More Baseball State Players of the Year

State Medium Schools Player of the Year Boston Bateman of Camarillo (left) throws a pitch during regular season. At right is State Senior of the Year Bryce Rainer from Harvard-Westlake of Studio City. Photos: Habeba Mostafa / The Signal & @quality_bsbl /

Since the Mr. Baseball State POY honor went to a junior, there’s a Senior of the Year for this season and it’s the same player who led the Class of 2024 as a freshman, sophomore and junior. Corona also has landed the State Sophomore of the Year, which makes history for having the top junior at the same time. The State Freshman of the Year isn’t from Corona, but from a school the Panthers know very well from the same league.

For more on Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year Seth Hernandez,

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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.

Bryce Rainer (Harvard-Westlake, Studio City)

As mentioned in the Mr. Baseball State POY writeup, it took a mammoth season from junior Seth Hernandez of Corona to overtake the Harvard-Westlake four-year standout for the top spot in the California player of the year pecking order. Rainer seems headed to a top 10 slot in the first round of the upcoming MLB Draft and had an impressive season considering the pressure he was under and the day-in, day-out competition of the Mission League.

Once again named as the L.A. Daily News Player of the Year, Bryce pounded out 48 hits and scored 36 runs with 17 steals as the Wolverines’ leadoff hitter. He also had a .511 batting average and .621 on-base percentage. He didn’t pitch much, but did go out for 23 innings with a 1.83 ERA. Rainer also had 35 strikeouts. Harvard-Westlake as a team went 27-5-1 with a runner-up finish in the CIF Southern Section D1 playoffs and ended No. 3 in the final state rankings.

The state freshman, sophomore and junior player of the year will now go onto a shorter list of players who were seniors of the year but not player of the year since a junior was considered higher. One of them, Dominic Smith from Serra of Gardena in 2013, is still in the major leagues. Another, Jimmy Rollins of Alameda Encinal in 1995, was later MVP of the National League in 2007 for the Philadelphia Phillies. And the junior who beat out Dominic Smith in 2013? That would be Harvard-Westlake’s own Jack Flaherty (also still going strong in the major leagues).

If Bryce doesn’t go as high as projected in the draft, his other option is college. He has committed to the University of Texas.

Recent Seniors of the Year:* 2013 – Dominic Smith (Gardena Serra); 2002 – Adam Simon (La Puente Bishop Amat); 1995 – Jimmy Rollins (Alameda Encinal).
*When a senior has also not been Mr. Baseball.

Recent State Juniors of the Year: 2023 – Bryce Rainer (Studio City Harvard-Westlake); 2022 – Gavin Grahovac (Villa Park); 2021 – Malcolm Moore (Sacramento McClatchy); 2020 – No selection (pandemic); 2019 – Jared Jones (La Mirada); 2018 – Dawson Netz (Pasadena Maranatha); 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).

Anthony Murphy had some big moments for Corona’s No. 1 team in the biggest games. Photo:

Anthony Murphy (Corona)

When it appeared that Murphy, who was the 2023 State Freshman of the Year, also was in line to be the honoree this year among sophomores, there was a question that needed to be answered.

Has there ever been one team that has ever had the state junior and state sophomore of the year at the same time? We can only check back through the years in which we have a junior and a sophomore on our all-time lists (which go back to 1950) and our answer would be no.

Yes, there have been teams with two player of the year candidates at the same time, but they were either both the same age/same class or the years just didn’t quite add up. The closest appears to be current MLB players Ryan “Rowdy” Tellez and J.D. Davis of Elk Grove when they were both in high school. Davis was the state junior of the year in 2010 while Tellez was the state sophomore of the year in 2011. They needed to have won both in the same year, however, to match what Murphy and State Player of the Year Seth Hernandez (a junior) have now done.

“He’s very similar to Seth in all the non metric categories,” Corona head coach Andy Wise said. “Murphy LOVES to play baseball.

“This season I was a bit concerned that he would have trouble replicating such a great freshman year,” Wise continued. “He worked really hard during the fall/winter on his swing and physical strength, and it showed all spring.”

There are a few sophomores around the state who are ranked higher as prospects, such as shortstop Alex Harrington of San Diego Cathedral Catholic, but Murphy just did too much for Corona’s No. 1 in the state squad. He led the Cougars in hits with 48, batting average (.390) and runs scored (36). Murphy also was among the team leaders in home runs (six) and RBI (24). In the team’s first two CIFSS D1 playoff games, Anthony went 2-for-3 in a 1-0 win over El Dorado of Placentia and went 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBI in a 3-1 win vs Mater Dei of Santa Ana.

As a defender, Murphy projects to be an elite outfielder and recently had a throw coming in that was clocked at 93 mph.

“For two years now he has walked up first for us against everybody’s best,” Wise said. “Anthony puts pressure on the pitcher right away in every regard. He is an absolute joy to watch.”

Murphy doesn’t follow Hernandez as a sophomore player of the year because Hernandez wasn’t playing high school baseball last season while being home schooled. The last State Sophomore of the Year from the Inland Empire was Terry Jones of Upland for 1999, which came one year after Riverside Poly’s Ben Leach. The only other one on the all-time list that goes back to 1950 also is from Riverside Poly and it’s a good one from 1962, the late, great Bobby Bonds.

Recent State Sophomores of the Year: 2023 – Diego Velazquez (Crespi, Encino); 2022 – Bryce Rainer (Studio City Harvard-Westlake); 2021 – Gavin Grahovac (Villa Park); 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 “Rowdy” Tellez (Elk Grove); 2010 – Rio Ruiz (La Puente Bishop Amat); 2009 – Christian Lopes (Valencia).

Dylan Seward (Norco)

While State Team of the Year Corona High has the State Player of the Year and state sophomore of the year, it does not have the honoree for this season among freshmen. We assume everyone at Corona, however, knows all about the freshman at Norco, which has been Corona’s biggest rival in sports since the days when the two schools were the only ones from their towns in eastern Riverside County.

Freshman State Player of the Year Dylan Steward stands proud with 70-year-old head coach Gary Parcell. Photo:

Choosing the freshman of the year is never easy and it wasn’t once again. There are already Class of 2027 prospect lists that can be checked, but it’s important for a freshman of the year to be productive at the high school varsity level. Many of the top-ranked pitchers that young just didn’t pitch very many innings this past season and some didn’t hit. That’s why Huntington Beach freshman pitcher, Jared Grindlinger, couldn’t get it.

Seward had the best totals from among players already deemed as elite prospects for the coming years. Competing in the same league as Corona and for a Norco team that made it to the CIFSS D1 playoffs, he batted .381 with 32 hits, 23 RBI and three homers.

Look at what Dylan did in the three-game series for Norco against Corona, too. The Cougars got swept but in those games he went 2-for-3 with a homer, 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBI and 1-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and two RBI.

Seward follows Corona’s Anthony Murphy and Brady Ebel as a State Freshman Player of the Year. Ebel was the winner in 2022 when he was at his previous school (Etiwanda). Before that, the most recent top frosh in the state from the Inland Empire was Yucaipa’s Matt Davidson for 2006. There haven’t been any others since the first year (1988) when the honor was created. Norco had the 2008 State Junior of the Year in Matt Hobgood, who was edged for player of the year the following season by Capistrano Valley’s Tyler Matzek.

Not long after the season ended, Dylan got involved in a prickly situation at Norco when longtime head coach Gary Parcell, who has been the coach for 35 years, would not be able to come back. Seward wrote a lengthy, supportive letter about it in support of Parcell and posted it on social media. He also indicated that he’d be playing at another school next year. Several days later, Parcell was reinstated and Seward wrote, “Thank you to all that reacted to support Coach Par and provide myself and other current and future Cougars the opportunity to play for such a legend. We love you Coach!”

As impressive as Seward’s letter was, it should be noted that if none of that had happened that he would have been State Freshman of the Year anyway. That situation and how it turned out just made the story surrounding Dylan that much stronger.

Recent State Freshmen of the Year: 2023 – Anthony Murphy (Corona); 2022 – Brady Ebel (Etiwanda); 2021 – Bryce Rainer (Studio City Harvard-Westlake); 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).

Boston Bateman (Camarillo)

If one were doing a ranking of the top five candidates for state player of the year for this season, it likely would have been Seth Hernandez, Bryce Rainer, Parker Warner (Granada) and then the twosome of Bateman with Modesto Central Catholic’s T.P. Wentworth. Both Bateman and Wentworth would be medium schools and if we did co-players of the year (we never have in any sport) this would have been a good place for it.

Bateman is the one, though, that has ended slightly higher. Camarillo is medium schools for being in the CIF Southern Section D4 playoffs, which the team won in the title game, 2-1, over St. Francis of La Canada and ended 24-5. Bateman had a one-hitter and 11 strikeouts in that game and went 1-for-4 at the plate. The team then opted out of the CIF regional playoffs. Central Catholic finished 23-10 with runner-up finishes in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D3 playoffs and NorCal D3 playoffs.

Bateman (signed with LSU) is an imposing 6-foot-7 pitcher who also was the Scorpions’ top overall hitter. The last game victory vs St. Francis put his final pitching totals at 11-1 with a 0.54 ERA and with 130 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings. That’s an average of 2.02 strikeouts per inning. At the plate, Boston blasted seven homers and ended with a .341 average on 28 hits with 26 RBI.

In fairness, here’s the final totals for Wentworth, a multi-sport athlete who has signed with Clemson. He went 10-2 on the mound (including a NorCal playoff no-hitter vs Justin-Siena of Napa) with 0.51 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 69 innings. While his pitching totals were just lower than Bateman’s, his hitting was slightly higher at .360 on 32 hits plus seven homers and 28 RBI.

Both players could be chosen high enough in the upcoming MLB Draft to forego their college destinations and while it wouldn’t be surprise to see T.P. go higher most of the mocks that we saw had Boston a bit higher.

Camarillo has had the overall Mr. Baseball Player of the Year before in 2002 when then junior Delmon Young (also later the top overall pick in the 2003 MLB Draft) was the honoree. The Scorpions were in the CIFSS D1 playoffs then and were large schools. There also have been other highly ranked players from the Ventura County area from schools that were large at the time, including Westlake (Westlake Village), Simi Valley and Agoura. For the medium schools list of state players of the year, however, the last one from Ventura County is Gary James from Channel Islands of Oxnard for 1969.

Recent Medium Schools State Players of the Year: 2023 – Toby Twist (Bakersfield Christian); 2022 – Eric Bitonti (San Bernardino Aquinas); 2021 – Tucker Bougie (Mill Valley Tamalpais); 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).

No player in the state this season collected more state record book entries than McGuire Smith of Liberty (Madera Ranchos). Photo:

McGuire Smith (Liberty, Madera Ranchos)

Being the home of state records in California high school baseball for many years can make a difference for some player of the year decisions. For this year in small schools, knowing all of the all-time state lists that Smith will be added to definitely was a big factor.

Smith was ringing out hits all season long for the Hawks, who racked up a 30-3 record that included a CIF Central Section D4 title before a loss to medium school Christopher of Gilroy in the CIF NorCal D3 playoffs.

The senior season totals that McGuire had were impressive enough. The UC Riverside recruit batted .478 with 54 hits, two homers and 44 RBI. He also had 16 doubles and five triples.

It’t the career numbers, though, that broke the charts. McGuire finished with 202 career hits, which is a new CIF Central Section record and will go into the record files at No. 5 in state history. Smith also will be in a tie for fifth all-time in two more categories with 54 career doubles and 23 career triples. On top of that, the Liberty standout ended top 20 in state history with 153 RBI and top 30 in state history with 150 career runs scored.

The top RBI game for the season for Smith came in a 21-1 rout of Parlier. He ended 3-for-3 with two doubles and seven RBI. He also went 4-for-5 with two doubles and four RBI in season-opening triumph vs Madera South.

McGwire’s batting averages for all four of his varsity seasons for the Hawks were .452, .435, .459 and .478 for a career mark of .456. He had 47, 50, 51 and 54 hits in those seasons as well.

David Wiser, a junior from the Bradshaw Christian of Sacramento team that was No. 1 in the final D4 state rankings at 32-1 (with Liberty right behind), also was seriously considered for this honor. Wiser, committed to Stanford, was one of Bradshaw’s top hitters and went 12-1 on the mound with a 0.90 ERA. Another player that was checked out closely was Luke Kalfsbeek of Colusa.

Smith is the first state small schools winner from the CIF Central Section since Carlos Salazar of Kerman in 2013. Both Andrew Rich from Washington of Easton (2009) and Clay Cederquist of Fowler (2008) are from the Central Section as well.

Recent Small Schools State Players of the Year: 2023 – Cody New (Hesperia Christian); 2022 – Nick Dugan (Eureka St. Bernard’s); 2021 – Braden Ross (El Cajon Christian); 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).

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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