Jared Jones of La Mirada and Jonathan Cymrot of San Jose Valley Christian gain honors for their classes for the second straight year while this year’s medium schools and small schools winners ended up both being from the CIF Northern Section. That’s only happened one other time in state history. Plus, we have a State Freshman of the Year who’s already had a game-winning hit at Dodger Stadium.
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Congratulations to the following five players also who also have been selected this week as Cal-Hi Sports State Players of the Year.
Jared Jones (La Mirada)
With a State Sophomore Player of the Year honor already on his resume, it was going to be hard not to follow up with Jared being the No. 1 junior in the state. He already is expected to be one of the top players under consideration for early slots in next year’s first round of the MLB Draft and is in the midst of an impressive prep career.
There was one other junior who was previously chosen as a finalist for Mr. Baseball this year — Kyle Harrison from De La Salle of Concord — but Jones had superior hitting numbers. In leading La Mirada to the CIF Southern Section Division I semifinals (where the Matadores lost 1-0 in nine innings to eventual champion Cypress), Jones batted .457 with three homers and 16 RBI. On the mound, he posted a 7-1 record with 94 strikeouts in 64 innings and had a 0.77 ERA. If La Mirada had been able to squeak out a win in that game vs. Cypress, Jones was probably going to be pitching in the final at Dodger Stadium and who knows how that would have unfolded?
For his career, Jones, who has committed to USC, already has impressive totals with one more year to go. For batting, it’s .396 with 103 hits, seven homers, 21 doubles and 56 RBI. For pitching, it’s 18-5 with 227 strikeouts in 163 innings and a 0.90 ERA.
La Mirada actually has had a State Junior of the Year in baseball before. That was in 1991 when Mike Greenlee was the honoree. Some other previous players on the all-time list include Bill Buckner of Napa for 1967 and Frank Robinson from Oakland McClymonds for 1952.
Last 10 State Juniors of the Year: 2018 – Dawson Netz (Maranatha, Pasadena); 2017 – Grant Holman (Chula Vista Eastlake); 2016 – Royce Lewis (SJ Capistrano JSerra); 2015 – Jeremy Ydens (Mountain View St. Francis); 2014 – Joe DeMers (Pleasant Hill College Park); 2013 – Jack Flaherty (North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake); 2012 – Brett Seeburger (Vista); 2011 – Rio Ruiz (La Puente Bishop Amat); 2010 – J.D. Davis (Elk Grove); 2009 – Jake Rodriguez (Elk Grove).
(Valley Christian, San Jose)
As a freshman, Cymrot was more of a hitter for the Warriors as they won the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division title and were No. 1 in the final state rankings. He led the team with 21 RBI and batted .350 and because of his exploits against a difficult schedule was the State Freshman of the Year.
This season, Cymrot’s role changed into being more of an elite pitcher. He still hit .310 and had 20 RBI but was one of the top pitchers in the West Catholic Athletic League and in the CIF Central Coast Section. Teammate Steven Zobac was the leader for the Warriors in their CCS title march and No. 4 final state rankings finish, but Cymrot clearly did enough to stay on top among other sophomores that were also considered for this honor.
Committed to the University of Arizona, Cymrot earned All-WCAL first team honors as a sophomore with an 8-1 mound mark to go along with his hitting. He also had a 1.11 ERA and had 53 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings.
Cymrot is the first from the CCS to be State Sophomore of the Year since Mike Rennhack from Leland of San Jose in 1990. There’s only been two others from the WCAL on the all-time list (which goes back to 1940) — Gregg Jefferies from Serra of San Mateo (1983) and Jim Fregosi of Serra (1957).
Last 10 State Sophomores of the Year: 2018 – Jared Jones (La Mirada); 2017 – Kyle Ashworth (Tustin Foothill); 2016 – Brandon Dieter (West Covina South Hills); 2015 – Hunter Greene (Sherman Oaks Notre Dame); 2014 – Mickey Moniak (Carlsbad La Costa Canyon); 2013 – Joe DeMers (Pleasant Hill College Park); 2012 – Alex Jackson (San Diego Rancho Bernardo); 2011 – Ryan Tellez (Elk Grove); 2010 – Rio Ruiz (La Puente Bishop Amat); 2009 – Christan Lopes (Valencia).
Luke Davis (Cypress)
Anybody who watched Cypress win the CIFSS D1 title over Harvard-Westlake last month at Dodger Stadium knows this was an easy choice.
Davis accounted for both runs in his team’s 2-0 victory with an RBI double and an RBI single. He also singled in the ninth inning that started the Centurions’ game-winning rally in their 1-0 win over La Mirada in the semifinals and in an earlier 2-1 playoff win against defending champion Capistrano Valley of Mission Viejo it was Davis who hit a homer for the go-ahead run.
That Davis would be doing such things apparently is no surprise to the people at the Prep Baseball Report and Perfect Game, who compile player rankings for each high school class (primarily for college recruiting and upcoming future MLB Drafts). PBR had him No. 3 in the nation (No. 1 for California) as players to watch for the Class of 2022 while Perfect Game had him No. 8 in the nation (No. 2 in California).
With those kinds of player rankings and doing what he did in the clutch for one of the top teams in the nation, you can see why being State Freshman of the Year for Davis was like picking Kawhi Leonard MVP of the NBA Finals.
Davis is not the first State Freshman of the Year from Cypress. Long before the great current run of head coach John Weber began 14 years ago, the Centurions had the State Freshman of the Year for 1993 when the choice went to Bobby Brito. The only other state freshmen of the year from Orange County have been Jasiah Dixon of Orange Lutheran (2016) and Sergio Santos of Mater Dei (1999). The first year we did freshmen for baseball players of the year was 1988.
Last 10 State Freshmen of the Year: 2018 – Jonathan Cymrot (Valley Christian, San Jose); 2017 – Lucas Gordon (Sherman Oaks Notre Dame); 2016 – Jasiah Dixon (Orange Lutheran); 2015 – Joey Magrisi (San Diego Rancho Bernardo); 2014 – Tommy Palomera (Chatsworth); 2013 – Conrado Diaz (San Ysidro); 2012 – Jagger Rusconi (Valencia West Ranch); 2011 – Alex Jackson (San Diego Rancho Bernardo); 2010 – J.R. Crawford (Lakewood); 2009 – Ty France (Covina South Hills); 2008 – Christian Lopes (Valencia).
Colin Barber (Pleasant Valley, Chico)
It’s about time we’re going with a CIF Northern Section standout for the medium schools honor (although in some years the top team in the section and some players were regarded as large schools) but Barber is definitely not an instance of geographical equity. He’s one of the state’s best outfielders and players period.
The Northern Section Player of the Year is coming off of a season in which he batted .493 with 10 homers and 42 RBI for a squad that won the CIF Northern Section Division II title and finished 24-4. Barber also was a standout for the Vikings as a junior when they also won the section title and he ended with career totals of .470 for batting average and 116 RBI. He had 28 RBI and hit .465 as a freshman, but missed all but five games of his sophomore season after breaking his leg. That he came back strong from that injury is just more evidence of his determination.
Barber, who hit three homers in his first game of the season vs. Oroville and ended it by going 2-for-2 with two walks, three runs scored and two RBI in the section title game vs. Red Bluff, signed a letter of intent last fall with the University of Oregon. Two weeks ago, however, he was selected in the fourth round (123rd overall) in the MLB Draft by the Houston Astros. As this selection was being announced, it’s not known if he’ll sign or go to Oregon.
The last and only other time that a CIF Northern Section player has been chosen as State Medium Schools Player of the Year was 1985 when Chico High’s Brian Keyser gained the honor. Some of our most recent picks in this category have been doing well in MLB this season, such as Peter Lambert (San Dimas 2015) and Dominic Smith (Gardena Serra 2013).
Last 12 Medium Schools State Players of the Year: 2018 – Tyson Heaton (Yucaipa); 2017 – Matt Sauer (Santa Maria Righetti); 2016 – Sean Reynolds (Redondo Beach Redondo Union); 2015 – Peter Lambert (San Dimas); 2014 – Chris Mathewson (Fontana Kaiser); 2013 – Dominic Smith (Gardena Serra); 2012 – Troy Conyers (Lakeside El Capitan); 2011 – Rio Ruiz (La Puente Bishop Amat); 2010 – Angelo Gumbs (Torrance); 2009 – Ryan Wilkins (San Diego Cathedral Catholic); 2008 – Kyle Skipworth (Riverside Rubidoux); 2007 – Mike Stanton (Sherman Oaks Notre Dame).
Daniel Carrion (Winters)
This choice was the most difficult of the six baseball state player of the year categories for this season. We looked closely at four other players and came down to Carrion edging out Fremont Christian’s Bubba Gomez. With a salute to Gomez and some of his outstanding career statistics (including 565 strikeouts) plus his team winning the CIF North Coast Section D5 title, Carreon was the pitching-hitting leader of a Winters squad that went 24-4 and was State Division IV Team of the Year for the second straight season.
Already named to the Sacramento Bee All-Metro First Team, Carrion batted .524 (2nd on the team) with three homers, 29 RBI and 52 runs scored for the Warriors this season. He also went 11-1 on the mound with one no-hitter, a 1.79 ERA and had 85 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings. In Winters’ last five games, to say Daniel was red-hot might be an understatement. He went 13-for-15 with 18 runs scored and 11 RBI. He also pitched a two-hitter with eight strikeouts in the D5 section final vs. Colusa and he had a two-hitter with nine strikeouts in another playoff win vs. Yreka.
As a sophomore, because he’s also been a football quarterback at Winters for his prep athletic career, Carrion was the school’s athlete of the year. He was second team all-state small schools in football last season after compiling 2,500 yards of offense (rushing and passing) and 32 TDs accounted for as Winters went 10-2.
In many years, what Carrion did for the Warriors might also have gotten him Northern Section player of the year honors regardless of school size. But this happened to be in the same year that outfielder Colin Barber of Pleasant Valley (Chico) did what he did. We thought for a second about picking both the medium and small schools honorees from the Northern Section, but not for long. Those are the two players in our evaluations who just happened to win out.
The last Northern Section small schools state player of the year was Kyle Lohse from Hamilton of Hamilton City in 1996. He went on to have a solid MLB pitching career. In 1985, we actually did the Northern Section sweep before. In addition to Bryan Keyser of Chico for medium schools that season, the small schools selection went to Sutter’s Brian Anthony. There are a lot of other Northern Section small schools winners listed in the 1950s.
Last 10 Small Schools State Players of the Year: 2018 – Alex Williams (Redwood Christian, San Lorenzo); 2017 – Robert Cruz (Redlands Arrowhead Christian); 2016 – Brett Super (Newport Beach Sage Hill); 2015 – Nico Hoerner (Oakland Head-Royce); 2014 – Nico Hoerner (Oakland Head-Royce); 2013 – Carlos Salazar (Kerman); 2012 – Nolan Gannon (Solana Beach Santa Fe Christian); 2011 – Robb Woodcock (Kentfield Marin Catholic); 2010 – Dylan Covey (Sierra Madre Maranatha); 2009 – Andrew Rich (Easton Washington); 2008 – Clay Cederquist (Fowler).