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Season Preview: Bishop Amat Lancers


Les Lukach
State Scouting Director

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

In this edition we will take a closer look at the Bishop Amat Lancers (La Puente, CA.), a team that made an unexpected run to the CIF-SS D1 semifinals in 2018 and returns a nice mix of young and veteran talent in 2019 with their sights on another deep playoff run.

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Team: Bishop Amat

Nickname: Lancers

CIF Section: Southern Section, Division 1

League: Del Rey

Head Coach/Years at school: Joe Hoggatt (4th year)

Team Twitter Handle: @amatbaseball

2018 Overall Record: 19-12

2018 Postseason Finish: CIF-SS D1 Semifinals

Number of Returning Starters: 5

Number of Returning Pitchers: 4

Top Returning Players:

'19 RHP/OF Blake Archuleta, '19 OF Jaden Allen, '19 RHP/OF Steven Loera, '19 RHP/3B Aaron Brown, '21 C Daniel Briones, '21 RHP Izeah Muniz, '21 2B/OF Tyler White

College Commits:

'21 C Daniel Briones - San Diego State

Other Players To Watch:

'20 RHP/INF Jacob Vargas, '20 LHP/OF Jarred Robles, '21 RHP Ryan Verdugo, '21 RHP/MIF Micah Hidalgo, '21 RHP/OF Eligh Hidalgo, '22 SS Frankie Peralez

2019 Outlook:

There's an old adage in sports that says it's not how you start, but how you finish. For the 2018 Bishop Amat Lancers the start couldn't have been more inconsistent going 4-5-1 to open the season. Many people who saw them during that stretch and over the following weeks wrote the 2018 season off for the Lancers. Then league play started and things turned around en-route to an 8-2 finish to the season that ended in a home semifinal loss.

But that was then and this is now. Not that the memory of the playoff run or the loss will easily be forgotten, but the focus has clearly shifted to the 2019 season and that run will be used as evidence of what's possible this season.

"We have high expectations with the amount of talent we have," said fourth year head coach Joe Hoggatt.

After seeing the Lancers a few times this fall/winter it's easy to see why those expectations are so high. Their roster is loaded with young talent and veteran leadership the combination of which can lead to special seasons for teams.

Reigning San Gabriel Valley Player of the Year, Blake Archuleta, returns and is the undisputed leader of the team. The senior RHP/OF hit .380 with 36 RBI and five doubles on the season. He also went 8-4 with 2.88 ERA 61 strikeouts against 21 walks. The pitching numbers don't do him justice. He was nails all season and most of those losses came early in the season when the Lancers offense was still sorting itself out.

In addition to Archuleta, the Lancers offense looks very formidable. Senior outfielder Jaden Allen is a lightning quick outfielder who earned first team all-league honors after hitting .343 in 2018. Sophomore catcher Daniel Briones, a San Diego State commit, returns to handle the pitching staff. Briones is one of the top players in the state and is currently ranked #15 in the class of 2021. He's one of the most polished catchers we've seen at that age. Sophomore second baseman/outfielder Tyler White was an impact performer for the Lancers in 2018 and will be counted on to continue that trend this season. Hoggatt calls him the "best overall player" on the team, which says something when you consider the talent on the roster. Senior third baseman Aaron Brown is a defensive wizard at the hot corner and showed flashes of being an impact bat last season when he finished with a .333 batting average.

The addition of junior RHP/INF Jacob Vargas via transfer and the enrollment of freshman SS Frankie Peralez will help strengthen the defense as well as add a frontline leadoff hitter (Peralez) and some power (Vargas) to the lineup.

"Our offense needs to be better than a year ago," said Hoggatt. "However, the bulk of our best guys are sophomores and freshman so there will be some growing pains."

While the offense needs to show improvement, the pitching will be looked upon as a strength and an area that will have to be stout once again in 2019 if the Lancers are to make another postseason run.

In addition to Archuleta, the Lancers pitching staff is deep and talented. Senior right hander Steven Loera is coming off a seven win season in which he also earned two saves with a 1.65 ERA. Sophomore righty Izeah Muniz is a beast at 6-foot-4, 240-pounds who Hoggatt describes as "the real deal." Junior lefty Jarred Robles is a promising pitcher who also flashes outfield speed. Sophomore righty Ryan Verdugo is a potential frontline starter down the road with a loose, whippy arm. Sophomore righty Micah Hidalgo is also a strong defensive middle infielder with a big arm. Vargas, the junior transfer, will have a significant impact for the Lancers this spring. He's a consistent mid-80's arm that attacks hitters with a strong two-pitch mix while showing feel for a third.

The road won't be easy for Bishop Amat in 2019. The Del Rey League is annually one of the stronger leagues in the CIF-SS and it's no different this spring. Serra (Gardena) is loaded with talent and a couple potential MLB Draft picks this season. La Salle is coming off a CIF-SS D3 runner up finish, and Cathedral is always tough and puts pressure on teams. They'll also play talented teams like St. John Bosco, San Clemente, Dana Hills, Gahr, Mission Viejo in non-league games in addition to the always loaded National Classic. 

The expectations around Bishop Amat are always get in the playoffs and make a run. After what they did last year and what they return this year, those expectations haven't gone away. If anything, they've amplified.

Hoggatt, a veteran coach who has won everywhere he's been, is confident his 2019 Lancers can live up to the those expectations.

"We expect to be a contender at playoff time," he said.

UPCOMING EVENTS

SHOWCASE STATE DATE LOCATION
Northern California Preseason All-State (Invite-Only) CA 01/27 San Joaquin Delta College
Super 60 Pro Showcase NATIONAL 02/03 The Max
Solano-Sac Junior Future Games Trials CA 02/24 Vacaville Christian HS
SoCal Junior Future Games Trials CA 03/09 O'Malley Field - Harvard Westlake
East Bay Junior Future Games Trials CA 03/24 Athenian School
North Bay Junior Future Games Trials CA 04/28 Clyde P. Smith Field - Cardinal Newman HS
Northern California Future Games Trials CA 05/26 Islanders Field
Orange County Futures Games Trials CA 06/08 Hart Park - Orange CA

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