SAN DIEGO SWING: MLB DRAFT SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW KEONI CAVACO


Jack Shannon
San Diego Area Scout

Keoni Cavaco 3B/2B/RHP                                  Total Season Stats: .419 BA 8 HR 29 RBI 19 SB

Eastlake HS (Chula Vista, CA)                                                           Playoffs: 583 BA 2 HR 5 RBI

6-foot-1 190 pounds                                                              Pitching: 10 Saves, O ER, 22 K, 3 BB

The 2019 CIF-San Diego Section season provided plenty of professional scouting interest throughout the county, but as the season progressed it was evident that no player had a greater rise than Eastlake High School senior third basemen Keoni Cavaco

Prep Baseball Report California first saw Cavaco in the summer of 2017 when he made some noise at a few tournaments we attended. That continued into the fall and really shone through at the 2018 San Diego State team camp held over MLK weekend. He showed off his burgeoning tools during that weekend which raised the anticipation heading into the spring before unfortunately sustaining an injury that all but wiped out his junior season.  

The San Diego State commit burst onto the scene during the fall season where he gained the attention of various scouting departments. He once again showed very well at the San Diego State Team Camp last January and once again the anticipation of a big season was thrust on him. This time, with no health issues, Cavaco proved himself worthy of early round draft discussions.

Cavaco possess a highly desirable skill set that projects well in his strong athletic frame. Plus-arm strength is evident in his throws from the hot corner and from his 93 mph fastball on the mound. Defensively he is above-average with a slick fielding glove and overall plus baseball movements while possessing Big League speed on the basepaths and always hustling regardless of the situation. Power at the plate was pronounced throughout the season each time he hit one of his signature towering home runs with his future power potential looking bright.

Cavaco’s season culminated as Eastlake was crowned Open Division Champions, ranked #1 in the San Diego Section final rankings and #4 in the final Prep Baseball Report California State Rankings. One can assume that his overall body of work this past season will garner him multiple end of season accolades in the near future.

Needless to say, it’s been a great senior year for Keoni Cavaco and the Eastlake Titans. With the draft nearing and Cavaco’s name likely to be called early in the MLB draft, I was fortunate enough to connect with him and Eastlake Assistant Coach Ramon Orozco to talk about Cavaco as a player.

 

KEONI CAVACO - 3B/RHP - EASTLAKE HS

Jack Shannon (JS): What was the highlight of your senior year at Eastlake?

Keoni Cavaco (KC): The highlight of my senior year at Eastlake definitely was winning a CIF Open division title. It was both my personal and team goal from the beginning of the season.

JS: Are there any big leaguers that you like model your game after?

KC: I like to highlight my game after Javy Baez. I love the passion and intensity he plays with while still having fun. It shows that it is a business but still a kids game.

JS: Do you have any pre game rituals?

KC: Before every game I listen to my favorite rapper “Mozzy” while I take swings in the cage.

JS: What do you think is your strongest tool on the baseball field?

KC: I believe my strongest tool is my competitiveness. I’m a firm believer in intangible skills. I try to carry myself in a way that can rub off on my teammates and our will to win a ball game.

JS: What does your hitting philosophy and approach consist of?

KC: My philosophy is to hunt the fastball early in the count and use the middle part of the field. When behind in the count, I like to shorten up and look to go the other way. Simply shorten up my swing and put the ball in play in order to make something happen.

RAMON OROZCO - ASSISTANT COACH, EASTLAKE HS

Ramon Orozco currently serves as an assistant coach for the Eastlake Titans and as a math teacher at the high school. He helped lead the University of San Diego Toreros to 5 NCAA Regional appearances as an assistant coach from 2006-2016. During the 2011-2013 seasons I pitched for the Toreros, graduating in 2013 and gaining lifelong knowledge from a loaded coaching staff that included Coach Orozco. Partaking in two NCAA Regionals, winning the 2013 West Coast Conference Championship and playing alongside six future Major League Baseball players including 2016 National League MVP Kris Bryant. Orozco himself played college baseball at Los Angeles Mission College and Cal Lutheran while earning a bachelors of science degree in mathematics and masters degrees in Cross-Cultural Education and Educational Administration.

Jack Shannon (JS): What about Keoni makes him a special player?

Ramon Orozco (RO): What makes Keoni special is how hard he works. He is one of the hardest working high-school players I have seen. It can be summed up by the way he runs out routine ground balls. It’s like he is the game winning run and he is trying to do whatever he can to get on base for the team.

JS: What tool stands out the most?

RO: For me there are two. The first one is his speed. It seems like he has gotten faster as the season has gone on. He is like 4.0 flat to first from the right side. The other tool is arm strength. He's gotten up to 94 mph off the bump this year so imagine across the diamond when he has a running start. Straight gas!

JS: We both got to be around Kris Bryant for three years at the University of San Diego, is there anything about their game that compares?

RO: Kris to me is a once in a lifetime player, but they do have some similarities. The one that stands out to me is how they are both great teammates. Keoni just wants the team to win and he will do whatever is asked of him for that to happen. And even though both get a lot of attention (obviously Kris more right now) they are very humble and grateful.

JS: What sort of defensive and offensive drills do you guys work on?

RO: Defensively we work on two things. We work on reading the groudball and work on deciding what approach to have towards it. The second is "game like reps". We do a lot of simulated games where he is forced to make quick decisions just like in a game. Offensively we work on his "feel" and barrel control. The "feel' component allows him to understand what his body needs to do to be in a position to hit without being too mechanical. The barrel control component allows him not to chase bad pitches. We do that by angle hitting off a pitching machine on the field and set up cones in a "V" shape from home plate forcing him to hit the ball from gap to gap.

JS: What advice have you given to Keoni and other players in preparation for the college and professional game?

RO: That as you progress to the higher levels it’s more of a mental challenge. The guys who play at high level know how to control their emotions and minimize their failures. The other thing I tell them is to have a routine. Whether it is offensively, defensively or pitching. Have a process that when things are going bad you have something that will bring you back to the proper state of mind.

I’d like to thank Keoni Cavaco and Ramon Orozco for taking time to answer my questions and not only partaking in this interview but also their graciousness and accommodations throughout the season. Best of luck to both Cavaco and the Titans moving forward.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS:

SHOWCASE STATE DATE LOCATION
Inland Empire Futures Games Trials CA 06/01 Norco High School
SoCal ProCase CA 06/08 Hart Park
Northern California ProCase CA 06/09 Delta College - Nick Cecchetti Field
Bay Area Open Showcase CA 06/26 Laney College
Inland Empire Top Prospect ID CA 07/23 Santiago High School
Norcal Top Prospect ID CA 07/24 St. Mary's College
Junior Future Games / Future Games NATIONAL 07/30 LakePoint
Rising Stars Showcase CA 09/21 Santiago High School

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