Thursday’s MLB Draft will involve most of these elite players in what is shaping up to be a very difficult choice to determine the 2016 Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year. We have cut off the list of this year finalists at seven names. If a player is not a finalist, he can still be one of our state players of the year by year in school or medium schools, small schools.
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Congratulations to these seven players who have been selected as finalists for the 2016 Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports. This is the only statewide player honor that has 35 years of experience behind it and the winner will join an all-time list of State Players of the Year that extends past 100 years.
(All players listed in alphabetical order)
Dylan Carlson (Elk Grove) Sr.
The leader of a team that has won the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title three times in the last four years, Carlson also is from the same Delta League as projected first-round MLB pick Matt Manning of Sacramento Shelton. Despite Manning’s pitching prowess, there isn’t much doubt that Carlson should be higher as a prep player of the year candidate. He led the Thundering Herd and ranked among the state leaders with nine homers and also batted .406 with 40 RBI. He’s also considered one of the top prep first basemen in the nation. In addition, Carlson, the son of Elk Grove head coach Jeff Carlson, can pitch. He got the shutout of Tracy in the section final and finished 6-0 with a 1.44 ERA in 43 2/3 innings. Carlson has signed with Cal-State Fullerton, but may go high in the MLB Draft.
Grant Gambrell (Buchanan, Clovis) Sr.
The Oregon State signer was a spectacular two-way talent for the Bears, who were named State Team of the Year on Monday with their final record of 30-1. Gambrell tossed a shutout in the team’s section title-clinching triumph vs. league rival Clovis North and finished 12-0 on the mound with a 0.69 ERA. As a hitter, he wasn’t Buchanan’s best but that’s only because the Bears had different guys on top in home runs, RBI and batting average. Gambrell was first in RBI with 35, second in homers with five and second in batting average among regular starters at .363. Gambrell’s name isn’t on first round mock MLB drafts, but he could get chosen high.
Royce Lewis (JSerra Catholic, San Juan Capistrano) Jr.
We’re still gathering stat info for Lewis, but without question he’s one of the top juniors in the nation as a third baseman. The key point to know about him is that in helping JSerra earn the top seed in this year’s CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs that Lewis has already been named the MVP of the Trinity League and for the second straight season. We’ve had at least one State Player of the Year and several other big-time talents out of the Trinity League in recent years who couldn’t say they were league player of the year twice. Lewis has committed to UC Irvine.
Mickey Moniak (La Costa Canyon, Carlsbad) Sr.
He’s already been selected as the Gatorade State Player of the Year and he was the Cal-Hi Sports State Sophomore of the Year two seasons ago. At the time of Moniak’s Gatorade honor, the Mavericks had yet to start the CIF San Diego Section Open Division playoffs. They ended up going 0-2 and were out of the bracket quickly. Still, Moniak had a great season. He batted .476 with seven homers and 46 RBI. He doesn’t pitch like some of the other finalists, but he’s also the only one who seems to be a possibility to be the first pick in Thursday’s MLB Draft. Moniak has been compared favorably to former Westlake (Westlake Village) standout Christian Yelich as future MLB player.
Sean Reynolds (Redondo Union, Redondo Beach) Sr.
The 6-foot-8 senior has emerged as the top player of the year candidate from a team that finished as the top-ranked squad in Southern California. Reynolds capped a 13-0 record on a mound with a five-hitter when the Sea Hawks defeated Woodbridge of Irvine 2-1 in the CIF Southern Section Division III championship. He also ended with an ERA of 1.08. A signer with Rice University but a possible top five round MLB draft choice, Reynolds also was among Redondo’s top hitters. He belted nine homers and had 34 RBI to go with a .366 batting average.
Blake Rutherford (Chaminade, West Hills) Sr.
Joining Mickey Moniak on many first-round MLB mock draft lists, Rutherford was not the MVP of the Mission League but he was the best player on the league title team and was among the top hitters in the state with a .574 average. Normally, players with averages like that play against small school competition and they don’t have more than 100 at-bats. Rutherford did it in the Mission League. In a head-to-head matchup with La Costa Canyon and Moniak, Rutherford went 3-for-3 with a run scored compared to Moniak going 1-for-3 with a triple, but Chaminade lost 3-2. He has signed with UCLA.
Jeremy Ydens (St. Francis, Mountain View) Sr.
Another headed to UCLA, Ydens was the 2015 State Junior of the Year. But he did more than just come back from a big season. Ydens had another one and goes down as one of the best ever from the CIF Central Coast Section. Ydens pitched a six-hit shutout when the Lancers beat San Benito of Hollister 1-0 to win their second straight CCS Open Division title. He also blanked Serra of San Mateo in the quarterfinals and went 2-for-4 with two RBI. For the season, Ydens batted .453 with 38 runs scored. On the mound, he finished 8-0 with a 0.96 ERA.