Written by Corbett Smith
2014 high school baseball preview: Players to watch
Cole Carter, Allen: The all-district outfielder is one of two Allen football players who signed with Division I baseball programs. A West Virginia signee, Carter — a wide receiver in football — hit .342 with eight extra-base hits and 14 RBIs. Third baseman (and back-up quarterback) Ryan Hoogerwerf signed with Louisiana Tech.
Zach Carter, Arlington Pantego: The senior was one of 250 players invited in August to participate in the USA Baseball under-18 national team trials. He hit .406 with eight doubles last season, registering 73 strikeouts and a 1.61 ERA.
Tanner Gardner, Frisco Centennial: The Texas Tech signee is a jack-of-all-trades, a switch-hitter who can play various positions in the outfield and infield. Gardner hit .381 with five home runs and 24 RBIs last season.
Matt Heck, Midlothian: A SportsDayHS all-area and all-state selection last season, the senior second baseman posted a .472 on-base percentage, setting school records with 48 hits and 16 doubles.
Darius Hill, Jesuit: The SportsDayHS newcomer of the year last season, the junior outfielder hit .389, posted an OPS of 1.112 with 36 runs and 36 RBI. The speedy outfielder has committed to West Virginia.
Christian Hollie, Keller Fossil Ridge: The shortstop, a UT-Arlington signee, hit .388 with 37 RBIs and 31 runs for last year’s 29-9 regional semifinalists. Fossil Ridge should be strong up the middle, with Hollie and senior second baseman Kenniel Rivera-Gonzalez.
Tyler Ivey, Rockwall-Heath: Expect to see a bigger workload for the 6-4, 200-pound junior. A right-hander pitcher, Ivey went 4-1 in limited innings last year, striking out 28. He originally pledged to Arkansas but switched to Texas A&M.
Noah Lee, Cedar Hill: The senior catcher has signed with Texas. He hit .344 last season, with two home runs and 23 RBIs for Cedar Hill (23-7). He was named co-offensive player of the year in 7-5A with Midlothian’s Matt Heck.
Garrett McCain, Wylie East: A Oklahoma State pledge, McCain is a left-hander who can touch the low 90s with his fastball. He posted a 1.19 ERA while striking out 78, also hitting .407 last season. Teammate Bryar Barnes was the 13-4A pitcher of the year.
Connor McCann, Argyle Liberty: The West Virginia signee helped Liberty Christian to the TAPPS 5A title. The right-handed pitcher and first baseman went 6-1 with a 2.90 ERA and 55 strikeouts, while hitting .408 with 17 runs and 25 RBIs.
Jake McKenzie, W.T. White: The senior infielder was the District 9-5A offensive MVP, hitting .430 with 35 runs and 27 RBIs. He was also his team’s ace, going 6-4 with a 0.70 ERA. W.T. White hasn’t missed the playoffs in 31 seasons under David Shepherd.
Corey Murray, Mansfield Legacy: The Weatherford College signee was the 15-4A offensive player of the year. A catcher, Murray hit .389 with 31 RBIs for the 4A regional semifinalist.
Jackson Owens, Lake Dallas: A Florida State signee, the senior shortstop is looking for a rebound year after pitchers largely avoided pitching to him last season. Owens hit .275, with four home runs, four triples and nine RBIs.
Jacob Patterson, Richardson Berkner: A Texas Tech signee, Patterson was the 9-5A pitcher of the year last season, going 7-3 with a 1.12 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 682/3 innings pitched.
Brad Vassar, McKinney: The lefty, a UT-Arlington signee, was the District 10-5A pitcher of the year last season, going 8-3 with a 1.33 ERA and 63 strikeouts. McKinney shortstop Joe Baker signed with Texas, hitting .381 with 18 RBI and 17 steals.