Players to watch
► Justin Bellinger , St. Sebastian’s: The 6-foot-6 junior from Weston had three home runs in his team’s season opener, and the Vanderbilt University recruit will be a force on the hill as a hard-throwing lefty.
► Keelan Smithers , Belmont Hill: The senior lefty from Framingham — a Princeton University commit — possesses a fastball that hovers in the mid-80s, and he finished last season 5-0 and with a .077 earned run average.
► Ryan Sullivan , Hopkinton: Already the school’s all-time leader in home runs, the senior shortstop, a University of Connecticut recruit, will provide the Hillers plenty of pop when opposing pitchers dare to challenge him.
► Dan Swain , Newton North: The fleet-footed senior, headed to Siena University in the fall, could be the most dangerous hitter in the Bay State Conference this spring.
► Jake Willsey , Rivers: After overcoming an injury suffered while playing football for the Red Wings, the senior shortstop and future Tulane University baseball player from Chestnut Hill is ready to give Independent School League pitchers fits.
Perry’s Top 10 baseball teams
(Final 2012 records)
1. St. John’s High (22-3): Led in part by the battery of junior catcher Scott Manea and senior righty Ben White, who is heading to Holy Cross, the Pioneers have the pieces to make a second consecutive run to the Division 1 Central sectional final and perhaps beyond.
2. Algonquin Regional (15-9): The Tomahawks have all new position players but return three senior pitchers from last year’s surprising Division 1 state finalist, including righty captain Luke Serra, who took the mound for their upset win over St. John’s in the sectional final.
3. Newton North (14-11): Senior center fielder Dan Swain and junior catcher Alex Joyce highlight a list of eight returning starters from last year’s Division 1 North finalist.
4. Lincoln-Sudbury Regional (17-5): Coach Kirk Fredericks has five Dual County League all-stars returning, including junior pitchers Sid Warrenbrand (0.88 ERA last season) and Alex Wieland (0.25).
5. Franklin (19-3): The loss of junior pitcher Marc Mele (6-1 last season) to a shoulder injury is a big blow, but the Panthers have strong senior leadership both on the mound and at the dish in Brandon Eccher, Brendan Kuzio, Jimmy Henchy, and Neal Hart.
6. Hopkinton (17-5): Last year’s Tri-Valley League champs have the league’s Pitcher of the Year — junior lefty Nick Burns — and one of its best hitters — senior shortstop Ryan Sullivan — as two of its three returning starters, providing a solid core for a squad that could threaten once again for the top spot in the always-competitive TVL.
7. Waltham (12-10): The Hawks are in good shape for this spring with the return of four Dual County League all-stars: juniors Nick Neshe, Joe Dwyer , and Sean Kelley, and senior Richie Scanlon.
8. Shrewsbury (13-9): With 6-3, 210-pound senior shortstop Mike Coggeshall anchoring the defense, junior lefty Spencer Resnik on the mound, and seniors Jay Reynolds and Ryan Dube locking down two of the outfield spots, they’ll feature some experienced talent in the Midland Wachusett League’s Division A competition.
9. Acton-Boxborough Regional (16-7): Eight players return to the Colonials this season, including senior second baseman Billy Jackman, and senior righthanded ace Joe Euele.
10. Milford (17-4): First-year coach Paul Pellegrini takes the reins of a club that won the Mid-Wach A last season, and makes its inaugural foray into the Hockomock League this spring. Phil Perry
Phil Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.