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Published: Monday, March 17, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

5 prep baseball players to watch

  • Glacier Peak third baseman Branson Barnecut

    File photo

    Glacier Peak third baseman Branson Barnecut

  • Snohomish shortstop Haakon Lande

    File photo

    Snohomish shortstop Haakon Lande

  • Marysville Pilchuck pitcher and outfielder Jake Luton

    Marysville Pilchuck pitcher and outfielder Jake Luton

SAM BOONE
P | Sr. | Shorewood
Boone, who will play play baseball next season at Washington State University, is trying to build on an extremely successful 2013 season when he went 10-0 for with a 1.05 earned-run average and struck out 60 batters in 60 innings, helping the Thunderbirds to a Wesco 3A South title.
One of the Puget Sound region's most dominating pitchers, Boone's fastball tops out just over 90 miles per hour. At 6-foot-8, he already was a daunting mound presence and has added about 20 pounds since the end of last season from working out in the weight room.
"I told him, 'physically you are where you need to be,'" Shorewood coach Wyatt Tonkin said. "'Right now, you need to become a real-estate salesman. It's all about location. Location sells. Right now you've got good enough stuff, you need to locate it.'"
With Boone and his four pitches that can baffle opponents, the Thunderbirds should once again be one of the elite teams in the league.
"You need a guy that can go out and you can pretty much count him to keep you in the ball game," Tonkin said. "In our league, especially in the Wesco which nobody will convince me is not the toughest league in the state, you don't have any rest. You can't get by with one pitcher, but you need a stalwart number one guy too."
K.J. BRADY
OF | Sr. | Cascade
Brady, who has sommitted to the University of Washington, batted .321, scored 30 runs and hit five triples to help lead the Bruins tie for third place in the Wesco 4A South. He also had an on-base percentage of .486 with 16 RBI and seven stolen bases.
"One thing about him is that he's such a team player that he doesn't really care about the stats that much," Cascade coach Scott Stencil said. "He's willing to take a walk and he's willing to get hit by a pitch to get on base, which is great because he's a leadoff guy. I expect him to have a great year. How that converts into state, I don't exactly know."
After losing the first game of district playoffs a year ago, the Bruins won four-straight loser-out games to advance to the 4A state tournament. They won one more game to advance to the state quarterfinals before their season came to end.
Brady will be looked to by Stencil to provide leadership as the Bruins again seek a state beth.
BRANSON BARNECUT
3B | Sr. | Glacier Peak
Barnecut helped the Grizzlies to a second-place finish in the Wesco 3A South and an appearance in the 3A state tournament last season. He hit .378 with 14 RBI, 13 doubles and one home run, causing coach Bob Blair to call him one of the most consistent players the Grizzlies had a year ago.
"He pretty much hit off of every pitcher we faced," Blair said. "He was the one guy that could consistently hit off anybody."
Blair expects Barnecut to be more of a leader this year and to be more dangerous at the plate.
"He's always going to be a guy that can hit to the gaps," Blair said. "What we're looking for out of him this year is to add to that. I know it sounds kind of ridiculous considering he led our team in slugging percentage, but we're actually looking for some more power numbers from him this year."
HAAKON LANDE
SS | Sr. | Snohomish
Lande hit .344 with a .500 slugging percentage, 22 RBI, two home runs and stole six bases a year ago for the Wesco 4A North champions.
Despite the Panthers' regular-season success a year ago, they were eliminated from the district tournament with back-to-back losses to Jackson and Cascade. Lande should help the Panthers again challenge for a league championship and a trip to state.
"I personally would be very, very satisfied if he continued to keep the same numbers this year that he had last year, mainly because he will probably have a little bit of a target on his back," Hammons said. "People will now know him a little bit better and probably try to pitch around him a little bit."
JAKE LUTON
P / OF | Sr. | Marysville Pilchuck
Luton will once again pitch and play right field for the defending Wesco 3A North champions this season. He batted .367 with a team-high 17 RBI and was 4-1 with a 1.87 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 30 innings pitched last season.
"When he's going and he's doing what he's supposed to, he's one of the best in the league," Marysville Pilchuck coach Kurt Koshelnik said.
Despite winning their league, the Tomahawks came up two victories shy of a trip to the state tournament.
Koshelnik said he anticipates Luton will be one of the leaders on this year's team.
"The kids look up to him," Koshelnik said. "He's a leader and not just because he's good, but he commands that. He's got a little bit of a presence to him. It's not with him mouth. It's kind of with him actions and how he carries himself."

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Story tags » High School Baseball

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