The Metro Detroit area is loaded with elite baseball players, with Detroit Country Day first baseman John Malcom, Warren DeLaSalle infielder Bryce Bush and Saline pitcher Cole Daniels leading the way.
Malcom, Bush and Daniels are the top three players in the area, as ranked by The News, and possibly the state this season.
Malcom, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior, is expected to be the nation’s top high-school first baseman taken in this June’s draft. Bush, a 6-0, 190-pound senior, was so feared last season that he was intentionally walked 43 times. And Daniels is big and powerful at 6-2 and 230 pounds and allowed just two earned runs as a left-handed pitcher last season to help Saline win its first Division 1 state championship.
Malcom hit .480 last season and already has hit two home runs in the first five games this season. He signed with Vanderbilt.
“He’s a special talent, the type of player you only get once in your coaching career,” Country Day coach Steve Lepkowski said. “He’s a power hitter and ranked as the top high school first baseman in the country.”
It was easy to see Bush would be a star when he helped DeLaSalle win the Division 1 state championship during his sophomore year. He had three hits in a quarterfinal win, then hit a two-run single in the sixth inning for a 7-6 lead in the eventual title-game win over Saline.
Bush, who will play at Mississippi State, followed his sophomore season heroics with a strong junior year when he hit .544 with 16 home runs despite getting being pitched around,.
“He’s a very special talent, a five-tool guy who has great speed, a strong arm, a great glove and can hit and hit with power,” said Dave Zelmanski, who took over for Matt Cook as DeLaSalle head coach. “He played first and third last year, but we’re moving him to shortstop this season.”
Saline also has a new coach in Dave Sontag, who replaced Scott Theisen, who led the program for the last 25 years, winning 639 games, including that first state title-game win.
Sontag is impressed with Daniels, who will more than likely face Bush when he pitches at Kentucky in future years.
“He’s a great athlete, throws in the high 80s and is confident with all three pitches he throws,” Sontag said of the left-hander, who was 8-0 with a 0.25 ERA, striking out 67 in 54.2 innings last season.
Daniels also hits in the cleanup spot, and for good reason since he hit .360 with six home runs and 43 RBIs last season.
4. William English, Sr., P-OF, Detroit Western: The Tennessee-bound English throws in the low 90s and is a five-tool player, running extremely well.
5. Chad Lorkowski, Jr., P, Grosse Pointe North: The 6-5 right-hander owns a 19-1 record during his first two years, including 9-1 with a 1.60 ERA last season. He throws in the high 80s and hits over .400 from the cleanup spot. He is getting interest from Big Ten schools.
6. Cameron Tullar, Sr., P, Brighton: Tullar is expected to be drafted this June. He was 5-3 last season with a 1.21 ERA and has excellent control of multiple pitches, throwing in the upper 80s.
7. Gabe Sotres, Sr., C, Birmingham Brother Rice: An outstanding defensive receiver with a strong arm, Sotres hit .362 with 38 RBIs last season. He will play next year at Michigan State.
8. Logan Wood, So., P, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s: A left-handed power pitcher who clocks near 90, Wood struck out 68 in 56.2 innings of work. He already is committed to Michigan.
9. Drew Szczepaniak, Sr., P, Woodhaven: He had an outstanding junior year where he earned an 8-1 record with a 0.25 ERA, displaying excellent control (76 strikeouts, nine walks). He will play at Western Michigan.
10. Anthony George, Sr., P, Grosse Pointe Liggett: He posted a 20-2 record the last three years, including 2-0 this season with a 5-1 win over defending Catholic League champion Birmingham Brother Rice and a no-hitter against defending Division 3 state champion Madison Heights Bishop Foley. He hit .413 last season (21 stolen bases) to help Liggett reach the D1 final.