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Dominic Smith and Phil Bickford have seemingly had their names together since the season ended. They both were in the running for several of our postseason honors against each other while also being drafted right after each other in the first round of the MLB Draft.
Bickford may have been drafted one spot higher as he went No. 10 to the Toronto Blue Jays while Smith went one pick later to the New York Mets, but it is Smith who has edged Bickford twice to gain selection as the Cal-Hi Sports Senior Player of the Year and Medium Schools Player of the Year.
It was an evaluation that was close to a tie and thought was even given to listing both players in separate categories. We don’t have ties, however, and it also wouldn’t make sense to choose one higher for the senior of the year and the other higher for medium schools.
As was written many times during the season, that’s just one more reason why we wish Oaks Christian and Serra had played each other this season.
Smith was a trail-blazing player at Serra, making the varsity as a freshman and putting the school on the map. He led the Cavaliers to the CIF Southern Section Division IV title by hitting .493 with seven homers and 37 RBIs. He also pitched for the win in the final game and ended 4-0 with 43 strikeouts and a 1.85 ERA. In addition, the South Bay Daily Breeze Player of the Year completed his prep career with 21 homers and 163 RBIs and with a batting average well above .500.
In his rookie league debut after signing with the Mets, Smith went 2-for-4.
As is our custom, we always choose a senior of the year whenever a junior is Mr. Baseball. That was the case this time since junior Jack Flaherty of Harvard-Westlake has been chosen Mr. Baseball.
Prior to Dominic Smith this year, the last South Bay of Los Angeles region player to be chosen as a state player of the year was Angelo Gumbs of Torrance in 2010.
More State Baseball Players of the Year
Carlos Salazar (Kerman)
A finalist for our Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year award, Salazar was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year before the season ended and now adds another honor.
Despite his team not capturing a CIF Central Section championship, Carlos did it all for the Lions. He went 10-2 on the mound with a ridiculously small 0.09 ERA while striking out 147 batters. At the plate, he also was impressive with a .430 average, 29 RBIs and three homers.
For his high school career, Salazar went 27-3 with a 0.65 ERA while striking out 308 in 184.1 innings. He was recently drafted in the third round by the Atlanta Braves and has signed to play pro baseball instead of heading to Fresno State.
The last CIF Central Section honoree on the state small school player of the year list is Andrew Rich from Washington of Easton, who was selected in 2009.
Joe DeMers (College Park, Pleasant Hill)
After starting for College Park’s varsity basketball team that played in the CIF Division II state final, the 6-2, 230-pound DeMers didn’t miss a beat and turned in an outstanding season on the diamond.
In leading the Falcons to a spot in the CIF North Coast Section Division II semifinals and a player of the year award for the Diablo Valley Athletic League, DeMers went 10-0 as a pitcher with a 1.00 ERA, including 63 strikeouts in 63 innings. Even more impressively, he only walked two batters and was measured at 95 mph for his fastball.
DeMers also was a top hitter for College Park. He ended at .373 with two homers, nine doubles and 25 RBIs. He has already committed to the University of Washington.
The last sophomore from the East Bay to be honored in this category was Jordan Pries of Alameda in 2006. In 1980, a sophomore from the East Bay to win this honor was Pinole Valley’s Dale Sveum. He is now manager of the Chicago Cubs.
Conrado Diaz (San Ysidro)
This selection is always difficult, but Diaz was given the nod partly because he was a leading player for a team that won a CIF section title. In his case, San Ysidro won the CIF San Diego Section Division III title with a victory over San Dieguito Academy of Encinitas.
In his very first game as a freshman for the Cougars, Diaz hammered a pair of home runs. He went on to bat .394 in 33 games with four homers, 12 doubles and 28 RBIs. Diaz also shined in the field at third base and at catcher with just two errors all season.
The last CIF San Diego Section winner in this category was Alex Jackson of Rancho Bernardo two seasons ago. Jackson followed up with the same honor last season as a sophomore, but this year had to bow as a junior to Jack Flaherty of Harvard-Westlake.
Other freshmen we can say were strongly considered were Tyler Flores from Westlake of Westlake Village and Dominic Fletcher of Cypress.
Paul Muyskens contributed to this report