Season Preview: Arcadia Apaches

Les Lukach
State Scouting Director

With the 2019 high school baseball season just around the corner in California we have begun rolling out team previews from around the state.

In this edition we will take a closer look at the Arcadia Apaches (Arcadia, CA), a team that is coming off a historic season that returns as much talent to go along with some key additions in hopes of being the last team standing in the very difficult CIF-SS Division 2 bracket.

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Team: Arcadia 

Nickname: Apaches

CIF Section: Southern Section, Division 2

League: Pacific League

Head Coach/Years at school: Nick Lemas (13th year)

Team Twitter Handle: @arcadiabaseball

2018 Overall Record: 24-3

2018 Postseason Finish: Lost in second round

Number of Returning Starters: 5

Number of Returning Pitchers: 3

Top Returning Players:

'19 SS Jeffrey Castillo, '19 3B Dominick Tello, '12 OF/RHP Jacob Lopez, '20 OF Dustin Allen, '20 RHP Chris Wilson

College Commits:

'20 OF Dustin Allen - Long Beach State

Other Players To Watch:

'20 RHP Preston Howey, '21 UTL Mikey Easter, '21 OF/1B Brandon Nguyen

2019 Outlook:

Not every program is fortunate to experience the kind of run the Arcadia Apaches went on in the 2018 season. It was historic. Not only for the program, but for the players and staff as they etched their names in the record books. However, after starting 23-0 the Apaches lost three-of-four to close out the season costing them not only a league title, but a chance at immortality. But if there's one thing we know about championship caliber teams, it's that they use past disappointments to propel them in the future. For the Apaches, the 2019 season may not be on the same historic level as 2018, but they have the talent to prove that last season wasn't a flash in the pan either.

"Hard to say we will be as successful as last season, though we are just as talented" said longtime head coach, Nick Lemas. "Some think we are better."

Time will tell if this team is in fact better than last years team, but you'll get little argument that they're as talented. They're talented on defense and offense where their team speed will cause issues for opponents.

There's no reason to believe the 2019 Apaches can't or won't make another run. It may not of the historical significance as 2018, but it seems a postseason berth, where anything and everything usually happens, is in the cards for them thanks in part to their core of returning players.

Senior shortstop Jeffrey Castillo is a four-year starter that is a vacuum on the left side of the infield. The Azusa Pacific signee hit .381 last season and will be counted on to be the leader of the team. Senior third baseman Dominic Tello is a three-year starter who was the Pacific League player of the Year and an All-CIF selection a year ago after hitting .384 with 12 doubles and 29 RBI. Senior center fielder Jacob Lopez is a four-year starter who has a chance to become the schools all-time hits leader with a big spring season. Junior right-handed pitcher Chris Wilson returns in his role as the ace of the pitching staff. Wilson was 8-1 with 0.87 ERA in 56.1 innings last year. He's seen an increase in velocity and command in the fall and could really break out. Junior outfielder Dustin Allen, a Long Beach State commit and two-year starter, is a rangy outfielder with a strong, accurate arm that plays up from the outfield. Allen will also get innings on the mound where he shows feel for a few pitches from the left side.

The addition of Tyler Quintero, a transfer from St. Francis, and Preston Howey up from JV will provide the Apaches with depth and quality arms on the mound.

The feeling of the coaching staff is If the the pitching staff can stay healthy, they have a chance to better than last season's staff that posted a 1.43 team ERA.

"With two of our top arms returning and the addition of Tyler Quintero and Preston Howey, our pitching staff will be solid and keep us in games," said Lemas.

Overall depth may be an issue for Arcadia in 2019. The Apaches varsity will carry only 14 players meaning the coaching staff will need to be smart in their usage of players, particularly pitchers. It also means incoming players are going to need to adapt quickly.

"The guys moving up from JV and Frosh last year will need to mature quickly because they're going to be playing right away," said Lemas. "We are pretty thin with options."

The good news for the coaching staff is that those newcomers are not without talent. Howey is a right-handed pitcher that works in the mid-80's with movement on his fastball while also flashing a good slider. He's a tall, lanky pitcher whose ball gets on hitters in a hurry. Sophomore Mikey Easter is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to position flexibility. He's a savvy player with a high baseball IQ that offers a strong left-handed bat in the middle of the order. Sophomore Brandon Nguyen is a big, strong, athletic infielder who can play the outfield. He's a bit raw defensively but flashes power at the plate.

After a historic run like the Apaches experienced last year, it would be understandable if there was a letdown in the expectations the following season. That's definitely not the case for Lemas and his coaching staff.

"We should be one of the top teams in the area and in our division," said Lemas. "I would predict us as the favorite to win our league."

Winning the league will get the Apaches in the playoffs, and as we know, anything can happen in the playoffs.


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