ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque Academy Chargers
Coach: Josue Ayala (4th year)
Last Season: 18-10; lost in 4A quarterfinals to Moriarty
Players to watch: Alex Bregman, jr., SS; Brent Jones, sr., RF/P; Kevin Shul, jr., 3B/P; Tyler Buffett, soph., C/P; Colby Brown, fresh., 2B/SS; Nick Chavez, sr., CF.
Outlook: Led by Bregman, and with a deep pitching staff, the Chargers should be among 4A’s best. Academy needs to bolster the lineup and give Bregman, one of the country’s top high school juniors, some help.
Albuquerque High Bulldogs
Coach: Adam Amador (1st year)
Last Season: 11-16; lost in 5A first round to Rio Rancho
Players to watch: Kelan Drake-Lavelle, sr., SS/P; Zack Chavez, sr., 1B/P; Matt Fatta, sr., 2B/P; Jimmy Schneebeck, soph., 3B/P.
Outlook: The Bulldogs need to revamp their offense, because they’ll need more runs with an untested pitching staff.
Atrisco Heritage Academy Jaguars
Coach: Anthony Lovato (1st year)
Last Season: 12-7 (JV)
Players to watch: James Cordova, soph., C; Justin Burkeen, jr., P/1B; Andrew Lopez, jr., SS; Jose Ortega, jr., OF; Angelo Escarcega, soph., P; Dominic Martinez, soph., P/IF.
Outlook: The Jaguars should be a scrappy bunch and perhaps more competitive than people think. Working against AHA: youth and inexperience.
Coach: Dominic Toledo (2nd year)
Last Season: 18-11; lost in 4A first round to Farmington
Players to watch: Dillon Darnell, sr., P/IF; Thomas Duran, jr., P/SS; Ryan Garcia, sr., C/P; Donovan Aguilar, jr., CF/P; Jordan Ludi, sr., 1B.
Outlook: All the pitching returns, and Darnell was one of 4A’s top hitters. There are issues with inexperience and defense.
Coach: Ramon Gonzales (2nd year) Last Season: 19-9; lost in 5A quarterfinals to Eldorado Players to watch: Adrian Ramirez, jr., CF; Troy Mares, soph., MIF; Zak Molina, sr., utility; Drew Janis, soph., OF/P; Jason Schoolcraft, soph., MIF. Outlook: The Cougars were ravaged by graduation (12 seniors) and transfers, and have no returning starters. Cibola will need to do all the little things well.
Coach: Shane Shallenberger (2nd year)
Last Season: 13-14; lost in 5A first round to Eldorado
Players to watch: Blake Swihart, sr., C; Robert Montoya, jr., SS/P; Matt Villalobos, jr., 3B/P; Nathaniel Lucero, jr., CF/P; J.J. Thomas, sr., 2B/P; James Cleveland, jr., LF.
Outlook: Swihart hit nearly .600 with 12 home runs. The Storm have the sticks behind him in the order (Villalobos, Cleveland) who can protect him. Can Cleveland’s pitching take the Storm to the next level?
Del Norte Knights
Coach: Ben White (2nd year)
Last Season: 4-21
Players to watch: John Johnston, sr., C; Kasey Higgins, sr., P; Mark Acton, sr., utility; Tomas Salas, sr., SS; Anthony Martinez, jr., 2B.
Outlook: The Knights have good team speed, and power in the form of Johnston and Higgins.
Coach: Jim Johns (24th year)
Last Season: 26-3; lost in 5A semis to Rio Rancho
Players to watch: Josh Day, sr., CF; Davis Cantwell, sr., C; Jordan Vermillion, sr., P; Alex Swisher, sr., 3B; Thomas Lee, jr., P.
Outlook: Eldorado lost its top three pitchers, but the addition of transfer Lee (Manzano) helps. The Eagles must develop pitching to challenge La Cueva.
Coach: Hector Martinez (1st year)
Last Season: 1-25
Players to watch: Hank Delgado, sr., LHP; Daniel Bustillos, sr., SS; Alex Sayers, sr., IF; Julian Chavez, soph., 1B.
Outlook: The Hornets (one win in the last two seasons) will start a freshman and three sophomores. The Hornets need to pitch better this year after dealing 157 walks in 2010.
Hope Christian Huskies
Coach: Sean Anthony (2nd year)
Last Season: 18-10; lost in 3A quarterfinals to Sandia Prep
Players to watch: Matt Forsyth, sr., LHP; Alex Mackay, sr., P; Brant Dietz, sr., CF; Nate Burford, jr., SS; Ian Sutton, jr., OF; Kent Keeling, fresh., C.
Outlook: Forsyth (Lamar JC) and Mackay (Otero JC) give the Huskies a strong 1-2 combination. It’s a team defined by pitching and team speed.
La Cueva Bears
Coach: Gerard Pineda (2nd year)
Last Season: 28-2; 5A state champions
Players to watch: Ryan Padilla, sr., P/OF; Stephen Carabajal, sr., P/OF; Zach Nelson, sr., 2B; Matt Smith, sr., SS/P; Zach Cogan, sr., 1B/C; Kevin Ade, sr., 1B/3B.
Outlook: The Bears are absolutely loaded, led by UNM signees Padilla and Carabajal. The pitching is great, the offense should be lethal, and La Cueva is senior-dominated.
Coach: Jim Briggs (18th year)
Last Season: 14-13; lost in 5A first round to Cibola
Players to watch: Kevin Reaves, sr., CF; Sean Harris, sr., OF/P; Troy Rogers, sr., P/IF; John Chavez, sr., 1B/P; Ryan Thomas, sr., 1B/P; Jonathan Herrera, sr., utility.
Outlook: The Monarchs must create pitching depth, especially in their brutal district. Briggs may even use multiple pitchers every game. Reaves and Harris, atop the lineup, must get on base.
Rio Grande Ravens
Coach: Orlando Griego (16th year)
Last Season: 10-16
Players to watch: Keven Vigil, sr., P/SS; Corey Stevens, sr., 1B; Angelo Garcia, sr., 3B/P; Nicky Ortega, jr., C; George Torres, jr., CF/P; Matthew Valdez, soph., CF/P.
Outlook: The Ravens only have two starters returning, so the Rio Grande offense may have to scratch out runs to stay competitive. The Ravens have a solid pitching staff (led by Vigil) and steady defense.
Rio Rancho Rams
Coach: Ron Murphy (14th year)
Last Season: 27-3; lost in 5A finals to La Cueva
Players to watch: Kris Martinez, sr., SS; Marcus Martinez, fresh., C; Easton Bruere, 8th, P; Eli Cappello, fresh., P/2B.
Outlook: The Rams were decimated by graduation; they may start an eighth-grader and four 9th graders. Can an outstanding crop of freshmen mature quickly in a tough district?
Sandia Prep Sundevils
Coach: Paul Huitt (12th year)
Last Season: 21-8; lost in 3A semis to St. Michael’s
Players to watch: Michael Eaton, sr., SS; Nick Nelson, sr., 2B/P; Roberto Martinez, jr., OF; C.J. Kinney, sr., 1B/P; R.J. Ortiz, sr., 1B/P; Alex Kyriakos, sr., C/P/3B.
Outlook: The Sundevils are led by Eaton who has signed with D-1 San Francisco and who hit over .600 last year and led the team in most offensive categories. Nelson is also one of 3A’s best talents.
St. Pius Sartans
Coach: Marc Hilton (11th year)
Last Season: 13-12; lost in 4A quarters to Volcano Vista
Players to watch: Esteban Apodaca, sr., 1B; Kevin Piersol, jr., P/OF; Chris Lobato, jr., C; Quintin Rizek, jr., P/OF.
Outlook: It’s Hilton’s youngest team ever, but the Sartans have solid pitching and playoff experience.
Coach: Al Foster (2nd year)
Last Season: 16-11; lost in 5A first round to Mayfield
Players to watch: Mark Hendrick, sr., P; Kevin Collier, sr., P; Taylor Duree, jr., P; Marvin Ortiz, jr., P/IF; Jacob Skorka, sr., SS; Derek Blaisuis, jr., OF.
Outlook: The Matadors may have the stable of arms to challenge La Cueva in 2-5A. Sandia must pitch well and be sharp defensively, but this team can also score.
Coach: Chad Kuhn (6th year)
Last Season: 13-13; lost in 5A first round to Carlsbad
Players to watch: Pat Gonzales, sr., 2B; Robert VanOrman, sr., RF; Daniel Garcia, sr., C; Joe Gros, jr., P/3B; Jared Valles, sr., CF; Tyler Bess, jr., 1B; Ernie Sandoval III, sr., P/SS.
Outlook: Sandoval (Cibola) and Bess (AHS) are transfers, and Valles, according to Kuhn, is the best centerfielder he’s coached. Gonzales hit .500 last year. With pitching depth that has been lacking, Valley is the 5-5A favorite.
Volcano Vista Hawks
Coach: Kevin Andersh (3rd year)
Last Season: 22-7; lost in 4A semifinals to Piedra Vista
Players to watch: Kyle Byer, sr., C; T.J. Trujillo, sr., 1B; Andre Vigil, soph., 2B; Victor Sanchez, sr., OF/P; Dalton Bower, jr., SS; Andrew Villareal, sr., CF.
Outlook: One of 5A’s best — led by Vigil (.500, 10 HR as a freshman). Sanchez has shut-down stuff, but the Hawks need to solidify the staff behind him.
West Mesa Mustangs
Coach: Richard Cordova (2nd year)
Last Season: 5-21
Players to watch: Albert Carmignani, sr., P/OF; Gabriel Davis, sr., IF; Mike Montoya, sr., OF; Patrick Torres, sr., C/P; James Sprunk, sr., OF/C.
Outlook: Carmignani’s an effective pitcher, but is injured. West Mesa is more experienced with a better defense. Davis and Carmignani both hit over .400 last year.