2018 Season Preview: Beckman Patriots


Les Lukach
State Scouting Director

With the 2018 high school baseball season just around the corner in California, we will begin rolling out team previews from around the state.

In this edition we take a closer look at the Beckman Patriots (Irvine, Ca.) a team loaded with talent looking to make a deep postseason run in the always difficult CIF-Section Division II playoffs.

Team: Beckman

Nickname: Patriots

Section: Southern Section, Division II

League: Pacific Coast League

Head Coach: Kevin LaValle (@CoachKLav27)

Years as Head Coach at School: 11

Team Twitter Handle: @BPatsBaseball

2017 Overall Record: 21-7

2017 Postseason Finish: Lost in second round to eventual champion Etiwanda

Team Website: www.beckmanbaseball.com

Number of Returning Starters: 5

Number of Returning Pitchers: 2

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS:

Matt McLain: SR/SS - 5'10, 170, UCLA commit is an MLB Draft prospect in 2018.

Justin Graves: SR/LHP - 6'3, 170, Vanguard commit has made big gains this offseason.

Jared Platero: SR/RHP 6'3, 200, Long Beach State signee has added a legitimate secondary pitch to his hard fastball.

Collin Villegas: - SR/C -5'10, 180, Can play multiple positions; will focus on catcher. Concordia signee

Alec Gomez: SO/3B - 5'10, 175, Outstanding natural athlete. Does everything well. San Diego State Commit

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Connor McGuire: JR/2B - 2019 -5'11

Jake Groves: SR/OF - 1st Team All League. Physical specimen.

Sean McLain: JR/2B - 5'10, 160 - Fully healthy, legitimate big-time D1 recruit

Justin Goldstein: JR/RHP - 6'2, 170, coming off a big fall; will pitch a lot.

Trevor Ernt: JR/LHP - 6'0, 200, Very, very good pitcher. Will get a lot of innings.

Nick McLain: FR/LHP/OF/1B - The last of the McLain boys may be the best. That's saying a lot.

SEASON OUTLOOK:

One of the hottest teams in Southern Section during the regular season, the Beckman Patriots made the playoffs after a third-place finish in the tough Pacific Coast League. After a first-round win, the Patriots fell to eventual DII Champion, Etiwanda. Beckman will look to use that experience as fuel this season as they again expect to be in the thick of their league and division race.

Beckman has a healthy mix of youth and experience that could pay dividends as they grind through another difficulty non-conference schedule leading into one of the top Division II leagues in the Southern Section.

"It's hard to tell how good we are going to be compared to anyone else," said LaValle who is entering his eleventh season at the helm of the Beckman program. "I think in our league, we will be right in the thick of things, like we always are."

The Patriots return a lot of experienced and quality players led by shortstop Matt McLain, a UCLA commit and potential draft pick in the upcoming MLB Draft. McLain will be starting his fourth varsity season and is getting a lot attention from scouts after a very productive summer where he showed his wares on a national level.

"He's the best high school player I've ever coached, and it's not even a close comparison," said LaValle. "He just does everything the right way. He's coachable, intelligent, and a competitor. He will go as far as his potential will take him."

The Patriots, however, are not a one-trick pony. They're deep on the mound. Five deep. They're always good on the mound, but this is the first time they have five pitchers that are this good.

Platero, a right handed pitcher headed to Long Beach State, is a hard throwing pitcher that's added a legitimate secondary pitch during the fall. Graves is 6-foot-3 left handed pitcher with major upside that's made a big jump this fall. Villegas will move from the mound - where he was arguably the teams best pitcher last year - to behind the plate this year, but will assume the closer role. Juniors, Goldstein and Ernt, both are coming off good fall seasons and each raised some eyebrows on the coaching staff. 

Offensively, LaValle and his staff have worked diligently on filling some holes that were exposed late last season during their playoff push. The bottom third of the lineup was identified as a weakness the last two seasons so their focus is on shoring that up as they head into the 2018 campaign.

"I think we've really made an effort to have a complete lineup," said LaValle. "We've tried to identify guys that could possibly hit in those sports (7,8,9) and coach them to use their skills in certain ways."

The focus for the coaching staff is not on those hitters driving in runs, but rather having them move runners over and getting on base. LaValle and his staff want those hitters to focus on on-base percentage rather than batting average. It takes a certain type of player willing to sacrifice personal statistics for the greater good of the team. LaValle believes they've found the right guys for the job.

RELATED CONTENT:

CLICK HERE to create your FREE Prep Baseball Report Profile.

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.