It's a tough job ranking teams during the postseason. For instance, how far do you drop a top-five squad that loses early? Or do you elevate a .500 team into the top 10 based solely on its playoff success? The first dilemma came up this week as Lake Stevens, Mount Si and Mount Vernon were upset. We decided to keep Lake and Si in the top 10, albeit at the bottom of the rankings, while Mount Vernon just missed the cut and fell out the rankings. All three are candidates for our final top 10 which will follow the state finals.

Here's a look at the top of the rankings:
1. Kentwood (23-2) — last week No. 2
2. Puyallup (21-5) — last week No. 5
3. Richland (11-5) — last week No. 6
Click here for the rest of the POWERADE state baseball rankings.
We finally have a new No. 1 as Lake Stevens ends Kentwood's reign at the top. The Conqs dropped their second game in as many weeks to fall from the to No. 1 spot. Seattle Prep's surprising loss to West Seattle in the Metro League tourney knocked the Panthers out of the rankings for the first time in several weeks. The rest of the top 10 squads look to embark on deep playoff runs in hopes of bringing home a championship.

Here's a look at the top of the rankings:
1. Lake Stevens (22-1) — last week No. 2
2.Kentwood (21-2) — last week No. 1
3. Mount Si (19-3) — last week No. 6
Click here for the rest of the POWERADE state baseball rankings.

Washington Week 7 POWERADE baseball rankings

May, 8, 2012
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Kentwood was finally beaten this spring, but that single loss wasn't enough to knock the Conqs from the top spot. The one-run setback against Puyallup should only serve as motivation for the team as the playoffs continue this week. Most of the rankings look the same as a week ago, and the only real change was Mead dropping out in favor of Mountain View. Look for the playoffs to produce some significant changes over the next few weeks.

Here's a look at the top of the rankings:
1. Kentwood (19-1) — last week No. 1
2. Lake Stevens (20-1) — last week No. 4
3. Seattle Prep (19-0) — last week No. 3
Click here for the rest of the POWERADE state baseball rankings.

Washington Week 6 POWERADE baseball rankings

May, 1, 2012
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Kentwood has continued to climb in the national polls and now sit at No. 16 in the rankings. Seattle Prep might not be getting the love from the national folks, but the Panthers are the top 3A squad with a 15-0 mark. Those two squads are a combined 34-0 and the top five have just two losses between them.

Here's a look at the top of the rankings:
1. Kentwood (19-0) — last week No. 1
2. Lake Stevens (18-1) — last week No. 4
3. Seattle Prep (15-0) — last week No. 3
Click here for the rest of the POWERADE state baseball rankings.

Washington Week 5 POWERADE baseball rankings

April, 24, 2012
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Washington is beginning to make some noise in the regional rankings, with Kentwood among the ranked squads and another three checking in as bubble teams. The Conqs moved up two spots to No. 6 in the West Region and remain No. 1 locally. Lake Stevens fell out of the rankings after suffering its first loss of the spring but joins Olympia and Puyallup as bubble teams. A strong run by either of those three could earn them a spot in the POWERADE FAB 50 alongside No. 27 Kentwood.

Mount Vernon and Hanford make their season debuts this week. Boasting an unblemished record, Mount Vernon is a candidate to join the top 5 should any of those teams stumble.

Here's a look at the top of the rankings:
1. Kentwood (14-0) — last week No. 1
2. Olympia (13-0) — last week No. 5
3. Seattle Prep (14-0) — last week No. 6
Click here for the rest of the POWERADE state baseball rankings.

Washington Week 4 POWERADE baseball rankings

April, 17, 2012
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Not much changed at the top of our weekly rankings as the top four teams remained in place. Camas' loss to Kelso opened the door for undefeated squads Olympia (No. 5) and Seattle Prep (6) to move up a few spots. Camas drops to No. 7 just ahead of Richland and Kennewick, which has lost four straight. W.F. West remains the top team in Class 2A. Top-seeded Kentwood went undefeated and moved into the top 30 of the POWERADE FAB 50.

Here's a look at the top of the rankings:
1. Kentwood (11-0) — last week No. 1
2. Mount Si (9-2) — last week No. 2
3. Lake Stevens (13-0) — last week No. 3
Click here for the rest of the POWERADE state baseball rankings.

Washington Week 3 POWERADE baseball rankings

April, 10, 2012
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Puyallup stumbled twice last week, allowing Kentwood to move into the No. 1 spot in our weekly baseball rankings. Kentwood stands tall at 9-0 and have a pair of studs in ESPNHS All-State selection Taylor Jones and Reese McGuire. The duo has guided the Conqs to No. 36 in the POWERADE FAB 50. Mount Si remains on top of Class 3A teams and Lake Stevens joins the top three on the heels of a 10-0 start. We swapped out three-loss Woodinville for undefeated Seattle Prep in the only significant changes to the top 10.

Here's a look at the top of the rankings:
1. Kentwood (9-0) — last week No. 3
2. Mount Si (7-1) — last week No. 2
3. Lake Stevens (10-0) — last week No. 6
Click here for the rest of the POWERADE state baseball rankings.

Beamer soccer remains dangerous despite missing stars

April, 6, 2012
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This story originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of ESPNHS Washington.

Beamer entered the spring poised to finally capitalize on its abundance of talent on the pitch. Despite graduating three D-I prospects, the Titans envisioned another stacked lineup headlined by junior MF Ike Crook.

But just weeks before the start of play, head coach Brett Lucas found out he would be without the services of several of his top stars due to restrictions from their Academy teams. Beamer, which opened the year ranked No. 8 in the POWERADE FAB 50, is without studs Austin Sweeney, Marcus Tinsley, Keplar House and Crook.

“Every team lost their star players,” says Lucas. “It will be tough, but our starting guys are pretty solid. I still think we could make a run.”

It will be virtually impossible to replace the talents of the missing players, who accounted for 21 goals in 2011, but Lucas is hoping to cultivate a more blue-collar mentality, putting an emphasis on hustling throughout games in an effort to maximize the talent on the roster.

Colorado-bound senior Keaton House is skilled in the middle and could be even better after improving his speed and adding to his skill set in the offseason. At the back, the senior tandem of Aaron Nordman and keeper Deshar House can suffocate the state’s premier offensive threats, while sophomore impact transfers Jong Paek and Aung Ta will be counted on to ignite the attack.

Freshman midfielder Hassani Dotson has Academy-level skills, and his rapid progression will be crucial to the team’s postseason prospects.

While the Titans’ current cast might not garner the same recognition as last year’s crew, the lesser-known players could also make it difficult for opponents to game plan for Beamer.

“People aren’t thinking we’re going to do much because we lost the Academy players,” says Lucas. “I think it will be their downfall to overlook us.”

David Auguste covers high school sports for ESPNHS. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ESPNHS_Auguste or email him at David.Auguste@espn.com.

Washington Week 2 POWERADE baseball rankings

April, 4, 2012
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Puyallup and Mount Si maintain their positions atop the rankings, but the rest of the top 10 underwent some serious reshuffling this week. Undefeated Kentwood entered the West Regional rankings and was bumped up to No. 3, while state semifinalist Camas dropped down a notch. Lake Stevens and W.F. West join the top 10, boasting undefeated marks, and Olympia enjoyed a four-spot leap after another undefeated week.

Here's a look at the top three teams:
1. Puyallup (8-0) — last week No. 1
2. Mount Si (5-1) — last week No. 2
3. Kentwood (5-0) last week No. 5

Click here for the rest of the POWERADE state baseball rankings.

Washington Week 1 POWERADE baseball rankings

March, 28, 2012
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We're a few weeks into the spring and a new No. 1 squad has already emerged. Led by ace Matt Becker, undefeated Puyallup has supplanted Mount Si atop our state rankings. Becker recorded a one-hit, 11-K outing last week and has spearheaded a rotation that has posted four shutouts. The strong start has catapulted the squad to No. 41 in the POWERADE FAB 50. Preseason No. 1 Mount Si drops a spot after falling to Kennewick, which makes its debut at No. 9. Also new to the mix is No. 3 Woodinville and sixth-ranked Enumclaw, who have combined for seven wins and only one loss. It's still early in the season, so expect even more shuffling when we return next week.

Here's a look at the top three teams:
1. Puyallup (6-0) — last week No. 9
2. Mount Si (4-1) — last week No. 1
3. Camas (4-1) — last week No. 3
Click here for the rest of the POWERADE state baseball rankings.

Hollon is nation’s top junior right-hander

March, 23, 2012
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Clinton HollonCourtesy of Perfect GameWoodford County (Versailles, Ky.) star Clinton Hollon is the nation's top right-handed pitcher in the Class of 2013.
Each week from now until the end of April, we’ll take a look at the elite Class of 2013 baseball prospects by ranking the Top 5 players at each position. This week, we get things started with the Top 5 right-handed pitchers led by Clinton Hollon of Woodford County (Versailles, Ky.), a 6-foot-1, 195-pounder who can throw in the high-90s.
1. Clinton Hollon, Woodford County High School (Versailles, Ky.)
Hollon, a Kentucky commit, has bumped 97 mph on the radar gun. And despite some red flags with his delivery, he has the best arm in the prep class of 2013. He's just 6-foot-1, but he's well built at 195 pounds and offers an upper-80s curveball, a mid-80s slider and a changeup. His slider may be his best shot at an out pitch at the next level.

2. Jordan Sheffield, Tullahoma High School (Tenn.)
Sheffield is a two-sport star and is headed to Vanderbilt, a school that usually keeps its commits rather than losing them to the baseball draft. Sheffield has hit 94 mph with his fastball thanks to terrific arm speed and the pitch has late life. He also employs a power curveball and a slider. Like Hollon, Sheffield is a bit undersized at 6-foot-1 and is just 175 pounds -- great size for a slot receiver on the gridiron, but not ideal for a starting pitcher.

3. Trevor Clifton, Heritage High School (Maryville, Tenn.)
Clifton offers projection from his 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame and a fastball that is in the 89-92 mph range entering his junior year. He complements the four-seamer with a mid-70s slurvy breaking ball and an upper-80s changeup. He’s started this season 2-0 and tossed his first career no-hitter this week.

4. Thomas Hatch, Jenks High School (Okla.)
Hatch has grazed 93 mph with his fastball, pitching mostly in the 89-90 range, and pitches downhill with arm-side ride and a cutter-like slider. His release point is consistent and he repeats his delivery. He's considered a mature arm with a good feel for pitching and above-average command.

5. Matt Vogel, Patchogue-Medford High School (Medford, N.Y.)
Vogel, committed to South Carolina, possesses good arm speed and a fastball up to 92 miles per hour. His secondary stuff includes a curveball and slider -- of which he will likely have to choose one as a pro -- and works both sides of the plate well. Despite the average velocity upon which to build, the pitch is true, which means his lack of ideal height -- he's 6-foot-1 -- makes it difficult to create downward plane. He may need college to work on his delivery.

Others to Watch
Cheyne Bickel, Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.)
Trey Cobb, Broken Arrow (Okla.)
Dustin Driver, Wenatchee (Wash.)
Steve Farinaro, Head-Royce (Oakland, Calif.)
Sheldon Neuse, Fossil Ridge (Fort Worth, Texas)
Keegan Thompson, Cullman (Ala.)
Andrew Zapata, Poly Prep (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

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.

MLB Draft Stock Watch: High School Look

March, 16, 2012
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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.)

STOCK UP

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.

Eflin
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
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."

STOCK DOWN

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.

Fried
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
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.

INJURIES

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.
The season came to a close this past weekend and the top of the rankings has a familiar look. Two of the top three teams remain the same from our preseason rankings and 4A's top team Davis cemented its spot at the top after claiming its first state crown since the late '60s. Our regional voters really liked Rainier Beach and Prep, which held down the 14 and 17 spot in the West Region and top two spots locally, respectively. Davis, despite being dominant all season never cracked the top 20 in the West Region, meaning they could never climb past No. 3 in the state. Class 4A runner-up Central Valley and third-place finisher Union round out the top five.

Anrio Adams and tourney MVP Marquis Davis guided Beach to a 61-58 triumph over Seattle Prep to clinch the Class 3A crown. Davis secured the 4A championship behind the play of its seniors. David Trimble nearly collected a triple double and Devonte Luckett led the way with 12 points in a 48-42 win over Central Valley — the team's first since 1965. Lynden topped White River in the Class 2A title game to finish No. 10, while Lynden Christian captured the 1A crown by defeating Zillah by 12.

Here's a look at the final top three teams:
1. Rainier Beach (27-3) — last week No. 2
2. Seattle Prep (24-6) — last week No. 1
3. Davis (23-2) — last week No. 3

Union's Coulter focused on getting to the majors

March, 2, 2012
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Clint Coulter Union 1Dustin Snipes/ESPNHSUnion senior Clint Coulter is among the elite baseball prospects in the Northwest.
This story originally appeared in the March issue of ESPNHS Washington.

Clint Coulter is not planning on making an appearance at this year’s Union senior prom.

It’s not that he’s struggling to find a date or worried about what dance move to bust out if the DJ starts bumping Rihanna’s “We Found Love.” The Arizona State-bound catcher has a plan in place that often precludes him from attending such social events.

“Baseball is what defines me,” says Coulter. “I didn’t go to my junior prom, either. I’ll probably be hitting balls in my garage during the prom.”

That supreme focus has made Coulter a likely early-round pick in June’s MLB draft. It was also the driving force behind Coulter putting a once-promising wrestling career on the back burner.

Three years ago, Coulter became Washington’s first freshman to place in the 189-pound weight class at state. He followed up that effort by copping a title at the 2010 Class 4A meet. Unfortunately, his gold-medal run coincided with his rise in baseball status. Recruitment letters from college baseball powerhouses stuffed the family’s mailbox and talk about a pro baseball career began to really heat up, putting Coulter in a tough spot.

“It was definitely a tough decision,” he says. “I never wanted to pursue wrestling, though, because there isn’t really pro wrestling unless you go the WWE path.”

With his singlet tucked away in the back of his closet, Coulter moved full steam ahead with his budding baseball career. He produced at an elite level last spring, hitting a blistering .500 with five homers to land a spot on the Under Armour All-America team. His success reaffirms his decision to abandon other pursuits.

“I guess my life is not that interesting,” jokes Coulter. “People say I’m missing out, but it’s all good. That stuff doesn’t really [compare] to being a professional athlete, and that’s what I’m going to be.”

Washington All-State baseball team revealed

March, 1, 2012
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ESPNHS has announced its preseason All-State baseball teams, so feel free to start debating the Washington selections.

It's no surprise that guys like Lake Stevens' Dylan LaVelle and Union's Clint Coulter earned a spot on our first team squad. But check out the entire list for who else made it, and then hit up Twitter @ESPNHS_Auguste to let us know who else should've made the cut.

Click here for the Washington All-State baseball team.

Click here for any of the other 49 states.




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