Prep Baseball Report

SoCal Opening Weekend Notebook

PBR California Staff

At The Yard Podcast

SoCal - The CIF baseball seasons got underway for various sections around southern California last weekend and fans around the region were treated to some very good matchups right out the gate. Our staff took in games from Los Angeles to San Diego in an effort to see as many teams and players as possible during the opening weekend of the season. They were treated to some very good games and an upset of the number one team in the state.  

The weekend started on Friday at the Etiwanda/San Dimas game before taking in state No. 4 King (Riverside) at No. 3 Orange Lutheran. Saturday saw our team at Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) on the road at state No. 1 JSerra, No. 16 Servite at No. 25 Bishop Amat, No. 9 Pt. Loma at No. 17 Torrey Pines, and Alemany at Mater Dei.

With so many games there were plenty of standout performances along with players that stood out for various reasons which we’ll detail below. So let’s dive into the weekend’s action. 

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Etiwanda once again appears to be a good team in 2021, and if the pitching catches up to the lineup the Eagles could be dangerous. Abraham Zapata launched a no-doubt homerun that gave the Eagles a 6-4 lead in the 6th that they would not relinquish. Zapata, a catcher by trade is going to get a lot of opportunities to make noise with the bat this season. Junior third baseman Armando Briseno had developed into a lockdown corner infielder who can cause plenty of damage at the plate. The Long Beach State commit made two borderline spectacular plays at the hot corner, one charging and barehanding it and firing a strike to get the runner...San Dimas has a very good mix of veterans and young players that should elevate the Saints this season. Junior Matt Romero was very good on the mound keeping a potent Etiwanda lineup at bay until the fourth. Not overpowering, Romero did a great job of mixing pitches, looks, and spots in the zone he attacked. The freshman, there’s nine of them on the roster are the future. And while many didn’t see the field, those that did - Landon White (2 hits), Paul Vasquez (pitched well), Rocco Regan - all showed signs of why they’re on the roster...The marquee matchup of opening day had King travel to OLu for an under-the-lights big game. Freshman Derek Curiel and Ben Reiland showed they clearly belong on the field for Orange Lutheran with their mature approach at the plate and their ability to roam the spacious outfield at Hart Park. Reiland made a very impressive play sprinting about 25 yards to his left before making an over-the-shoulder catch. Sophomore Landon Greenhouse (USC) made two spectacular catches - one to his left and one to his right - that saw him sprint over 20 yards before extending to make the catch. He also hit a missile up the box for a base hit before stealing second base. Eric Aguayo (UCSB) continues to improve behind the plate to the point where he’s going to be in the discussion for best catcher in his class when it’s all said and done. The catch-and-throw is exceptional with advanced arm strength for a sophomore...For JSerra, a who’s who of a roster, it was uncommitted senior Anthony Aleman that came up with the biggest hit on the day for the Lions. Late in the game with his team trailing, Aleman took a fastball and deposited it in left field to keep the hopes alive for JSerra. For Notre Dame it was Jonathan Peric that made the biggest impression coming for the two inning save having to go through the test that is JSerra’s lineup. Working 82-84 with the fastball, Peric mixed pitches and locations very well to the tune of three strikeouts against only one hit allowed. Junior middle infielder Christian Miranda continues to perform at a high level defensively while showing his usual consistent self at the plate. Miranda made a spectacular diving catch to keep JSerra runners at 2nd and 3rd base in a tie game. He also came on in relief and kept JSerra hitters off balance while keeping Notre Dame in the game...At Mater Dei, senior RHP AJ Valle (Columbia) threw six scoreless, no-hit innings allowing his offense the opportunity to overwhelm Alemany pitching. It wasn’t a clean six innings - he hit six batters - but it was a very effective outing. Junior third baseman Ethan Hedges of Mater Dei turned in an eye opening performance both defensively - made a fantastic backhand play on the line and a strong throw to get the runner - and at the plate where his simple, relaxed approach resulted in a hot shot RBI single to right field. It’s a controlled aggressive approach that’s consistent and projectable. 

‘21 C Jack Holman - Etiwanda HS - UCLA Signee

The first thing that catches your attention when seeing Holman this spring is the physical improvements he’s made since the SoCal ProCase last summer. He’s shedded some unnecessary weight - particularly around the waist - which is paying off in spades. The frame is big at 6’4” but with the refined physicality it has led to increased flexibility and athleticism behind the plate. This was most obvious in the quickness with which he gets the ball out on throw downs to second base. At the ProCase he popped 2.01-2.08 during the workout. And while there wasn’t a stolen base attempt against him on Friday, his throw downs were 1.99, 2.01, 2.00, 2.01, 1.97, 1.99, 1.98 after the pitchers warmups. For a big catcher whose ability to stay behind the plate, this was a huge statement by Holman. The bat continues to impress with ample power that’s been a signature of his since his freshman year. What’s improved is the bat speed and quickness in his bat path to the ball and his ability to consistently square it up. With a big spring it’s easy to envision Holman once again piquing the interest of scouts as they submit final lists for the draft. With a 4.0 GPA and a UCLA commitment, Holman will have plenty of opportunities to continue his baseball career. 

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