Inside the Clubhouse: Gavin Grahovac


Brian Alvarado
Contributor

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For most of his young career, Gavin Grahovac of Villa Park High School (Orange, Calif.) has found himself just about everywhere on a baseball diamond. 

Ranked No. 2 in the state by Prep Baseball Report, the right-handed utilityman is one of the best pure hitters in the 2023 class. But on the other side of the ball, he offers versatility with the ability to play shortstop, outfield and catcher.

“‘What’s going to help the team win,’ has always been my mindset,” Grahovac said. “If I can play multiple spots, and that’s what’s going to help the team win, then that’s what’s going to help the team win. There’s nothing I dislike about playing any position, because I’m on the field and I’m in the lineup.”

This has been the winning attitude for the 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior growing up. The Texas A&Msignee is coming off the heels of an eventful 2022 campaign, and 2023 looks to bring more of the same.

In the spring, he helped propel the Villa Park Spartans to a 28-6 record with trips to the semifinals in both the CIF-SS Division 1 and the CIF SoCal Regional Division I playoffs. He hit .376 with five home runs and 24 RBIs while playing in a highly-competitive Crestview League. As a result of his season, Grahovac was named to the All-State First Team by PBR California along with being named Orange County Player of the Year by The Orange County Register.

There were multiple instances during the high school season where opposing teams elected to intentionally put Grahovac on base, or even place a fourth fielder in the outfield. But the frame of mind for him stayed exactly the same.

“As I got older, I’ve realized it’s a sign of respect,” Grahovac said. “I mean, it’s cool to see something like that happen, but mindset doesn’t change. Still got to swing the bat, still got to hit the ball.”

Over the summer, Grahovac was selected to represent Team USA at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 World Cup in Florida, where they’d be going up against the best other countries had to offer. 

USA ended up bringing home the gold, which was Grahovac’s second gold with Team USA (he won gold at 12U in Taiwan).

“Having that experience at 17 or 18 years old, it’s something you’ll never forget and something you’ll have with you for the rest of your baseball career,” Grahovac said. “You face all the adversity and you face the best players from around the world. You get all the knowledge that you possibly can and you work from there, fight as a brotherhood and win a gold medal.”

He also took up an invite to participate in the High School All-American Game at Dodger Stadium as part of MLB All-Star Week, where once again, he’d be competing with top talent.

Playing in the warm Southern California sun at Chavez Ravine checks boxes for a lot of kids who play baseball, but Grahovac’s family is what made this game memorable for him.

“I got to have all my family there, which was awesome,” Grahovac said. “During the summer time, I don’t get to see all of my family at a game. So that was special for me and being the hometown guy with this being right in my backyard, it was pretty awesome.”

He ended up having an RBI double to left in that game, which measured to an exit velocity of 98 mph, per MLB.com. He also displayed some speed, beating out a ground ball.


Grahovac’s success as an athlete doesn’t come as a surprise considering some of his relatives. 

Father, Mike, was drafted out of Chapman University by the San Francisco Giants in 1989. After his playing career, Mike went on to have coaching stints at Chapman, Orange Coast College, Orange Lutheran High School and Concordia University, where he led the team to a national title in 2011. 

During his tenures as head coach at Orange Lutheran and Concordia, Mike was able to bring Gavin around his players. 

Here, Gavin learned the ins and outs of the game first-hand being around guys like Gerrit Cole, pitcher for the New York Yankees, and Brandon Mauer, who spent time with the Seattle Mariners, the San Diego Padres and the Kansas City Royals. 

“I think having that experience in the dugout at such a young age, that was big in my build up,” Gavin said.

However, Mike gives a lot of the credit to Gavin for his success, citing a disciplined work ethic.

“People don’t understand what he does behind the scenes with his regimen of lifting, stretching, hitting before practice, hitting at practice, his nutritional habits,” Mike said. “It’s dedication on his part. Yeah, me and my wife guided him, but he took it upon himself to go to another level.”

His older sister, Peyton, was also a standout athlete growing up. She played volleyball at Villa Park, then at Long Beach State and Arizona State University.

Gavin also attributes much of his baseball success to his mother, Najla. 

“My mom also played a huge role,” Gavin said. “She was the one taking me to the cages when I was younger, she was the one throwing batting practice. So she also played a big role along with my dad growing up.”

The baseball ties run even deeper for Gavin, as his cousin is Garret Mitchell, an outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers. Mitchell, like Gavin, was a highly-ranked prospect coming out of high school. He ended up choosing to go to school and continuing his career at UCLA before being drafted 20th overall in the 2020 MLB Draft.

“Having him giving me advice and giving me little things as I go along has been huge to keep me where I am,” Gavin said. “He went through pretty much exactly the same process.”

Gavin still has his senior season at Villa Park to focus on, but a big decision still remains. 

Although he’s signed to play at Texas A&M under Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle, it’s also a possibility that he decides to start his professional baseball career instead. Nothing is set-in-stone at the moment, but Gavin is thankful for whatever path he decides to take and is ready for the next level.

“Honestly, it’s whatever God has in store for me. Either way I’m in a win-win situation,” Gavin said of his future. “Either I get to play professional baseball and start my dream, or I get to play in the SEC for a few years and get going after that. I’m very blessed to have either one.”

Whatever the future holds for Grahovac, one thing is certain, he's going to work for his desired outcome. 

UPCOMING EVENTS

SHOWCASE STATE DATE LOCATION
SoCal Preseason All-State Underclass CA 01/07 Elsinore High School
Fresno Preseason ID CA 01/08 Euless Ballpark - Fresno City College
SoCal Preseason All-State Upperclass CA 01/08 Cerritos College
Far North Preseason ID CA 01/15 Butte College - Oroville
IE Preseason ID CA 01/22 Santiago High School
Peninsula Preseason ID CA 01/22 College of San Mateo
South Bay Preseason ID CA 01/29 Mission College - San Jose
East Bay Preseason ID CA 02/05 Chabot College - Hayward
Super 60 Pro Showcase NATIONAL 02/05 The MAX - McCook, IL
Rising Stars ID: Sacramento CA 03/12 McBean Stadium - Lincoln


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