The Texas high school baseball season is in full swing this week with tournament play. Schools and players are excited to get out on the diamond after last season was cut short from COVID-19.
Here is a look at the preseason player of the year and first-team all-area team:
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
AJ Smith-Shawver, Sr., Colleyville Heritage
The Texas Tech signee, who can also play the infield, including third base and shortstop, can reach the mid 90s on his fastball. He’s ranked as the No. 23 player in Texas by Prep Baseball Report.
Smith-Shawver helped the Panthers to the 2019 Class 5A state title as a sophomore, starting both state tournament games. He went 3 for 3 with two runs scored in the championship vs. Georgetown.
In his final three games of 2020 before COVID, Smith-Shawver had five hits, five RBIs and and a grand slam.
Led the Panthers as the starting quarterback in football.
First Team All-Area
SP Eric Hammond, Sr., Keller
The USC signee can hit 95 on his fastball and will play a big role in Keller’s success in 2021. The Indians begin the season as the No. 2 ranked team in the Fort Worth area.
C Hudson White, Sr., Trophy Club Nelson
Texas Tech signee hit 1 home run and five doubles in 2020. Batted 0.431 with 2 homers, 25 RBIs and 14 steals as a sophomore in 2019.
INF Raef Wright, Sr., Mansfield Legacy
The Northeast Texas Community College commit hit 0.395 with 1 home run, 4 triples and 10 stolen bases in 12 games last season.
INF Gunnar Krug, Sr., Southlake Carroll
The Dragons’ third baseman hit 0.321 last season with 16 RBIs and 11 stolen bases.
INF Xavier Casserilla, Sr., Haslet Eaton
Wichita State signee batted 0.375 and swiped eight bases. Added a 2-0 record with 25 strikeouts and a 1.16 ERA for the Eagles.
INF Griffin Kopp, Sr., Nolan Catholic
Batted 0.475 in 2020 with 11 doubles, 2 homers and posted a 1.368 OPS.
OF Ethan Flores, Sr., Cleburne
Batted 0.488 and drove in 23 runs in 14 games last season.
OF Nathan Humphreys, Sr., Midlothian
The Dallas Baptist signee hit 0.419 with two doubles and 8 RBIs in 11 games for the Panthers.
OF Christian Smith-Johnson, Jr., Richland
The Royals’ center-fielder had a team-high 16 hits in 12 games last season. Batted 0.400 with 4 doubles, 8 RBIs and 4 stolen bases.
UTIL Payton Poole, Sr., Benbrook
Murray State signee can catch, play the infield and pitch for the Bobcats. Named to the all-state team in 2019, helping Benbrook reach the regional finals.