Prep Baseball Report

2018 Season Preview: Davis Blue Devils

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 go to the Sac-Joaquin Section to preview one of the power programs in Northern California, Davis Senior HS.  The Blue Devils fell to Elk Grove in the 2017 section finals but return a strong core, including one of the nation’s top players in senior outfielder Ryan Holgate.  The expectations are high in Davis for 2018, as they should be.

Team: Davis Senior HS  

Nickname: Blue Devils

Section: Sac-Joaquin, Division 1

League: Delta League

Head Coach: Dan Ariola

Years as Head Coach at DSHS: 23

Team Twitter Handle: @DSHSBaseball

2017 Overall Record: 23-9

2017 League Finish: 10-4

2017 Postseason Finish: Lost in SJS Division 1 Finals

Team Website: Davis Blue Devils

Number of Returning Starters: 6

Number of Returning Pitchers: 3

Top Returning Players:

Ryan Holgate: SR/OF-LHP - 6-2 190, 2017 .371 / 12 2B / 6 HR / 31 RBI / 25 R / 2.07 ERA / 7-2 / 48 K / 40.2 IP, Arizona signee

Tyler Mortensen: SR/LHP-1B - 6-4 205, 2017 3.16 ERA / 46 K / 55.1 IP / .312 w/3 2B / 19 RBI, San Jose State signee

Nick Vogt: JR/CF - 6-0 165, R/R, 2017 .427 / 3 2B / 3 3B / 21 RBI / 18 R, UC Santa Barbara commit

Other Players To Watch:

Jonah Henrickson: JR/INF - 5-11 175, JV standout in 2017, versatile infielder, UC Davis commit

Jack Painter: SR/UTL-P - 6-0 180, 2017 .349 / 7 2B / 1 HR / 15 RBI

Reed Hessl: SR/SS - 5-10 160, returns as starting SS, 2017 8 2B, 12 RBI, 9 SB

Season Outlook:

Coach Ariola has been at Davis HS for 23 years, has guided three D1 section champions and been a consistent contender in the rough and tumble Delta League year in and year out.  This year, there will be a lot of eyes on the Blue Devils, not only because they have a strong team that should again contend, but because of the presence of senior outfielder Ryan Holgate.  Many of the watching eyes will belong to Major League Baseball scouts, cross-checkers, and scouting directors, as Holgate is one of the top players in California and the nation.

The 2017 Blue Devils had a great season.  They not only got to the SJS finals, but they took 2nd place in the Delta League, among powerhouse programs like Jesuit, Elk Grove, and Pleasant Grove.  In the 2017 Boras Classic North final they fell to Bellarmine Prep out of San Jose.  In 2016 they got to the finals of the Boras Baseball Classic only to fall to Mira Costa.  This is a program that has a strong tradition of winning baseball.

It should be noted that Holgate is one of four Blue Devils to commit/sign with a NCAA D1 program.  Senior left-handed pitcher Tyler Mortensen signed with San Jose State and returns after leading the pitching staff in innings pitched and strikeouts in 2017.  Holgate is also a talented left-hander and if he weren’t a position player, he would be considered a prospect on the mound as well, with a fastball that gets into the upper-80s.  He likely won’t pitch much until later in the spring, as Coach Ariola will be careful with his arm, considering his prospect status as a hitter. 

As talented and accomplished as Mortensen and Holgate are, the team’s leading hitter in 2017 was junior centerfielder Nick Vogt, who has verbally committed to UC Santa Barbara.  Vogt hit a cool .427 in 2017 and provided good extra base pop to the line-up.  Fellow junior, infielder Jonah Henrickson was on the JV team last season and had a great summer season.  He is expected to hold down 1st base for the Blue Devils and hit in the middle of the order.  Henrickson has verbally committed to UC Davis. 

Other returners who will play key roles are returning senior starting shortstop Reed Hessl, senior utility player (INF/OF/P) Jack Painter, and senior infielder Sean Finerty.  All three were starters in 2017.  This team has the look of a big time contender, with returning starters all over the field, their top two starting pitchers, major D1 talent, and one of the state’s top hitters in the middle of the line-up. 

The schedule sets up to give Davis a number of great early season contests that will prepare them for the Delta League.  They will once again play in the Boras Classic North, against a yet to be determined opponent.  They also play St. Mary’s of Stockton, Bellarmine, St. Francis, Vacaville, Yuba City, Vintage, and Cardinal Newman.  That is a rigorous and exciting schedule.

In the Delta League, Davis is considered by many to be the favorite, even with nationally ranked Elk Grove and a very talented Jesuit team waiting for them.  From April 24-May 1 they take on Jesuit twice, Elk Grove twice, and mix in a non-conference game with little ole’ De La Salle on April 28th!  Fun stuff!


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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.