Nine Area Baseball Players to Watch This Season
By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
The weather still feels a little like spring but the sports calendar says its summer time.
Baseball seasons opens for teams across the state on Monday with the goal for every team a trip to Principal Park in Des Moines for the state tournament.
Here are nine area players to watch as the season heats up over the next few months.
Brett McCleary, City High
A rare four-year starter, McCleary is coming off the best season of his career last summer.
McCleary had 13 extra-base hits among his team-leading 48 hits last season while striking out just seven times in 137 at bats.
The senior catcher hit .350 last season with 10 doubles and 25 RBI and was a unanimous first team Mississippi Valley Conference divisional pick.
Connor McCaffery, West High
Iowa recruit flashed his tremendous potential last season when he hammered eight home runs and hit .407 while leading the Trojans to a third straight Class 4A runner-up finish.
Nearly half of McCaffery’s team-leading 50 hits went for extra bases last season as he posted a .748 slugging percentage and drew 23 walks on his way to a .520 on-base percentage.
McCaffery was second on the team with 33 RBI last season and tied for the team lead with 42 runs.
Luke Ira, Solon
Ira broke through as one of the top players in the WAMAC last season as a sophomore leading Solon in hits (50), runs (37), doubles (15) and wins (8) while helping the Spartans to a Class 3A state semifinal appearance.
As a shortstop Ira hit .336 and drove in 30 runs for Solon while also posting a 3.37 ERA in 52 innings pitched as one of Solon’s top pitchers.
Ira spun a complete game, two-hit shutout in a district final win over Mount Vernon.
Ryne Schooley, Regina
Earned first team all-state honors as a utility player in Class 2A last season after leading Regina with a .368 batting average and also posting a 1.62 ERA.
Schooley did a little bit of everything for the Regals last season.
The lefty posted a 4-3 record and struck out 75 in 47 2/3 innings last year including a two-hit, 13-strikeout performance in a district win over Wilton.
Schooley also had team-highs in hits (43), RBI (32) and doubles (10) and scored 22 runs and stole 11 bases.
Izaya Ono-Fullard, West High
Senior, Third baseman
Another thumper in the middle of a West High lineup that ranks among the best in the state, Ono-Fullard had a pair of home runs and 30 RBI a year ago while batting .354.
The DMACC recruit stole 17 basses and scored 37 runs a year ago and struck out just 10 times in 130 at bats.
Nate Disterhoft, West High
Senior, First baseman
Sometimes lost in the shuffle with all the talent in the West High lineup, Disterhoft has quietly become a dangerous middle-of-the order threat.
The senior first baseman hit .363 and drove in 25 runs last season while walking 20 times and only striking out eight.
Kobey Schlotman, Clear Creek Amana
Schlotman had the best season of his career a year ago when he posted a 1.96 ERA in 46 1/3 innings.
The senior left-hander won’t blow you away (just 35 strikeouts) but is one of the top control pitchers around (11 walks last season) and changes speeds as well as anyone.
Bryce Frantz, City High
Frantz emerged as a true ace last season when he posted 1.58 ERA in a team-high 53 1/3 innings as a junior.
The left-hander went 3-3 last season while allowing 51 hits and walked 16 while striking out 50 last year on his way to being a unanimous first-team all-conference pick.
Ted Bridges, West Branch
Got his feet wet as a freshman last season posting a 3.55 ERA in 21 2/3 innings.
Bridges averaged nearly a strikeout per inning last season as a freshman and allowed 26 hits in 21 2/3 innings.