Season Preview: Etiwanda Eagles


Devon Rodriguez
California Area Scout

With the 2019 high school baseball season just around the corner in California, we have begun rolling out team previews from around the state. Today we focus on the Etiwanda Eagles. Starting the season at #25 in the California Power 25 rankings, the Eagles have the depth and experience to have a magical season in the ultra-competitive Division 1 playoffs.

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Team: Eitwanda

Nickname: Eagles

Section: Southern Section, Division 1

League: Baseline League

Head Coach/Years at school: Don Furnald (10th season)

Team Twitter Handle: @Etiwandabasebll

2018 Overall Record: 22-8 (12-3, 1st Place in League)

2018 Postseason Finish: Quarter-Finalist in Division 1

Number of Returning Starters: 6

Number of Returning Pitchers: 5

Top Returning Players:

’19 SS Cody Freeman, ’19 P Marcus Johnson, ’20 P/OF Matt Bardowell, ’20 C PJ Torrez, ’19 OF Gio Del Negro

Other Players to Know:

’20 OF/P Kyle Anderson, ’21 C/1B Jack Holman, ’22 INF Armando Briseno

College Commitments:

’19 SS Cody Freeman - Baylor, ’19 P Marcus Johnson - Duke, ’20 P/OF Matt Bardowell - USC, ’20 OF/P Kyle Anderson - UC Riverside, ’19 P Ezrah Lyman - New Mexico

2019 Outlook:

Coach Furnald and the Etiwanda Eagles are coming off of a 2018 season that left them with a feeling of unfinished business after a loss in the CIF-SS Division 1 quarterfinal. When playing in one of the top divisions in the country that's nothing to hang your head about. But this team has eyes on a title,  looking to go a few steps further than last year and finish the job this season.

The Eagles come in at #25 in our California Power 25 Rankings, and look for them to shoot up in the rankings with a strong start in non-league play. An early season matchup with perennial power JSerra at the SoCal Boras Classic will most certainly test the Eagles, along with facing off against some of the biggest names in California. After a tough non-league schedule, the Eagles are the favorites to take home their Baseline League title, but carrying a bulls-eye on their back every week will give them no easy victories. If the Eagles can pull off some big wins in non-league and take home their league crown, then look for them to establish themselves as a real threat to take home the Division 1 championship heading into the playoffs.

On paper, this team is loaded and for good reason, they are expected to make a ton of noise in Southern California. Led by ’19 SS Cody Freeman, a Baylor Commit, the Eagles will look to him to spark their offense, lead their defense up the middle, and bring senior leadership expected from a guy with his ability. Freeman has the ability to make all the throws on defense and after hitting at an unbelievable .452 clip last year, he will be looking to build off that and wreak havoc on opposing pitching staffs all year. ’19 OF Gio Del Negro and ’20 C PJ Torrez are also being counted on to help lead the offense and get big hits when the Eagles need them. Del Negro hit at a .363 clip with 7 doubles and 3 homers last year and should only build off those numbers, so look for a big year out of him. Torrez is building off a solid sophomore campaign where he played in every game and hit a very respectable .306. Torrez also has the responsibilities of shutting down opposing teams running games and leading the Eagles pitching staff, one of the teams biggest strengths.

On the mound the Eagles expect big things from their 1-2-3 punch of ’19 RHP Marcus Johnson, a Duke commit, ’20 P/OF Matthew Bardowell, a USC commit, and '19 P Ezrah Lyman, a New Mexico commit. Johnson is a big imposing figure on the mound that attacks hitters and gets outs with 3 pitches he throws for strikes. Look for Johnson to improve on a solid 2018 and be the guy Coach Furnald will call on when he needs a big win. Bardowell has the potential to be another workhorse for the Eagles with a strong, athletic frame that is a big-time competitor on the mound. Bardowell threw significant innings for the Eagles as a sophomore and with that experience, Coach Furnald expects him to take some big steps projecting more in his secondary pitches and with the velocity as well. Lyman rounds out their starting staff giving the Eagles a solid third pitcher to call on, especially when playing three games in a week.

To support the returning veterans, Coach Furnald has a second upcoming group of talent that the coaches expect to make significant contributions for this team including ’20 OF/P Kyle Anderson, a UC Riverside commit, ’21 C/1B Jack Holman and ’22 INF Armando Briseno. Both Anderson and Holman got limited playing time last year, but that experience should serve them well and should calm the nerves of being a full-time starter early on in the season. The newcomer, Briseno, will look to be an impact freshman. On a team with this much talent, look for Coach Furnald to bring him along slowly and get him comfortable playing on varsity.

Depth looks to be the one area this team lacks and an unforeseen injury would call on that youth very quickly. If this Eagles team can stay healthy the sky is the limit for them. There is no doubt that this Etiwanda team will be a team you want to follow all year and could be significantly higher in the Power 25 come season end. The Eagles are an exciting bunch with a wealth of talent and experience and this looks like the year that they are not going to want to waste. Playing in arguably the toughest Division in the country makes winning no easy task, but if there is one team that could conquer the mountain that is the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs, its the Etiwanda Eagles.

UPCOMING EVENTS

SHOWCASE STATE DATE LOCATION
Solano-Sac Junior Future Games Trials CA 02/24 Vacaville Christian HS
SoCal Junior Future Games Trials CA 03/09 O'Malley Field - Harvard Westlake
East Bay Junior Future Games Trials CA 03/24 Athenian School
North Bay Junior Future Games Trials CA 04/28 Clyde P. Smith Field - Cardinal Newman HS
Northern California Future Games Trials CA 05/26 Islanders Field
SoCal ProCase CA 06/08 Hart Park

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