All-State Baseball: First Team

Blake Hunt (left) of Santa Ana Mater Dei emerged as one of the nation’s top catchers during the season and was a second-round MLB Draft choice by the San Diego Padres. Jeremiah Estrada (right) of Palm Desert also went early in the draft and he has signed a pro contract with the Chicago Cubs. Photos: Twitter.com & kesq.com.


With the No. 1 and No. 2 overall choices in last month’s MLB Draft plus two from Huntington Beach who also were high draft picks, including Mr. Baseball State POY Hagen Danner, this year’s 36th annual Cal-Hi Sports All-State Baseball Team may have as many no-brainers as there’s ever been. Still, it’s not easy for the final 10 to 15 berths. In the end, Huntington Beach is joined by State Team of the Year Eastlake of Chula Vista and Buchanan of Clovis with having two first team honorees. This group of 30 players is the best of the best regardless of year in school or size of school. The ones that played in the toughest, top section playoffs have an advantage, but there are a handful of medium school players who cracked the top squad.

For the all-state second and third teams, CLICK HERE.
For the all-state underclass teams (Gold Club post), CLICK HERE.
For the all-state small & medium school teams, CLICK HERE.
For Gold Club post of our all-time all-state first team baseball archive back to 1990 (with second team back to 2003), CLICK HERE.

Note: We hope you enjoy this free post. We’ll have an inside look at this year’s all-state baseball teams after all of the teams are chosen, including names of other players that can be considered all-state sophomores and freshmen. That post plus more unique California high school sports content is for Gold Club members only. To join our team today, CLICK HERE.

Stockton office assistant editor Paul Muyskens also contributed to this post. Congratulations to these players who’ve been named first team overall for the 36th annual Cal-Hi Sports all-state baseball honors program:

El Toro’s Jake Jackson cemented his all-state status with a shutout in CIFSS D1 title game. He’ll pitch next at Nevada. Photo: Mark Tennis.


CATCHERS

Blake Hunt (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) Sr.
It’s hard to miss this 6-foot-4, 205-pound right hander as he hit .394 with 28 runs batter in this season for the Monarchs. Leading their offense in several categories, Hunt also had nine doubles and six home runs while being considered an above average catcher defensively. Easily having his best season of his three on varsity, he also walked 17 times and was hit by a pitch six times while striking out just 10 times all season. Previously committed to Pepperdine, Blake was selected with the 69th overall pick in the MLB Draft and has signed with the San Diego Padres.

Ben Martz (Thousand Oaks) Sr.
From early on in the selections, it looked like we might only go with two catchers on this year’s first team. But after Blake Hunt (a fairly easy choice) as one of them, who’d be the second? Maybe because he was a SoCal Player of the Week for us in the middle of the season, Martz ended up with this berth. The All-L.A. Daily News pick had a solid senior season behind the plate and swung a powerful bat. Leading the Lancers in multiple offensive categories, he hit .452 with 28 runs batted in, 12 doubles, a triple and eight home runs. Showing his patience at the plate, he also had a team-high 15 walks and was hit by a pitch six times. He will play in college at Cal State Northridge.

PITCHERS

Kevin Abel (Madison, San Diego) Sr.
Named by the CIF San Diego Section media as Pitcher of the Year, he went 9-1 with a 1.30 ERA during his senior season. Committed to Oregon State he walked just 30 while striking out 120 over 81 innings. After hitting .410 with 20 runs batted in last season he hit .299 this season but his pitching included wins over teams such as Eastlake and Rancho Bernardo. The nine wins was the second year in a row Abel had nine wins as he finished 26-9 with a 1.90 ERA and 299 career strikeouts.

Hans Crouse (Dana Hills, Dana Point) Sr.
Nearly striking out 100 batters this season, he was named by the Orange County Register as itsPitcher of the Year, going 7-3 for a team that ended the season just 17-15. A big reason the Dolphins reached the championship game of the NHSI in North Carolina, Crouse once again lowered his ERA this season to just 0.88 while striking out 99 in 63.1 innings. Signed to play in college at USC, he was chosen in the second round of the MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers and made his pro debut at the end of June.

Jonathan Guardado (Nogales, La Puente) Sr.
Named by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune as its Player of the Year, Guardado helped lead the Nobles to the CIF Southern Section Divisional semifinals for the first time since 1978. In his final start of the season, he allowed just two hits in the CIFSS Division IV quarterfinals to finish the season a perfect 14-0 with a 0.33 ERA. Signed to play at Arizona, he allowed just four earned runs all season and had 145 strikeouts on the year. Guardado also led the state in no-hitters with four, a total that also puts him into the state record book. Also catching when he wasn’t pitching, he hit .488 with 13 doubles and 36 runs batted in.

Darby Tatum was the ace pitcher for CIF Central Section D1 champion Clovis throughout the season and finished with 13 wins. Photo: clovishighbaseball.com.


Michael Hobbs (Corona) Sr.
Helping to lead the Panthers to their first outright league title in 22 years, he was named Player of the Year by the Riverside Press-Enterprise. Just like he did last season as a junior, Hobbs once again pitched a no-hitter in the playoffs as he pitched a no-hitter in a CIFSS Division I playoff game against Orange Lutheran. Going 8-4 with a 1.08 ERA and 76 strikeouts, he finished his high school career with a 1.41 ERA while striking out 155 batters in 158.2 innings pitched. With teams pitching him more carefully this season at the plate after hitting .376 with 44 runs batted in last year, Hobbs also still managed to hit .364 with 27 runs batted in his senior season.

Jake Jackson (El Toro, Lake Forest) Sr.
Leading El Toro to the CIFSS Division I championship, he went 12-1 with a 0.61 ERA on the season and was named the CIFSS Division I Player of the Year. Headed to Nevada, this right hander did not pitch a single inning last season but ended his high school career with a shutout at Dodger Stadium. With his team needing a catcher last season, he volunteered but showed no signs of rust on the mound this season as he was also named the MVP of the South Coast League. Also a finalist for our Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year, he had 89 strikeouts while walking just six in 92 innings pitched.

Cullen Kafka (De La Salle, Concord) Sr.
In his final season before heading to Oregon, Kafka he was named the East Bay Athletic League pitcher of the year as the Spartans captured their second straight CIF North Coast Section Division I championship. Going 11-1 on the season with a 1.15 ERA, he pitched four complete games and in 73 1/3 innings he struck out 98 batters. Cullen was also named by the Bay Area News Group as its East Bay Baseball Player of the Year.

Carson Olson (Buchanan, Clovis) Sr.
Buchanan had four players on the top two all-state underclass teams last season and Olson wasn’t one of them. He has to get elevated to first team overall this year, however, after he went 12-0 with a 1.46 ERA. Olson, who will play next at Cal, had a one-hitter in a victory against Clovis and also was the winning pitcher in Buchanan’s other regular season win against the Cougars.

Matt Sauer (Righetti, Santa Maria) Sr.
With a fastball in the mid 90s, this senior right hander was 9-1 with a 0.98 ERA while putting up big strikeout totals. On the year in 78.1 innings pitched he struck out 142 and allowed just 42 hits. When not on the mound, our Medium Schools State Player of the Year also played all over the infield while hitting .427 and driving in 24 runs. Selected with the 54th pick in the most recent MLB Draft, Matt has signed with the New York Yankees and will not be headed to play in college at Arizona.

Darby Tatum (Clovis) Sr.
The Cougars captured the CIF Central Section Division I championship and Tatum led the way on the mound all season long. He wound up 13-2 with a 1.56 ERA. Appearing on the mound in 17 games, he pitched a total of 89.2 innings with 68 strikeouts and allowed just two home runs all season. In the section championship game against top seeded Buchanan of Clovis, Tatum allowed just one earned run while allowing just four hits and striking out four.

Tyler Freeman was top fielder at shortstop and No. 3 hitter all season for CIFSS D2 champ Etiwanda. Photo: Mark Tennis.


INFIELD

Nick Allen (Francis Parker, San Diego) Sr.
Showing off a smooth glove and outstanding speed, Allen still had an all-state worthy season despite hitting just .297 after hitting .469 last season. The four-year varsity standout also has been one of the top-ranked players in the state for the Class of 2017 for three seasons and posted career totals of 156 hits, 119 runs, 105 steals and a .372 career batting average. Instead of heading to USC, Allen signed with the Oakland A’s after being the No. 81 pick in the most recent MLB Draft which will have him soon playing not far from our Stockton office for the Stockton Ports, Oakland’s high Class A California League affiliate.

Tyler Freeman (Etiwanda) Sr.
The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin Player of the Year and leader of a team that won the CIFSS Division 2 title, Freeman was one of those no-brainer first-team all-state choices. He teamed with younger brother Cody, a sophomore and on our all-state underclass team, to form one of the best double-play combos in the state. At the plate, Tyler batted .526 with 35 runs scored and 36 RBI. He also had eight doubles, four triples and four homers. There were only two games all season in which Freeman didn’t get a hit. He had signed a letter of intent with TCU but went at No. 71 overall in the second round of the MLB Draft and has signed with the Cleveland Indians.

Royce Lewis (JSerra, San Juan Capistrano) Sr.
Last year’s State Junior of the Year was a finalist for Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year, but the biggest news of course was when he was the first pick overall in last month’s MLB Draft. Despite the Lions struggling to get wins this season, Lewis still hit .377 with four home runs, 32 runs scored and also stole 25 bases. During the National Classic, he went 8 for 11 with two home runs to help the Lions reach the championship game. Royce was signed to go to college at UC Irvine but signed with the Minnesota Twins and has already begun his pro career.

Jamal O’Guinn (Buchanan, Clovis) Sr.
If Buchanan had been able to win out in its final game to claim a third straight CIF Central Section D1 title and end no worse than No. 2 in the final state rankings, then it might have been okay to have three of the Bears on first team all-state. As it worked out, though, two was it and O’Guinn is one of those two. His main strength as an all-state candidate is being named MVP in the rugged Tri-Rivers Athletic Conference. Known for his glove and speed, Jamal also was one of the team’s top hitters with a .323 average. He will play next at USC.

Nick Pratto (Huntington Beach) Sr.
Just like fellow first team selection Hagen Danner and Grant Holman, he was also well known before starting high school thanks to his play in the Little League World Series and now his goal will be to play in a Major League Baseball World Series after being drafted with the No. 14 pick in the MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals. During his senior season, Pratto he hit .318 with seven home runs and 19 runs batted in. Also a pitcher, he nearly pitched a no-hitter in the postseason as he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and struck out 10 while also hitting a home run in a 3-0 win over Servite of Anaheim. Before his senior season, Nick also played for the USA Baseball 18U National Team.

Casey Schmitt of Eastlake had four homers and four saves in the CIF San Diego Section playoffs. Photo: hometeamsonline.com.


Casey Schmitt (Eastlake, Chula Vista) Sr.
While teammate Grant Holman was the CIF San Diego Section Player of the Year, just going by the postseason, then Casey might be able to be called the section’s Postseason Player of the Year. In the Open Division title game, Schmitt got things going for the Titans with a two-run homer. He also pitched the final two innings of that game to get a save. For the season, Schmitt hit eight homers and set a school record with 10 saves. In the playoffs alone, he had four homers and four saves. The first team All-SD Section pick will play next at San Diego State.

Spencer Torkelson
(Casa Grande, Petaluma) Sr.

For the second time in his four-year varsity career, he was named by the North Bay League as the league’s Player of the Year after the Gauchos captured the championship. Playing both in the outfield and infield, Torkelson had his best season despite being walked 27 times as he hit .481 with 41 runs scored and 43 runs batted in. In addition, more than half of his hits were extra base hits, including 12 doubles, a triple and seven home runs while he was also a perfect 10-for-10 on stolen base attempts. Spencer will head next to Arizona State.

Brice Turang (Santiago, Corona) Jr.
Regarded as the top Class of 2018 pro prospect in the state and a candidate for State Junior of the Year, Turang has already been on the Riverside Press-Enterprise’s All-Area team three times since his freshman season. Turang only struck out once in 101 at bats during his junior year and hit .465 with 25 runs scored. He also already has plenty of USA baseball age-group international experience.

OUTFIELDERS

John Lagattuta (Davis) Sr.
While Elk Grove’s Riley Lamb had the combo pitching and hitting totals that made him the Sacramento Bee All-Metro Player of the Year, Lagattuta had to be in the mix for the season he had. Davis made it to the northern regional finals in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 playoffs and went to the NorCal final in the Boras Classic. Lagattuta, who is headed to Cal, hit for the cycle in a Boras Classic win over Stockdale of Bakersfield. He also led the Delta League (same league as Elk Grove) with a .451 batting average and was among the league leaders in homers (four) and runs scored (33). Lagatutta, the league MVP, also had 38 RBI and a .774 slugging percentage.

Calvin Mitchell (Rancho Bernardo, San Diego) Sr.
A three year starter for the Broncos he hit .369 with 11 home runs and 34 runs batted in during his senior season as they went 29-5. Last season he hit .371 with 12 home runs and 41 runs batted in while as a sophomore he did start on the team that won the section’s Open Division championship. He was committed to playing in college at the University of San Diego but he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 50thoverall pick in the MLB Draft.

Danny Zimmerman had a blast hitting homers during the last three seasons at Redondo. Photo: PerfectGame.org.


Charlie Nasuti (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) Sr.
According to his writeup in the Long Beach Press-Telegram, Nasuti was runner-up to JSerra’s Royce Lewis for MVP voting in the Trinity League, but based on the numbers it wouldn’t have been a shock if he had won. Headed to Purdue, Nasuti would be our rep off of Bosco’s league title team for this elite squad. He not only led the league in batting average (.421) and RBI (30) but he also led the league in stolen bases with 13. Nasuti was on the Press-Telegram’s Dream Team and also was All-CIFSS Division 2.

Jake Palmer (El Segundo) Sr.
It was a great season and great career for Palmer, who was chosen as the South Bay Daily Breeze Player of the Year. In leading the Eagles to the quarterfinals of the CIFSS D3 playoffs and to 27 wins, Palmer crushed it for a .559 batting average with five homers and 41 RBI. He also was 19-for-19 on stolen bases and scored 33 runs. For his career, Palmer had a .434 average in four varsity seasons and also collected 137 runs, 169 hits, 98 RBI and 26 doubles. He will play next at UC Irvine.

Danny Zimmerman (Redondo, Redondo Beach) Sr.
Another South Bay Daily Breeze standout, Zimmerman was a holdover from Redondo’s 2016 squad that went 31-2 and was considered the No. 1 ranked team from the CIFSS. Zimmerman did his part to keep the Seahawks competitive and racked up 10 homers, 25 RBI and a .412 batting average. He also walked 24 times and had a .595 on-base mark. As a pitcher, Zimmerman also had 58 strikeouts in 56.1 innings. For his career, he had 27 homers and 103 RBI. Zimmerman will play next at Michigan.

MULTI-PURPOSE
(Hitting/Pitching)

Hagen Danner (Huntington Beach) Sr.
Despite not being the No. 1 pick in the MLB Draft, that didn’t prevent this talented two-way threat from being named as our Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year which makes his selection here no surprise. At the plate, Danner reportedly tied for the state lead with 12 home runs while hitting .350 and driving in 40 runs. His 12 home runs also broke the school record previously held by MLB catcher Hank Conger who hit 11 home runs in a season. On the mound, Danner was 11-1 with a 1.22 ERA while striking out 92 in 63 1/3 innings. Selected with the 61st overall pick in the MLB Draft, he has signed with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Riley Lamb of Elk Grove heated up in the playoffs to earn Sac Bee POY honors. He connected for his first playoff homer in swing captured above. Photo: Richard Pochop/egcitizen.com.


Jeremiah Estrada (Palm Desert) Sr.
Before becoming the highest-drafted player from the Palm Springs area since 2012, Estrada was the All-Desert Valley League defensive MVP before making an impact in the playoffs with his arm and bat. After back to back 10-win seasons the last two years, he went 6-3 but had a 1.13 ERA and struck out 101 batters and recorded three saves. At the plate, Estrada also hit a career-best .370 with nine doubles, five home runs and 26 RBI in leading the Aztecs to the CIFSS D2 title game. Committed to UCLA, he has instead signed with the Chicago Cubs after they selected him in the sixth round of the MLB Draft.

Hunter Greene
(Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) Sr.

Perhaps the most well known name on our All-State team, Hunter was a Mr. Baseball finalist and was on the cover of Sports Illustrated before being the No. 2 choicre in the MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds. In limited action on the mound this season, he was 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA showing off an arm that could hit 100 MPH. In 28 innings he struck out 43 and at the plate he hit .324 with six home runs and 28 runs batted in. Greene reportedly signed with the Reds right before the end of the deadline for a record setting deal of $7.2 million.

Grant Holman (Eastlake, Chula Vista) Jr.
A finalist for our Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year and the winner of our State Junior of the Year honor, this former Little League star was a standout on the mound and at the plate for the Titans during their CIF San Diego Section Open Division championship run. Going a perfect 10-0 on the mound with a 1.00 ERA he struck out 87 in 78 innings. At the plate, Holman hit .381 with 32 runs batted in and a team-best 12 home runs. Before the State Junior POY nod, Grant already had been chosen as the CIF San Diego Section Player of the Year.

Riley Lamb (Elk Grove) Sr.
The Thundering Herd captured their third straight CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship and this USC-bound senior impressed at the plate and on the mound. He was named by the Sacramento Bee as its All-Metro Baseball Player of the Year. Going a perfect 3-0 in the playoffs with 25 strikeouts, Lamb also hit all three of his home runs during the playoffs. He finished at .324 with 25 runs batted in on the year. On the year, he also went 6-4 with a 2.65 ERA with 77 strikeouts in 66 innings pitched.

Hunter Schilperoort (Westmont, Campbell) Sr.
Ending the season as a CIF Central Coast Section Division I champion, Schilperoort was named by Prep2Prep as its All-Central Coast Section Player of the Year and the South Bay/Peninsula Player of the Year by the Bay Area News Group. Following up a junior season that saw him go 5-2 with a 1.50 ERA he was even more dominant during his senior season as he went 9-2 with a 0.79 ERA while striking out 86 in 79 innings. At the plate, Hunter also had his best season as he hit .449 with 13 doubles and 27 runs batted in.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports


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