By Owen Gotimer
Viva Loudoun College Editor
(March 10, 2014) – Picking up where Viva Loudoun intern Joe Bushrod left off with his football Scouting Series last summer, I will examine the Top 5 baseball players at each position in Loudoun County.
If you have suggestions for my Top 5 outfielders, infielders or catchers feel free to contact me.
Today we start the Baseball Scouting Report with a look at pitchers and the No. 1 in our starting rotation is Kaleb Bowman of Woodgrove High School.
1. Kaleb Bowman (JR) 6’1” Woodgrove
Leading the young Wolverines down the playoff stretch last spring, junior Kaleb Bowman dominated team after team in Woodgrove’s journey to their first ever VHSL state playoff game. Bowman really proved his authority in the VHSL Region II semifinal on May 30 when he and his team travelled to Potomac Falls High School and his three-hit, nine-strikeout shutout lifted the Wolverines over the Dulles District champion Panthers. Woodgrove head coach Brad Bauder has said Bowman is “a coach’s dream out there,” and Bauder should not be disappointed this year. Bowman has made a verbal commitment to play Division I baseball at the University of South Carolina starting in the 2015-2016 school year.
2. Jacob “JB” Bukauskas (SR) 6’1” Stone Bridge
Like Bowman, Jacob “JB” Bukauskas committed to play Division I while playing for the Evoshield Canes, but the Stone Bridge High School ace will compete in the other Carolina as he will join head coach Mike Fox and the University of North Carolina baseball program in the 2014-2015 academic year. After reclassifying to join the DI Tarheels a year early, Bukauskas hopes to improve on the Stone Bridge Bulldogs’ 12-13 finish last spring. The 6-foot-1 right hander really mixes up his pitch selection with his dominant slider and changeup and controls the zone with an explosive fastball which has climbed up the radar gun recently topping off at 97 MPH.
3. Zack Hopeck (SR) 6’3” Heritage
A staple on top of the Pride’s rotation since his sophomore year, Zack Hopeck has really come into his own as one of the best pitchers in the county through his impeccable control. In 2013, Hopeck struck out almost 11 hitters per nine innings while walking only three hitters all season. “I want to bring a strike thrower that they know they can trust to pound the zone and get outs,” Hopeck said. Standing at 6-foot-3 Hopeck does not necessarily have an overpowering heater, but simply has stuff that hitters cannot hit. The senior helped Heritage High School to a three-way tie for second place in the Dulles District while transitioning from a pitcher/shortstop to pitcher/corner infielder.
4. Will Reed (SR) 6’ Loudoun Valley
Loudoun Valley High School senior Will Reed settles near the middle of our list, much like he settles in while he gets the nod from Vikings head coach Wayne Todd on the mound. As a junior Reed, pitched against the Dulles District’s No. 3 Heritage High School three times and on two occasions picked up a win including a win in the first round of the Region II tournament. In his second outing against Pride in 2013, the 6-footer threw a two-hitter in a losing effort. After jostling with graduate Danny White for the top spot in Loudoun Valley’s rotation in 2013, Reed and his mid-80s fastball should be a sure lock as the Vikings’ No.1 starter this season. The senior does a good job of keeping the ball down in the zone, hitting his spots inside-and-out while controlling the tempo of the game.
5. Devon Perez (SR) 6’4” Stone Bridge
Rounding out the best one-two punch in any starting rotation in the county, Devon Perez will help Bukauskas in search of Stone Bridge High School’s first region semifinal in three seasons. At 6-foot-4, Perez throws the ball downhill with a short arm motion. The senior struck out 14 per nine in his 2013 junior campaign finishing the season with a 1.40 ERA. After graduating four senior pitchers last spring, Bulldog head coach Sam Plank will ask Perez to step up into the role of a go-to guy on days his ace Bukauskas is limited in action.
Others to Watch:
* Charlie Fletcher (SR) 5’11” Briar Woods
* Gavin Wall (SR) 6’4” Tuscarora
* Nick Fuhrmann (SR) 6’1” Heritage
* Hunter Boyd (SR) 5’11” Dominion
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!