2018 Season Preview: Mission Viejo Diablos

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 Mission Viejo Diablos (Mission Viejo, Ca.)  a team loaded with upper class talent looking to get back to their championship ways in the brutal South Coast League and the CIF Southern Section DI, the toughest championship to win in California. 

Team: Mission ViejoMission Viejo Baseball Logo

Nickname: Diablos

Section: Southern Section, Division I

League: South Coast League

Head Coach: Chris Ashbach (@ashbach6)

Years as Head Coach at School: 21

Team Twitter Handle: @BaseballMVHS

2017 Overall Record: 20-11

2017 Postseason Finish: Lost in first round

Team Website: Mission Viejo Diablos Baseball

Number of Returning Starters: 6

Number of Returning Pitchers: 3


Will Levine - SR/RHP - 6-foot-2 pitcher that touches 91, seems to be showing continued improvement, Arizona State commit.

Luke Spillane - JR/OF - Hyper-athletic outfielder that covers a lot of ground and is an offensive threat, UC Irvine commit.

Drew Baltruweit - SR/MIF - Versatile infielder that can play three positions, CSUN commit.

Brendan Guy - SR/C - Above average defender with improving bat, University of Utah commit.

Alex Jemal - SR/OF-P - Two-sport star who is a standout on Diablos football team, touches 86 on the mound, Oregon State commit.

Kevin Champlin - SR/RHP - Cerebral pitcher that is an inning eater, Wheaton College commit.


David Morgan - SR/3B - Big time bat in middle of the order, 1st team All-SCL in 2017.

Aaron Casillas - JR/SS - Dealt with injuries as a sophomore after an all-league season as a freshman, finally healthy and looking to break out.

Jake Spillane - SR/RHP - Was 7-0 with 1.00 ERA as a sophomore in 2016, battled injuries last season, healthy and stronger than ever entering 2018.

Michael Rhylick - SR/LHP - 2-2 with 2.23 ERA in 31 IP in 2017, should see his role expanded in 2018.


Entering his 21st season as head coach at Mission Viejo, Chris Ashbach has created a culture of winning and playing fundamentally sound baseball on their way to becoming one of the best programs in Orange County.

Under Ashbach's leadership the Diablos have won four league titles and two CIF Division II championships with the most recent coming in 2015. With the talent returning in 2018, the message is clear as to what the expectations are for this team.

"Compete for a championship in the tough South Coast League," said Ashbach who again rely on his pitching and defense along with some very good depth to accomplish that goal.

Defense and pitching have become a staple for the Diablos over the years and 2018 should be no different.

Behind Levine Mission Viejo has as good a bona fide ace as anyone in their league. The senior righty has continued to develop into a frontline pitcher with a legitimate two-pitch mix and feel for a third. His fastball is a go-to pitch that touches 91 and shows heavy arm-side run. He continues to develop physically making it easy for scouts to dream on his upside.

The rest of the starting staff which will include seniors Rhylick, J. Spillane, Champlin, and Jemal should provide enough quality innings to give the Diablos a chance in every game. Sophomore Clay McCorgary is a future star who is currently out after suffering an injury in a fall game. He should be back sometime during the regular season. Another sophomore, Hayden Cody, will round out the pitching staff. His fastball already works 84 - 86 mph and has a wipeout curveball, Cody needs to improve his efficiency to crack this deep rotation. 

Defensively this may be as good a team as there is in the area. Led by Spillane, an All-League outfielder in 2017.

A UC Irvine commit, Spillane is an unreal athlete manning a spacious outfield. Last year, the future Anteater hit .341 en-route to First Team All-League honors. Morgan is an uncommitted senior third-baseman that is a vacuum on the hot corner, he's also a threat offensively after hitting .419 in league play en route to First Team All-League honors last season. 

Behind the plate, Guy is as good a defensive catcher as there is in the area. A very cerebral player with a knack for academics, he's a thinking man behind the plate and takes charge of the game from his position.

Casillas, a junior shortstop, dealt with injuries all of last season but appears to be back to full health. When asked how good he thought Casillas could be Ashbach simply said, "he's the best shortstop I've had in 21 years as a head coach." When you consider the talent the school has produced, that's incredibly high praise.

The Diablos are going to need every bit of their pitching and defense if they are to meet the lofty expectations the program operates under.

Because the South Coast League team has at least one Division I pitcher on its staff - Aliso Niguel has four - with at least two of them considered surefire MLB Draft picks come June, it could have been easy for Ashbach to schedule easier non-league games this season.

Instead, the veteran head coach did the opposite putting the Diablos against some fierce competition in 2018.

Mission Viejo will open with a double header against reigning Trinity League Champion, St. John Bosco before playing another top Orange County program, Cypress, to open the Loara Tournament. The Diablos will then participate in the always tough Lions Tournament and National Classic over a two-stretch before heading back into league play.

"I love playing the best programs - especially in non-league games - to get us prepared for our league gauntlet," said Ashbach who has his program rolling at a level many want to achieve. "The National Classic is just an incredibly well run event and we're privileged to be a part of it again."

When discussing the Mission Viejo Diablos baseball program a few things are certainties. They'll be well coached. They'll pitch. And they'll be defensively sound. The other is, they'll never shy away from competition.

As Ashbach said, "you don't get better by playing down your schedule."


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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.