Ten teams worth watching

Large school

Minnetonka: Can the pitching-rich Skippers finally live up to lofty expectations?

Edina: Eleven players are back from last season’s Class 4A, Section 2 runners-up.

Eden Prairie: Not much experience back, but the Eagles don’t need it. They have loads of senior talent ready to break out.

St. Michael-Albertville: Pitching depth and veteran leadership are a nice combination to have.

Maple Grove: Last year’s Class 4A state tournament appearance is something to build on.

Small school

Minnehaha Academy: The defending Class 2A champ has the pieces to make it two in a row.

Glencoe-Silver Lake: The Panthers have plenty back from a team that went 19-3 in 2016.

Delano: A senior-led bunch from a traditional baseball hotbed.

Waconia: The defense and pitching are there. Will the Wildcats find enough offense?

Heritage Christian: It’s all about pitching. The Eagles have plenty in Seth Halvorsen, Nathan Sawtelle and Taylor Brodersen.

10 indispensable players

(Listed alphabetically. All are seniors unless noted)

 

Jordan Bonk, Chanhassen, P: Not big (6-0, 155), but his fastball can get to the upper 80s.

Travis Brown, St. Michael-Albertville, P: Posted a 1.31 ERA and 60 K’s in 59 IP in 2016.

Jimmy Connell, Edina, P: Big lefty (6-4, 200) brings experience, savvy.

Derek Drees, Benilde-St. Margaret’s: The 6-5, 205-pounder has a fastball that tops at 85 mph.

Alex Evenson, Minnehaha Academy, P: 2016 stats impress: 8-2 record, 1.01 ERA, 62 K’s, .495 batting average.

Seth Halvorsen, Heritage Christian, P, jr.: Committed to Missouri, he averaged more than a strikeout per inning pitched last year.

Bubba Horton, Maple Grove, P: Future Minnesota lefthander is also a pretty fair basketball player.

Michael Jensen, Holy Family, P: Intimidating presence (6-5, 235) with a 90-plus-mph fastball.

Sam Thoresen, Minnetonka, P: Emerged as the Skippers’ most consistent arm last year. Struck out 42 in 31⅓ innings pitched.

Ben Whalen, Hopkins, P/CF: The Royals will go where Whelan, with an 84-mph fastball and plus curve, takes them.

Pitch limits — coaches sound off

Four takes on the Minnesota State High School League’s new pitch count limits.

Scott Glenn, Minnehaha Academy: “It will force teams to create more pitchers. In the long run, it is absolutely the right move.”

Douge Schildgen, DeLaSalle: “I am not sure if having all of this take place in our high school three- to four-month season is the solution to the problem. If it is not carried out in the overall yearly pitchers programing, these three to four months will not make a difference.”

Carter Freeman, Edina: “The new pitch count policy is the right thing to do because it brings consistency to all teams and will help to protect arms. We’ll see how much administrative burden it brings.”

Mark Grundhofer, Waconia: “The bigger schools will be OK. It is the small schools that may have some problems. The scores toward the end of the week are going to get a little skewed.”

Jim Paulsen