Stanford and Cal are both represented among this group of five players as a Stanford-bound player is tops for the juniors while a Cal-bound player is the same for medium schools. We also have one player named for sophomores, freshmen and small schools.
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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.
Malcolm Moore (McClatchy, Sacramento)
Honors have already come in for Moore, including Sacramento Bee Metro Player of the Year and Gatorade State Player of the Year. While he wasn’t considered one of the finalists for Mr. Baseball (which has a different selection criteria than Gatorade), Malcolm has established himself as the top junior in the state regardless of academics and community service.
While he does have a 4.0 GPA and has volunteered for several local fundraisers, Moore’s on-the-field skills and accomplishments are exceptional as well.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound catcher with a commitment to Stanford has been raking the ball with authority since his freshman season for the Lions. Moore hit .535 this last spring with seven homers, 46 runs, 55 RBI and had a .630 on-base percentage. He was one of the reported state leaders in RBI and led McClatchy to a 20-4 record. Who knows what McClatchy may have done in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, which were not held.
As an MLB prospect looking down the road, Moore didn’t start the summer as hyped as some others nationally, but Prep Baseball Report has him at No. 7 in the nation and No. 1 for California.
The last State Junior of the Year from the Sacramento area, J.D. Davis of Elk Grove in 2010, has done good for himself in the major leagues. Elk Grove’s Jake Rodriguez was the pick just one year earlier, but you have to go back to 1982 for Channing Williams from Grant (Sacramento) to find one from before Rodriguez.
Recent State Juniors of the Year: 2020 – No selection (pandemic); 2019 – Jared Jones (La Mirada); 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).
Gavin Grahovac (Villa Park)
This 6-foot-2, 180-pound shortstop is similar to our junior of the year in that they both have a 4.0 GPA. Unlike Malcolm Moore, however, Gavin has committed to Arizona State and not Stanford.
The sophomore selection process also was much more difficult with several who were broken down and checked out. Grahovac was the best considering the high school season he had along with some of the Class of 2023 player rankings that were obtained.
Grahovac is the first from Orange County to be State Sophomore of the Year since Kyle Ashworth from Foothill of Tustin (same league as Villa Park) in 2017. The previous OC State Soph of the Year before that was Huntington Beach catcher Hank Conger (2004).
Playing for a 22-6 Villa Park team that was in the State Top 35 rankings for a long stretch of the season until it lost in the first round of the CIFSS D2 playoffs, Grahovac followed up a 10-game freshman season in which he hit .343 by hitting .411. He also had six homers, 24 RBI, 39 hits, two triples and went 9-for-9 on stolen bases.
One key game Gavin had was going 2-for-3 with a homer in a Villa Park win over Yucaipa (which had another of the state’s top sophomores in Owen Egan).
Grahovac comes from an athletic family. His dad, Mike, played professionally in the San Francisco Giants organization for five years, while his older sister, Peyton, played volleyball at Arizona State.
Recent State Sophomores of the Year: 2020 – No selection (pandemic); 2019 – Jonathan Cymrot (San Jose Valley Christian); 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).
Bryce Rainer (Harvard-Westlake, Studio City)
This selection was cemented last month in the CIF Southern Section D1 semifinals when Rainer took the mound in a showdown game against Orange Lutheran. That was a team that had posted two wins over Harvard-Westlake earlier in the spring, but on that day the freshman dominated. He struck out nine in a four-hitter as the eventual CIFSS D1 champions topped the Lancers, 3-2.
The rest of the season for the 6-foot-3, 175-pound shortstop/pitcher was almost as impressive. Rainer had a one-hitter with nine strikeouts in five innings in his other playoff outing (13-0 win vs. Arcadia). He finished 9-0 with an ERA of below 1.50.
Rainer’s batting statistics weren’t available, but he certainly had some impressive at-bats, especially with a home run hit against Chaminade of West Hills in which head coach Jared Halpert said “would have left the park” at Dodger Stadium (according to the L.A. Daily News).
Rainer, who is generally ranked among the top 10 of Class of 2024 prospects nationally and has tons of exposure at elite summer events, keeps alive a tradition of San Fernando Valley winners as State Freshman of the Year. The last one was just in 2017 for Lucas Gordon of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. Tommy Palomera of Chatsworth won the honor in 2014.
Recent State Freshmen of the Year: 2020 – No selection (pandemic); 2019 – Luke Davis (Cypress); 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).
Tucker Bougie (Tamalpais, Mill Valley)
While Tamalpais was No. 1 in the final D4 state rankings and D4 teams generally are considered “small schools,” the “medium schools” all-state teams have had players from D4 in the past and have had some from D2 (not just all from D3). For Tucker, it wasn’t a matter of him not being a player of the year candidate, but just whether which of the two classifications we’d place him in. It was medium schools and he’s the winner.
Bougie, who is going to play next at Cal, led the Red-tailed Hawks to a 19-1 record and Marin County Athletic League title. He was voted player of the year in that league. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder began the season with 28 strikeouts in his first 17 2/3 innings as a pitcher and went 9-for-15 at the plate with a pair of homers. He was an early season NorCal Player of the Week by us and never really slowed down.
For the season, Tucker ended 6-0 as a pitcher with a 0.43 ERA while as a batter he had a .472 batting average with four homers and seven doubles.
Bougie has a younger brother, Holden, who is coming off of his freshman season and may be a player to watch with a similar skill set.
Tam has never had a state player of the year in baseball before Bougie. The last from the MCAL was Robb Woodcock of Marin Catholic (Kentfield) for small schools in 2011. The last two medium schools players of the year from the CIF North Coast Section were Encinal of Alameda’s well-known Dontrelle Willis (2000) and Jimmy Rollins (1996). Rollins later went on to be MVP for the National League.
Recent Medium Schools State Players of the Year: 2020 – No selection (pandemic); 2019 – Colin Barber (Chico Pleasant Valley); 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).
Braeden Ross (Christian, El Cajon)
Coming from a team that went 26-5 and was No. 2 in the final D4 state rankings behind Tamalpais, Ross was considered for the small schools classification instead of medium schools and he was the one who emerged with this honor. Over the years in most sports, Christian’s teams and its players have been small schools. We know it’s confusing, but in the era of competitive equity playoff seedings by the CIF and most sections, that’s inevitable. The only way for it not to be confusing would be to scrap small schools honors completely and just go off of competitive equity divisions (which we’re not going to do).
Ross shined as both a hitter and pitcher for the Patriots and was placed on the All-San Diego Section first team alongside Marcelo Mayer and many other Open Division standouts. Christian won the D3 section title and then went to the CIF SoCal D6 regional playoffs where it lost in the title game to La Habra (note that La Habra and at least two players will be on all-state medium schools team).
Just before that game vs. La Habra, Ross ripped a pair of doubles and had five RBI in a 11-1 win in the regional semifinals over Elsinore of Lake Elsinore. He also had two hits the last game loss. For the season, Braeden finished with a .457 batting average with 11 homers and 44 RBI. He also had 35 runs scored. As a pitcher, Ross wound up 5-1 with a 1.50 ERA and had 56 strikeouts in 42 innings. He had 10 strikeouts in two different games and he had a four-hitter with eight strikeouts in a 4-0 shutout of La Jolla.
Looking ahead, Braeden will attend Cal-State Northridge to continue his baseball and academic career. In addition to the baseball honors, he also has a 4.0 GPA.
Looking back, El Cajon Christian actually had a Small Schools State Player of the Year in baseball before. That was in 2003 when Brian Schroeder was the honoree. The CIF San Diego Section’s last winner was Nolan Gannon of Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach) for 2012.
Recent Small Schools State Players of the Year: 2020 – No selection (pandemic); 2019 – Daniel Carrion (Winters); 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).