Southern California High School Baseball Showcasing Nation’s Best MLB Prospects

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Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, CA) defeated San Dimas 5-4 on Friday, punching their ticket to the CIF-SS Division I Final Four. On Tuesday, May 14, they will face off against the Lancers of Orange Lutheran (Orange, CA) for the fourth time this season, only this time, for a spot in the finals.

They have split two meetings since the start of April, each team winning one game by a single run. The winner would face the winner of the other semifinal game between Corona and Huntington Beach. All semifinal participants in 2024 are ranked in the top 6 in California and three of them are ranked in the top 8 in the nation according to MaxPreps.

Bryce Rainer, Perfect Game’s #1 prospect in California, headlines the talent left in Division 1. He has committed to the University of Texas, however, he is ranked in the top 10 of all 2024 MLB Draft Prospects according to MLB.com, so he could definitely forego college and head for the pros. He is an outstanding two-way player at shortstop/third base and as a pitcher for Harvard Westlake. Getting Corey Seager comparisons certainly has people turning their heads.

His teammate, pitcher Duncan Marsten, is ranked 71st overall on the same list and he is committed to Wake Forest. Gerrit Cole’s name is brought up when scouts talk about him. He would just be another star pitcher to come out of the program.

Corona High School sends out lefty Ethan Schiefelbein, ranked overall at #107. He has a full ride to UCLA in the Fall. He pitched a complete game shutout in the National High School Invitational for Corona. I’m not a scout, but he gives me Cliff Lee vibes, especially with his delivery.

The Orange Lutheran Lancers counter those stars with one of their own. Derek Curiel is a solid contact hitter and “rarely strikes out.” He’s ranked #109 on MLB.com. He is expected to be drafted, but also to instead go to LSU where he has been offered a scholarship.

Huntington Beach may not have a player on the MLB.com Top 150 list, but they have faced the competition to be here. They now face Corona who they have two losses against this year by a combined three runs and the two-run loss happened just before Valentine’s Day. A lot has happened since then. You have to remember, they were the 2023 National High School Invitational Champions and are led by one of the best high school baseball coaches in the country in Benji Medure.

All four teams left played in that same invitational this year. California High School Baseball is just different. You play in multiple states, multiple major league stadiums, and some play in Cary, North Carolina, home of USA Baseball.

California is the lead producer of MLB talent in the United States. Baseball is a religion in the state. The perfect weather also plays a part. It is one of the few sports where public school programs can be just as good as private school ones. Semifinals will be played on May 14 and the winners will win a trip to Lake Elsinore for the championship at the home of the Lake Elsinore Storm on May 17.



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