TIMES ALL STARS : Scouts’ Honor--Talented Junior Class Bears Watching
Wait till next year.
The rallying cry of many a disheartened fan easily could serve as the motto for college baseball coaches and professional scouts who scoured the area for talent this spring.
While the senior class of 1992 wasn’t noted as one of the region’s strongest in recent years--only two players from the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys were selected in the baseball free-agent draft June 1-3--several of next spring’s graduates project as potential breakthrough players.
Consider, for example, several of the players on The Times’ All-Valley baseball team. Of the 16 on the first team, six are juniors who should generate considerable interest next spring.
Crespi High right-hander Jeff Suppan, The Times’ Valley pitcher of the year, leads the list of juniors who should turn the heads of more than a few scouts and major-college recruiters.
“There’s no doubt about it--it was very bleak this year,” one area scout said. “There are several kids next year, though, that should get lots of attention, and several others that will be given a good, long look.”
And the list of standout juniors extends well beyond those players who were named to The Times’ first team. Though the 1992 season was disappointing for many schools--no area team won a division title, and the San Fernando Valley’s streak of consecutive City Section 4-A Division championships was halted at 19--things are expected to change.
The junior crop, in fact, already has been well researched. After James Woods of San Fernando was drafted in the 50th and final round by the Florida Marlins, the club’s area scout admitted he was attending the game to look at El Camino Real junior shortstop Dan Cey.
Montclair Prep junior infielder Brad Fullmer, an honor student, should be fielding offers from NCAA Division I teams by the dozen next fall. Fullmer batted .538, drove in 40 runs and spanked 10 homers to rank among regional leaders in those categories.
Ditto for Chaminade junior outfielder Brian Powers. Despite playing for a team that finished 4-22, Powers batted .472 with eight homers and 25 runs batted in.
Cey, whose father Ron was an All-Star third baseman for the Dodgers, made the transition from second base to shortstop with nary a hitch and even set a torrid pace offensively. Cey batted a team-high .418.
Bobby Cowan of Saugus nearly erased the most famous name from the Centurion record book. Cowan, a junior right-hander who was 12-2, almost matched the single-season victory total of 13 posted three years ago by Roger Salkeld, now considered the Seattle Mariners’ top pitching prospect.
At 6-feet, 160 pounds, Taft junior Stacy Kleiner might not be built like a catcher but he certainly can play the position. Kleiner, who hopes to try his hand in the outfield in American Legion play this summer, also is considered a top area prospect.
Suppan, generally considered the best pitcher in the region, was selected the Mission League pitcher of the year--and he also drove in 22 runs to tie for team-high honors.
Four players on The Times’ second team also are juniors.
Times All Stars
Name: Jerry Cord (Coach of the Year) School: Poly Year: 17th season 21-5 record
Name: John Aguilar (Player of the Year) School: Hart Year: Senior W-L/Avg.: .457
Name: Jeff Suppan (Pitcher of the Year) School: Crespi Year: Junior W-L/Avg.: 7-3; 1.28 ERA
Name: Bobby Cowan School: Saugus Year: Junior Position: Pitcher W-L/Avg.: 12-2; 1.69 ERA
Name: Eric Diaz School: Poly Year: Senior Position: Pitcher W-L/Avg.: 11-2; 1.47 ERA
Name: Brad Fullmer School: Montclair Prep Year: Junior Position: Infield W-L/Avg.: .538
Name: Jim Guth School: Grant Year: Senior Position: Infield W-L/Avg.: .426
Name: Vic Seper School: Crespi Year: Senior Position: Infield W-L/Avg.: .429
Name: David Stevenson School: Chatsworth Year: Senior Position: Infield W-L/Avg.: 407
Name: Brodie Van Wagenen School: Crespi Year: Senior Position: Infield W-L/Avg.: .375
Name: Stacy Kleiner School: Taft Year: Junior Position: Catcher W-L/Avg.: .463
Name: Dan Cey School: El Camino Real Year: Junior Position: Infield W-L/Avg.: .418
Name: Scott Berger School: Granada Hills Year: Senior Position: Outfield W-L/Avg.: .446
Name: John Davis School: Kennedy Year: Senior Position: Outfield W-L/Avg.: .402
Name: Jesus Perez School: Poly Year: Senior Position: Outfield W-L/Avg.: .410
Name: Brian Powers School: Chaminade Year: Junior Position: Outfield W-L/Avg.: .472
Name: Doug Distaso School: Hart Year: Senior Position: Utility W-L/Avg.: .378, 7-0, 3.13
All-Valley Second Team
Player School Pos Yr. Jorge Dorado Monroe P Jr. Chris Garza Notre Dame P Jr. Russell Ortiz Montclair Prep P Sr. Alex Alvarenga Van Nuys C Jr. Dave Castillo Alemany C Sr. Kevin Brown L.A. Lutheran IF Sr. Peter Chong Grant IF Sr. Francisco Flores Poly IF Sr. Ed Gillis Agoura IF Sr. Julio Marcial Cleveland IF Sr. Jose Nunez San Fernando IF Sr. Rian O’Meara Harvard IF Sr. Jayme Riggio Saugus IF Sr. Bill Sivley Canyon IF Sr. Jeff Tagliaferri Kennedy IF Jr. Heath McElwee Granada Hills OF Sr. John Workman St. Francis Util Sr.
Player Comment Jorge Dorado Repeat selection was 6-1 with 1.62 ERA. Chris Garza 78 walks but 90 strikeouts in 72 2/3 innings. Russell Ortiz 1st-team ’91 pick has signed with Oklahoma. Alex Alvarenga Top receiver batted .361 with 9 doubles. Dave Castillo Strong arm, also batted .480 with 18 RBIs. Kevin Brown Set Southern Section record with 70 steals. Peter Chong .408 hitter led Lancer attack with 26 RBIs. Francisco Flores Imposing first baseman batted .455. Ed Gillis .426 hitter scored 21 runs, stole 15 bases. Julio Marcial Slick fielder batted .422 with 13 steals. Jose Nunez 1st-team ’91 pick led Tigers with 4 homers. Rian O’Meara .473 hitter scored 29 runs with 28 RBIs. Jayme Riggio .442 hitter had 4 homers, 27 RBIs, 15 steals. Bill Sivley Led Cowboys with .430 average, 22 RBIs. Jeff Tagliaferri Batted .322 with 13 extra-base hits, 25 RBIs. Heath McElwee .375 hitter was 4-1 with 1.85 ERA. John Workman 7 wins, including 2 in playoffs; batted .397.
All-Ventura County Team
Player School Pos Yr. Dave Landaker Royal IF Sr. Angel Aragon Channel Islands P Sr. Jeff Howatt Rio Mesa P Sr. Trevor Leppard Simi Valley P Jr. John Snyder Westlake P Sr. Jeff Gibbons Oak Park P Sr. Shane Slayton Royal C Sr. Jose Gastelum Channel Islands C Jon McMullen Rio Mesa IF Sr. Brandon Knight Buena IF Jr. Andy Hall Camarillo IF Sr. Keith Wilson Westlake IF Sr. Jim Chergey Thousand Oaks OF Sr. Victor Moreno Rio Mesa OF Jr. Kevin Nykoluk Simi Valley OF Jr. Aaron Whitley Simi Valley OF Jr.
Player Comment Dave Landaker Player of the year batted .526, scored 45 runs. Angel Aragon Pitcher of the year was 10-3, 1.23 ERA. Jeff Howatt 9-1, 1.48 ERA for Channel League champion. Trevor Leppard MVP of Colonial tournament; 4 saves. John Snyder 97 strikeouts in 60 innings; 1.28 ERA. Jeff Gibbons Pitched Eagles to 1-A final; 11-1, 1.43 ERA. Shane Slayton Led county with .529 average, 49 RBIs. Jose Gastelum Batted .422; 43 hits led county. Jon McMullen Slugger batted .500 with 7 homers, 34 RBIs. Brandon Knight Batted .391; posted ERA of 0.91. Andy Hall Batted .449 with 13 stolen bases. Keith Wilson Batted .455, led Warriors in most categories. Jim Chergey Good speed and power; hit .393. Victor Moreno Pleasant surprise had 34 hits, 31 runs. Kevin Nykoluk Repeat pick hit .441, 10 home runs. Aaron Whitley Spark plug had 40 hits, 30 runs.
Coach of the year: Don Cardinal (Channel Islands)