POWERADE Arizona Baseball Rankings: Final

May, 16, 2012
After games ending Saturday, May 12

NOTE: These are the final POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings of the season.

The season is over and the state champions have been crowned. Sunnyslope, who had been the No. 1 team for the last few weeks, confirmed our faith in the team by winning the Division II state championship and locked down the final No. 1 ranking in the POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings. Other state champs include Chaparral (Division I), River Valley (Division III) and St. David (Division IV). Congratulations to all of the state champions.

1. Sunnyslope (28-4-1) Last week: No. 1

2. Chaparral (28-7) Last week: No. 3

3. Brophy Prep (25-9) Last week: No. 2

Click here for the full POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings.

POWERADE Arizona Baseball Rankings: Week 9

May, 8, 2012
After games ending Saturday, May 5

At around this time next week, we'll have a state champion. With state tournaments in their final games this week and weekend, several teams are just a few wins away from bringing home some hardware, while others are simply hoping to stay alive and keep moving on. Our new No. 1 is Sunnyslope, a team just two wins away from a state championship but facing a very difficult semifinal game against Saguaro, which has moved up to No. 4 and is playing its base baseball at the right time. But there's still a lot to be settled in the coming days, so check back next week.

1. Sunnyslope (26-4-1) Last week: No. 3

2. Brophy Prep (23-7) Last week: No. 4

3. Chaparral (25-7) Last week: No. 6

Click here for the full POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings.

Love of the game drives No. 9 prospect Nay

May, 4, 2012

For all of senior Mitch Nay’s accomplishments during his high school days, the one he remembers most fondly is a loss.

Nay’s spectacular junior season helped his Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) Huskies reach the Class 5A, Division I baseball title game against Mountain Pointe (Phoenix, Ariz.). The fourth-seeded Huskies battled hard but dropped a heartbreaking game, 7-6, in eight innings.

For many athletes, a loss like that would be devastating. For Nay, it was exhilarating.

“That’s something I’ll always remember,” he said. “It was a great game. It went to extra innings, and we ended up losing, but it was still the most fun I’ve ever had playing the game. I’m with my best friends, against good competition, it was back and forth for seven innings, and the whole atmosphere was great.”

Baseball can be a grind more than a game for top recruits. Yet for the nation’s No. 9 prospect in the ESPN 100, a childlike appreciation of the sport helps him stay grounded, all the while proving why the Arizona State signee has a chance to be selected in the early rounds of this June’s MLB draft.

“He’s performing very well for us,” said Hamilton head coach Mike Woods. “When you factor in that he’s having to deal with all of the pressures of the scrutiny, where he’s going to be drafted, everybody watching, and teams not giving him much to hit, he’s doing super.”

For Nay, the last part — teams not giving him much to hit — has been the toughest. Last season, the third baseman hit .495, cracked 14 home runs and added 54 RBIs. This season, those numbers are down because teams are staying away from the powerful senior star.

“It’s actually been really tough,” Nay said. “It’s taken some getting used to. Sometimes you get in that zone where you’re sure they won’t throw you a strike, and then you get a pitch to hit and you won’t be ready. In the beginning of the season, I was really aggressive. I was not swinging at good pitches. It’s definitely been an adjustment.”

His patience at the plate has been a big improvement this season. So has his work ethic. Nay says it wasn’t until last summer that he really understood his talent on the diamond could take him places — places beyond even the college level.

Since then, he’s been a gym rat, constantly working out, taking his batting practice sessions more seriously and studying every aspect of his approach at the plate.

“He had a huge swing over the last couple of years," Woods said, "but he’s refining it, shortened it, and he’s gotten it under control.”

Nay says that longer swing reared its ugly head again at the start of this season. So he headed to the film room and watched a tournament from last summer, when he felt his swing was more repeatable. He made some adjustments, and the results — including five home runs in the last two weeks of the regular season — spoke for themselves.

Nay’s offense is what attracts scouts and sold Arizona State. But it’s his defense that keeps them watching. While ESPN senior baseball analyst Keith Law believes Nay will eventually shift to the outfield, Woods disagrees.

“He looks like a professional third baseman,” the coach says. “He’s got a major league arm right now across the diamond. He’s got more work to do defensively — everyone does — but he could play at that level defensively.”

It may not be long until we see Nay at that level. The senior says he’s unsure about his next step, and it will depend on where he’s selected in the MLB draft. He says all but two or three MLB teams have visited his home or showed up at his games, and a few have shown particularly strong interest.

For Nay, there are benefits to either side of the equation. He’s long dreamed of playing professionally, but he doesn’t want to rush it, either. And the allure of Arizona State is strong.

“I’ve always wanted to go to ASU,” he says. “The college lifestyle would be a lot of fun. And I’d still probably get to the majors from there. If it’s pro, it’s pro, but if it’s ASU, I’d be glad to go there for three years. I’ll figure it out.”

“He’s got a lot of people in his ear about what’s next,” Woods adds. “No matter what he decides, I’m sure he’ll be successful.”

Nay isn’t all baseball, all the time. Woods says his star hitter is also a star student. He’s got a grade-point average well above 4.0, and it took years for many of his teachers to realize he was a baseball player, much less the nation’s second-ranked third baseman.

And now, with the biggest summer of his life ahead of him, Nay isn't altering his fun-loving approach.

“It’s been a learning process,” he said. “I’ve never had this many eyes on me before. It’s taken some getting used to. But no matter how many eyes are on me, the game is still the game.”

POWERADE Arizona Baseball Rankings: Week 8

May, 1, 2012
After games ending Saturday, April 28

The regular season came to a close last week and all of our top teams took care of business. With the postseason getting started in earnest Tuesday, all teams will be in action and ready to take on some tough challengers. You'll note that our rankings are much different than these teams' actual seeds thanks to a controversial power points system that takes multiple factors into account (seemingly everything except record). But now the power points don't matter; the last team standing wins. Check back next week to see who's still alive and who's suffered an early exit.

1. Liberty (18-3) Last week: No. 1

2. Sunrise Mountain (23-5) Last week: No. 2

3. Sunnyslope (22-4-1) Last week: No. 3

Click here for the full POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings.

POWERADE Arizona Baseball Rankings: Week 7

April, 24, 2012
After games ending Saturday, April 21

With just a handful of games remaining until the postseason begins, we aren't making any changes to the POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings this week. Quite frankly, we didn't need to. It looks like the state's top teams are finely tuned and ready for the state tournament to begin. Good timing; the tourney begins in earnest in just a few days. Liberty is our new top team, but the Lions will have plenty of competition in Division II. Brophy Prep looks dangerous in Division I, but there's a host of teams hoping to have a say in the matter. As the playoffs get going, check back for updates to see how these teams fare in the run to the state crown.

1. Liberty (17-3) Last week: No. 7

2. Sunrise Mountain (22-5) Last week: No. 1

3. Sunnyslope (21-4-1) Last week: No. 2

Click here for the full POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings.

POWERADE Arizona Baseball Rankings: Week 6

April, 17, 2012
After games ending Saturday, April 14

Statistically, it wasn't the best week for Sunrise Mountain, the top team in the POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings. But a huge 16-2 win over James River (Midlothian, Va.), then ranked No. 20 in the nation in the POWERADE FAB 50, opened some eyes and showed the rest of the country that the Mustangs are for real. Elsewhere, Sunnyslope moved into the No. 2 spot thanks to a 3-0 week, Brophy Prep dispatched of some fellow top 10 schools to earn the No. 4 slot, and Verrado -- and its impressive 20-2 record -- joins the rankings this week.

1. Sunrise Mountain (19-5) Last week: No. 1

2. Sunnyslope (19-3-1) Last week: No. 3

3. Chaparral (18-6) Last week: No. 2

Click here for the full POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings.

POWERADE Arizona Baseball Rankings: Week 5

April, 10, 2012
After games ending Saturday, April 7

Very few teams have stayed unblemished over the last week, making this week's POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings particularly tough to measure. Most teams have stayed afloat, but even the top teams have lost here and there, which is liable to happen in a state with as much baseball talent as this one. Sunrise Mountain has held on to our top spot with Chaparral close behind, but watch out for Brophy Prep, which rises three spots to No. 7 thanks to a brilliant power performance to this point in the year.

1. Sunrise Mountain (17-3) Last week: No. 1

2. Chaparral (16-5) Last week: No. 2

3. Sunnyslope (16-3-1) Last week: No. 4

Click here for the full POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings.

POWERADE Arizona Baseball Rankings: Week 4

April, 4, 2012
After games ending Monday, April 2

It's early, but there's a new No. 1 in our POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings. Sunrise Mountain, winners of 14 of their first 16 contests to open the young season, have claimed the top spot, overtaking Hamilton. The Huskies' back-to-back losses dropped the former state leaders to third, while Chaparral rose three spots to take over the No. 2 spot. We also welcome two new teams to the fray in Mesquite and St. Mary's, and the way those two teams are playing, they may not be leaving anytime soon.

1. Sunrise Mountain (14-2) Last week: No. 3

2. Chaparral (15-4) Last week: No. 5

3. Hamilton (13-5) Last week: No. 1

Click here for the full POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings.

POWERADE Arizona Baseball Rankings: Week 3

March, 28, 2012
After games ending Monday, March 26

Some of the state's top teams are starting to pull away from the pack in the third week of our POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings. Hamilton had an impressive week, winning over strong opponents to stay atop our rankings, but Saguaro continues to mount a charge and make a run at the state's No. 1 ranking. Other teams want to get into the discussion is well, including four squads with only four losses on the year (Sunrise Mountain, Sunnyslope, Sabino and Estrella Foothills). And don't sleep on new top 10 team Sabino, which might be the hottest team in the state right now.

1. Hamilton (13-3) Last week: No. 1

2. Saguaro (14-3) Last week: No. 2

3. Sunrise Mountain (12-2) Last week: No. 3

Click here for the full POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings.

POWERADE Arizona Baseball Rankings: Week 2

March, 21, 2012
After games ending Monday, March 19

Hamilton stays at the top in this week's iteration of our POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings. But that's about all that stayed constant as several other teams bounced around across our rankings. Hamilton, which is Arizona's lone squad in both the POWERADE FAB 50 and the POWERADE West Regional rankings, was 2-1 this past week. But there are plenty of teams that look poised to make a run at the Huskies. Saguaro, now 12-3 on the season, is playing some stellar baseball despite a tough early-season slate. And watch out for one-loss teams such as Sunrise Mountain and Sunnyslope.

1. Hamilton (9-2) Last week: No. 1

2. Saguaro (12-3) Last week: No. 4

3. Sunrise Mountain (9-1) Last week: No. 5

Click here for the full POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings.

MLB Draft Stock Watch: High School Look

March, 16, 2012
Mitch NayMike Janes/Four Seam Images via AP ImagesHamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) senior third baseman Mitch Nay has seen his MLB draft stock rise thanks to a strong start to the 2012 season.
Jason A. Churchill, who covers the MLB draft for ESPN Insider, looks at the high school senior baseball prospects who’ve either helped or hurt their draft stock early in the 2012 season.

The Class of 2012 high school baseball class is one of great promise. While it might lack polish at the top, it offers a lot of projectable, star-level athletes with high ceilings. This class, however, won’t sort itself out until late April and May. From our rough sketch of the top 20 high school prospects that was compiled during the preseason (see below), we’ll look at who’s improving their stock and who’s fading in the early going.

Preseason Top 20

1. Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
2. Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County (Baxley, Ga.)
3. Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico Academy (Gurabo, Puerto Rico)
4. Walker Weickel, RHP, Olympia (Orlando, Fla.)
5. Max Fried, LHP, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
6. Matt Smoral, LHP, Solon (Ohio)
7. Stryker Trahan, C, Acadiana (Lafayette, La.)
8. Joey Gallo, 1B, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
9. Gavin Cecchini, SS, Barbe (Lake Charles, La.)
10. David Dahl, OF, Oak Mountain (Birmingham, Ala.)
11. Lucas Sims, RHP, Brookwood (Snellville, Ga.)
12. Hunter Virant, LHP, Camarillo (Calif.)
13. Rio Ruiz, 3B, Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.)
14. Zach Eflin, RHP, Hagerty (Oviedo, Fla.)
15. Clint Coulter, C, Union (Camas, Wash.)
16. Courtney Hawkins, OF, Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas)
17. Addison Russell, SS, Pace (Fla.)
18. Carson Kelly, 3B, Westview (Portland, Ore.)
19. Tanner Rahier, SS, Palm Desert (Calif.)
20. Corey Seager, 3B, Northwest Cabarrus (Concord, N.C.)


Mitch Nay, 3B/OF, Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.)
Nay, Arizona's top prep prospect, has a shot to shoot up the charts with more performances like this week's outing when he went deep to right-center -- the opposite field for Nay, who’s a right-handed batter -- for a three-run homer.

Ty Buttrey, RHP, Providence (Charlotte, N.C.)
Buttrey touched 95 mph on the radar gun last week and sat firmly in the low-90s. He fanned 12 in 5.2 innings in one start and offers projection at 6-foot-6 and just over 200 pounds. He’s committed to Arkansas, but he could move up into first-day consideration.

In his latest start, Eflin, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound Central Florida commit, tossed six hitless frames and struck out 12. He has 29 strikeouts in 15 innings on the season, using a 90-94 mph fastball and a potentially plus curveball. He has yet to allow an earned run.

Weickel, already a potential top 10 pick and a Miami commit, whiffed 10 in his start last week and has scouts drooling over what might be in a few years. "Sometimes I get lost and imagine him four years down the line," said an area scout. "He could be an absolute horse. The sky's the limit."


Keon Barnum, 1B, King (Tampa, Fla.)
Barnum is hitting for average and power early on, but is not showing a consistent ability to recognize and adjust to the breaking ball. Since he's already 19, Barnum has less developmental time ahead of him than most prep draft prospects and is limited to first base defensively, so he has to show even better at the plate than if he offered defensive value. He does possess plus bat speed and the ball jumps off his barrel, but he's slumped a bit early this season.

Lance McCullers Jr., RHP, Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.)
While McCullers started this year 4-0, he lands on the Stock Down list because scouts hoped to see improvements in some key areas that have not yet been displayed. He's still inconsistent with his command and there are issues with his delivery, including a lot of effort, and the buzz is that he's headed for the bullpen as a professional.

After faring very well in his first few outings and impressing over the summer, fall and early winter, Fried has looked very pedestrian of late. He's sat 89-92 mph with his fastball and has not commanded his arsenal well in his last two starts, getting touched up in both. It's far too early to suggest this will ultimately impact his draft stock, but the trend isn't rosy.

Giolito lands here based solely on his elbow injury. It's been described as a UCL sprain -- I coined it a potential "UCLA sprain" for its impact on Giolito's decision to sign a pro deal or head to UCLA next fall -- but sprains too often turn up as tears, which generally require Tommy John surgery. The right-hander is my No. 1 overall prospect, prep or college, and will remain at the top of the prep list until more is known of his condition.

If Giolito returns and shows he's 100 percent, he's still likely to be selected in the top 5-10 picks, if not the top three.


On top of Giolito's injury, there have been two others that may weaken the prep class and drop the stock of the player in question. Albuquerque Academy (Albuquerque, N.M.) catcher/infielder Alex Bregman broke the tip of his middle finger and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Showing the toughness clubs want to see, Bregman hurt the finger in pre-game yet played and had two hits.

Ringgold (Ga.) left-hander Matthew Crownover, the nation’s No. 8 lefty, recently had Tommy John surgery and will miss the rest of the season. He wasn't considered a first-round talent, but he has touched 95 mph and had a shot to sneak into the top 100 despite his lack of ideal height at 6-0. He's likely headed for Clemson and will be draft eligible in 2015.

Jason A. Churchill covers scouting, player development and the MLB draft for ESPN Insider, as well as Prospect Insider, where he's the founder and executive editor. You can follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider and email him at churchill@prospectinsider.com.

POWERADE Arizona Baseball Rankings: Week 1

March, 14, 2012
After games ending Monday, March 12

It was a very close call during the preseason when we were selecting our top teams in the POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings. Both Mountain Pointe and Hamilton looked to be early title contenders, and it was a toss-up as to which one's better. So it's little surprise that we've already flipped the two early in the season. The Huskies have taken over the top spot in our ranks, and Mountain Pointe has dropped just one spot. But the margin is still slim, and there's plenty of other outstanding squads in the state, so we're not expecting the Huskies to be wire-to-wire winners.

1. Hamilton (7-1) Last week: No. 2

2. Mountain Pointe (5-2-1) Last week: No. 1

3. Desert Mountain (8-3) Last week: No. 7

Click here for the full POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings.

FAB 50 Offseason Primer: Brophy Prep

March, 7, 2012
Devon AllenMiller Safrit/ESPN.comBrophy Prep (Phoenix) junior receiver Devon Allen scored 17 touchdowns this past fall.
During the offseason, we’ll check out one team per week that looks like a sure bet to be among the best in the nation for next fall.

FAB 50 Offseason Primer Archive

This week’s team: Brophy Prep (Phoenix)

2011 Season: 11-1, Division I state quarterfinalist, unranked in final POWERADE FAB 50.

Projected 2012 Preseason Ranking: Top 40. With a strong cast of returning players off a 2011 team that didn’t lose until the state playoffs, the Broncos could be the preseason team to beat in Arizona. Brophy, which fell to Basha (Chandler, Ariz.) 32-29 in the state quarterfinals, is set to play Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) in late August. Santa Margarita figures to start the season No. 2 in California and was projected to be a top-15 FAB 50 team earlier in our Offseason Primer.

Team Strengths: Coach Scooter Molander should have one of the nation’s top collections of skill players, similar to the group at Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.) this fall that was led by quarterback Connor Brewer and receiver/defensive back/kick returner Davonte’ Neal.

Brophy junior quarterback Tyler Bruggman threw for 37 touchdowns with just two interceptions this past season and has offers from a multitude of colleges, including Arizona and Arizona State. Junior receiver Devon Allen had 44 receptions for 844 yards and scored 17 total touchdowns, including a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against North Canyon (Phoenix). He’s been offered by the likes of Michigan, Stanford and Washington. Also returning will be junior running back D’Amani Grayer, who ran for 939 yards and 10 scores. Junior Charlie Renfree leads the offensive line.

On defense, junior linebacker Andrew Curtis racked up 103 tackles in 2011, while junior Robert Relf is a solid contributor at safety.

Another Arizona team to watch: Defending Division I state champion Desert Vista (Phoenix) and perennial power Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) aren’t going to hand over state bragging rights to Brophy Prep quite so easily and should be solid once again.

One small school powerhouse with a national reputation for success that may have one of its best teams is Blue Ridge (Lakeside, Ariz.). Coach Paul Moro’s program is coming off a 14-0 Division IV state championship season and should feature one of Arizona’s top prospects, regardless of school size, in 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker Chans Cox. The Yellow Jackets, who have won two state titles in the last three years, also will return quarterback Skyler Hill, who threw for 267 yards in the state finals against Show Low (Ariz.).

ESPNHS names the Arizona all-state baseball team

March, 1, 2012
ESPNHS has announced its preseason all-state baseball teams, so feel free to start debating the Arizona selections.

It's no surprise that players like Hamilton's Mitch Nay or Mountain Pointe's Joey Curletta are on our team. But take a look at who else made the squad, and then reach out on Twitter @CParishESPN to tell us who you think should have made the cut.

Click here for the Arizona All-State baseball team.

Click here to check out the other states across the country.

POWERADE Arizona Hoops Rankings: Final

February, 28, 2012
After games ending Sunday, Feb. 26

NOTE: These are the final POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings of the basketball season.

Corona del Sol vaulted to the top spot in our rankings in Week 5 and never looked back, cruising to a Division I state title thanks to a dominant victory over Cesar Chavez in the championship game. That leaves them as our top team this season without much argument. Runner-up Peoria claimed a Division II title, while Gilbert Christian and Phoenix Country Day also copped state championships this season. It was an outstanding year for college hoops in Arizona, and the discussion is already brewing about who is the front-runner for the state's top team next winter.

1. Corona del Sol (32-1) Last week: No. 1

2. Peoria (24-3) Last week: No. 5

3. Cesar Chavez (27-6) Last week: No. 7

Click here for the full POWERADE Arizona Weekly Rankings.