Mr. Baseball 2019: Keoni Cavaco

Keoni Cavaco of Chula Vista Eastlake went from being not on the All-San Diego Section team as a junior to Mr. Baseball State Player of Year as a senior. Photos: MLB.com & KUSI.com.


There are a lot more reasons than where he was picked in the MLB Draft that the Eastlake of Chula Vista standout has earned the Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year selection for the 2019 season. Cavaco has become the second straight Mr. Baseball for California from the CIF San Diego Section after Joe Magrisi of Torrey Pines for last year. He’s also already signed his first pro contract with the Minnesota Twins where he could be paired with the 2017 Mr. Baseball selection for the state somewhere down the road.

For a rundown of the other State Players of the Year for baseball, CLICK HERE.

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It is getting to be a habit in selecting a player from the CIF San Diego Section as the Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year.

This time, for the 2019 season, the choice pretty much had to be Keoni Cavaco from Eastlake High of Chula Vista. It wasn’t just that he was the only California high school player chosen in the first round of the recent MLB Draft. Keoni also happened to lead the Titans to the CIF San Diego Section Open Division championship. In essence, he was that actually more rare combination of a player who became a big-time MLB prospect that also did great things for his high school team.

Cavaco is the second straight State Player of the Year from the San Diego area and he’s the fourth from the section in the last six years. He follows 2018 honoree Joe Magrisi of Torrey Pines. The two before that were No. 1 overall MLB Draft picks Mickey Moniak of La Costa Canyon (2016) and Brady Aiken of Cathedral Catholic (2014). Unlike Cavaco, who was the 13th pick overall this year by the Minnesota Twins, neither Moniak or Aiken were able to lead their teams to the San Diego Open Division crown.

Although Eastlake has had the No. 1 overall player in the MLB Draft before — in 2000 when longtime MLB slugger Adrian Gonzalez went at the top by the Florida Marlins — this is the school’s first-ever State Player of the Year. Two seasons ago, junior Grant Holman of the Titans was the State Junior of the Year and was a Mr. Baseball finalist after helping that team also gain a No. 1 state ranking, but that was the year that Royce Lewis from JSerra of San Juan Capistrano also pretty much had to be Mr. Baseball when he was the No. 1 pick overall in the draft by the Twins.

Cavaco’s senior season at Eastlake in which he hit .433 with eight homers didn’t hurt his draft stock, either. Photo: athleticsnation.com.


Since this year’s draft was held on June 3, Cavaco has signed a $4 million dollar contract with Minnesota. He will forgo the scholarship he had earned with San Diego State. It therefore wouldn’t be a shock to perhaps see both him and Royce Lewis in the same MLB starting lineup someday in Minneapolis with Lewis at shortstop at Cavaco at third.

Cavaco played some at shortstop this season at Eastlake when sophomore Marcelo Meyer (committed to USC) suffered an injury.

“The scouts got to see just how athletic Keoni is,” head coach David Gallegos told John Maffei of the San Diego Union-Tribune on draft day. “He made plays all over the field.”

Gallegos also used Cavaco as a closer with the pitching staff. He was quite effective with seven saves and a 0.67 ERA. But it’s the skills with the bat, the requisite arm strength to play third base and his potential as a top of the order prospect (16 stolen bases) is what seemed to get the scouts most excited.

In leading Eastlake (26-4-1) to its title, Cavaco batted .433 with eight homers and 29 RBI. He also scored 33 runs and in the team’s postseason games he batted .583 with two homers and five RBI.

Others who were finalists to be Mr. Baseball for California this season along with Cavaco were Cameron Repetti of Cypress, Jared Jones of La Mirada, Kyle Harrison from De La Salle of Concord and Steven Zobac from Valley Christian of San Jose. The next highest California high school player taken in this year’s MLB Draft was Freedom of Oakley shortstop Kyren Paris at No. 55 in the second round by the Los Angeles Angels.

Cavaco was not on last year’s all-San Diego Section first or second teams, which shows how amazingly fast he rocketed up all of the scouting lists with his development since then.

“We saw him at Angels Stadium at a workout, and he was hitting balls on the rocks out there in left-center, which caught a few of our guys’ eyes. As it should,” said Twins’ scouting director Sean Johnson in an draft day interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “That’s when we really dug in [on him]. And we literally had somebody at every one of his games this spring.”

“I’ve trained so hard,” Cavaco added on draft day to the Union-Tribune. “I’ve grown as a player and as a person because of the hard work.”

Still, the raw emotion of the journey the young man has been on over the last year was easy to see in video coverage of his reaction and the reaction of his family when his selection by the Twins was announced.

“I’m so proud of him,” Gallegos also told the Union-Tribune. “He’s such a great kid, so humble. I’m happy for his family, our program, our school and the community because I know he’ll represent us all well.”

And we’ll extend those sentiments for the entire state of California.

MR. BASEBALL STATE PLAYERS
OF THE YEAR ALL-TIME LIST

Joe Magrisi was more of a true hitter-pitcher in his Mr. Baseball State POY season in 2018. Photo: Courtesy family.


(Selected by Cal-Hi Sports)

2019 – Keoni Cavaco, Chula Vista Eastlake P/3B
2018 – Joe Magrisi, San Diego Torrey Pines, P-OF
2017 – Hagen Danner, Huntington Beach P/C
2016 – Mickey Moniak,
Carlsbad La Costa Canyon OF
2015 – Joe DeMers,
Pleasant Hill College Park, P/INF
2014 – Brady Aiken,
San Diego Cathedral Catholic, P
2013 – Jack Flaherty, North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake, P-3B (Jr.)
2012 – Ty Moore, Santa Ana Mater Dei, P-INF
2011 – Henry Owens, Huntington Beach Edison, P
2010 – Cory Hahn, Santa Ana Mater Dei, P-OF
2009 – Tyler Matzek, Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley, P-1B
2008 – Aaron Hicks, Long Beach Wilson OF-P
2007 – Mike Moustakas, Chatsworth INF
2006 – Tyler Robertson, Fair Oaks Bella Vista OF-P
2005 – John Drennen, San Diego Rancho Bernardo OF
2004 – Matt Bush, San Diego Mission Bay INF
2003 – Ian Stewart, Westminster La Quinta INF
2002 – Delmon Young, Camarillo OF (Jr.)
2001 – J.P. Howell, Carmichael Jesuit P
2000 – Mike Stodolka, Corona Centennial DH-P
1999 – Ryan Christianson, Riverside Arlington C
1998 – Sean Burroughs, Long Beach Wilson 3B
1997 – Jon Garland, Granada Hills Kennedy P
1996 – Eric Chavez, San Diego Mt. Carmel SS-P
1995 – Eric Chavez, San Diego Mt. Carmel SS-P (Jr.)
1994 – McKay Christensen, Fresno Clovis West OF
1993 – Derrek Lee, Sacramento El Camino OF
1992 – Jason Kendall, Torrance C
1991 – Dmitri Young, Oxnard Rio Mesa 3B
1990 – Mike Lieberthal, Westlake Village Westlake C
1989 – Todd Johnson, Fresno Bullard C-P
1988 – Scott Davison, Redondo Beach Redondo Union P-DH
1987 – Tom Redington, Anaheim Esperanza SS
1986 – Brian Johnson, Oakland Skyline C
1985 – Gregg Jefferies, San Mateo Serra SS
1984 – James Mitchell, El Cerrito OF
1983 – Kurt Stillwell, Thousand Oaks SS
1982 – Bret Saberhagen, Reseda Cleveland P
1981 – Lenny Dykstra, Garden Grove OF
1980 – Darryl Strawberry, Los Angeles Crenshaw OF
1979 – John Elway, Granada Hills OF
1978 – Lloyd Moseby, Oakland 1B
1977 – Craig Landis, Napa Vintage SS
1976 – Rickey Henderson, Oakland Technical OF
1975 – Carney Lansford, Santa Clara Wilcox SS
1974 – Lonnie Smith, Compton Centennial OF
1973 – Robin Yount, Woodland Hills Taft SS
1972 – Scott McGregor, El Segundo P
1971 – Keith Hernandez, San Bruno Capuchino 1B-Semipro
1970 – Terry Forster, Santee Santana P
1969 – Jeff Burroughs, Long Beach Wilson OF
1968 – Tim Foli, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame SS
1967 – Bill Buckner, Napa 1B
1966 – Kemer Brett, El Segundo P
1965 – Bob Boone, San Diego Crawford P
1964 – Willie Crawford, Los Angeles Fremont OF
1963 – Bob Tolan, Los Angeles Fremont P-OF
1962 – Rudy May, Oakland Castlemont P
1961 – Bob Bailey, Long Beach Wilson SS
1960 – Wade Blasingame, Fresno Roosevelt P
1959 – John Boccabella, Kentfield Marin Catholic 3B
1958 – Dick Ellsworth, Fresno P
1957 – Johnny Callison, Bakersfield East OF
1956 – Mike McCormick, Alhambra Keppel P
1955 – Deron Johnson, San Diego OF
1954 – Don Drysdale, Van Nuys P
1953 – Frank Robinson, Oakland McClymonds 3B
1952 – Jim Gentile, San Francisco Sacred Heart 1B
1951 – Ed Cereghino, Daly City Jefferson P
1950 – J.W. Porter, Oakland Technical C
1949 – Paul Pettit, Harbor City Narbonne P
1948 – Karl Olson, Mill Valley Tamalpais OF
1947 – Gus Triandos, San Francisco Mission C
1946 – Jim Baxes, San Francisco Mission 2B
1945 – Jack Harshman, San Diego 1B
1944 – Jackie Jensen, Oakland OF
1943 – Herb Gorman, San Francisco Balboa 1B
1942 – Charlie Silvera, San Francisco St. Ignatius SS
1941 – Bob Brown, San Francisco Galileo SS
1940 – Duane Pillette, San Diego P
1939 – Ferris Fain, Oakland Roosevelt 1B
1938 – Bob Lemon, Long Beach Wilson SS-P
1937 – Rugger Ardizoia, San Francisco Commerce P
1936 – Bobby Doerr, Los Angeles Fremont 2B (Pro)
1935 – Ted Williams, San Diego Hoover OF
1934 – Frankie Hawkins, San Francisco Sacred Heart SS
1933 – Chet Smith, San Diego P
1932 – Gordon Maltzberger, Colton P
1931 – Joe DiMaggio, San Francisco Galileo SS (Semi-pro)
1930 – Athos Sada, San Diego OF
1929 – Arleigh Williams, Oakland Technical C
1928 – Frank Dobranksy, San Diego P
1927 – Willard Hershberger, Fullerton C
1926 – Dick Bartell, Alameda SS
1925 – Louie Almada, Los Angeles P
1924 – Joe Cronin, San Francisco Sacred Heart SS
1923 – Gene Hollister, San Francisco Mission P
1922 – Walter Berger, San Francisco Mission 3B
1921 – Babe Herman, Glendale 1B
1920 – Bernie Viveiros, Oakland Technical 2B
1919 – Ren Kelly, San Francisco Poly P
1918 – Brick Muller, San Diego OF
1917 – Johnny Gillespie, Oakland Technical P
1916 – Ray Lorrigan, San Francisco Poly P
1915 – Frank Schellenback, Hollywood P
1914 – Bert Cole, San Francisco Lowell P
1913 – George Kelly, San Francisco Poly 3B
1912 – Harry Heilmann, San Francisco Sacred Heart SS
1911 – Will James, Oroville P
1910 – Eddie French, San Francisco Sacred Heart P
1909 – Babe Hollis, San Francisco Cogswell P
1908 – Oscar Vitt, San Francisco Wilmerding SS
1907 – Lloyd Burton, Alameda SS
1906 – Mowatt Mitchell, Los Angeles 1B
1905 – Walter Johnson, Fullerton P
1904 – James Schaeffer, Berkeley C
1903 – Mead Hamilton, San Francisco Lowell P
1902 – Mead Hamilton, San Francisco Lowell 2B
1901 – Heinie Heitmuller, San Francisco Lick 1B
1900 – Orvall Overall, Visalia 1B-Town team
1899 – Will Moreing, Stockton P

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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