By Owen Gotimer
Viva Loudoun College Editor
(April 18, 2014) – Major League Baseball’s opening weeks are coming to a close as are the delayed opening weeks of the high school baseball season in Loudoun County. The Stone Bridge Bulldogs (8-1), Loudoun Valley Vikings (6-1) and Woodgrove Wolverines (4-1) are off to hot starts.
Conversely, the Potomac Falls Panthers (1-4) started slowly and did not pick up their first win of the season until April 10 and look to add to that after spring break when they play the Loudoun County Raiders (4-5) on April 21.
Teams in the middle of the LoCo pack include the Broad Run Spartans (6-2), Briar Woods Falcons (4-3), Heritage Pride (4-4), Freedom Eagles (4-4), Tuscarora Huskies (3-6) and Dominion Titans (2-5).
The John Champe Knights (2-4) earned their first varsity baseball victory in program history after taking down the Park View Patriots (1-6) on March 31.
After several weeks of the season, Stone Bridge sophomore Reilly Molthen and I add to the Baseball Scouting Report with a look at those roaming the vast green beyond and the No. 1 outfielder is Brendan Whitfield of Woodgrove High School.
1. Brendan Whitfield (JR) 6’4″ Woodgrove
Just a junior, Brendan Whitfield maintains a sense of responsibility, maturity and leadership in the Woodgrove High School outfield which helped guide them to their first ever state playoff run in 2013. A vocal leader in the outfield, Whitfield patrols centerfield for the Wolverines while also making appearances on the mound. Head coach Brad Bauder worked with a young team last spring, and Whitfield – only a sophomore at the time – added a reliable glove, speed, excellent tracking ability and a good arm to the outfield. At the plate, Whitfield finds a way to get on base. The 6-foot-4 junior probably will not hit too many long balls this season, but you can bet your bottom dollar, Whitfield will find a way to make things happen at the plate and on the base paths. Named a 2013 Cheers Sports and Viva Loudoun All-Loudoun outfielder, Whitfield should step up to the challenge again this year and has already helped Woodgrove to a 4-1 start.
2. Justin Robles (FR) 5’8″ Potomac Falls
I have personally seen Justin Robles – the only freshmen on the outfielders list – swing at five pitches in his baseball career. All five swings came on first pitches and all five pitches resulted in offensive damage. While not one of those pitches was at the high school and the sample size is small, four of the pitches flew over the fence for homeruns. The final pitch was a line drive single to centerfield on a pitch a foot off the plate as the opposing team attempted to walk Robles. Potomac Falls head coach Joe Terango has seen what I see as early on in season Robles hit leadoff while starting in the outfield for the 2013 Dulles District Champions. The freshman is a true five-tool athlete and with baseball maturity will continue to shine throughout his four years at Potomac Falls.
3. Will Hoffer (SR) 5’11″ Woodgrove
The second Wolverine on my list, Will Hoffer is an incredible defensive outfielder who can shine at moments at the plate. Last spring, Hoffer bounced around the lineup hitting in probably all nine spots in the order, never really finding out where he was a good fit, however, his quickness, combat swing and sure-handed bunting ability allowed Woodgrove head coach Brad Bauder to capitalize on Hoffer’s abilities at any moment. The senior made a pair of game-saving diving catches against Potomac Falls High School in the VHSL AA Region II semifinal game last year as Kaleb Bowman threw a three-hitter clinching the Wolverines’ first ever trip to the state playoffs. His work last season earned him a spot on the Dulles District second team as an outfielder.
4. Anthony Woods (SR) 6’1″ Loudoun Valley
In his first year with the Loudoun Valley Vikings, Anthony Woods is excited to lead an outfield unit that hopes to take their team to another region tournament. Woods transferred from Middleburg Academy where he played for the previous three seasons, after the Dragons opted not to sponsor a varsity baseball team due to lack of recruitment. The 6-foot-1 senior has a wide base at the plate and adds powerful hands to head coach Wayne Todd’s lineup and should pair well with the combination of outfielders the Vikings choose to start on any given day. Woods – who has primarily hit in the 5-hole while starting in centerfield this season – has led the Vikings to a 6-1 start and should continue to produce at the plate and in the outfield for the remainder of the season. Randolph-Macon College head coach Ray Hendricks has locked down the outfielder as a commit for the 2014-2015 school year.
5. AJ Bourscheid (SR) 6’ Loudoun County
Loudoun County outfielder AJ Bourscheid as physically and mentally grown into his role as the top outfielder in the Raiders’ young program. The senior is quick and has good instincts in the outfield, but found his way onto this list because of the addition of his bat. Swinging left-handed, Bourscheid can hit for contact and power, bunt and run the bases with a mental tenacity and quickness that head coach Nick Price likes to see from his senior leader. Do not leave anything in this kid’s wheelhouse or you will be chasing balls into the great beyond as Bourscheid has hit his share of homeruns. In 2013, Bourscheid was named to the second-team All-Dulles District outfield, but could find his way on to the first-team list this year after helping his team overcome a slow start to sit at 4-5 on the season.
Others to Watch:
* Michael Kuzbel (JR) 6’ Stone Bridge
* Gavin Wall (SR) 6’4″ Tuscarora
* Danny Pugh (SR) 5’7″ Loudoun Valley
* Mikey Pugh (SR) 5’8″ Loudoun Valley
* Kyle Palmer (SR) 6’1″ Stone Bridge
* Ben Taylor (JR) 5’8″ Heritage
If you have advice for my Top 5 infielders feel free to contact me.
Owen Gotimer is a graduate of Heritage High School in Leesburg and is currently a sophomore at Syracuse University. Follow Owen on Twitter (@BigO_Gotimer) for up-to-date college signings and news. Contact us if you want Owen to do an article on the college commitment of your favorite local athlete or a story on a Loudoun County graduate playing in college!