2018 Season Preview: Dublin Gaels


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 East Bay to take a peek at a team that didn’t have the greatest season in 2017, but just might be in line for a big bounce back year in 2018.  Though they play in one of Northern California’s strongest conferences and are coming off a last place finish, they ARE bringing back eight starters and six pitchers.  The young players who went through some growing pains last year will have a shot to show what they learned.  A number of them are also on a state contending basketball team… so they have some athletic kids. Let’s take a look.

Team: Dublin HS  

Nickname: Gaels

Section: North Coast, Division 1

League: East Bay Athletic League (EBAL)

Head Coach: Andrew Lonsdale

Years as Head Coach at DHS: 3

Team Twitter Handle: @dublinhsbsbll

2017 Overall Record: 10-14

2017 League Finish: 3-10

2017 Postseason Finish: Did not qualify

Team Website: Dublin Gaels

Number of Returning Starters: 8

Number of Returning Pitchers: 6

Top Returning Players:

Brandon Greim: SR/SS - 6-0 180, L/R, 4-year starter at 2B/SS, runs well w/good bat talent, 2017 .352, 5 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, Uncommitted

Cole McMahon: JR/OF - 6-4 180, R/R, projectable power w/good speed, 2017 .326, 4.0 GPA, starting to get some D1 attention, Uncommitted

Sam Gilliam: JR/C - 5-10 165, R/R, good defensive catcher also ’17 team’s leading hitter, .353, 4 2B, 1 HR, Uncommitted

Other Players To Watch:

Grant Manning: JR/RHP - 6-6 170, long and limber with loose arm, up to 86 as soph, Uncommitted

Jack Nielsen: SR/LHP - 6-7 190, long and strong w/fastball approaching 90, Uncommitted

Nick Costello: SO/CF-LHP - 5-10 170, L/L, centerfielder, 3-sport athlete, 4.2 GPA

Season Outlook:

It’s not common to start off an article about a high school baseball team by writing about the school’s basketball team, but for the 2018 Dublin Gaels, it’s quite appropriate.  In fact, four of their best baseball players are contributors for a 20-3 basketball team that is a legitimate state contender.  In fact, the basketball coach’s son, Nick Costello, is one of the team’s talented sophomore baseball players.

What also is uncommon is to be excited to feature a team coming off a 3-10 league season and last place finish.  However, this Dublin team is different.  The talent in the Tri-Valley area of the East Bay (Pleasanton, Dublin, Livermore) is good and has been good for a long time.  The conference features some of the heavy hitters in Northern California.  Understanding that the Gaels return eight starters and six pitchers, and that many of them are multi-sport athletes, on a big time high school basketball team, well, that is all interesting stuff from a scouting and player development perspective.  Worst to first?  That would be a big thing. But worst to… NCS playoffs?  I think it’s possible.

Coach Lonsdale has something EVERY high school team wishes to have; an experienced and talented shortstop.  Senior Brandon Greim is that guy for Dublin and he is entering his fourth year as a starter up the middle.  One thing that is often found on good high school teams is a shortstop who can lead, can play, and has been in his role for some extended time.  Mix in the fact that he is a left-handed hitter, and Greim is one of the more intriguing uncommitted players in the Bay Area.

His teammate, junior catcher Sam Gilliam, is cut from a similar cloth.  He is entering his junior year off a sophomore campaign when he not only stood out as a defensive catcher, but he also led the team in hitting.  An experienced catcher with defensive tools who can hit?  Yes please.  For a team to start off with players at catcher and shortstop the likes of Greim and Gilliam, that’s a recipe for a good year. 

Now, let’s get to a few of the players who are contributors to the aforementioned basketball team.  Junior outfielder Cole McMahon is an intriguing athlete.  He has a frame that immediately passes the eye test, then add in some projectable power and good speed, and he is they type of player who certainly has a chance to pop up this spring.  Coach Lonsdale says he is also a 4.0 student and when you add all that up, it’s not a surprise that college coaches are starting to pay him some attention.

Two pitchers, both of whom would be on an all-airport team, are a major reasons for optimism for the Gaels.  Senior left-hander Jack Nielsen is strong presence for the 20-3 hoops team, and also starting to show the velocity that could have him followed as a breakout spring pitcher.  Control will be a key however, as it is for all 6-foot-7 pitchers.  That he’s left-handed and can throw hard, well, that’s just more to dream on.  His older brother Eric was a VERY hard thrower, in the low-mid 90s during his high school days. 

Junior right-hander Grant Manning, like Nielsen, has a significant role with the basketball team and has an intriguing baseball profile.  He’s 6-foot-6 and as a sophomore started sniffing around the mid-80s, topping at 86 mph.  The twin towers could very well be the linchpins of the Gaels 2018 baseball season.

Sophomore outfielder Nick Costello is a very good athlete. In fact, he’s a three sport athlete and as a basketball guard who scores in double digits, a centerfielder/left-handed pitcher and also a wide receiver, he checks off ALL the boxes for high level high school athlete. Oh, his father is also the coach of the basketball team.  He is expected to start in centerfield for the Gaels and will get a lot of innings on the mound. This is the kind of profile ALL college coaches should be aware of.

The conference is very strong again, with teams like De La Salle, San Ramon Valley, Foothill, Monte Vista, and Amador Valley generally very strong and a couple of them seemingly always among the top teams in the North Coast Section.  It will be a big challenge to battle through their league and earn a playoff spot in 2018, but something about this 2018 Dublin team feels right.  Success from one sport can translate to another, particularly if a significant number of players are contributors on both teams.  That could very well be the case for the 2018 Gaels.

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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.