A year ago, pitcher Jack Flaherty of Studio City Harvard-Westlake had the best baseball season for a high school player in Southern California, finishing with a 13-0 record and leading the Wolverines to the Southern Section Division 1 championship.
This season, by all accounts, Flaherty was even more dominant on the mound, finishing 10-0 with an 0.63 earned-run average and 125 strikeouts in 78 innings. He gave up 32 hits and walked 12 batters.
"He made another jump," said Coach Matt LaCour, whose team was eliminated in the second round of the Division 1 playoffs.
Flaherty's final game was a no-hitter against Riverside North in the first round of the playoffs in which he walked the first batter of the game, then retired the next 21 batters in order.
For a season in which he delivered top performances game after game, Flaherty has been selected The Times' player of the year.
He had a 35-3 record in four years with the Wolverines.
"I'm about improving every year," said Flaherty, who was a first-round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals and is expected to sign a $2-million deal with the team Tuesday.
Four years ago, when Flaherty showed up at Harvard-Westlake, he was expected to be a position player. He was tall, athletic and strong for a freshman.
"I was looked at as an athlete who could be a hitter," he said. "I was thrown out onto the mound to see what happens."
As a sophomore, he was supposed to be the No. 3 pitcher behind future first-round draft picks Lucas Giolito and Max Fried. But when Giolito injured his arm, Flaherty was thrust into an important pitching role.
"Lucas goes down, so I have to take over his spot," he said. "It was go out and do the best I could."
He was the losing pitcher in Harvard-Westlake's playoff loss to Placentia Valencia in the final game of the 2012 season. He never lost on the mound again.
"If you were going to win a game tomorrow, Jack Flaherty is the guy you'd want," LaCour said. "Jack is willing to make the big pitch at the big time. That's a special quality when you have the stuff he has to go along with his competitiveness."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times