All-State Baseball: First Team

Six of this year's All-State first team elite players are  (top, l-r) Matthew McGarry, Tyler Nevin and Tristan Beck along with (bottom, l-r) Bryce Fehmel, Nick Madrigal and Justin Hooper. Photos: John Murphy/Prep2Prep, cbabaseball.org, coronapanthersbaseball.net, agourabaseball.net, Mark Tennis & StudentSports.com.

Six of this year’s All-State first team elite players are (top, l-r) Matthew McGarry, Tyler Nevin and Tristan Beck along with (bottom, l-r) Bryce Fehmel, Nick Madrigal and Justin Hooper. Photos: John Murphy/Prep2Prep, cbabaseball.org, coronapanthersbaseball.net, agourabaseball.net, Mark Tennis & StudentSports.com.

With several former all-state first team players getting ready to play in the MLB All-Star Game, here’s our own California prep version of an all-star roster, which also is the 35th consecutive year that we’ve done it. This group is our elite of the elite and some of the choices as usual were very difficult.

For the all-state 2nd and 3rd teams, CLICK HERE.
For the all-state underclass teams, 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, CLICK HERE.

Note: We’ll have an inside look at this year’s all-state baseball teams after all of the teams are chosen, including names of players we really wanted to pick but couldn’t. That post plus a brand new archive of all-state first team picks back to 1990 (which also has been added to the site today) is for Gold Club members only. Several in the archive will be in this year’s MLB All-Star Game. To join our team today, CLICK HERE.

Congratulations to these players who’ve been named first team overall for the 35th annual Cal-Hi Sports all-state baseball honors program:

CATCHERS

Chris Betts (Wilson, Long Beach) Sr.
A second-round pick by the Tampa Bay Rays (52nd overall) in last month’s MLB Draft, Betts also was selected as the Long Beach Press-Telegram’s Dream Team Player of the Year. Betts belted eight homers with 29 RBI and had a .473 average.

Lucas Herbert (San Clemente) Sr.
Since Betts and Herbert were far and away the class of the state’s catchers this year, we tinkered and toyed with picking a third one and decided against it. Herbert went right behind Betts in the MLB Draft at No. 54 overall in the second round by the Atlanta Braves. He also already has been picked as the Orange County Register Player of the Year. Herbert had 50 hits for the Tritons with a .417 average and also ripped eight home runs.

San Ramon Valley's Joey Matulovich was at his best against the very best competition. Photo: Phillip Walton/SportStars.

San Ramon Valley’s Joey Matulovich was at his best against the very best competition. Photo: Phillip Walton/SportStars.

PITCHERS

Bailey Falter (Chino Hills) Sr.
Although Chino Hills and Falter lost to Mission Viejo in the CIFSS Division II title game, both he and the Diablos’ Patrick Sandoval are on first team all-state. Falter impressed in that start and ended the season 6-2 with a 1.20 ERA in 75 2/3 innings. He also fanned 97 batters with just 11 walks. In the MLB draft, Falter also was one of the first California preps taken in the fifth round by the Philadelphia Phillies.

Drew Finley (Rancho Bernardo, San Diego) Sr.
Although he didn’t hit, Finley’s pitching was dominant enough that he was one of the finalists for this year’s Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year honor. In helping Rancho Bernardo to the CIF San Diego Section Open Division crown, he went 11-1 with a 0.81 ERA and struck out 131 batters. Finley also was one of the first California prep players taken in the recent MLB draft, going at No. 93 in the third round to the New York Yankees.

Justin Hooper (De La Salle, Concord) Sr.
The supremely-talented lefty didn’t have as great a season as league rival Joey Matulovich (see below) but he did get a win against College Park and Mr. Baseball Joe DeMers and did enough to be first team all-state. Hooper, a UCLA signer and a 25th-round MLB draft pick, struck out 64 batters in 51 1/3 innings and ended the season with a 1.50 ERA.

Peter Lambert (San Dimas) Sr.
We’d probably say that Lambert, the L.A. Times’ Player of the Year and the No. 44 pick in the second-round by the Colorado Rockies in the MLB Draft, was the runner-up to Joe DeMers in this year’s Mr. Baseball State POY pecking order. He finished 13-0 on the mound wth a 0.34 ERA (including two playoff shutouts) and led a team that ended 31-1 and was No. 1 in the state and nation when it lost in the CIFSS Division III semifinals.

Joey Matulovich (San Ramon Valley, Danville) Sr.
Pitching a one-hitter early in the season against a College Park of Pleasant Hill squad that eventually would end No. 1 in the state put Matulovich on the all-state radar. The Cal-bound standout ended 9-1 with a 1.18 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 77 innings. He also had two no-hitters and was pitcher of the year in the same league as fellow all-state pick Justin Hooper of Concord De La Salle.

Jack Ralston (Hart, Newhall) Sr.
After going 7-0 as a junior with a 1.16 ERA, Ralston didn’t have better numbers as a senior (7-3, 2.06 ERA, 72 strikeouts) but he was fantastic in Hart’s biggest games and that’s way he was the L.A. Daily News Player of the Year. The UCLA recruit pitched a shutout in the playoffs against Alemany, led Hart to its upset of JSerra (which was No. 1 in the nation in one poll) and had five shutout innings in the CIFSS Division I final against Huntington Beach.

Patrick Sandoval (Mission Viejo) Sr.
If we were going to pick Bailey Falter of Chino Hills to first team, then Sandoval became a no-brainer due to leading the Diablos past Chino Hills 3-1 in the CIFSS D2 title game. Sandoval also was on the L.A. Times’ honor squad with a 9-3 record and 0.97 ERA. The USC recruit also pitched a shutout against San Clemente right after the Tritons returned from winning the National High School Invitational. In addition, Sandoval was an 11th round MLB draft choice by the Houston Astros.

Nick Sprengel (El Dorado, Placentia) Sr.
The Orange County Register’s Pitcher of the Year had a great season, going 10-2 with a 1.71 ERA. He also struck out 102 batters in 73 2/3 innings. Sprengel, who has signed with the University of San Diego, also helped El Dorado go 21-9 and reach the CIFSS Division I quarterfinals.

Jagger Rusconi was the State Freshman of the Year in 2012 for West Ranch of Valencia. Photo: westranchbaseball.com.

Jagger Rusconi was the State Freshman of the Year in 2012 for West Ranch of Valencia. Photo: westranchbaseball.com.

INFIELD

Hank LoForte (Franklin, Elk Grove) Sr.
Headed to Cal State Fullerton, LoForte was a four-year starter for the Wildcats and moves up to All-State first team after being on the underclass first team a year ago. LoForte hit for the cycle in one game and finished at .414 with 22 RBI. He also had nine doubles, six triples and two homers. In his four-year career, LoForte collected 149 hits against elite D1 competition and had a .373 career average.

Willie MacIver (College Park, Pleasant Hill) Sr.
On a team led by Mr. Baseball Joe DeMers and featuring several other D1 college bound players, MacIver was the one who emerged this season as the next in line behnd DeMers for post-season accolades. He was, in fact, the league MVP and put up strong numbers such as 37 RBI, 42 runs scored, 17 steals, 10 doubles and a .495 average. MacIver also will join DeMers in the fall at Washington.

Nick Madrigal (Elk Grove) Sr.
Every year, it seems, there’s an Elk Grove player this high on the all-state team. After first-round MLB draft pick Derek Hill last year, Madrigal gets the nod this season. The 17th-round pick in the MLB draft and Oregon State commit batted ..450 with 49 hits and 33 runs scored and was a terrific fielder all four seasons he played on the Thundering Herd varsity. In those four years, Madrigal also had a .407 career average in more than 500 plate appearances. In addition, he helped Elk Grove win back-to-back CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I titles.

Matthew McGarry (Menlo-Atherton, Atherton) Sr.
National powerhouse Vanderbilt will be getting a gem in McGarry. He ranked among the reported state leaders with 11 homers and also had 32 RBI plus a .424 average. He did some pitching as well with a 1.96 ERA in 11 appearances. Last summer, McGarry was on the 40-man roster for the USA 18-under national team. This summer, he is playing in the Alaska Collegiate Baseball League. He was on the San Jose Mercury-News top honors team and was a three-year all-leaguer.

Tevin Mitchell (Clovis) Sr.
According to long-time Clovis head coach James Patrick, Mitchell ends his prep career among the top five at the school all-time for career at-bats, hits, runs scored and triples. He also broke the career steals records held by former NFL player Keith Poole. In leading the Cougars to the CIF Central Section finals, Mitchell (going to UC Santa Barbara) batted .336 with 27 runs, 18 steals, four triples and two homers. He’s been on the Fresno Bee’s honor team the past two years and was a preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball.

Tyler Nevin (Poway) Sr.
No disrespect intended to the player who was chosen (see below), but we probably would have voted for Tyler to be the CIF San Diego Section Player of the Year. He led Poway to the Division I title and was the highest California prep player chosen in the MLB Draft at No. 38 overall in the supplemental round (immediately after the first round) by the Rockies. Nevin, who didn’t play for the Titans as a junior due to Tommy John surgery, had a .409 batting average with seven homers and 22 RBI. He also had 41 runs scored, walked 28 times and had 13 doubles.

Lars Nootbaar (El Segundo) Sr.
We remember Nootbaar as among just a handful of players in the state who we considered for State Sophomore of the Year two seasons ago. It only makes sense that he ends his career as a first team all-stater. Also a standout QB in football, Nootbaar completed his baseball career with a .438 average this spring. He also belted eight homers and had 40 runs and 27 RBI. He’ll play next at USC.

Scott Ogrin (Valencia) Jr.
It became a necessity to elevate Ogrin to first team since he was the Player of the Year in the same league that had two of the four semifinalists in the CIFSS D1 playoffs and the same league that had L.A. Daily News Player of the Year Jack Ralston (Hart) and fifth-round MLB draft pick Jagger Rusconi (West Ranch). Ogrin, who also was named to the L.A. Times’ elite honor squad, batted .509 with 56 hits, 16 doubles, six homers and 28 RBI for a team that was 20-10 and near the top of the league standings.

Jagger Rusconi (West Ranch, Valencia) Sr.
The former State Freshman of the Year concluded a brilliant prep career with a team-leading .416 average, including four homers and five triples. Rusconi also was one of the state’s highest-selected prep players in this year’s MLB Draft in the fifth round by the Boston Red Sox. In addition, he was an all-league choice in the ultra-competitive Foothill League for all four of his prep seasons.

Huntington Beach's Landon Silver watches flight of home run during CIFSS playoff game. Photo: Terry Jack/OCSidelines.com.

Huntington Beach’s Landon Silver watches flight of home run during CIFSS playoff game. Photo: Terry Jack/OCSidelines.com.

OUTFIELD

Daniel Amaral (Huntington Beach) Sr.
As noted in our All-State Underclass package, the CIFSS Division I champion Oilers were loaded with talented players who will be back next season. Their top senior honors candidate would have to Amaral. Headed to UCLA, the All-L.A. Times and All-Orange County pick scored a team-leading 34 runs and hit .394. He also struck out just eight times all season.

Zach Ashford (Buchanan, Clovis) Sr.
He may be just 5-9 and 160 pounds, but Ashford was such an effective leadoff hitter and centerfielder for the Bears that the Fresno Bee selected him as its Player of the Year. In helping Buchanan go 25-4 and end at No. 3 in the final overall state rankings, Ashford raked for a .478 average, scored 36 runs and had 27 stolen bases. He also struck out just twice all season (and both of those were on called third strikes) and that was against rugged Tri-Rivers Athletic Conference competition. Ashford will play next at Fresno State.

Mickey Moniak (La Costa Canyon, Carlsbad) Jr.
Last season’s State Sophomore of the Year and basically runner-up to Jeremy Ydens of Mountain View St. Francis as this year’s top junior honoree also gets onto the first team. Moniak batted .424 with 26 RBI, 26 runs and has a .400 average since his freshman season. He was the top player for a La Costa Canyon team that was in the mix for the final No. 1 state ranking prior to its loss to Rancho Bernardo in the CIF San Diego Section Open Division final. Moniak also has been rumored to be a possible first-round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.

Landon Silver (Huntington Beach) Jr.
While we thought about choosing him to multi-purpose because he played several different positions for the Oilers, we’ll list him on this all-state team in the outfield, which is where he was listed in making the All-L.A. Times squad. Silver was also on the All-Orange County team representing the CIFSS Division I champions. He came to Southern California after playing as a sophomore for well-known Florida school Westminster Christian. Silver led the Oilers with seven homers and also had 31 RBI with a .352 average.

Matt Smith (El Dorado, Placerville) Sr.
For a player who wasn’t on the all-state underclass team last year, Smith shows why a monstrous senior season just can’t be ignored. The Sacramento Bee All-Metro selection bombed away for 14 homers to lead the state among those who reported to MaxPreps and also drove in 57 runs. Smith will play next at Sacramento State.
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MULTI-PURPOSE (Hitting, Pitching)

Tristan Beck (Corona) Sr.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise’s Player of the Year was a highly-regarded MLB draft prospect who took himself off the board due to his scholarship at Stanford. Beck, who also batted .388 with 14 RBI, rang up 82 strikeouts in 65 innings and had a 7-1 record with 0.65 ERA.

Daniel Rocha (Narbonne, Harbor City) Sr.
The Daily Breeze Player of the Year over some more than solid players from the CIF Southern Section, Rocha was outstanding as a pitcher and hitter for a team that reached the L.A. City Section semifinals. He went 9-2 with a 0.80 ERA as a pitcher and had 103 strikeouts in 70 innings. The University of Hawaii recruit also had a .434 batting average with six homers and 29 RBI.

Joe DeMers (College Park, Pleasant Hill) Sr.
Since we named DeMers as the 2015 Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year, the honors have continued to pile up. His latest is from MaxPreps as its National Player of the Year. The Washington-bound DeMers went 13-1 as a pitcher with a 0.51 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 96 innings. In leading College Park to a 26-4 record and No. 1 state ranking, he also batted .447 with six homers and 44 RBI.

Bryce Fehmel (Agoura, Agoura Hills) Sr.
Talented all-around player headed to Oregon State was a four-year varsity performer for a Chargers’ program that is among the best in Southern California. Fehmel, an All-CIFSS D1 and All-L.A. Daily News pick, batted .323 with three homers, but was equally important as the team’s closer. He notched 10 saves and went 4-0 with a 0.34 ERA.

Tim Holdgrafer (La Jolla) Sr.
Mostly for his abilities on the mound but also with a bat is what led to Holdgrafer earning CIF San Diego Section Player of the Year honors. The St. Mary’s-bound standout went 10-1 with an 0.87 ERA for a team that went 24-9 and played in the Division II title game. He also batted .364 and knocked in 24 runs.

Jeremy Ydens (St. Francis, Mountain View) Jr.
The State Junior Player of the Year and the San Jose Mercury-News Players of the Year led the Lancers to the CIF Central Coast Section Division I title, the Boras Classic state title and a No. 2 final state ranking. At the plate, Ydens batted more than .400 with 44 hits, 35 runs scored, 22 RBI and 15 extra-base hits. He also went 7-3 on the mound with a 1.69 ERA and 67 strikeouts. In addition, Ydens only had one error in 70 chances and had 14 assists playing center field.

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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