SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — The first ever Southern California High School Baseball Media Day took place on Wednesday at JSerra High School. JSerra baseball coach Brett Kay put on the event, despite the fact that there will be a separate Trinity League Media Day in February at Mater Dei. Prep Baseball Report also helped organize.
Scorebook Live California reporter Connor Morrissette breaks down what he learned from every team on Wednesday below.
Harvard-Westlake fell in the Division 1 Southern Section championship game last season to Cypress 2-0 at Dodger Stadium. The Wolverines lost star pitcher Sam Hliboki to graduation, but head coach Jared Halpert loves his team in 2020 and thinks that they can return to the title game.
“We have 23 kids that are exceptional baseball players,” Halpert said.
High school baseball fans will remember Pete Crow-Armstrong (Vanderbilt commit) and Drew Bowser (Stanford commit), from last year. They’re two of the best hitters in the country.
Harvard-Westlake’s lineup is incredible, but Halpert made it clear that his pitching staff is talented and deep as well.
“People should be pleasantly surprised with our pitching staff,” Halpert said.
Jordan Kang, Tyler Ganus, and Christian Becerra are the names to know there.
Mira Costa will have some new faces, “it’s a new look for us,” head coach Keith Ramsey said.
The best returner is senior UCLA commit Kyle Karros, a third baseman.
Mira Costa also landed a dominant hitter from Northern California named Petey Halpin. He’s a senior outfielder whose committed to Texas.
Jonah Storey, a junior, will be one of the team’s top pitchers.
The two top players on Maranatha are Eli Paton, a UCLA commit that can play anywhere in the outfield and first and third base, and Brock Vradenburg, a Michigan State commit at first base.
“These are two of the best left handed hitters in the country,” head coach Matt Shupper said.
Maranatha is in Division 2 this season where they should contend for a Southern Section championship.
A recent national poll put Huntington Beach at no. 30 in the country. The Oilers are led by seniors Jake Vogel, an outfielder and UCLA commit and Jag Burden, an outfielder and Cal commit.
Thomas Babineau will be the number one starting pitcher until Huntington Beach gets a few transfers eligible.
Tyler Conan and Caden Aoki are two pitchers who will have to sit out, but once they’re eligible they’ll form a three-headed monster with Babineau.
The reigning Division 1 Southern Section champions will be very dangerous once again, but they lack the star power of years past, according to head coach John Weber.
Weber still likes his team’s chances of winning another Division 1 title though, “if everything clicks.”
Star pitcher Brett Wozniak, a Kansas State commit, returns. He got the save in last year’s 2-0 championship game win over Harvard-Westlake.
Luke Davis, a sophomore catcher and pitcher whose committed to USC, is back for Cypress too.
Isaiah Greene is Corona’s top player. He’s a 2020 Missouri commit who plays in the outfield. Head coach Andy Wise says he has pro potential.
Corona has 15 seniors, which is the most Wise has had in his 11 year Corona tenure.
Another top senior is Michael Flores, a Long Beach State commit, who will be the team’s top pitcher.
The Lancers have a very strong pitching staff. Bishop Amat is led by Iziah Ayala and Jake Vargas, two Cal State Fullerton commits.
Tyler White, a Long Beach State commit, will start in center field for the Lancers. Head coach Joe Hoggatt thinks White, “can become the best player he’s ever coached.”
Expect Bishop Amat to be a dark horse title contender in Division 1 of the Southern Section.
Head coach Jimmy Zurn “expects big things” this season from La Mirada. The Matadors return eight starters from last year’s team that lost a nine inning playoff game to Cypress, the eventual Division 1 champion.
Jared Jones, a Texas commit and future pro, is the team’s best pitcher. He throws in the mid to upper 90’s. Emilio Morales, a USC commit, will pitch as well along with Michael DeHaro, a UC Santa Barbara commit. All three of these guys can hit too.
The Matadors are in contention to be Scorebook Live California’s no. 1 team when our first baseball rankings come out next month.
Alex Rodriguez, Matty Clark and Shaun Montoya, three Division 1 commits, represented the Spartans on Wednesday.
Damien has won the Baseline League twice in the last four years. The Spartans boast a strong lineup, but how far they go in the playoffs will be determined by what they get on the mound.
George Jones is in his first year at the helm of Vista Murrieta. He’s named two seniors as captains, Zach Rodriguez (UC Santa Barbara commit) and Cayden Castellanos (New Mexico State).
Castellanos is the team’s top pitcher. He’s had a very strong offseason. Sophomore infielder Mikey Romero, an Arizona commit, is another name to know. He’s competed with Team USA in youth baseball in the past.
The Broncos will be one of the top team’s in the Inland Empire.
“We return a lot of experience,” head coach Matt Lucas said.
The team will have a strong lineup, but the Golden Hawks are still looking for pitching depth, according to Lucas. If another arm emerges, look for El Dorado to make noise in Division 2 of the Southern Section.
Pitcher/outfielder Corbin Ellis was one of the player representatives on Wednesday. He also plays football at El Dorado.
The Diablos are looking to rebound in 2020. They didn’t make the playoffs a year ago for the first time in 11 years.
Mission Viejo returns its top three pitchers from last season led by seniors Hayden Cody (Cal State Northridge commit) and AJ Anzai.
The South Coast League will be extremely competitive, according to head coach Chris Ashbach. He joked that when people ask him where he thinks his team will finish, he sometimes says first and sometimes says fifth.
El Toro finished second in the South Coast League last season behind Capistrano Valley. This year they’re gunning for the top spot.
“I like our team on the mound, I like our team defensively, but hitting is hit or miss, like it always is,” head coach Michael Gonzales said.
Shayne Simpson, a first baseman and pitcher, is committed to California Baptist. Paul Skenes is one of the top catchers in the region who can also pitch. He’s committed to Air Force. Those are the two leaders for the Chargers.