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Season Preview: Clovis North Broncos


Blaine Clemmens
Northern California Director of Scouting

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

In this edition we will take a closer look at the Clovis North Broncos, 2018 Central Section semi-finalists. The Broncos are back in 2019 looking to compete for a section title and at the very least get one step further. The expectations are understandably high for the upcoming season.

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Team: Clovis North 

Nickname: Broncos

Section: CIF-Central Section, Division 1

League: Tri-River Athletic Conference (TRAC)

Head Coach/Years at school: Jeff Prieto (2nd year)

Team Twitter Handle@jeffprieto2

2018 Overall Record: 23-7

2018 Postseason Finish: Central Section D1 Semi-Finalist

Number of Returning Starters: 6

Number of Returning Pitchers: 1

Top Returning Players:

'19 RHP/3B Brady Crow; '19 RHP Trevor Lott; '19 OF/INF Connor Martin; '19 3B/DH Chris Ortega; '20 LHP/1B Riley Cooper; '20 INF Cason Brownwell

College Commits:

'19 RHP/3B Brady Crow - Fresno Pacific; '19 RHP Trevor Lott - McPherson College; '19 C Andrew Penrose - McPherson College; '20 LHP Riley Cooper - Arizona

Other Players To Watch:

'20 INF/RHP Nolan Inouye; '20 OF/LHP Blake Asadoor; '21 LHP Caden Larsen; '21 1B/DH Blake King

2019 Outlook:

The 2018 season was a very good one for Clovis North, but it ended up a bit short of where they hoped to finish. A Central Section D1 semi-final loss to Stockdale ended their season. Stockdale went on to win the section title with a 6-0 win over Clovis West. Overall it was a great season. The Broncos won both the Fresno Easter Classic and the Clovis Coca Cola Classic tournaments (both big and deep tourneys) and finished 2nd in the always rough and tumble TRAC.

Coach Jeff Prieto has a 2019 team that he really likes but will have to overcome the losses of some very good players from the 2018 squad. The Broncos lose their starting catcher, shortstop and centerfielder, all of them are now playing college baseball and two of them are in the Pac-12. That is not only a lot of talent to lose, but at three very important positions up the middle. However, Coach Prieto has a lot to look forward to and if the pitching staff performs the way he feels they are capable, the loss of three great defenders may not hurt as much.

Though they only bring back one starting pitcher, the strength of the team very well could be the pitching staff. There are five pitchers Coach Prieto feels are the foundation of a great staff, three of them have raw stuff that rates with the best in the area, with upper-80s fastballs and on occasion a little better. Three of them are already committed/signed to four-year programs and the younger ones will also draw significant interest. They age from seniors to sophomores, so the future continues to look bright.

Of the returning players who made the biggest impact in 2018, senior right-hander Brady Crow and junior left-hander Riley Cooper lead the way. Crow has a crisp fastball and a big time curveball while Cooper, a standout at the Area Code Games, has big times stuff and given his experience as a sophomore, he's just getting started on a great high school career. He was 1st team All-CIF Central Section as a sophomore. Cooper also swings the bat well and will spend some time at 1st base for the Broncos. Also in the mix on the mound as a returning player is senior right-hander Trevor Lott who is a classic late bloomer who is still developing and reaching toward his ceiling. He's been known to have a good fastball and has worked hard to develop a better breaking ball in the offseason.

On the position player side of things, senior outfielder/infielder Connor Martin leads the way among returning players. He's an athletically built player with positional versatility and brings an intriguing mix of both speed and power to the table.  Overall one of the strengths of this team is expected to be team speed along with the most power potential Coach Prieto has had on a team in his years of coaching. That's a great combo to have... speed AND power. Junior infielder Cason Brownwell returns after a stellar sophomore season that saw him earn a starting spot and eventually being honored with a spot on the All-TRAC 2nd team. 

Expected to make important contributions are junior infielder/pitcher Nolan Inouye and sophomore left-hander Caden Larsen. Inouye could very well be the best pure hitter on the team and on the mound he is a sinker balling strike thrower (with a slider) and will man an important role out of the pen. He was the #1 pitcher on the JV squad in 2018. Larsen is a long and wiry left-hander who has shown a full repertoire with high quality stuff and will get his chance to be tested vs strong competition this season. Junior OF/LHP Blake Asadoor is another good athlete with two-way talents that will have an impact this season, following up his contributions as a sophomore.

On the offensive side of things, the Broncos will look to senior 3B/DH Chris Ortega to be a run producer. He had 25 RBI last year in a season that was shortened by injury. Physical sophomore 1B/DH Blake King has the kind of raw power to be a threat and a force in the line-up as well, should he earn that opportunity. There are some other young players with a chance to impact the 2019 Broncos. Rees Kent and Ryan Vance are two sophomore middle infielder/pitchers with tools that could get them in the mix sooner than later. 

The TRAC is one of California's toughest conferences year in and year out and any team that comes through that league with a good record has really had to earn it. In league player the Broncos will have to go through Clovis West, Buchanan, Clovis East and Clovis high, among others. The baseball in that league is good and there is a passion for the game that you can feel in each conference game. The 2019 Broncos should be in the mix to contend for the TRAC championship, which obviously puts a team among the favorites in the Central Section.

The schedule will present many strong challenges outside of conference play. The Broncoswill face Stockdale in an early season scrimmage, they will battle quality squads in the Coca Cola Classic such as Redwood, Madera, and Bullard. In the Central California Showcase Games they will face Elk Grove and Turlock, and then it's on to conference play. Before TRAC play is over they will participate in the Fresno Easter Classic and that competition is always strong.

After reaching the semi-finals of the section tourney last year, the 2019 Clovis North Broncos are poised and ready to take at least one more step this season. They lost some significant talent and performers, but they return an awful lot, along with some talented newcomers and that is what separates programs who contend year in and year out from those who don't. Reload. Go for it again.

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