March 19, 2012
One of the questions we here at the Daily Post are most often asked involves how we select our preseason Super Six in each high school sport.
This question usually comes from someone associated with a team with a player who was left off their respective sport's list.
For the record, there is no set formula to determine the Super Six — usually it's a combination of stats, coaches recommendations (the players' own and those from other teams), college and/or professional prospects of players and general observations of our staff, among other factors.
To be sure, it's never an easy task trying to narrow down as deep a talent pool as Gwinnett County has in seemingly every sport.
However, I can't ever remember a process as difficult as coming up with our Super Six for baseball early this spring.
As loaded as this year's senior and junior classes alone are, we came into to the season knowing some really good players would be left off.
Sure enough, there were quite a few e-mails that came in after our Super Six of Buford's Sam Clay, Hebron Christian's Mason Felt, Grayson's Austin Meadows, Parkview's Matt Olson, Providence Christian's Christin Stewart and Brookwood's Lucas Sims was released about a month ago.
But the tone of those e-mails wasn't that of, "Well, what about this kid?"
Instead, it was more along the line of, "You guys could probably come up with a Super Nine or Super 12 this year."
That thought did occur to me during the process of coming up the Super Six, especially after watching an episode of "Prime 9" on the MLB Network.
For those of you who don't have MLB Network or haven't seen the show, they come up with a topic, such as "Best hitting third basemen of all-time," or "Best players of the '60s" or "Best comebacks," and then come up with the top nine from each category.
Why nine, you ask? As they explain, nine is baseball — nine positions on the field, nine players in the batting order, nine innings (at least in college and pro ball), etc.
But truthfully, I don't think extending this year's Super Six to a Prime Nine would cover the talent we have here in Gwinnett this year. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure if having "The Next Six" would cover it.
So how about this for the next Prime 9?, And keep in mind, I'm still probably leaving off more players who have gotten off to really hot starts this spring.
• SS Edwin Arias, Parkview, Sr.: Hit .458 with 7 home runs, 54 RBIs, 44 runs scored and 11 stolen bases during the Panthers' run to the Class AAAAA state championship last spring. He's signed to play college baseball at North Georgia.
• RHP/OF Jack Esmonde, Sr., Parkview: Came on as a starter in the outfield late in the season and hit .409 with a homer and 20 RBIs, and served as the Panthers' closer, recording a 4-1 record with 4 saves, a 2.76 ERA and 24 K in 25 1/3 innings last spring. Has signed with Georgia.
• LHP/OF Zack Erwin, Duluth, Sr.: He was 7-4 with a 2.98 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings last season and was a big reason the Wildcats made their first state playoff appearance since 1997. He has signed with Clemson.
• C Jarrett Freeland, Parkview, Jr.: One of Gwinnett's best backstops, he hit .400, with 4 HR and 19 RBIs — including several hits in clutch situations during last year's title run. Though just a junior, he's already verbally committed to play college ball at Georgia.
• CF Josh Hart, Parkview, Jr.: Had a huge sophomore season by hitting .444 with 4 HR, 22 RBIs, 53 runs scored and 18 stolen bases to help the Panthers to the Class AAAAA state title last year. While he still has another year of high school left after this season, he's already verbally committed to Georgia Tech.
• RHP/3B Jordan Hillyer, Hebron, Sr.: Was perhaps Gwinnett's top two-way threat last year, going 7-0 with a save, a 0.67 ERA and 76 K in 41 2/3 innings and hitting .438, with 16 HR and 61 RBIs. Will play his college ball at Kennesaw State.
• RHP/SS Chris Raasch, Norcross, Sr.: His value to the Blue Devils goes beyond his numbers (5-6, 1 save, 3.34 ERA, 46 K, 56 2/3 IP) from last year. One of the top pitchers in the county. Has signed with Vanderbilt.
• RHP/IF Chris Rich, Duluth, Sr.: The other half of the Wildcats' returning 1-2 pitching punch, the senior went 5-3 with a save, a 2.20 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 54 innings last year. He's signed with Gordon Junior College.
• RHP/3B Joseph Wilber, Norcross, Jr.: Another big arm for the Blue Devils who went 3-4, with a save, 2.91 ERA and 44 K in 55 1/3 innings last year. Will command a lot of college attention both in baseball and football, where he was Norcross' starting quarterback last fall.
And that's just what I can think of off the top of my head. It should make coming up with an All-County team in June real fun.
Finally a note to any coaches who might be reading.
Keep an eye on your e-mails. You will be getting instructions on submitting statistics for our weekly county leaders updates, which will be returning either this week (if we get enough responses in a timely manner) or next.