We knew it might not be a good year for ex-California high school players in the World Series when both the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees (who both have a lot of Californians on their rosters) could get to the Fall Classic. Instead, we have the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros and the combined total of just five from the state happens to be the lowest in the 25 years or so that we have been compiling these alumni lists.
The previous low total was six from the 2016 World Series. There were seven last year and seven in 2017 and even with those totals that was more than any other state or nation. The most was 15 for the 2002 World Series between the Anaheim Angels and San Francisco Giants and even earlier this decade the state was in double figures several times.
The obvious development of MLB all-star players from outside of the U.S. is probably the biggest reason for the declining totals. In this year’s World Series, there are six from Venezuela, four from the Dominican Republic, three from Cuba and two from Mexico. It also is a great year for Florida this year as the Sunshine State boasts of having nine former high schoolers in the World Series.
Gerrit Cole (Lutheran, Orange) — He was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft coming out of UCLA. The 2008 all-state pitcher at OLu was a first round selection by the Yankees after that season but did not sign. The brother in law of recent two-time World Series alum Brandon Crawford of the San Francisco Giants (Pleasanton Foothill) will be a free agent after this season and will be highly valued.
Chris Devenski (Gahr, Cerritos) — A member of the Astros’ World Series championship roster from 2017, Devenski was the last player added to the roster this season. The pitcher had a 1.93 career ERA in high school over three seasons and then went to Cal-State Fullerton.
Jake Marisnick (Poly, Riverside) — Prior to the 2017 World Series, Marisnick suffered a thumb injury and was not on the Astros’ roster. If he had played, he would have joined Riverside Poly teammate Austin Barnes, who did play in that year’s World Series for the Dodgers. Marisnick has been a solid outfielder for the Astros the last few seasons.
Joe Ross (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland) — He was an all-state choice for the Dragons in 2011 and had several great seasons for them not long after his older brother Tyson was starring at the school. Ross was a starting pitcher for the Nationals in 2019, but isn’t one of the front-line starters and is expected to pitch in relief roles in the World Series.
Stephen Strasburg (West Hills, Santee) — At West Hills, Strasburg was not that much of a highly recruited prospect. To his credit, he was academically outstanding (the school’s 2006 Scholar Athlete of the Year) and did enough to attract interest from San Diego State. It was there that he emerged as a pitching phenom and prior to the 2009 MLB Draft he was compared to some of the most prized prospects in the draft ever. Strasburg is currently one of the leading pitchers in the National League.
Note: Two members of the Astros and Nationals coaching staffs from California are Chip Hale (Campolindo, Moraga) for the Nationals and Gary Pettis (Castlemont, Oakland) for the Astros. Hale is a former manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Pettis is the father of San Francisco 49ers receiver Dante Pettis, who played at JSerra (San Juan Capistrano).