Season Preview: Clayton Valley Ugly Eagles

Blaine Clemmens
Northern California Director of Scouting

The 2019 high school baseball season is underway in a couple of sections and just around the corner in others (SJS/CCS/NCS), we continue to roll out team previews. We're just about finished with the previews and want to send big thanks to all who took the time to send in the questionnaires, which definitely helps your players. I am sure those kids appreciate your efforts.

The 2018 season was a solid one for a program that has about a 20 year run of making the NCS playoffs. Entering the NCS-D1 playoffs as a #12 seed, the Ugly Eagles took down #5 Monte Vista 4-2 before falling to Heritage in the semi-finals. They are losing three senior pitchers from a staff that posted a 1.95 team ERA. However, two sophomores had strong years on the mound and one was a foundation piece of the rotation. The sophs are now juniors and looking to take at least one further step in the playoffs.

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Team: Clayton Valley Charter 

Nickname: Ugly Eagles

Section: CIF-North Coast Section, D1

League: Diablo Athletic League - Foothill

Head Coach/Years at school: Casey Oakley (20)

School Twitter Handle@CNHighSchool

2018 Overall Record: 15-9

2018 Postseason Finish: Lost in NCS-D1 quarter-finals

Number of Returning Starters: 5

Number of Returning Pitchers: 5

Top Returning Players:

'20 RHP Joey Soberon (St. Mary's); '20 1B/3B/P Ryan Pierce (St. Mary's); '19 SS Jack Murphy; '20 LHP/1B Eddie Curley; '20 OF Telly Hill

Other Players To Watch:

'19 OF Brandon Cuneo; '19 C Cooper Gardner; '20 OF Chase Graves; '21 LHP Mason Oakley

2019 Outlook:

Having watched many Clayton Valley teams over the years, a couple of things have routinely stood out over the years. One is their ability to play catch and outstanding infield defense. The other has been tenacity and toughness, which are traits that tend to be at the core of good team chemistry. Also at the core of good team chemistry are players who know and accept their roles and all pulling in the same direction... the TEAM direction. It just so happens that Coach Coakley lists the teams strengths as "Chemistry. The ability to play catch. Players embracing their roles." Athleticism will also be a strength of this team.

As for an area of improvement, Coach Coakley feels continued strength gains, which goes toward continuing to work hard off the field and build durability that can withstand the full season and have enough in the tank come playoff season.

Though the sum of a team's parts ultimately determines how good the overall product is, if the top players aren't among the most talented and top performing players, then that team won't reach it's potential.  Leading the way among returning position players is junior 1B/3B/P Ryan Pierce (R/R, 6-3, 190). Pierce (#80 ranked 2020 in CA) was the top hitter last season, as a sophomore (.349, 6 2B, 3B, HR, 24 RBI) and presumably ready for a bigger junior season. We saw Pierce at the N CA Underclass Games last August and gained a quick appreciate for his power potential and overall feel for hitting. On the mound he also showed quite capable and we'd expect him to should a sizable load this spring.

As good as Pierce was as a sophomore, junior RHP Joey Soberon (#97 ranked 2020 in CA) just might have been better. He went 6-3 with a 2.26 ERA in 60+ innings. With a fastball that gets into the upper 80s and a nasty slider, he's a handful for high school competition. Another junior who will be part of the staff and the line-up, Eddie Curley (L/L, 5-10, 175), also had a great sophomore season, hitting .279 (4 extra base hits in 84 plate appearances) and posting a 0.72 ERA in 9.2 innings of work (14 K in those 9.2 innings).

Senior shortstop Jack Murphy (5-11, 170) returns to man the all important infield position, coming off a .318 season in 61 plate appearances. He was quite adept at turning the double play last season, which as we know, is a pitcher's best friend. Senior catcher Cooper Gardner (5-11, 195) returns with quality experience behind the plate and will look to improve his offensive production in his senior season.

Junior outfielder Telly Hill (5-9, 210) is coming off a season that saw him hit for some power (4 2B, 2 HR) though the average (.217 in 67 plate appearances) and consistency will need to improve. Hill is a left-hand hitter and we got a chance to see him, like Pierce, at the N CA Underclass Games. He has legitimate bat speed and strength and showed a knack for competitive at-bats. He's big and burly but runs well and is a capable outfielder. Senior Brandon Cuneo (6-1, 175) got some time in the outfield as a junior, playing in seven games (.286, 2 2B, 11 plate appearances). A third outfielder Coach Coakley feels is poised for a good season is athletic junior Chase Graves (6-0, 165). Graves is a good runner and adds to the overall athleticism of the outfield group. He got into nine games as a sophomore.

The Ugly Eagles schedule won't take them out of the area very frequently and close to home there are quality non-conference teams they will play, such as Granada and Liberty. The conference slate features one of the area's most talented teams, Acalanes, as well as an always solid Benicia and Northgate. Campolindo, Miramonte, and College Park round out the conference opponents. We see the league coming down to a battle between CV and Acalanes.


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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 - Lathrop
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