), Andy McGuire (Texas) and Dan Powers (William & Mary). McGuire was drafted in the 28th round by the Toronto Blue Jays this past June.

Gjormand says his latest ace, however, might compare most-favorably to another lefty, Jason Farley, who was the Washington Post’s All-Met Player of the Year in 2007 and later pitched at the Virginia Military Institute.

“Farley is a great comparison,” said Gjormand, who is in his 24th year as the coach at the Vienna school. “That’s who Matt probably most reminds me of. You’ve got to really work to get to Matt, and Jason was the same way.

“We feel like Matt’s going to be on the bump in a lot of big situations. Ultimately, with us, it’s can you take us into June? And we hope that Matt’s one of those kind of guys.”

The Warhawks went 15-7 overall and won the Concorde in their first season in the league in 2018, and will turn to the likes of Howat and senior outfielder Ethan Lipp after graduating Nielsen, second-team all-state third baseman Nate Leas and first-team all-state shortstop Kyle Novak, who was the NOVA Nine Player of the Year. Howat will be joined by two additional senior lefties who will pitch at the Division III level in Josh Gjormand (Lynchburg) and Zack Perkins (Washington & Lee).

Howat, who has had his fastball reach 85 MPH, has built a reputation as a pitcher with the ability to locate multiple pitches consistently for strikes. He had standout outings over the summer at the Perfect Game WWBA 17U National Championship in Georgia and again this fall at the Perfect Game WWBA World Championship in Florida, shining on both occasions in front of several college coaches.

“The biggest thing about Matt, he carries himself somewhat laid back until it’s time to compete,” Gjormand said. “But when it’s game time, he’s just got that mound presence. You can’t break him, can’t tell if he’s up five or down five, and that’s something you can’t teach.

“He’s very mature in how he handles himself.”

William & Mary went 15-39 overall and 3-21 in the Colonial Athletic Association this past spring under coach Brian Murphy, who is in his sixth year. The Tribe won the CAA and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2016.

Photo of Matt Howat by Albert Jacquez

Recruiting Notebook: Westfield’s Furr Flies at Prime Time’s College Showcase


November 20 - Westfield junior Derek Furr ran a 6.81 in the 60-yard dash to clock the fastest time among the 50 players that attended the Prime Time Baseball College Showcase on Nov. 10.

A 5-foot-10, 155-pound outfielder and left-handed pitcher, Furr’s time bettered the 6.91 recorded by Potomac senior Josue Cumba the previous weekend at the Prep Baseball Report Mid-Atlantic Challenge in Ruther Glen.

The best time recorded by a current Northern Virginia player is the 6.43 turned in by Sajon Belser, a senior outfielder at Riverside and College of Charleston recruit. That was clocked at the University of Oklahoma’s camp in August 2017. West Potomac junior outfielder Justin Bassett ran a 6.57 at James Madison University’s team camp in July, Riverside senior shortstop and Yale recruit Carson Swank clocked a 6.59 while at the Headfirst Honor Roll Camp in Florida earlier this month, and Colgan junior outfielder Ryley Johnson, an East Carolina commit, ran a 6.60 last year at a Sharks workout.

Furr’s performance at the showcase, which included a morning workout at Frank Mann Field in Alexandria and afternoon scrimmages at Barcroft Park in Arlington, also included recording an 80 MPH fastball. T.C. Williams junior right-hander Shane Tucker recorded the event’s top velocity, recording an 86 MPH fastball, and Oakton junior catcher Davis Kelley had the day’s best POP time - measuring the tie on throws from the plate to second base - with a 2.0.

“We were very pleased with the weekend as a whole,” said John Skaggs of Prime Time Baseball, which also held a recruiting seminar the previous night that featured Georgetown coach Pete Wilk. “The coaches who attended the showcase were pleased with the talent, [and it] gave local players an opportunity to show their skills to a multitude of college divisions close to home.”

Coaches from the following schools attended the showcase: George Mason, Georgetown, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Coppin State, the Naval Academy, Wayne State, West Chester, West Virginia Wesleyan, Hood, Marymount, Penn State-Harrisburg, McDaniel, Bethany CC, Bryant & Stratton CC, and Patrick Henry CC.

Mason to Hold Winter Showcase on Jan. 21 in Fairfax

George Mason will be holding its annual Winter Showcase Camp for high school and junior college players on Monday, Jan. 21 at the Patriots’ Raymond H. “Hap” Spuhler Field in Fairfax.

The camp will be run by Mason’s assistant coaches - Tag Montague, Brian Pugh, Tyler Nelin and Ryan Ricci - and will be held from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Campers are able to attend as position players, pitchers, or two-way players.

For more information or to register, visit www.billbrownbaseballcamps.com.

NVTBL Hosting Recruiting Seminar, College Showcase in Coming Weeks

The Northern Virginia Travel Baseball League will be holding its annual college baseball recruiting seminar on Sunday, Dec. 9 at Langley High School, and then a winter college showcase for current sophomores, juniors and seniors on Sunday, Jan. 27 at the St. James Indoor Sports Complex in Springfield.

Scheduled to speak at the recruiting seminar are three assistant coaches, George Washington’s Rick Oliveri, Christopher Newport’s George Fisher and Johns Hopkins’ Adam Schlenoff. And the NVTBL has listed coaches from the following schools as confirmed for the college showcase: Catholic, Chowan, Gettysburg, Hamilton, Hampden-Sydney, Hood, Johns Hopkins, Marymount, McDaniel, Muhlenberg, Patrick Henry CC, Randolph-Macon, Rochester, Shenandoah, Stevenson, St. Mary’s (MD), Ursinus and Washington (MD).

Both events are co-hosted by the NVTBL’s Premier Showcase League. For more information or to register, visit www.nvtblbaseball.org.

Photo of Westfield’s Derek Furr by Fred Ingham

Virginia Gains Commitment of Osbourn Park Freshman Balsis


November 14 - Mason Balsis has had an eventful fall.

The 6-foot, 180-pound catcher learned in September that he had made the USA Baseball 15U National Team roster for next summer’s team trials. Now, the Osbourn Park freshman has made a commitment to play for the University of Virginia, announcing his decision late last night via Twitter.

“So grateful and honored to announce my commitment to play baseball at UVA,” Balsis wrote on his Twitter handle. “I am thankful for my family, coaches and teammates for helping me get here.”

Balsis becomes the third area player from the Class of 2022 to commit to the Cavaliers, joining Paul VI Catholic left-hander Bradley Gagen and St. John’s (D.C.) right-hander Jack O’Connor, a resident of Arlington. The commitment of the three young players continues a recent trend of players committing to national-level Division I programs prior to making their prep debuts.

The freshman will turn 15 in January.

At Osbourn Park, he will play for coach Jack Ferrick, who has developed a reputation for developing catchers through his roles as a coach with the Yellow Jackets, the Marucci Stars travel program and the owner of his Prince William County-based Catchers U training academy.

“I have known Mason since he was seven years old, and he has always been a talented, humble and one of the hardest-working players I’ve had the opportunity to be around,” Ferrick wrote via text message this morning. “I’m looking forward to coaching him at Osbourn Park over the next four years.”

Balsis, who plays with the Stars, hit .467 with five RBI in seven games in June at the Perfect Game WWBA 14U National Championship. He reportedly recorded a 1.94 pop time (measuring the time between throws from home plate to second base) at the Perfect Game 14U National Showcase in Fort Myers, FL in August, then posted an impressive weekend at USA Baseball’s NTIS Champions Cup later that month en route to earning a spot on the national team.

Virginia went 29-25 overall and 12-18 in the Atlantic Coast Conference under coach Brian O’Connor this past spring, when it had a streak of 14 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances snapped. As the NCAA early signing period begins today for high school seniors, the Cavaliers are expected to secure a third straight Top 20 recruiting class.

Photo of Mason Balsis courtesy of Balsis family

Recruiting Notebook: The Mag's Ultimate 2019 Northern Virginia Recruiting Class


November 12 - Wednesday marks the beginning of the NCAA’s week-long early signing period for high school seniors to sign their national letter of intent to play collegiately on an athletic scholarship.

As some of the area’s top players prepare to make their commitments official at ceremonies held by their respective schools and training academies, the magazine has compiled its own Class of 2019 recruiting class consisting of 14 of the best Northern Virginia seniors.

Our class would begin with three returning standouts from the 2018 NOVA Nine Team, Battlefield shortstop and right-hander Zach Agnos, who has committed to East Carolina, along with Potomac left-hander and outfielder Brody Mack (William & Mary) and Riverside shortstop Carson Swank (Yale).

Agnos is the best all-around player in the area, and with the additional 10-15 pounds of muscle he’s added to his frame already this offseason, he could be looking at a monster season next spring. Mack saw a dip in velocity late this fall after taking on a heavy workload over the summer and fall, this after tossing an area-high 81 innings while leading the Panthers to the Class 5 state final in the spring. After resting up this winter, it’s expected that he’ll return to his post as his team’s ace and a run-producing threat in the middle of the order. Swank, meanwhile, has been Mr. Consistent at shortstop as the Rams have quickly become one of the area’s top programs, turning in near-flawless defensive campaigns the past two seasons while developing into an extra-base hit machine last spring.

Another two-way standout in our class would be Lake Braddock first baseman and right-hander Lyle Miller-Green (George Mason), who has tremendous upside on the mound and hopes to return to the form of his sophomore season, when he was the Patriot District’s Pitcher of the Year. Oh, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound slugger is also one of the area’s best hitters, coming off a 2018 season in which he batted .416 with five home runs and 29 RBI.

Also joining our incoming crop of arms would be Loudoun Valley’s Michael Grupe (Virginia Tech), Woodbridge’s Magnus Ellerts (Harford Community College), Woodgrove’s Nick Lockhart (Virginia Tech), and two more southpaws in Loudoun County’s Donovan Burke (James Madison) and Madison’s Matt Howat, who is likely to make his college decision from several offers at some point this month. Agnos and Lockhart have both been clocked north of 90 MPH, and Miller-Green, Grupe, Ellerts and Burke could very well reach or eclipse that velocity in the spring. Burke is a late-bloomer of sorts, primed for a breakout senior campaign.

Another JMU-bound recruit, Robinson catcher Ethan Rothstein, would anchor the defense from behind the plate. A 6-foot-4, 205-pound three-sport standout, Rothstein wields a big bat and could push for playing time immediately when he arrives in Harrisonburg next fall.

Agnos and Swank would be joined by two additional infielders in Paul VI Catholic’s Cortland Lawson (Tennessee) and Freedom-South Riding’s Ben Williamson (William & Mary), forming perhaps the strongest unit with the highest upside in our recruiting class. Lawson will be asked to take on more of the offensive load in the spring and could also see his role expand to include pitching duties, having flashed a fastball reaching into the upper 80s. Williamson, meanwhile, is perhaps the most versatile defender of the group and will hit atop the Eagles’ lineup as they seek a second straight Class 5 state tournament appearance.

The outfielders in the class, meanwhile, would be led by Riverside’s dynamic Sajon Belser (College of Charleston) along with Battlefield’s Carter Cunningham (Gardner Webb) and Stone Bridge’s Paul Moore (Walters State CC). Belser, the son of former NFL safety Jason Belser, has run a 6.8 in the 60-yard dash and will set the table for Swank next spring. Cunningham has gap power from the left side and hopes to bounce back after a disappointing junior campaign. In fact, the Bobcats’ 2019 outlook could swing on his ability to do so and provide protection for Agnos after Battlefield lost several key offensive players.

Moore, meanwhile, could be considered our gamble of sorts. A player with a tremendous upside and a physical specimen at 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, the left-handed swinging outfielder will have to take on more of the offensive load for the Bulldogs in the spring. Our bet is he ends up with a very good Division I program after his two seasons at the Tennessee junior college.

Panthers’ Josue Cumba Records Top 60 at PBR Showcase Event

Potomac’s Josue Cumba recorded the top 60-yard dash time at the Prep Baseball Report Mid-Atlantic Challenge on Nov. 4, as the senior infielder turned in a 6.91 time at the showcase held at the Virginia Sports Complex in Ruther Glen.

Heritage junior outfielder Nick Lampl was second among Northern Virginia players, recording a 6.97. Cumba’s twin brother, Julian, ran a 7.08 in the 60. The pitcher and third baseman was a second-team Class 5 all-state selection last spring. Both brothers remain uncommitted.

Elite high school middle infielders and outfielders can run a 60 in the neighborhood of 6.5-6.7. The best time ever recorded by Perfect Game was turned in by Mitchell Shifflett, who starred at Cosby in Midlothian and later played at the University of Virginia. He ran a 6.11 in 2009.

Woodbridge senior right-hander Magnus Ellerts had his fastball reach 88 MPH to top all pitchers at the event. Battlefield’s Matt Michel reached 86 MPH. To view the recorded metrics from PBR’s showcase, click here.

Howat Leads List of Uncommitted 2019 Pitchers as Early Signing Period Approaches

As the early signing period comes and goes, it will be interesting to follow the recruitment of several talented Class of 2019 pitchers that remain uncommitted.

The highest-profile area hurler that remains available continues to be Howat, the 6-foot-2, 170-pound Madison southpaw who went 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA and 73 strikeouts to just 14 walks in 57 innings en route to Concorde District and Co-Region 6D Pitcher of the Year honors last spring. He has garnered strong interest and several offers from Division I mid-major schools, and could make his decision soon.

Also available is Matt Michel, who is healthy again after suffering a back injury over the summer and has a fastball that has been clocked at 88 MPH. The right-hander, who was a first-team VISAA Division II all-state selection after going 4-0 and not allowing an earned run in 26.2 innings in the spring at Highland School, has transferred back to Battlefield for his senior year and continues to emerge under the tutelage of former Major League pitcher Shawn Camp, the Bobcats’ pitching coach.

Patriot’s Liam Fonner, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-hander, has consistently reach 88 MPH this fall and has shown improved command and consistency with his breaking ball. Others to keep an eye on include Fredericksburg Christian’s Joel Tarrh, Dominion lefty Dylan Weber, Riverside’s duo of David Setien and Gunnar Canary, Westfield’s duo of Danny Leo and Joe Clancy, and three lefties: O’Connell’s Peter Colevas, Yorktown’s Aiden Henning and Fauquier’s Harrison Whitt. Stafford’s Michael Tolson, who was previously committed to Old Dominion, also remains available as a potential two-way player.

Photos of from left to right, Battlefield’s Zach Agnos, Paul VI’s Cortland Lawson and Lake Braddock’s Lyle Miller-Green, by Fred Ingham

Recruiting Notebook: Virginia/DC Teams Sweep at PBR Mid-Atlantic Challenge


November 8 - Lake Braddock’s Bobby Leitzel went 2-for-3 and had a go-ahead RBI double in the Class of 2019 game and Battlefield’s Peter Benevides drove home the winning run in the Class of 2020 contest as the Virginia/DC teams swept three games from the Maryland/Delaware representatives at Prep Baseball Report’s Mid-Atlantic Challenge on Sunday in Ruther Glen.

Leitzel, a left-handed swinging middle infielder, provided all the offense the Virginia/DC team would need in the day’s nightcap as four pitchers combined for a three-hit shutout in a 3-0 win. Matt Michel (Battlefield), Gunner Canary (Riverside) and David Setien (Riverside) each tossed two scoreless frames, and Magnus Ellerts (Woodbridge), one of the game’s few committed players after accepting an offer to Maryland’s Harford Community College a couple days prior to the event, struck out two while earning the save with a scoreless seventh. Setien fanned three.

In the 2020 game earlier in the day, Benevides doubled home the go-ahead run in the sixth as Virginia/DC won, 4-3. Gavin Collins (Centreville) reached three times - doubling and walking twice - and Blake Fisher (Highland School) drew a walk and struck out two in a perfect inning of work. The day’s first game, featuring freshmen and sophomores, was won by Virginia/DC, 8-3, behind the play of Diego Barrett (C.D. Hylton) and Grant Hartman (Lake Braddock).

The invite-only event featured many of the area’s top uncommitted players in their respective classes and included a workout, batting practice and the three contests It was held at the Virginia Sports Complex. Reports from the games were provided by the PBR staff.

PrimeTime’s College Showcase Expecting Over 20 Schools on Saturday

Organizers of the college showcase hosted by PrimeTime Baseball on Saturday are expecting nearly two dozen college coaches from throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region, and the event sold out earlier this week.

Scheduled to be held in the morning at Frank Mann Field in Alexandria and in the afternoon at Barcroft Park in Arlington, the showcase will follow a recruiting seminar hosted by PrimeTime and featuring Georgetown University coach Pete Wilk on Friday night.

Players interested in registering for the recruiting seminar or being added to the showcase’s wait list can do so by contacting John Skaggs at jskaggs23@gmail.com. College coaches interested in attending are also requested to contact Skaggs.

College Commitments Heat Up as NCAA Early Signing Period Approaches

Many area players have made their college commitments in recent weeks leading up to the beginning of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) early signing period, which begins on Wednesday.

The magazine posts stories on players committing to Division I scholarships, and requests that players and coaches announcing those commitments contact us or tag the magazine’s Twitter page when a player makes his decision.

Players from Northern Virginia schools to commit to Division I programs this fall include Colonial Forge senior catcher and first baseman Jake Wortman, Paul VI Catholic freshman left-hander Bradley Gagen, Bishop O’Connell junior shortstop and pitcher Eddie Eisert, Fairfax senior infielder Dylan Wilkinson, Kettle Run junior pitcher and third baseman Joe Vogatsky, Loudoun County senior lefty Donovan Burke and Chantilly senior pitcher and shortstop Dylan Siesky.

There are an estimated 50,000 collegiate baseball players rostered by over 1,600 programs nationally each year. NCAA programs at the Division I and Division II level are able to offer athletic scholarships. Players also have opportunities to play at the NCAA Division III level, in the three divisions of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), and in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

Photo of Bobby Leitzel courtesy of Lake Braddock Baseball