Posted: 4:09 pm Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
By Matt Porter
We’re almost to the district tournaments, which begin Monday with a handful of play-in games and get kicking on Tuesday with first-round action.
While every team has their mind on the postseason, we’re taking a minute to try to pick leaders for All-Area Players of the Year.
Problem is, we can’t. There are plenty of strong candidates for both large and small schools. In this week’s Stat Tuesday, we’ll mention a few of them. We’re sure this is going to create a lot of discussion – it already has on our forums – and that’s all good, but it respectful, please.
Here’s a ten-pack of POY candidates for large and small schools. These are in alphabetical order, and they are not the only candidates we’re considering. Hey, the most important time of the year is coming up. Someone could have a monster playoff run and jump right into the mix. There’s no guarantee we’ll pick from anyone on this list.
Like I said up top, things are wide-open.
James Jean, Palm Beach Gardens, C/DH: As it is with several teams, it’s tough to focus on just one player from Gardens, which has received contributions up and down the lineup. Jean is as good a player as any. With a breakout season, the Florida Gulf Coast commit is tied for the area lead in homers (6), has a big lead in the RBI category (30) and is batting .373.
Hunter Kyzar, Santaluces, P: One of the area’s best two-way players and the key to Santaluces’ playoff hopes. Kyzar, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound lefty, is 5-3 with a 1.18 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 47 1/3 innings. He’s also batting .436, eighth among large-school players, and has 18 RBI.
Justin Lauginiger, Royal Palm Beach, P: A big reason why the Wildcats are 20-4 and enter the District 14-7A tournament as the No. 1 seed. The junior righthander didn’t allow an earned run until the final weeks of the season and now sports a 1.13 ERA to go with his 8-0 record. He has whiffed 61 batters in 43 1/3 innings. He has 23 RBI, tied for second among large-school hitters.Mike Murray, Forest Hill, P: Why no one in District 13-7A wants to play Forest Hill. Though his fastball isn’t overpowering, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Florida Gulf Coast commit hasn’t lost (9-0) and has an area-best 102 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings. If Forest Hill makes it to regionals, Murray will be the biggest reason.
Brandon Rhodes, Park Vista, P: An outstanding senior season for the FAU signee, who is 9-1 with a 0.91 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 53 2/3 innings. Park Vista can send him out against anyone, and with a good lineup and outstanding defense behind him, the Cobras have as good a hope as any team in the area to make it to states.
Brady Roberson, Palm Beach Central, 1B: Always seems to come up with the big hit for the Broncos, who enter the last week of the season with the top seed in District 9-8A and the No. 1 ranking in the Post top 10. Roberson, a Florida signee, is hitting below .350 but has three homers and 22 RBI (tied for third among large schools).
Efren Sanchez, Summit Christian, 1B: Several deserving candidates on the Saints (John Silviano, Sam Murphy, Anthony Delaney), but Sanchez is batting .455 (second-best among small schools) and has 21 RBI to go with his pair of homers. Following up his strong sophomore campaign with a huge junior year.
Bennett Sousa, Benjamin, P: Just a sophomore, Sousa is the guy the Bucs lean on in big games. Sousa has stifled some of the area’s best lineups, posting a 3-2 record and 1.10 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings. Florida and Virginia are vying for his services.
Kevin Stypulkowski, King’s Academy, C: Doesn’t take long to notice him when you watch King’s play. He’s the 6-foot-2 kid behind the plate controlling the game, throwing out runners, and ripping the ball to all fields. The Florida signee has a .429 average (fourth among small schools) and 24 RBI (second in the area).
Danny Young, St. Andrew’s, P/1B: Another local standout scooped up by Florida. Young has done it all for the Scots. His .382 average, four homers and 19 RBI are among the area leaders. On the mound, he leads small schools with 75 strikeouts and has a 4-5 record with a 2.11 ERA in 49 2/3 innings.
Again, those aren’t the only candidates. Let’s see your list in the comment section or on our forum.