Prep Baseball Report

Season Preview: JSerra Lions

Ryan Ozella
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.

In this edition, we will take a closer look at the JSerra Lions. A young and talented roster with experience competing against the best in the state, the Lions are looking to make 2019 a special season. Will the youth on the roster respond to the gauntlet that is CIF Southern Section Division 1? Only time will tell. 

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Team: JSerra Catholic

Nickname: Lions

Section: CIF-SS Division 1

League: Trinity League

Head Coach/Years at school: Brett Kay (13 Years)

Team Twitter Handle: @JSerraLionsBB

2018 Overall Record: 18-14

2018 Postseason Finish: 1st Round Loss to Etiwanda

Number of Returning Starters: 6

Number of Returning Pitchers: 4

Top Returning Players:

‘19 1B/OF Blake Klassen, ‘19 C Paul Roche, ‘19 RHP Ryan Farmer, ‘19 OF/INF Chase Katafias, ‘19 SS/CF Michael Curialle, ‘19 RHP Andrew Miller, ‘20 Jared Glenn RHP/1B, ‘20 OF Jake Taylor, ‘21 INF Cody Schrier, ‘21 LHP/OF Gage Jump

Other Players to Know:

‘19 RHP Hunter Cranton, ‘20 3B/SS Colby Canales, ‘21 INF Kevin James, ‘21 RHP/C Luke Jewett, ‘21 OF/3B Gabe D’Arcy, ‘21 RHP/3B Jake Gibson

College Commitments:

‘19 1B/OF Blake Klassen - Arizona, ‘19 SS/CF Michael Curialle - UCLA, ‘19 RHP Andrew Miller - Nevada, ‘19 RHP Hunter Cranton - Arizona, ‘20 3B/SS Colby Canales - Loyola Marymount, ‘21 INF Cody Schrier - USC

2019 Outlook:

When you’re in one of Southern California’s baseball powerhouse conferences like the JSerra Lions are,  expectations are regularly high. 2019 will be no different for the Lions and they’re looking to make their mark bringing back a young, but experienced roster. The roster is filled with talent, and that talent will be pushed with a difficult schedule and against some of the top competition in California and the Nation.

The Lions return six starters and four pitchers and start the season in the 10 spot of the Prep Baseball Report Power 25 Rankings with a tough schedule both inside and outside of League. Early in the season, they play in the always competitive Newport Elks Tournament, where the Lions will match up against Power 25 #9 Yucaipa, Chino Hills, and Tesoro before going to play Power 25 #3 Huntington Beach. A trip to Alabama, playing five games in four days against some of the best high schools in the state, is next on the schedule before the Lions return home to start their quest for a Trinity League title. They’ll also look to defend their So Cal Boras Classic title, facing off against the best teams in the area in one of the premier tournaments.

When playing three games a week against league opponents, and challenging yourself against the best the state has to offer, you better have a roster to back it up. Coach Brett Kay is back for his 13th season at the helm and likes the talent available to him on the roster. With a large portion of the roster having extended experience on Varsity and in the Trinity League, Coach Kay knows his youth isn’t going to back down from a challenge. He regularly preaches the art of competition to his players and he’s seen them respond this Fall/Winter as they look forward to getting ready to show their talent in Spring.

Coach Kay feels this is a balanced team with a strong defensive presence about them and they will continue their aggressive streak on the offensive side of the ball. The offense will be led by ‘19 SS/CF Michael Curialle, a UCLA commit, who has the skills to stick on the left side of the diamond and a bat to start the offense each and every game. ‘19 1B/OF Blake Klassen, an Arizona commit, is one of the best left-handed bats in SoCal showing power to all fields and being a catalyst for the Lions offense. ‘21 INF Cody Schrier is one of the top players from the 2021 class and will continue to make a name for himself hitting high atop the Lions order. ‘19 C Paul Roche has made steady progress over his three years on Varsity and continues to be an anchor behind the plate. ‘20 Colby Canales transfers in from Servite and the Loyola Marymount commit has shown clean actions on the left side of the diamond with a bat that will sit in the middle of the lineup looking to do damage. ‘19 Chase Katafias hit big for the Lions down the stretch in 2018 and will be counted on with his bat being a key piece in the lineup. ‘20 OF Jake Taylor will have a role in the OF, and if he gets hot will add depth to the roster.

A couple of newcomers will help to lengthen the lineup and create competition for playing time. ‘21 INF Kevin James has received high praise from the coaching staff after starting during his Freshman year and they expect to count on him defensively, with his bat giving him a high ceiling. ‘21 OF/3B Gabe D’Arcy is another young player that the coaching staff is high on expecting him to make big jumps during the season with a bright future ahead. ‘21 RHP/C Luke Jewett brings a unique skill set with dynamic skills behind the plate and on the mound, showing why he’s one of the top 2021 players in the class already.

For the Lions to reach their potential, they’re going to need to find consistency in their pitching staff with a group of players ready to compete for innings and lock down spots. ‘19 RHP Andrew Miller, a Nevada commit, wants to be next in line on a long list of successful pitchers bringing his sinker/slider combination to the top of the rotation and ready to keep JSerra in games all season. ‘’19 Hunter Cranton, an Arizona commit and transfer from Maryland has seen his FB up to 93 and the coaches are working hard with him to see how he fits at the top end of the rotation. ‘19 Ryan Farmer had the best Fall/Winter according to coaches and has the type of character coaches rave about. He will have a big role come Spring. ‘20 Jared Glenn has a big frame at 6-4” and coaches see him getting the ball a lot in the season with a very high ceiling available. ‘’21 LHP Gage Jump has an electric arm and the stuff to be a front line starter for years to come. He’s coming off a summer that saw him just miss making Team USA and the type of personality to battle through adversity and lead by example. ‘21 RHP/3B Jack Gibson was looking ready to have a major spot in the rotation with a big 3-pitch mix, but a recent injury has pushed that time back; expect him to be a name for the Lions for the next few years.

Is this Lions team deep enough to make it a special season? The depth of their pitching will determine how far they go. Coach Kay and his staff have always done an excellent job getting players ready for Spring, and 2019 looks no different. Only time will tell, but when you’re this talented and playing against the top competition, it all comes down to players buying in and making the jump. Coach Kay believes this team possesses similar skills to those talented teams who have had past success and is excited to see what his team brings this season.


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