Prep Baseball ‘87 : A Look at Area High School Teams, Prospects
A preview of high school baseball teams in the Long Beach/Southeast area:
LAKEWOOD--Coach Spud O’Neil lost the first six hitters in his lineup from last year’s 21-4 league-champion team, but the Lancers have one of the area’s best pitchers in Mike McNary (13-2, 139 strikeouts last season). Reliever Troy Abato did not allow an earned run in 14 innings last year. Center fielder Damion Easley hit three homers in a preleague victory last week. Paul Graves, the top hitter on last year’s JV team, will play second base.
MILLIKAN--Coach Dan Peters has seven lettermen back from a 15-12 team. Big bats are wielded by Jeff Heath (.333, 21 RBIs), Rick Fulton (.347) and Jason Von Arx (.341, 12 stolen bases). The pitchers are Phil Kendall (5-4 last year) and Bob Crane (2-3). Peters expects the Rams to challenge Lakewood for the league title.
WILSON--Back are two all-league players: shortstop/outfielder Robbie Bailey, who hit .345 and stole 15 bases last season, and catcher Tony Tijerina, who batted .350. The Bruins have one of their most talented teams in recent years, but their success probably depends on pitchers Todd Forman, Tim Spencer and Mike Smith.
POLY--The Jackrabbits have a new field and pretty much of a new team. Coach Joe Perrucio will have to depend mostly on sophomores, but he does have a senior all-league returnee in center fielder Lolo James. Five other all-leaguers graduated.
JORDAN--Coach Bill Powell’s top Panthers are outfielder Emory Heard, who led the team in hits last season; outfielder Rich Argueta, first baseman Todd White and pitchers Rick Burge, Joe Musick and Bob Cratty.
COMPTON--The Tarbabes have won only two league games in three seasons. Top players are pitcher/shortstop Rafael Avila; catcher Rick Haro, who hit .328 last year, and third baseman Lorenzo Redick, who hit .357.
SG Valley League
CERRITOS--The Dons were 13-12 last year, missing the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. That’s not likely to happen this year, however. Seven starters return, including all-league shortstop Trevor Eldridge (.365) and first baseman/second baseman Matt Mosiello (.323). Two talented newcomers are sophomore outfielders Aaron Norwood and Coby Cradle. Pitching is suspect, although left-hander Joey Banks and right-hander Rick Kaiser are experienced starters.
GAHR--The Gladiators have given Coach Tom Bergeron headaches so far by allowing 7, 5 and 3 runs each in the first inning of three losses because of walks and errors. The Gladiators, who are hiting better than Bergeron expected, have a good prospect in sophomore center fielder Mark Charbonnett and a solid catcher in senior Aaron Hoosac. Bergeron believes the San Gabriel Valley League is down in player quality this year and any of six teams could win the title.
PARAMOUNT--Returning players for Coach Rodney Davis’s Pirates, who finished second in the league last year, are all-league pitcher Juan Torres (6-2, 1.08 earned run average) and all-league catcher John Van Raay, who batted .310.
DOWNEY--Coach Fred Yanez, in his 19th year, has six starters back from last year’s 8-13 team. Top players are shortstop Ed Renteria and utility man Horacio Casillas.
WARREN--The Bears have a bear at first base in 6-5, 240-pound David Main, who hit .378 and was all-league last year. Infielder Ole Jimenez is another returning all-leaguer. Pitchers are Ray Winick, Glenn Yamasaki and Scott Biehn, who also plays third base for the Downey school.
DOMINGUEZ--The Dons, 7-9 last season, are a young team, led by junior shortstop Jaime Navarette, who hit .325 in 1986. Navarette had four hits, including a homer, in a recent 23-4 rout of Centennial.
LYNWOOD--First-year Coach John Bridges has a lot of speedy players on his team but no big hitter. Top players back from last season are pitcher/outfielder Mauricio Villalobos, pitcher Santos Carillo and pitcher John Enriquez. The Knights were 1-11 and last in the league last year.
GLENN--The Eagles of Norwalk, 18-8 last year, lack hitting and defense but their pitching is outstanding. Leading the staff are Shawn McDow, who was 11-2 last year with a 1.49 ERA, and another right-hander, Manny Ramirez (4-2, 2.25). Coach Boyd Trimble picks his team to win the league.
LA MIRADA--Eric Brooks, who pitches, catches, hit .403 and drove in 25 runs last year, is back to lead the Matadors. First baseman Todd Andre and left fielder Craig Fairbrother, who were all-league last year, also return for Coach Mike Knapp.
ARTESIA--Most of last year’s 2-A champions are gone, but Coach Tony Guggiana has two stars back in outfielder Vic Matos (.355, 4 home runs) and pitcher Brian Smith (5-2, 3.75 ERA). They will have to carry an otherwise inexperienced team. Sophomore Joel Adamson is a promising pitcher who can hit, too.
NORWALK--The Lancers gained experience during a 5-13-1 season in 1986. They are led by all-league catcher Sal Villanueva, who hit .310 last year. One of the pitchers will be Tony Perez.
BELLFLOWER--Vince Garcia, an all-league second baseman, is one of five starters returning for the Bucs, who need pitching.
MAYFAIR--Coach Larry Hilliard, in his 17th year, has an all-league center fielder in Craig LaLonde, who hit .348 last season. The Monsoon pitchers are Steve Van Strien, who was 2-6 on a 5-16 team, and left-hander Richard Beck.
LA SERNA--Manny Cervantes, who hit .475 last season, is back, as are Rich Poliquin (.303), Mike Westmoreland (.383) and pitcher Mark Dressen, who was 5-2 with a 1.86 ERA.
SANTA FE--Southpaw John Corona returns for the Chiefs to anchor the pitching staff. His presence has a majority of the league’s coaches predicting that Santa Fe will finish in the top three.
BELL GARDENS--The Lancers lost four all-league players, but Coach Larry Willis believes that if his youngsters show maturity this could be one of the best Bell Gardens teams in recent years--The big hitter is all-league Sal Ruiz, who had 19 RBIs and a .415 average last year. Steven Morales, a junior who had a 1.46 ERA, is the top pitcher.
EL RANCHO--The Dons are young but talented, says Coach Ben Meza. First baseman David Duran and pitcher Eddie Juarez are promising juniors. Top players back include pitcher Abdom Pinon and Carlos Reyes, who is counted on to drive in runs.
WHITTIER--Coach Jerry Nerio predicts a third-place league finish for the Cardinals, who were 12-14 in 1986, but the team has started 0-5. Top players are Jeff Piazza, Bob Gibbs, Gonzalo Cid and Andy Emch.
MONTEBELLO--The Oilers have two strong pitchers in seniors Eliel Rubio (2.50 ERA and 40 strikeouts last year) and Chris Perkins (2.18 and 41). But with five all-league players having graduated, Coach Anthony Perez has a young, inexperienced team.
PIONEER--Coach Anthony Gonzalez is pleased with his hitting but concerned about his pitching. Among the hitters are infielder-pitcher Frank Trinidad, catcher Mike Trujillo and shortstop Louie Hernandez
CALIFORNIA--A new coach, Tom Tereschuk, begins to build a new program, which is needed because Cal was 2-17 last year. Among the seniors are pitcher Robert Nethington and infielders Ed Puga and Mike Heath. Jerry Johnston, a junior, is a promising pitcher.
WHITTIER CHRISTIAN--Jay Adcock, who hit .460 last year, is back, as is Mike Neal, who hit .421. Up from the JV team is pitcher David Little (0.50 ERA and 8-1 record). The hard-hitting Heralds are the defending league champions.
VALLEY CHRISTIAN--All-league players Mike Demaster (.356), Kurt Dykstra (.308) and pitcher Ryan Rienstra (5-0, 2.79) lead a veteran team that should batle Whitter Christian for first place.
BRETHREN--Following a 5-14 season, the Warriors have one of their best outlooks in years. They have solid defense and offense and good speed. Among the veterans is Derek Stott, an all-league player who hit .310 last year and had 15 RBIs and 19 stolen bases.
Camino Real League
ST. ANTHONY--The Saints have six starters back from a 20-9 team that went to the 1-A semifinals, including Bob DeGiorgio, who hit .386, and Dan O’Shea, who hit .310. Hitting and defense are the strengths of Glen LeVier’s team. The pitching is uncertain.
CANTWELL--The Cardinals have everyone back from a team that was 9-5 in the league last year. Ray Walker hit .454 a year ago, Eric Hernandez hit .357, Art Gachupin hit .352 and Joey Gonzalez hit .342.
PIUS X--New Coach John Carr has a young team, led by junior catcher Greg Leon, who hit .340 last year, and junior outfielder Steve Davis, who hit .317.
LEFFINGWELL CHRISTIAN--The Lions are the league favorites because of a strong pitching staff made up of Angelo Michaels, Matt Potter and Lee Cusey. The top hitter is Dwayne Fowler (.479 in 1986).
WHITNEY--Eleven players are back, led by Eli Chang, who hit .400, and pitchers Brett Law (4-1, 1.77) and Scott O’Neil (7-1, 0.66).
AVALON--The Lancers have Leffingwell Christian to contend with, but are expected to finish second. Their top players are pitcher/shortstop Ray Hernandez, first baseman Shaun Quensenberry and catcher Phil Voci.
ST. JOHN BOSCO--The Braves will try to repeat as Del Rey League champions. Coach Ed Riley says he has solid defense and hopes he has enough hitting. Pitching is the question. The Braves have three all-league players: shortstop Cary Windes (.432), center fielder Oscar Meza (.394) and second baseman Jim Sterner (.343).
ST. PAUL--Coach Leo Gutierrez expects the Swordsmen to battle Bishop Amat for third place (behind Servite and Mater Dei) in the Angelus League. St. Paul is strong defensively and has good offensive balance. But the pitching is inexperienced. Rollie Chavez is an outstanding defensive outfielder. Third baseman Jeff Willis is counted on for power.
PIONEER BAPTIST--All the starters return from a 13-3 team. Top newcomers are Howard Cruthers and Carlos Reyes. The Patriots compete in the Express League.
SCHURR--Buzz Baviello’s Spartans of Montebello, who play in the Foothill League, are a young team of unknown quality, except for veterans Manny Gutierrez (.312) and pitcher Joe Cypert (53 strikeouts).
LOS ALAMITOS--Right-handers Rob Nen and Mike Kelly head a strong pitching staff for the Griffins, but Coach Mike Gibson will have a hard time replacing hitters J.T. Snow and Robbie Katzaroff, who now play at Arizona and UCLA, respectively.