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February 19, 2013

Western Front

San Diego High School Baseball at the Turn of the Millennium

by Geoff Young

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The local SABR chapter held a garage sale on Saturday, and I couldn't resist. I bought an old-school Padres cap and an Oklahoma City RedHawks cap for myself. (I'd stopped to see a RedHawks game while driving from San Diego to Cooperstown for Tony Gwynn's Hall of Fame induction in 2007.) I bought a Fresno Grizzlies cap for my wife. She likes bears.

I reminded her that the Grizzlies are a Giants affiliate. She still likes bears.

I also picked up two books. One was John Thorn and Pete Palmer's The Hidden Game of Baseball, which I'm embarrassed to say I've never read.

The other was the San Diego County Baseball High School Guide 2000, which I'm less embarrassed at not having read on account of never having heard of it before the garage sale. (My wife found it, which makes her wearing Giants-affiliated paraphernalia more, uh, bearable.) It's a fascinating read, featuring players to watch, team rosters for the upcoming season, and seasonal and career records.

Plus the cover could be a Godzilla movie poster.

Among the players to watch were several 2000 first-round draft picks: RHP Matt Wheatland, taken eighth overall by the Tigers; second baseman Shaun Boyd (13th, Cardinals); catcher Scott Heard (25th, Rangers).

None of those guys made it to the big leagues, but the first pick did. That would be Adrian Gonzalez. From the Guide:

Metro League, CIF-San Diego Section and San Diego Union-Tribune Player of the Year last season after batting .566 with 15 HR and 55 RBI. Also went 6-0 on the mound for the Titans. Rated the No. 26 prospect in the nation by Baseball America.

In the roster section, Eastlake coach Dave Gonzalez said that Adrian would be “bigger, stronger and faster” in the coming season. Those first two seem plausible, but if you've ever seen Adrian run, you may have your doubts about that last claim. Then again, people change. The book notes that as of its publication, Eric Chavez held the San Diego high school records for stolen bases in a single season (50 in 1995) and career (115). Considering that Chavez has swiped 47 bags in nearly 1,500 big-league contests, that's a bet most of us would have lost.

Others in the Players to Watch section have made it to The Show. Lefty Matt Chico spent 2007 in the Nationals’ rotation before injuries ended his career. He was better known as a hitter in high school, having batted .406 with four homers and 13 RBI in 1999.

Anthony Gwynn, who didn't become Tony Jr. until turning pro, has spent some time in the big leagues. So has right-hander Wes Littleton. And you may be aware of Carlos Quentin:

First-team all-CIF and San Diego Union-Tribune all-county selection last year after batting .427 with 7 HR and 36 RBI. Rated the No. 92 prospect in the nation by Baseball America.

Or, if you'd like to see that with a little bit of Wheatland's left thigh in the lower right corner:

Seven homers in 1999 was a respectable total for Quentin, who played center field for the Dons, but it was well off the USDHS record of 15 set a year earlier. The kid who'd set the record would also play in the big leagues: Mark Prior.

Others to watch include two guys who later played at SDSU under Tony Gwynn Sr. Rielly Embrey hit the first home run in Petco Park history, in a college game. Left-hander Daryl Harang is the younger brother of Aaron Harang, who currently pitches for the Dodgers.

The rosters included Brian Downing, Matt Kemp, and Jason Lane. But not that Brian Downing, that Matt Kemp, or that Jason Lane. These kids were left-handed pitchers.

The Mount Miguel Matadors fielded a future big-leaguer: “Calling the game from behind the plate is three-year varsity player Jeff Karstens.” After three pitchers are named, there is this addendum: “Karstens also will be counted on to pitch.”

A teammate of Heard and Wheatland at Rancho Bernardo HS was Jake Blalock, younger brother of former Rangers All-Star third baseman Hank Blalock. Another teammate, sophomore southpaw Cole Hamels, was not among the 12 of 18 Broncos who got a brief writeup in the blurb accompanying his team's roster.

The Santana Sultans featured a sophomore pitcher of their own. Hayden Penn got a writeup and later spent a brief but miserable time in the big leagues. Santana HS has produced a few big-leaguers, most notably left-handed relievers Terry Forster and Joe Price.

When the Guide was published, Forster owned the eighth lowest single-season ERA in San Diego high school history. Fourth on the list was Point Loma's David Wells, who also had the most shutouts in a season and career, as well as the most consecutive shutouts. Wells had 162 strikeouts in 1982, third-most in city history at the time. He did not appear on the career strikeout list, nor on the career or season wins list.

Former Twins right-hander Adam Johnson, taken second in the 2000 draft behind Adrian Gonzalez, tied for ninth on the career wins list. The single-season record belonged to former Red Sox right-hander Dave Morehead.

Hoover is best known as the alma mater of Ted Williams, but it also produced former major-league infielder Ray Boone. Ray's son, Bob Boone, was tied for second in single-season wins.

It was inevitable that Bob would become a catcher, as that's what Crawford players do. Of the eight Colts to reach the big leagues, five were catchers: Tim Blackwell, Boone, Dave Duncan, Dave Engle, and Ed Herrmann. The other three were pitchers Chuck Rainey and Dick Woodson, and an outfielder named Jim Nettles, brother of Graig Nettles.

The leaderboards are littered with big-leaguers:

Batting
Hits, career

1. Eric Chavez, 174, Mt. Carmel HS, 1993-1996

6. Graham Koonce, 165, Julian HS, 1990-1993

t8. Brian Barden, 150, St. Augustine HS, 1997-1999

t12. Oscar Robles, 143, Montgomery HS, 1992-1994

t12. Brooks Conrad, 143, Monte Vista HS, 1995-1998

Hits, season

1. Eric Chavez, 63, Mt. Carmel HS, 1995

2. Brian Barden, 58, St. Augustine HS, 1999

t10. Brooks Conrad, 52, Monte Vista HS, 1998

Hits, game

t1. Todd Pratt, 6, Hilltop HS, 1985

Doubles, career

1. Graham Koonce, 53, Julian HS, 1990-1993

t8. Hank Blalock, 35, Rancho Bernardo HS, 1997-1999

Doubles, season

1. Graham Koonce, 22, Julian HS, 1992

Triples, game

t1. Billy Beane, 3, Mt. Carmel HS, 1978

Home runs, career

5. Graham Koonce, 31, Julian HS, 1990-1993

t8. Eric Chavez, 27, Mt. Carmel HS, 1993-1996

t10. Marcus Giles, 24, Granite Hills HS, 1994-1996

Home runs, season

t4. Mark Prior, 15, USDHS, 1998

t4. Adrian Gonzalez, 15, Eastlake HS, 1999

t7. Graham Koonce, 14, Julian HS, 1992

Home runs, game

1. Jim Tatum, 4, Santana HS, 1985

RBI, career

t3. Graham Koonce, 145, Julian HS, 1990-1993

RBI season

4. Mark Prior, 58, USDHS, 1998

5. Adrian Gonzalez, 55, Eastlake HS, 1999

RBI, game

t2. Jim Tatum, 9, Santana HS, 1985

Consecutive game hitting streak

1. Brooks Conrad, 25, Monte Vista HS, 1998

Stolen bases, career

1. Eric Chavez, 115, Mt. Carmel HS, 1993-1996

Stolen bases, season

1. Eric Chavez, 50, Mt. Carmel HS, 1995

Runs, career

t5. Eric Chavez, 130, Mt. Carmel HS, 1993-1996

8. Brooks Conrad, 126, Monte Vista HS, 1995-1998

t9. Graham Koonce, 122, Julian HS, 1990-1993

12. Oscar Robles, 118, Montgomery HS, 1992-1994

Runs, season

t3. Brooks Conrad, 51, Monte Vista HS, 1998

t6. Eric Chavez, 49, Mt. Carmel HS, 1995

t6. Brian Barden, 49, St. Augustine HS, 1999

Batting average, career

1. Graham Koonce, .554, Julian HS, 1990-1993

2. Oscar Robles, .513, Montgomery HS, 1992-1994

Batting average, season

2. Troy Glaus, .732, Carlsbad HS, 1994

3. Graham Koonce, .731, Julian HS, 1992

Pitching
Wins, career

t4. Graham Koonce, 30, Julian HS, 1990-1993

t9. Adam Johnson, 27, Torrey Pines HS/Santa Fe Christian HS, 1994-1997

Wins, season

1. Dave Morehead, 16, Hoover HS, 1961

t2. Bob Boone, 15, Crawford HS, 1965

Strikeouts, career

1. Adam Johnson, 354, Torrey Pines HS/Santa Fe Christian HS, 1994-1997

t6. Jeff Byrd, 286, El Capitan HS, 1972-1974

Strikeouts, season

2. Dave Morehead, 164, Hoover HS, 1961

3. David Wells, 162, Point Loma HS, 1982

ERA, career

5. Adam Johnson, 1.02, Torrey Pines HS/Santa Fe Christian HS, 1994-1997

ERA, season

4. David Wells, 0.45, Point Loma HS, 1982

8. Terry Forster, 0.58, Santana HS, 1970

Saves, career

t3. Troy Glaus, 13, Carlsbad HS, 1992-1994

Shutouts, career

1. David Wells, 11, Point Loma HS, 1980-1982

t2. Jeff Byrd, 9, El Capitan HS, 1972-1974

Shutouts, season

1. David Wells, 9, Point Loma HS, 1982

t3. Ron Tompkins, 6, Chula Vista HS, 1961

Consecutive shutouts

1. David Wells, 6, Point Loma HS, 1982

t3. Benji Gil, 3, Sweetwater HS, 1988

Consecutive scoreless innings

1. David Wells, 42, Point Loma HS, 1982

t4. Benji Gil, 33 1/3, Sweetwater HS, 1988

7. Lance Dickson, 26 1/3, Grossmont HS, 1987

t9. Wells, 25, 1982

t9. Grant Roberts, 25, Grossmont HS, 1994

No-hitters

t2. Jeff Byrd, 2, El Capitan HS, 1974

Consecutive hitless innings

2. Jeff Byrd, 15, El Capitan HS, 1974

t3. Oscar Robles, 13 1/3, Montgomery HS, 1994

Innings pitched, career

8. Adam Johnson, 232 2/3, Torrey Pines HS/Santa Fe Christian HS, 1994-1997

***

Well, that's what it looked like in 2000. Some of these records may have been broken since the Guide was published 13 years ago, but as snapshots go, this one is fascinating. So go watch your local high school team some time. You never know who you might see or where they might turn up next.

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