2018 Season Preview: Ayala Bulldogs

Les Lukach
State Scouting Director

As we move into the final few weeks before the start of the 2018 high school baseball season in California, we will begin rolling out team previews from around the state.

In this edition we take a closer look at the Ayala Bulldogs (Chino Hills, Ca.) who are loaded with talent and appear ready to take the next step in the always difficult CIF-Southern Section Division II playoffs.

Team: Ayala HS

Nickname: Bulldogs

Section: Southern Section, Division II

League: Palomares

Head Coach: Chris Vogt (@chrisvogt8411)

Years as Head Coach: 7

Team Twitter Handle: @ayalabaseball

2017 Overall Record: 22-11

2017 Postseason Finish: Lost in third round

Team Website: Ayala Bulldogs

Number of Returning Starters: 7

Number of Returning Pitchers: 4

Top Returning Players:

Daniel Mendez: SR/C-OF - Three-year starter. Hit .335 with 2 HR last year. St. Mary’s Signee.

Kyle Velazquez: SR/SS - Three-year starter. Team MVP as a sophomore. Hit .336, 3 HR, 9 Doubles last year. St. Mary’s Signee.

Tristan Thomas: SR/OF - Hit .351 last year. University of Pacific Signee.

Joe Naranjo: JR/1B-LHP - Hit .267, 10 doubles, 3 HR. 8-3 0.64 ERA last year. Cal State Fullerton Commit.

Dylan Cook: JR/LHP-OF - Hit .311, 6-2 1.54 ERA last year. Utah Valley University commit. 

John Pappas: JR/C - Two-year starter behind the plate.

Other Players To Watch:

Cole Koniarsky: FR/OF - Led varsity in extra base hits in fall. High level prospect.

Ethan Rivera: SO/C-P-1B - Likely a future catcher that pops 2.0-2.1 consistently.

Curtis Nagel: SR/LHP - Potential impact bullpen arm at next level.

Season Outlook:

With the talent the Bulldogs feature the expectations are high for Ayala in 2018. With the return of the entire infield and their #1 and #3 pitchers, head coach Chris Vogt isn’t shying away from internal expectations.

“We should compete for a league title,” said Vogt. “We should be one of the favorites to win Division II.”

With the depth of returning talent, the Bulldogs can ease their talented young players into competing at the varsity level. Ayala returns it’s entire lineup except it’s 5 and 8 hitters which should bode well for a team that carried a .303 team batting average and slugged 21 home runs last season led by Mendez’s team-high (min. 25 25 AB’s) .335 average.

Setting the offense aside, Ayala is built on pitching and defense. Last year the Bulldogs had a team ERA of 1.62 which when you consider some of the fields they play at is pretty incredible. Naranjo is an elite arm at the high school level who should have the chance to both pitch and hit in college.

With a team fielding percentage of .949, the Bulldogs should be even more consistent in that area with another year under their belts. Of the returning players, Naranjo led the team with a .979 fielding percentage in 188 total chances.

Now in his seventh-year, Vogt has the Ayala program playing and competing at a very high level year-in year-out. With a culture of winning and competing combined with a roster full or returning players, there is no reason to believe that the Bulldogs can achieve their head coach’s lofty expectation for the 2018 season. We do know this, it will be a fun ride to follow.


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California high school coaches can request a 2019 preseason questionnaire from Northern California Director of Scouting Blaine Clemmens at [email protected] or California State Director of Scouting Les Lukach at [email protected]

Note: The completion of a questionnaire does not guarantee we will be able to get it posted before the start of the season.