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High School Sports

Column: Baseball preview: Pete Crow-Armstrong and Drew Bowser give Wolverines an edge

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Harvard-Westlake’s impressive one-two hitting duo of Drew Bowser, left, and Pete Crow-Armstrong could remind people of the time when Chatsworth featured Mike Moustakas and Matt Dominguez.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Not since first-round draft picks Matt Dominguez and Mike Moustakas were batting No. 2 and No. 3 for Chatsworth High and leading a team that hit 74 home runs during the 2007 season has there been a dynamic hitting duo the likes of Pete Crow-Armstrong and Drew Bowser of Studio City Harvard-Westlake.

“It’s very exciting,” Harvard-Westlake coach Jared Halpert said.

They’ve signed with Vanderbilt and Stanford, respectively, and 2020 will be partly about showing professional scouts their potential and determining how much money might be needed for either to pass on college.

What’s unique is that the two have been inspiring each other since they played on opposite teams as 8-year-olds in Little League.

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“The whole being competitive thing started then,” said Bowser, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound shortstop. “He would play against us. He would beat us, we would beat him. We’ve been pushing ourselves since.”

Crow-Armstrong, a 6-foot-1, 188-pound center fielder, said, “It was really nice when we hit 13 and started to play with each other. I finally got to see first hand how he worked. It’s been great. I don’t think either of us would be in the position we are in today if we didn’t have another player like that next to us.”

Halpert will have to figure out a batting order that will be most productive. Crow-Armstrong is a prototype leadoff hitter with speed, excellent bat control and occasional power. He batted .426 last season with three home runs and five triples. Bowser, who has gained 15 pounds from his junior year, has supreme power. He was MVP at the Perfect Game All-American Classic last summer and also won the home run derby. He batted .386 with two home runs and 28 RBIs.

“There’s definitely consideration what kind of protection we can get those guys and the flow of the offense,” Halpert said. “What we’ve hung our hat on is you’re going to see those guys in the first inning regardless.”

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During fall ball, they were batting No. 1 and No. 3, with Oregon signee Tyler Ganus batting No. 2. Moustakas batted third at Chatsworth when he hit 24 home runs his senior year. Dominguez batted second and hit 13 home runs. Moustakas started the year as the leadoff man, then switched to No. 3.

Every day in batting practice, Bowser and Crow-Armstrong compete to see who comes out on top. Bowser is more low key; Crow-Armstrong is more inclined to speak up. The four-year varsity players admire each other’s qualities and skills. They’ve been four-year varsity players.

Bowser on Crow-Armstrong: “Pete’s pretty much the complete player with speed, power, arm strength, the baseball IQ. There’s really not a lot of holes in his game and I would say aside from his physical ability his ability to lead on and off the field is amazing.”

Crow-Armstrong on Bowser: “Physically he’s pretty impressive and special. I think every year he’s come back with a tool a lot better. He’s always had the power. He’s one of the best hitters I’ve seen. He could probably be put anywhere on the field and be OK.”

Each is coming off a humbling experience last summer. Bowser was briefly cut from the USA 18U national team. When a player was injured, he was added to the team that traveled to South Korea, but it taught him about the highs and lows of baseball.

Crow-Armstrong took off most of June from playing baseball. He focused on improving his strength by lifting weights. When he came back in July, he struggled at the plate. His reputation as a top hitter was being questioned. It took time to regain his hitting form. He made the USA 18U national team and offers no regrets about taking a break from baseball. He said the increased strength will greatly benefit him in the long run.

The 2020 season will feature an elite group of pitchers that includes Jared Jones of La Mirada, Lucas Gordon of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and Max Rajcic of Orange Lutheran. All could get a chance to pitch against the Harvard-Westlake’s duo.

While there will be scrutiny and attention this season, Bowser and Crow-Armstrong seem to have a good plan on how to proceed.

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“Our main objective this year should be cherishing this last year with our friends and this team, the coaches and this program,” Crow-Armstrong said.

BEST OF THE BEST IN HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL

Pitchers
Jared Jones, La Mirada, Sr. Has wicked slider and improving command of 97 mph fastball
Max Rajcic, Orange Lutheran, Sr. UCLA signee is power pitcher with great competitive spirit
Lucas Gordon, SO Notre Dame, Sr. Texas signee is set for his best season yet.
Gage Jump, JSerra, Jr. UCLA commit is left-hander with precision control
Brett Wozniak, Cypress, Sr. Kansas State signee was key player for Division 1 champions

Catchers
Nick Bacura, Mira Costa, Jr. Santa Clara commit keeps improving as hitter
Luke Davis, Cypress, So. USC commit has skills to be first-round draft pick
Garret Guillemette, Servite, Sr. USC signee is clutch hitter and terrific fielder
Kevin Parada, Loyola, Sr. Georgia Tech signee sets the standard for excellence
Paul Skenes, El Toro, Sr. Air Force commit is 6-6, has 4.8 GPA and also pitches

Infielders
Drew Bowser, Harvard-Westlake, Sr. Stanford signee has great arm, growing power
Kyle Karros, Mira Costa, Sr. UCLA signee has grown to 6-5 with consistent bat
Daylen Reyes, SO Notre Dame, Sr. UCLA signee had 37 hits last season
Cody Schrier, JSerra, Jr. Blossoming into the top player many predicted
Milan Tolentino, Santa Margarita, Sr. UCLA signee hits, pitches and leads

Outfielders
Pete Crow-Armstrong, Harvard-Westlake, Sr. A potential top 10 draft pick
Isaiah Greene, Corona, Sr. Center fielder with speed and improving bat
Cole Koniarsky, Ayala, Jr. CS Fullerton commit hit .385 as sophomore
Nick McLain, Beckman, Jr. Will become a switch hitter this season.
Jake Vogel, Huntington Beach, Sr. UCLA signee with consistent power


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