Season Preview: Pacific Grove Breakers


Ryan Ozella
N. California Area Scout

With the 2019 high school baseball season just around the corner in California, we've been rolling out team previews from around the state.

In this edition we take a look at the Pacific Grove Breakers. The Breakers, a storied and highly successful program, looks to get back to their winning tradition in 2019. With an experienced and battle-tested team, the Breakers plan to be back on top in the deep and competitive Pacific Coast Athletic League (PCAL) Mission Division. 

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Team: Pacific Grove High School

Nickname: Breakers

Section: CIF-Central Coast Section, Division 3

League: Pacific Coast Athletic League (PCAL) / Mission Division

Co-Head Coach/Years at school: Gil Ruiz (13th year)

Team Twitter Handle: N/A

2018 Overall Record: 12-15

2018 Postseason Finish: N/A, Playoffs in 8 of last 12 seasons 

Number of Returning Starters: 9

Number of Returning Pitchers: 7

Top Returning Players:

'19 SS Trevor Heyn, ‘19 LHP/OF Hunter Hanes, ‘19 LHP/1B Kevahn Ebron, ‘20 C Daniel Rosas

Other Key Players:

‘19 Dylan Graham OF/LHP, ‘21 C/INF Nathan Wood, ‘21 2B/SS Justin Heyn, ‘22 INF Zach Lewis

College Commits:

NONE YET

2019 Outlook:

For a storied and successful program like the Pacific Grove Breakers 2018 was a season that did not meet expectations, taking a step back while going 12-15 overall (11-7 in League) and finding themselves outside the playoffs with a 3rd place finish in the old Mission Trail league. The Breakers have become accustomed to playing postseason baseball (8 of last 12 seasons) and missing out in 2018 has left a bad taste in their mouth. Coach Ruiz, a veteran of 13 years, returns a deep and talented roster and hopes the impact players have matured and made changes from last season. This team has placed high expectations to win the newly formed Pacific Coast Athletic League (PCAL), Mission Division and make a deep playoff run.

The Breakers will be playing solid competition inside and outside the league, so making the playoffs in a deep Division won't be easy. Outside of league Pacific Grove will have home games against some of the top local teams including Aptos, Soquel, Salinas, St. Francis SCP and Sacred Heart Prep, testing them early in the season. Coach Ruiz believes the early season games could decide how the team goes in 2019. The Breakers face a challenging league schedule as well with three-game series against familiar rivals like Soledad, Carmel, Alvarez, and King City. The PCAL Mission Division has 6 teams who made the playoffs in 2018 showing the quality of competition in the league and teams meeting weekly will be battling for the top of the Division. For the Breakers to find success, they will need to take a leap forward having their seniors step up and put an emphasis on their pitching and defense. Mixing and finding roles for all the pieces of this talented roster will help decide how far they get this season.

That core group of players starts with four seniors who have had extensive work on the Varsity squad and will need to lead: '19 SS/P Trevor Heyn, '19 LHP/OF Hunter Hanes,'19 LHP/1B Kevahn Ebron and '19 CF/LHP Dylan Graham. This group from the 2018 squad is looking to cement their legacy at Pacific Grove with strong senior seasons and a CCS Title.

A broken finger late in 2018 knocked Heyn from the lineup and took some wind out of the Breakers sails. Back healthy, Heyn has shown he's a smooth-fielding shortstop with the range and arm strength to stick on the left side of the diamond at the next level. His gap-to-gap bat shows leadoff skills and his ability to take bases (18 steals in 2018) will help the Breakers lineup as a catalyst looking to spark the offense. Coach Ruiz also mentioned he's added the ability to switch hit giving him more versatility and another weapon for pitchers to deal with. Hanes is a two-way, two-sport athlete (Football/Baseball) who was a key piece of the team in 2018 as one of the top hitters in the lineup finishing high on the leaderboards in Hits (27) and Extra Base Hits (8) while striking out 57 in 42 innings. His big power showed more consistency during the Summer/Fall and his high, over-the-top delivery, makes it tough for opposing hitters to square him up especially when all three pitches are working together.

Ebron is another two-way player showing skills both on the mound and at the plate where the lefty hit .383 collecting 8 extra base hits while striking out 60 in 39 innings in 2018. Coach Ruiz has seen a mature change in Ebron not only mentally, but physically. His body has continued to grow and strengthen up through the Fall/Winter possibly turning some of those doubles into long HR's and helping the fastball reach into the upper 80's. Ebron and Hanes provide the Breakers with a strong 1-2 punch atop the pitching rotation and with three games a week will need these two to anchor the pitching staff. Graham will be asked to contribute more in 2019 as a top of the lineup threat with above-average speed to range out in CF. If he has a breakout season as expected, that would lengthen the lineup and put more pressure on opposing pitchers. He also looks to serve as the team's closer with a deadly Slider/Change combo to end games and secure wins.

To help the core group of seniors is a solid group of young players who are developing quickly and looking to make a name for themselves. '20 C Daniel Rosas has been a key contributor for two seasons and in 2018 he hit .333 as a Sophomore with 9 extra base hits including 7 doubles. His familiarity with Hanes/Ebron make him a key piece behind the plate and in providing protection in the lineup. '20 RHP Colton Bell will have to be ready after bouncing between the JV/Varsity level in 2018, but Coach Ruiz likes his heavy fastball and will need him to get innings with the 3rd game each week. '21 C/INF Nathan Wood started as a Freshman and looks to carry over his success from 2018 where the youngster hit .328 with two doubles and two triples. Coach Ruiz raved about Wood's advanced catching skills mentioning his ability to push Rosas for playing time behind the plate while also getting his strong bat in the lineup at other positions (3B/1B/2B). '21 2B/SS Justin Heyn was a key contributor for the Breakers in 2018 hitting .328 and stealing 10 bags as a freshman. He was hot early in the season but an injury around Easter knocked him out of the lineup and forced other players to fill the spot. The younger Heyn shows advanced defensive skills and good quickness allowing him to stick up the middle while forming a solid double-play combo with brother Trevor. '22 INF Zach Lewis has already shown advanced skills for a young age, being noticed by the older players and looking for ways to impact the club while filling in at key spots. Coach Ruiz wants to see the youngster prove his value coming over from basketball but has been pushing to be ready and impact the team. '22 RHP Brendan Moore is a young pitcher who will have innings for the Breakers as they prepare him for Varsity level baseball and continued success over the next couple of seasons. He's already been up to 85 as a freshman with a late changeup to support it.

The Breakers are a deep team and when returning a group this talented, expectations should be high for 2019. But in the game of baseball, just because you have talent doesn't mean an easy walk to a CCS Title. The Breakers saw themselves on the wrong end of close games in 2018 and will be tested again in 2019. How they respond to the adversity will be a key test for this squad. They will need to find a way to blend their pieces and rise above the challenges coming out ahead in close games. The opposing teams in the Mission Division should have the Breakers circled on their calendars because with this much talent, a hot streak could see the Breakers run away with a division title looking to dogpile at San Jose Municipal Stadium in late May.

UPCOMING EVENTS

SHOWCASE STATE DATE LOCATION
Northern California Preseason All-State (Invite-Only) CA 01/27 San Joaquin Delta College
Super 60 Pro Showcase NATIONAL 02/03 The Max
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
Orange County Futures Games Trials CA 06/08 Hart Park - Orange CA



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