Kolby Allard exudes San Clemente cool. You detect it in his vocabulary by losing count how many times he says "awesome" in a five-minute conversation. You see it in the way he holds his surfboard leaving his garage. You feel it by how friendly his dog, Splitter, greets strangers.
Most of all, his coolness screams out when he's on a pitching mound hurling 95-mph fastballs left-handed wearing his San Clemente High baseball hat.
At 17, Allard enters the 2015 season as Southern California's top pro prospect.
There has been so much fuss lately that his mother, Kristi, asks, "Is that really Kolby?"
He's still the fun-loving, loyal neighborhood kid who enjoys competing in anything and everything.
"Living life to the fullest on the baseball field and off," is how Allard puts it.
But he's on a journey that could take him to places he's always dreamed about.
He started playing baseball at 5, became a serious pitcher at 10 and jumped out as a major league prospect last season as a junior when his velocity kept rising and hitters started swinging and missing with increasing regularity.
By the summer, he was the most valuable player of the Perfect Game all-star event held at Petco Park when he struck out the side in his brief appearance. He earned a gold medal playing for the USA 18U national team in Mexico. Early draft predictors have him as one of the top 10 prospects in the nation.
"It's pretty cool," Allard said, "but you have to stay humble and keep working hard because you're not there yet."
His coach at San Clemente, Dave Gellatly, has enjoyed a front-row seat viewing Allard's development.
"It's been fun to watch,'' he said. "Mechanically speaking, he's pretty flawless, and that came from his freshman year on. He's one of those naturally gifted kids and it was a matter of him growing into his body and progressing to a much higher level."
At 6 feet 2, 190 pounds, Allard has the size and the athleticism to be the kind of pitcher teams depend on to deliver in the clutch. And being left-handed doesn't hurt.
"I'm glad I'm left-handed even though I get the left-handed jokes," he said.
2014 was the year of the left-hander in major league baseball, with
"I watched those guys on TV all the time and take what they're doing and try to model myself after them a little bit, take some of their strengths and make them my strengths," he said. "Kershaw goes right after hitters. He's not scared of anyone. Bumgarner is a bulldog on the mound. Nothing's going to get in his head. He just wants the ball in big situations. I'm kind of the same way. I'd love to pitch in Game 7 of the World Series some day. That would be my dream come true."
Even though Allard signed with UCLA, it's clear that if major league baseball wants him, that's where he'd love to go.
One test will be dealing with expectations, pressure and lots of scrutiny this season while trying to help San Clemente succeed on the field.
It's going to be a season filled with outstanding pitchers across Southern California showing off their stuff.
Allard has an easy way to escape everything. He can simply pull out a surfboard from his garage and head to the beach. Riding a few waves can provide quick relief for a teenager determined to have fun in everything he does.