For a number of local high school sophomores and juniors, the 2015 Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches Maryland Futures game for the North Region team will offer an opportunity to show off their skills to college coaches.
Outfielders Jonathan Clemons (St. Paul's), Tony Schultz (St. Paul's) and Nicky Manzoni (Dulaney), catchers Drew Bossi (Dulaney), Spencer Horwitz (St. Paul's) and Garrett Matheny (Calvert Hall) and pitchers Garrett Day (Dulaney) and Trevor Sprinkle (Calvert Hall) and infielder Mark Lopez (Boys' Latin) are all hoping for a shot at earning a college scholarship.
"It could write the ticket to play college baseball for these guys," North Region head coach Todd Hartshorn said.
"Jay Patti got seen in this game by the Randolph-Macon (College) coach and he ended up going there," Hartshorn said of the 2012 Hereford graduate.
About 50 college coaches are expected to be watching the June 29 game (8 p.m.) at Prince George's Stadium, home of the Bowie Baysox, the Baltimore Orioles Double-A minor league affiliate.
The North will play the South, which is made up of public and private school players from Prince George's, Howard, Montgomery, St. Mary's and Calvert counties.
"These guys are sophomores and juniors and that's ideal," said MSABC president Ty Whitaker, an Eastern Tech assistant coach who is involved in selecting the teams. "They are the class of 2016 and 2017. That's where the college coaches are really trying to make connections with the kids. You have all these college coaches coming in and looking for talent."
The juniors made the team through tryouts at Dulaney High in mid-May while the sophomores were selected based on their excellent play during the season.
Sprinkle, a junior, might be the most highly regarded of the eight players.
He pitched primarily as Calvert Hall's closer the past two years for a team that lost in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference final to Archbishop Spalding in both 2014 and 2015.
Sprinkle appeared in 13 games last year, struck out 24 batters in 20 innings, posted a 4.20 ERA and made two starts.
As a sophomore, the right-hander fanned 22 batters in 14 innings and fashioned a 4.00 ERA.
He's expected to be Calvert Hall's No. 2 starting pitcher in 2016.
"He has the stuff to be a Division I player," Calvert Hall coach Lou Eckerl said. "He has an overpowering fastball and a sharp breaking pitch."
Sprinkle, who is playing for mid-Atlantic Red Sox this summer, says he is eager to compete against top-caliber players from public schools.
"I have seen a lot of kids from out-of-state," Sprinkle said. "Now, I will get to play against guys from around the state. This game means a lot to me. It will be fun to play against different competition."
Sprinkle will likely be pitching to Cardinal teammate Matheny next spring.
Matheny, a sophomore, should be the starter after working the past two seasons as the backup to Rider University-bound Jack Finn.
Bossi is another catcher who will be suiting up for the North squad. He played right field for Dulaney this spring and led the 18-4 Lions in batting average (.450) and doubles (12) while knocking in 15 runs as their clean-up hitter.
The sophomore will be moved to catcher in 2016 and will work with the hard throwing Day, who emerged as Dulaney's ace in the second half this season.
Day, a junior, finished 6-1 with a 2.42 ERA and yielded 29 hits in 37 innings while allowing opponents to bat .196.
"He is a kid who can throw three pitches for strikes and any pitch in any count," Hartshorn said.
Manzoni, a sophomore, hit .419 this spring with 15 RBIs.
Like Dulaney, St. Paul's is represented by three players in the (MSABC) Team Maryland Futures game.
All three Crusaders are juniors.
Of the three, Horwitz, a natural catcher who played shortstop and second base out of necessity, is coming off the best season. He led St. Paul's in several offensive categories, including batting average (.478) and on-base percentage (.540).
Clemons, a left fielder and Schultz, a center field, each batted over .340, but Horwitz, an MIAA A Conference pick last year, was his team's MVP.
"He is very versatile and willing to do anything for the team," St. Paul's coach Pat Walsh said. "But his offensive ability is his greatest asset. He has the bat speed, a smooth swing and the ability to hit to all fields."
Lopez might not have played in the A Conference like the players from Calvert Hall and St. Paul's.
Yet he has earned the respect of Whitaker and North team coaching staff after being named an all-state player in 2015.
He batted .377 with eight doubles, three home runs, a .529 on-base percentage and 37 runs scored for the B Conference runner-up.
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"As a 10th grader, he was all-state player," Whitaker said. "That speaks for itself."