Preseason Baseball Top 20

PRESEASON BASEBALL

Records are from last season.

1. Gloucester Catholic (29-5). The Rams have won four straight state titles, and the nucleus of this team played on the Brooklawn squad that won the American Legion World Series in August. South Jersey's deepest pitching staff features junior John Murphy (8-1, 0.61 ERA), a Maryland recruit, along with senior Steve Mondile and his sophomore brother, Tyler Mondile. Senior shortstop Phil Dickinson (.448) leads an experienced and talented lineup.

2. St. Augustine Prep (22-7). The Hermits have a dynamite 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation in senior righty Joey Gatto, a North Carolina recruit, and senior lefty Zach Warren, a Tulane recruit. Sophomore righthander Mike Vasturia and sophomore lefthander Billy Chillari add to the imposing pitching depth.

3. Bishop Eustace (22-8). Eustace has a true ace in senior lefty Devin Smeltzer (8-3, 109 Ks), a Florida Gulf Coast recruit, and a strong No. 2 in junior righty Justin Hagenman. But the strength of this team is a lineup that features juniors Nick Browne (.383) and Chris Jones (.390) and senior Mike Krusinski, a Delaware recruit who hit five HRs last year.

4. Northern Burlington (22-5). The defending Central Jersey Group 3 champions are one of the state's most talented teams. Leading the way is senior lefthander Zack Gakeler (9-1), a Pitt recruit. Junior shortstop Tyler O'Dell is a top defensive player and leadoff hitter, and junior outfielder Ryan Shinn cracked eight homers with 42 RBIs as a sophomore.

5. Pennsville (23-4). The Eagles will be led by a loaded senior class that includes shortstop Drew Burdsall, who hit .438, and outfielder Eric Lankenau, who hit .370 with nine homers. Junior Josh Shimp batted .439 with 11 doubles. The team will get a boost from the return of senior Dylan Cummings, who missed last season with an injury, and the mound availability of senior Mitch Walker, who couldn't pitch last season because of an injury.

6. Millville (11-12). The Thunderbolts should have a fine first season on newly named Mike Trout Field. They have one of the Cape-Atlantic League's top all-around players in senior Kyle Cox along with senior Robert Rivera, a St. Augustine (N.C.) recruit, and another top infielder/pitcher in senior lefty Calvin Clark.

7. Washington Township (23-6). Washington Township will be led by senior righthander Mark Scarpa (7-1, 1.65 ERA) and senior outfielder Justin Sommerman (.397, 32 RBIs). Sophomore righthander Nick Evangelista is a pitcher to watch.

8. Burlington Township (16-8). The defending South Jersey champions and state finalists in Group 3 feature senior catcher Dave Viselli, a St. Joseph's recruit who batted .384, and senior outfielder- pitcher Aaron Crichlow, who hit .371 and went 3-1 with a 2.33 ERA on the mound.

9. Moorestown (17-9). The Quakers have two top players in senior centerfielder Dallas Clark, a Rider recruit, and 6-7 senior righthander Scott Zimmer, a Delaware recruit. A key addition could be senior Tom Gamble, a transfer from California and son of the Eagles executive of the same name.

10. Camden Catholic (19-10). The Irish have a potent lineup led by seniors such as shortstop Joey Craig (.373, 25 RBIs), a Monmouth recruit; first baseman Christian Bilan (.333); catcher Dom Messina (.311); and outfielder Albert Faiola (.369).

11. Audubon (20-5). Audubon has a strong top of the rotation in junior righthanders Wayne Test and Austin Tassi and a top hitter in senior outfielder Eric Schorr.

12. Cherokee (9-17). The Chiefs boast a seasoned lineup led by seniors Jake Powell (.288) and Troy Domenick (.364) and solid arms at the top of the rotation in Lehigh recruit Frank Rosetti and junior lefty Brian Marconi.

13. Cherry Hill West (17-8). West's lineup features one of South Jersey's top hitters, junior shortstop A.J. Wright (.455, 12 doubles), and veterans in senior catcher Kyle Bordner (.341) and senior outfielder Wilson Brickner (.302).

14. Cinnaminson (22-8). The defending Group 2 state champions must rebuild their pitching staff but have seasoned senior hitters in centerfielder Christian DeLuca (.381) and catcher Cody MacNair (.382, 21 RBIs).

15. Delsea (19-7). Delsea has solid pitching led by ace Bryan Dobzanski, a Louisville recruit, and including senior Eli Helsel and juniors Greg Avis and Joe Brewin. Senior Christian Cortese is a veteran catcher.

16. Cherry Hill East (8-14). The Cougars will rely on the top of their rotation: senior righthander Nick DiEva, a Stony Brook recruit, and senior lefthander Mike Brambilla, a Monmouth recruit. Senior outfielder Nick Ciocco is a St. Peter's recruit, and Jordan Friedman is a top defensive shortstop. Junior third basemen Jon Hansen is a player to watch.

17. Sterling (17-8). The Silver Knights feature an ace in righthander Donovan Casey (7-1, 0.11 ERA), a Boston College recruit, and a top shortstop in Ryan McGoldrick (.390).

18. Vineland (20-6). Vineland has a top infielder/pitcher in Johnny Malatesta (.457, 2.43 ERA) and strong hitters in first baseman Andrew Gee (.343) and catcher Jimmy Hague (.339).

19. Paul VI (14-14). The Eagles have a top pitcher/shortstop in junior Matt McKeown, a Delaware recruit who batted .347, and a top outfielder in Devin Ruiz, a North Carolina-Charlotte recruit. Senior catcher John Petrongolo (.317) and sophomore first baseman/pitcher Shane Kubrak (team-high 21 RBIs) also are players to watch.

20. Haddonfield (11-16). The Bulldogs will be led by senior third baseman Mike McLaughlin (.471), who already has 100 career hits, as well as senior pitcher/infielder Carter Fitcher (6-4, 2.80 ERA), junior outfielder Jake Thorndike (.317), and senior pitcher/outfielder Mark Ostbye (.313), a Virginia recruit.

- Phil Anastasia