The Second Annual North Florida Baseball All-Star Classic was to take place Saturday, June 6 at a site to be determined; but like many other sporting events around the country and the world, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a postponement when schools were shut down temporarily in mid-March.
When Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced in late April schools would be shut down for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year with the exception of distance learning, the Baseball All-Star Game was officially canceled.
The 2020 high school baseball season, much like the rest of the school extracurricular year, came to a halt on March 13. For that reason, the players were evaluated based on the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Six teams were chosen for the 2020 All-Stars: North, South, East, West, and two new regions, Atlantic, and Central.
The North team, representing Duval and Nassau Counties, were to be co-managed by Mike Jones (Episcopal) and Bill Bell (Mandarin), who came over from Sandalwood to manage to the Mustangs in 2020.
Episcopal, who advanced to the 4A regional finals in 2019, was off to a 7-1 start in 2020 while Mandarin was 6-2 when the season was brought to a halt.
Featured on this team include Notre Dame signee utility player Danny Neri of Bishop Snyder, who was hitting .368 and had a 0.78 ERA on the mound for the Cardinals and University of Florida signee and Bishop Kenny utility player Colby Halter of Bishop Kenny, who had 9 RBI at the plate and 11 strikeouts with 0 walks on the mound in 2020.
Also expected to be featured for the North is another utility player in Ben Anderson (Christ’s Church), who struck out 48 batters in 2019 and had 21 strikeouts in 2020. Dakota Peeler (Baldwin) struck out 64 batters in 2019 and batted .415, and was batting .312 with 6 RBI when the 2020 season came to an end.
Next up is the East squad, representing Clay, St. Johns, and Putnam Counties.
The East was to be led by co-managers Kris King (Creekside), who led the Knights to their fourth state semifinal appearance in school history in 2019 and an 8-2 start in 2020 and arch-rival Ryan Fitzpatrick (Bartram Trail).
Creekside landed five players on this team, led by JU commit infielder Joshua Frisbee, outfielder Farid Eljaiek, who hit .415 in 2019, Citadel signee outfielder Antonio Colon, and utility Connor Hults, who batted .436 and had a 1.69 ERA with 58 strikeouts on the mound in 2019.
Bartram Trail, who lost to Creekside in the 7A regional semifinals in 2019, also has five representatives on the East team, led by pitchers Justin Dietrick, Nick Scarpiello, and catcher Luke Ussery.
Next up, one of the new regions, the Atlantic region, which represents Volusia and Flagler County and also represents a lot of talent.
The Atlantic squad was to be led by Johnny Goodrich (Spruce Creek), who is now the general manager of the Orlando Scorpions travel baseball club and Anthony Campanella (Flagler Palm Coast). This team features five players from Spruce Creek, who was 24-4 in 2019 and 10-1 this year when the season halted.
The biggest name of those is outfielder Zac Veen, who batted .414 in 2019 with 33 RBI and 32 stolen bases and was taken ninth overall by the Colorado Rockies in last week’s Major League Baseball Draft. Veen had been committed to Florida before the draft.
Also selected from the Hawks were UCF commit pitcher Zack Bennett, who was 7-2 with a 1.06 ERA a year ago, Stetson commits right fielder Camden Traficante, and Embry Riddle commits third baseman Sal Grinstead, who drove in 25 runs for Spruce Creek in 2019; while Flagler Palm Coast placed four players on the Atlantic squad.
Next is the West team, representing the Gainesville area up towards Lake City and the Big Bend.
Buchholz manager Ron Brooks was to co-manage this team along with Rob Brunson (P.K. Yonge). Buchholz was off to a 6-2 start in 2020, while P.K. Yonge was 9-1.
Buchholz led the squad with four selections, including Ole Miss signee pitcher Luke Baker, who finished 2019 6-2 with a 1.98 ERA and 86 strikeouts and Mississippi State signee center fielder Corbin Grantham, who batted .351 a year ago for a Bobcats team that won 17 games but just missed the playoffs. Infielders Parker Green and Austin Akey also represent the West from Buchholz.
Wyatt Lanford, a University of Florida Signee was one of three Trenton players to make the West team as well.
Dylan Mock (Lafayette) makes the West teams as a pitcher after a 2019 season with a 9-2 record, 2.09 ERA and 86 strikeouts. Mock had a 1.35 ERA with 32 strikeouts in limited work in 2020. Trent Becker (Trenton), who finished 2019 7-1 with a 1.04 ERA and 58 strikeouts and already had 26 strikeouts with a 1.67 ERA this season, was selected to play for the West.
Next up is another new region, the Central. This team was to be led by Bret Simmermacher (East Ridge) and Mike Koronka (Real Life Christian) both in Clermont.
South Lake leads the way with five players selected to the Central, including FSU commit AJ Shaver and USF commit Caleb Pundsack. Shaver was 4-1 with a 1.62 ERA in 2019 with 57 strikeouts and batted .329 with 24 RBI and was hitting .357 in 2020. Pundsack was 3-1 with 46 strikeouts a year ago and drove in 18 runs while striking out 26 and hitting .310 this season.
Also making the team from South Lake are UNF commit Travis Stapleton, hitting .524 with 5 RBI this year and Polk State commit catcher Carter Geir, who was batting .345.
Three players from East Ridge make the Central squad, led by pitcher Najer Victor, an FSU commit.
The final team comes from the South, which consists of Marion County. Dale Hall (North Marion) along with Jed Yancey (Forest) was scheduled to lead the South All-Stars.
Dunnellon, who advanced to the 6A regional final in 2019, leads the South with four selections.
Pitcher Pierson Graham, who was 5-1 with a 1.06 ERA and 55 strikeouts a year ago, was selected along with outfielders Jaquavion Fraziers and Kenny Richardson. Fraziers batted .475 with 37 RBI and was named to the Ocala Star-Banner All-Area First team in 2019. Dunnellon catcher Jonathan Santiago was also named to the South team after 2019 where hit .315 with 33 runs batted in.
Forest and North Marion both had three players each chose for the South squad, which also featured players from Vanguard, Trinity Catholic, Lake Weir, Belleview, and West Port.