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Ortiz, Fullmer Showing Class of 1992 in Valley

A smorgasbord of notes, quotes and opinions from across the San Fernando Valley and its surrounding communities:

Is there anything more remarkable than Russell Ortiz, 23, and Brad Fullmer, 23, reaching the major leagues in the same season? They played together at tiny Montclair Prep in Van Nuys.

“It’s pretty amazing,” said former Mountie Coach Walt Steele.

Montclair Prep has 380 high school students. The Mounties had an 18-5 record in 1992, the year Ortiz was a senior and Fullmer a junior. The team didn’t make the playoffs because the athletic program was on probation for rule violations committed by the football program.

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Ortiz, a pitcher with the San Francisco Giants, and Fullmer, a first baseman with the Montreal Expos, were always big-time players.

"[Ortiz’s] nickname was ‘Pistol,’ ” Steele said.

Ortiz threw hard, but his pitches were not in excess of 90 mph, as they are now. He went to the University of Oklahoma and was a fourth-round draft pick of the Giants in 1995.

Fullmer batted .538 with 10 home runs and 40 runs batted in as a junior. Some people wondered if his statistics were inflated. They don’t think so any longer. He’s hitting No. 4 in the lineup as a rookie starter for the Expos.

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“Offensively, I’ve never been around a kid with as much ability,” Steele said.

Fullmer was drafted in the second round by the Expos in 1993 and turned down a scholarship to Stanford to accept a $455,000 signing bonus.

Steele has many stories to tell about Fullmer’s power.

“He hit a ball his sophomore year at The Master’s [field],” Steele said. “He’s hitting it 430 feet and I’m going, ‘What’s he going to be like when he’s a senior?’

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“He hit a ball at Coast Union that still hasn’t come down.

“He hit one during the Thousand Oaks tournament on the JV field that hit the base of a fence that separates the parking lot from the park. He hit it so far it was ridiculous.”

Ortiz could face Fullmer when the Giants and Expos play a four-game series May 11-14 in San Francisco.

Asked who he intends to root for, Steele said, “Both of them--Russell to make good pitches and Brad to have a good at-bat.” . . .

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Anyone who played high school baseball locally in 1992 deserves a special citation for competing during a season that brought together perhaps the greatest collection of talent in region history.

An examination of statistics from the 1992 season reveals at least 40 high school players who have gone on to play professional baseball. Fullmer, Ortiz and Jeff Suppan (Crespi) are the only ones to reach the majors--so far.

It was an extraordinary season because players from the talented senior class of ’93 were juniors and the outstanding seniors of ’94 were sophomores.

Some of the other players competing that year were Robert Fick (Newbury Park), Randy Wolf (El Camino Real), Jim Parque (Crescenta Valley), Dan Cey (El Camino Real), Jon McMullen (Rio Mesa), Judd Granzow (Faith Baptist), Ryan Hankins (Simi Valley), Darrell Dent (Montclair Prep), Ryan Stromsborg (Notre Dame), Nate Dishington (Hoover), Chris Paxton (Palmdale), Gabe Kapler (Taft), Brandon Knight (Buena), Keith Evans (Crespi), David Lamb (Newbury Park) and Stacy Kleiner (Taft). It was a season to remember. . . .

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Chris Schreiber, a freshman outfielder at Granada Hills, hit two home runs this week against Chatsworth’s 14-0 junior varsity team. “He might not be on JVs much longer,” Granada Hills varsity Coach Steve Thompson said. . . .

After his team’s 2-1, 11-inning Marmonte League victory over Thousand Oaks, Westlake Coach Chuck Berrington said, “I was at the brink of heaven and hell.” . . .

It’s showdown time in East Valley League baseball with Poly (11-2-1, 6-0-1) and Sylmar (14-3, 8-0) playing a two-game series starting Monday at Poly. Everyone should enjoy watching two excellent junior pitchers, Ivan Hernandez of Sylmar and Carlos Reguengo of Poly. . . .

Sophomore guard Kelly Ross of Oak Park, expected to be a key contributor for the Eagles’ basketball team next season, has made the Maccabi team that will travel to Detroit this summer. He also has 4.3 grade-point average. His mother is a sister of former Olympic swimming champion Mark Spitz. . . .

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Westlake football Coach Jim Benkert doesn’t start spring practice until May 18, but his roster keeps growing with transfer students. First, it was sophomore wide receiver Michael Brignac of Reseda. On the way is sophomore running back Julian Lambert of Birmingham. Both played with Westlake sophomore quarterback Zac Wasserman in youth football. All three live outside the Conejo Valley district.

Benkert lost a player last season when quarterback Kjell Nesen transferred to St. Francis, so he knows how coaches feel when players transfer without warning. But his program figures to receive increasing scrutiny from fellow coaches if any more players with a Wasserman connection transfer in. . . .

Congratulations to former Crespi High and UCLA defensive back Shaun Williams, first-round draft pick of the New York Giants.

“I’m very happy for him,” Crespi Coach Tim Lins said. “He’s worked very hard to get to this point.”

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Elite Players of 1992

These are among the high school baseball players from 1992 who went on to play professional baseball:

Name, school: ’92 average

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Jason Adamson, Moorpark: .268

Dan Cey, El Camino Real: .418

Eric Cole, Antelope Valley: .328

Brendon Cowsill, Crescenta Valley: .275

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Darrell Dent, Montclair Prep: .371

Nate Dishington, Hoover: .333

Andy Dominique, Alemany: .393

Keith Evans, Crespi: 3-0

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Robert Fick, Newbury Park: .315

Brad Fullmer, Montclair Prep: .538

Chris Garza, Notre Dame: 9-2

Judd Granzow, Faith Baptist: .500

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Andy Hall, Camarillo: .446

Kirk Hagge, Crescenta Valley: N/A

Ryan Hankins, Simi Valley: .429

Gabe Kapler, Taft: .313

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Stacy Kleiner, Taft: .463

Brandon Knight, Buena: .391

Rico Lagattuta, Westlake: N/A

Dave Landaker, Royal: .526

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David Lamb, Newbury Park: .297

Justin Marine, El Camino Real: .267

Jon McMullen, Rio Mesa: .500

Russell Ortiz, Montclair Prep: .314

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Chris Paxton, Palmdale: .338

Jim Parque, Crescenta Valley: 3-2

Jon Schaeffer, Harvard-Westlake: .429

Justin Siegel, Taft: 7-3

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Scott Singleton, Westlake: 3-2

Will Skett, Reseda: .439

Shane Slayton, Royal: .528

Keith Smith, Newbury Park: N/A

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Casey Snow, Crespi: .278

John Snyder, Westlake: 6-4

Ryan Stromsborg, Notre Dame: .338

Jeff Suppan, Crespi: 7-3

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Jeff Tagliaferri, Kennedy: .322

Jose Villafana, Sylmar: 4-5

Sam Voita, Granada Hills: .393

Randy Wolf, El Camino Real: .388

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N/A--not available


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