The weather may not yet be truly spring-like in the Great Plains, but the official start of spring on Thursday brought with it the start of baseball season for high schools in Nebraska and Missouri. The region isn't typically a hotbed for Draft prospects, but with two players ranked in MLB.com's Top 50 Draft Prospects list, crosscheckers and executives are sure to make a trip to the heartland this season.
Norris (Neb.) catcher Jakson Reetz made a name for himself last summer, winning MVP honors at the Perfect Game All-American Classic. He then helped lead the U.S. national team to a gold medal at the 18-and-under World Cup in Taiwan.
Strong and athletic, there are no concerns about Reetz's ability to stay behind the plate at the next level. His defensive ability, combined with his solid bat, has him ranked No. 47 among Draft prospects.
Reetz hit two home runs in Norris' season-opening 11-0 victory against Lincoln (Neb.) on Thursday. The Titans will play three more games this weekend, giving scouts ample opportunity to see Reetz and Byron Hood, his teammate and fellow Nebraska commit. Hood, a projectable right-hander, is scheduled to start Saturday against South Sioux City, coach Jason Cullison said.
Further south, in Missouri, another exciting Nebraska recruit is scheduled to begin his season this weekend. But scouts may have to wait a few days to see Lee's Summit West outfielder Monte Harrison, one of the best athletes in the Draft class.
Harrison, ranked No. 32, is committed to play football and baseball at Nebraska. He also plays basketball for Lee's Summit West and helped the Titans make a deep run in the Missouri Class 5 state tournament. After a loss in the state semifinals Thursday night, Harrison's basketball career will come to a close with a third-place game Friday morning.
The Titans open their baseball season later in the day. Coach Jay Meyer said Harrison will try to make the two-hour trip back to the Kansas City suburbs from Columbia, Mo. -- where the state basketball finals are played -- in time for Opening Day. Regardless, Meyer said Harrison is sure to be with the baseball team Monday when Lee's Summit West begins play in the Metro Lead-Off Tournament.
Cederoth adjusts to 'pen role ahead of MWC showdown
Before the season began, Friday's key Mountain West game in Las Vegas between San Diego State and UNLV was likely circled on more than a few scouts' calendars. The game and series remain an enticing matchup, though the expected pitchers' duel between San Diego State's Michael Cederoth and UNLV's Eric Fedde won't materialize.
Fedde, ranked No. 22 on MLB.com's Top 50 Draft Prospects list, has been one of the best pitchers in the country and enters the game 3-1 with a 1.59 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 34 innings. Cederoth, however, moved to the closer's role after just one start. He has flourished in the bullpen, where he has a 1.84 ERA and seven saves in 10 appearances.
Cederoth, ranked No. 27 on the Top 50, said he understood why the change was made and thinks it will benefit him as he prepares for his professional career.
"It was an honor to be the Friday starter for SDSU," Cederoth said. "But once I sat down and talked to the coaches, deep down, I knew I was going to be out of the bullpen [as a professional] in the future. The conversation I had with the coaches to get prepared for it was really good."
Cederoth's best pitch is his fastball, which routinely reaches the upper-90s, and his sharp slider gives him a second plus pitch. He said the transition to his new role has been easy, in part because he thinks his mindset is better suited to the bullpen.
"Now, I can just let it all out for the game and go back and do it again the next night," Cederoth said. "I'm a pretty emotional guy. To me, that's what a closer needs -- that kind of mentality to give it all he's got and do it multiple games in a row."
Though Cederoth won't be matched up against Fedde on Friday night, he did pitch against him three times last year. He said the Aztecs know they're in for a tough game Friday.
"He bloomed last year, killed it over the summer, and he's doing exactly what was expected from his this year," Cederoth said. "I expect he's going to bring his 'A' game, so we're going to bring our best, too."
Top North Carolina high schools square off before NHSI
T.C. Roberson (N.C.) and prospect Braxton Davidson will face a tough text next week when they head to Cary, N.C., for the National High School Invitational. First, however, they have a pair of games this weekend, including Saturday's showdown with North Buncombe (N.C.) and left-hander Alex Destino.
Davidson, a North Carolina recruit, has some of the best power among high school hitters in the 2014 Draft class. He's been pretty good as a pitcher in high school as well, and that athleticism will help him at the next level. One scout said he thought Davidson could handle playing an outfield corner, but his bat will always be the main attraction.
"He's the same guy swinging the bat, one of the better bats in the country," the scout said. "He's going to have power, and he's going to hit."
Destino, a South Carolina recruit, presents a difficult matchup for Davidson. He throws his fastball in the low-90s, mixing it with a solid changeup and breaking ball. One of the most polished prep pitchers in the country, Destino pitched for the U.S. national team in the 18-and-under World Cup in Taiwan last summer and could be an early-round pick this June.