2018 Season Preview: Casa Grande Gauchos

Blaine Clemmens
Northern California Director of Scouting

As the start of the 2018 high school baseball season in California draws closer, we’ve begun rolling out team previews from around the state.

In this edition we take a closer look at Casa Grande out of the North Bay League of the North Coast Section.  The Gauchos lost in the NCS D2 final in 2017 and also lost five players who signed with DI programs.  That’s an awful lot of talent to replace. Oh, and they also have to replace 23 year head coach Paul Maytorena, who stepped down to focus on family life.  But don’t count the Gauchos out!

Team: Casa Grande HS  

Nickname: Gauchos

Section: North Coast Section, Division 2

League: North Bay

Head Coach: Chad Fillinger

Years as Head Coach at CG: 1st

Team Twitter Handle: @Casa_Baseball

2017 Overall Record: 24-5

2017 League Finish: 13-1

2017 Postseason Finish: Lost in NCS Final

Team Website: Casa Grande Gauchos

Number of Returning Starters: 2

Number of Returning Pitchers: 2

Top Returning Players:

A.J. Miller: SR/1B-OF - 6-foot-3 220, L/R, Oregon signee, one of top hitters in N. California

Joe Lampe: JR/MIF - 5-foot-11 155, R/R, speed/athleticism with strong baseball IQ, Uncommitted

Broc Burleson: SR/RHP - 6-foot3 175, posted 1.88 ERA w/4 wins in 2017, Uncommitted

Other Players To Watch:

Cole Santander: SO/C - 5-foot10 185, R/R, strong arm, big power, Cal commit

Dylan Moore: SR/INF - 5-foot-9 170 - posted .323 w/15 runs, 11 RBI in 2017, Uncommitted

Season Outlook:

To say that Casa Grande will have a whole different look in 2018 than 2017 is quite an understatement.  Highly successful head coach Paul Maytorena stepped down after 23 years and in his place former Gaucho pitcher Chad Fillinger has been hired.  Fillinger pitched for Santa Clara and for four years in the Seattle Mariner organization.  The Gauchos also must find a way to replace an immense amount of talent that lost in the NCS final in 2017.  Four of their seniors from last year signed with DI programs, including two Pac-12 signees.

On top of that, there aren’t a lot of experienced varsity position players returning, but they do have one of Northern California’s top players in senior 1st baseman/outfielder A.J. Miller.  Miller is an Oregon signee and also will be heavily scouted by MLB scouts this spring, as he is a legitimate draft prospect for the upper rounds.  His left-handed power in the middle of the order will certainly needed.  They also have athletic junior middle infielder Joe Lampe coming back after he appeared in 11 games as a sophomore.  His role will significantly expand this season as he looks to step in as the starting shortstop. 

In programs that have had a long run of success like Casa Grande, one thing you can count on in most years are young players sitting and learning behind strong senior laden teams and this Casa team has many such players.  They line-up will be young and athletic, and looks to have a chance to put some runs on the board.  One such player will be powerful sophomore catcher Cole Santander, who has already verballed to Cal, which carries on a tradition of Casa catchers committing to DI programs in recent years.  Santander will be competing with junior Cameron Downing for playing time at the catcher spot.

The outlook is a little different on the mound, which is a good thing for an experienced pitching coach like Fillinger.  The Gauchos did lose pitchers who accounted for 18 of the 24 wins last year, but they do bring back 6-foot-5 senior right-hander Broc Burleson and senior right-hander Nik Kamages, who last year earned the other six wins for the staff.  Kamages logged 34.1 innings last year, second on the team, while pitching in 14 games.  Burleson has gained some velocity and is an intriguing prospect, with his imposing size and athleticism, to go with improving raw stuff.

Casa will play in the Boras Class (March 26) and once again will play a strong conference and non-conference schedule.  That preseason schedule will go a long way toward preparing the new starters and young talents for their league season and hopes of another playoff run.  But in order to make that run, they will have to make it to the playoffs first.


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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.