The Times’ All-Star baseball team: Gavin Grahovac is player of the year

Villa Park junior shortstop Gavin Grahovac watches the flight of the ball as he exits the batter's box.
Villa Park junior shortstop Gavin Grahovac is The Times’ baseball player of the year for 2022.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

One reliable way to project a future major leaguer is by the way they handle adversity in high school. Everyone knows how good junior Gavin Grahovac of Villa Park is at the plate. Then there’s the maturity he has shown when the game is over.

Villa Park was one swing away from advancing to the Southern Section Division 1 championship game. San Juan Capistrano JSerra decided not to let Grahovac get a chance. He was intentionally walked to load the bases in the bottom of the seventh. Then came a strikeout of the next batter, completing 4-1 defeat.

Chatsworth High’s Marcus Alvarado guided a 16-15 team to the City Section Open Division title, earning coach of the year from The Times.

Afterward, instead of throwing a bat, making excuses or hiding in the dugout, Grahovac calmly and confidently stood there answering questions and preparing for his next game whenever it would come. His resiliency and maturity, combined with his exceptional skills, will make him Southern California’s top baseball prospect for 2023.

“Things didn’t go our way, but we had a great season and I’m proud of all our players,” he said.


JSerra coach Brett Kay called him “the best player on the planet.” He might not be that, but he had quite a season and is The Times’ baseball player of the year.

At 6 feet 3 and 205 pounds, Grahovac is a strong, athletic shortstop, and one of the toughest outs all season. “He’s got all the tools and plays the game hard and is very competitive,” coach Burt Call said.

A look at the high school players who were selected to The Times’ 2022 All-Star baseball team.

Grahovac batted .376 with 47 hits, 24 RBIs, 17 doubles, three triples and five home runs. He has committed to Texas A&M.

Grahovac’s father, Mike, is an assistant coach with the Spartans and a former head coach at Orange Lutheran. Grahovac grew up swinging the bat in his family home until his mother advised him to go outside for fear things could end up broken, like vases, furniture and TVs.

“From an offensive standpoint, he can hit for power and hit for average,” Call said. “He’s a special player.”