Prep Rally: Looking at the next group of local MLB draft prospects

Bryce Rainer (left) and Duncan Marsten.
Bryce Rainer (left) and Duncan Marsten, here as freshmen at Harvard-Westlake, will be prime pro prospects in 2024.

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. The 2023 MLB draft is over. But which Southern California players will be in the draft spotlight in 2024? Let’s take a peek.

Looking ahead to 2024

California produced another No. 1 pick in the MLB draft with the selection of former El Toro pitcher Paul Skenes by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Could there be another candidate for 2024?

Bryce Rainer of Harvard-Westlake.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Don’t underestimate what Bryce Rainer of Harvard-Westlake might develop into. He has been on everyone’s radar after going 9-0 on the mound as a freshman. His hitting skills are now gaining increasing respect. A productive senior season could propel him into being a candidate for a top five position.


And don’t forget about his high school teammate, pitcher Duncan Marsten, who finally made his prep debut last season after injuries delayed his progress. He could be throwing with more velocity than any pitcher in the Southland by next season. That alone will get him a close look from pro scouts, along with his ability to throw strikes while throwing in the mid-90s. A third Harvard-Westlake pitcher, Tommy Bridges, keeps improving and winning games.

Derek Curiel of Orange Lutheran remains a highly regarded hitting prospect. Ethan Schiefelbein is a left-handed pitcher from Corona who throws in the 90s. Former JSerra shortstop Cody Schrier had his sophomore season at UCLA cut short by injury, but he should be healthy in the spring and ready to return to top form. Former Foothill outfielder Austin Overn was a freshman sensation at USC because of his speed, hitting and defense. He’ll be draft eligible in the spring. Levi Sterling of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame is a Texas commit who pitches and hits. Boston Bateman of Camarillo is a 6-foot-7 pitcher/hitter who could generate interest with his size and improving velocity.

Draft selections

Former Sherman Oaks Notre Dame pitcher Lucas Gordon was a sixth-round selection.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

A look at local selections in the 2023 MLB draft:

Round 1: 1. Paul Skenes (El Toro, LSU), Pirates; 6. Jacob Wilson (Thousand Oaks, Grand Canyon), Athletics; 15. Jacob Gonzalez (Glendora, Mississippi), White Sox; 23. Ralphy Velazquez (Huntington Beach), Guardians.

Round 2: 61. Alonzo Tredwell (Mater Dei, UCLA), Astros.

Round 3: 79. Albert Rios (St. John Bosco, Stanford), Angels; 82. Brandon Winokur (Edison), Twins; 87. Eric Bitonti (Aquinas), Brewers; 117. Brock Vradenburg (Maranatha, Michigan State), Marlins.

Round 4: 103. Cole Miller (Newbury Park), Athletics; 105. Cole Schoenwetter (San Marcos), Reds; 122. Quinn Mathews (Aliso Niguel, Stanford), Cardinals; 129. Roc Riggio (Thousand Oaks, Oklahoma State), Yankees.

Round 5: 141. Connor Burns (Don Lugo, Long Beach State), Reds; 145. Kyle Karros (Mira Costa, UCLA), Rockies.

Round 6: 179. Lucas Gordon (SO Notre Dame, Texas), White Sox; 189. Lucas Braun (Palisades, CSUN), Braves.

Round 7: 200. John Peck (Moorpark, Pepperdine), Tigers; 215. Charles Harrison (Canyon Country Canyon, UCLA), Cardinals.

Round 8: 228. Carter Graham (Chaminade, Stanford), Reds; 246. Boston Baro (Capistrano Valley), Mets.

Round 9: 266. Jonathon Long (Orange, Long Beach State), Cubs; 277. RJ Schreck (Harvard-Westlake, Vanderbilt), Mariners.

Round 11: 323. Jake Brooks (Fountain Valley, UCLA), Marlins; 338. Johnny Tincher (Birmingham, Washington), Guardians; 343. Kehden Hettiger (Sierra Canyon), Phillies.

Round 12: 374. Anthony Huezo (Etiwanda), Astros.

Round 15: 442. Darius Perry (La Mirada, UCLA), Rockies; 447; Spencer Bengard (Valley View, Cal Baptist), Twins; 448. Phoenix Call (Calabasas), Red Sox; 463. Jared Thomas (Orange Lutheran, Loyola Marymount), Phillies; 464. Garret Guillemette (Servite, Texas), Astros.

Round 16: 477. Anthony Silvas (Moreno Valley, Riverside CC), Twins; 481. Cole Urman (Temecula Valley, CS Fullerton), Orioles.

Round 17: 495. Merrick Baldo (Mira Costa, Loyola Marymount), Nationals; 506. Ethan Flanagan (Santa Margarita, UCLA), Cubs; 509. Mikey Kane (St. Francis, Oregon State), White Sox.

Round 18: 544. Chase Brunson (San Clemente), Blue Jays; 549. Cam Magee (Anaheim Canyon, Washington State), Diamondbacks. 550. Sterling Patick (South Hills), Dodgers; 552. Coby Morales (St. John Bosco, Washington), Yankees.

Round 19: 563. Johnny Olmstead (Newport Harbor, USC), Mariners; 569. Caden Connor (Orange Lutheran, CS Fullerton), White Sox; 575. Graysen Tarlow (Orange Lutheran, CS Northridge), Cardinals; 581. Adler Cecil (Temecula Valley), Padres.

Round 20: 586. Diego Barrera (Damien, Loyola Marymount), Athletics; 589. Blake Wilson (Santa Margarita), Royals; 596. Drew Bowser (Harvard-Westlake, Stanford), Cubs; 610. DJ Uiagalelei (St. John Bosco, Oregon State), Dodgers; 612. Bryce Warrecker (Santa Barbara, Cal Poly), Yankees.

Juju Watkins getting ready

Sierra Canyon's Juju Watkins (12) celebrates with teammates after winning Southern Section Open Division title.
(Craig Weston)

Former Sierra Canyon girls’ basketball standout Juju Watkins, a McDonald’s All-American who won the Gatorade national player of the year award last season after averaging 27.3 points, 13.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists, has been busy this summer preparing for her freshman season at USC.


She’s one of the most celebrated female girls’ basketball players to enter the college game.

“Honestly, I’m excited,” she said. “I’m glad I can have a fresh start. There’s a lot of expectations for me personally and from everybody. I’m ecstatic to see what these next few years consist of. The plan is to keep working hard and showing up on the court.”

Watkins has already adjusted to the celebrity treatment of being at USC at a time when there’s a Heisman Trophy winner walking around campus as well as the son of LeBron James on the men’s basketball team.

“I’m happy to be surrounded by greatness,” she said. “It’s really cool to be in that environment. It’s L.A. Happy to be here and to be part of it.”

Watkins turned 18 on Saturday.

City football

San Pedro players head to the sideline after warming up for their game against Banning.
(Luca Evans / For the Times)

San Pedro is ready to unleash its two returning quarterbacks to be the team to beat in Marine League football.

Marcus Jeronymo and Santiago Rivera kept improving last season and should provide a building block for the offense. All-leaguer Pete Eneliko is back at running back and Luke Mardesich and Robert Marnani should be outstanding at receiver.

Defensive end Dylan Rubino and defensive back Anthony Estrada will be key players for new defensive coordinator Joshua Dobbs, who comes over from Gardena Serra.

The top newcomer is defensive back Jaden Lee, a starter at Salesian last season.

San Pedro’s challenge is finding replacements for five graduated offensive linemen.

There’s a terrific summer matchup of top City teams Saturday. Garfield is hosting Birmingham, Franklin and Venice in a seven on seven passing competition that begins at 9 a.m. All four schools should be in a City Section list of top 10 teams for the 2023 season.


Summer preview: Defensive line

King/Drew basketball player Chinedu Onyeagoro had 19 sacks in his first year of football playing defense end.
(Haleemon Anderson)

Continuing the summer football preview series looking at players to watch for the 2023 high school season, defensive linemen and defensive ends are critical.

Two juniors who know how to put the pressure on quarterbacks come to mind.

Chinedu Onyeagoro of King/Drew recorded 19 sacks as a sophomore. James Dowd of South Pasadena had 11 sacks.

Here’s a look at others.

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Notes. . . .

During the third round of last week’s MLB draft, highly regarded Villa Park prospect Gavin Grahovac tweeted that he had pulled his name from the draft and would attend Texas A&M. Trent Caraway from JSerra also announced he would attend Oregon State. . . .

Mackenzie Baughn is Moorpark’s new aquatics coach in charge of the boys and girls water polo and swim teams. . . .

Let there be light. Corona Centennial is installing new light bulbs for its football stadium just in time for the 2023 season. . . .

Orange Lutheran won the girls’ state championship in summer water polo, with Huntington Beach winning for boys. . . .

Rick Magnante is the new baseball coach at Oak Park. . . .

Linebacker Kamar Mothudi has committed to Oregon. He played last season at Campbell Hall and transferred to Los Alamitos. . . .

Matthew Merricks is the new baseball coach at St. Bonaventure. He’s an Oxnard High grad who was in pro ball for seven years. . . .


Pitching coach Joey Contreras is the new baseball coach at Buena. . . .

St. Bernard will not field a football program for the third consecutive season. St. Bernard last played in the spring of 2021, the COVID season. Manuel Douglas resigned before the final game. Players scattered and the program could not field a team. The hope is to have a team in 2024, athletic director Tony Bland said. . . .

JSerra senior Ryder Dodd is the only high school athlete to be selected for the USA water polo team that will compete in the World Championships this summer in Japan. Also on the team is his brother, Chase, who plays for UCLA. Ryder is committed to USC. . . .

Kyle Poe is leaving Villanova Prep to become the basketball coach at Nordhoff. . . .

Harvard-Westlake grads Lucas Giolito (White Sox) and Jack Flaherty (Cardinals) become free agents at the end of the baseball season, so both could end up being traded by the end of the month. There’s plenty of Harvard-Westlake fans hoping one or the other ends up with the Dodgers. They are pitchers who were teammates in high school. . . .

Former Moorpark tight end Dennis Pitta, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens, has joined San Clemente’s coaching staff to coach receivers. . . .

St. Pius X-St. Matthias won the Salesian seven on seven passing tournament. San Clemente won the Ocean View tournament. Cypress won the Paloma Valley tournament. A big tournament on Saturday will be held at Huntington Beach. Then official practice will begin. . . .

Audrey Crafts, a lacrosse player from Santa Margarita, has committed to Cal. . . .

Former Oak Park and Moorpark College receiver Alexander Capka-Jones has committed to Illinois. . . .

Former Narbonne All-City basketball player Marcus Adams Jr. has asked for his release from Kansas. He had just joined the team this summer.

From the archives: Zana Muno

Former Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and UCLA beach volleyball player Zana Muno has been a success on AVP tour.
(Athelo Group)

Zana Muno, who was a women’s volleyball standout at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and UCLA, is having success on the AVP tour both as a player and as a personality.


She comes from a sports family. Her brother, JJ, was a star football/baseball player at Notre Dame, then baseball player at UC Santa Barbara and in the minors. Her father, Larry, was a high school football coach and firefighter. She has never been afraid about having fun while demonstrating a passion for winning. She won two NCAA beach national titles at UCLA.

Here’s a 2012 column about Muno as a 16-year-old at Notre Dame.


From NFHS, a story on softball rule changes for 2024.

From, a story on incoming UCLA baseball recruit Roch Cholowsky turning down probably a big MLB bonus to go to college.

From, a story on third-round draft pick Brandon Winokur from Edison.

From the Washington Post, a story on a high school tennis player who left the sport for pickleball stardom.

Tweets you might have missed


Until next time...

Have a question, comment or something you’d like to see in a future Prep Rally newsletter? Email me at, and follow me on Twitter at @latsondheimer.

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