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Season Preview: La Jolla Country Day


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 La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla, CA), a team looking to a deep pitching staff to compliment their proven returning starters and not only get into, but make a deep run in the postseason.

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Team: La Jolla Country Day

Nickname: Torreys

Section: CIF-San Diego Section Division 1

League: Coastal League

Head Coach/Years at school: John Edman (20th year)

Team Twitter Handle: @TorreyBaseball

2018 Overall Record: 14-15

2018 Postseason Finish: Won the play-in game to get to the final 8, then lost next two games.

Number of Returning Starters: 6

Number of Returning Pitchers: 3

Top Returning Players:

'19 C Alex Steigerwald; '20 RHP/OF EJ Kreutzmann; '19 OF Kai Acol

College Commits:

19 C Alex Steigerwald - Cornell; '20 RHP/OF EJ Kreutzmann - Columbia

Other Players To Watch:

'19 OF Trevor Ace; '20 Zach Schwartzberg; '20 RHP/OF Vincenzo Lucia; '20 LHP/1B Joseph Cetale; '20 INF Shilo Cervantes; '20 RHP Aidan Risse; '21 RHP/OF Ben Pajak' '21 Michael McClellan

2019 Outlook:

After winning the play-in game to get into the postseason the La Jolla Country Day Torreys dropped their two playoff games to Westview and Grossmont respectively for a quick exit from the postseason. And while the Torreys lost their two top pitchers from a year ago, veteran coach John Edman feels they should have enough on the mound in 2019 to make a run.

"We have a very deep pitching staff this year," said Edman who is in his 20th season at the helm of the Torreys. "It is just a question of who will become our true #1 and #2 guys."

Coach Edman will have a bevy of arms to choose from when deciding on his rotation. Sophomore Michael McLellan will have a chance to be the guy at the top of the rotation. The righty returns after throwing 25.2 innings in 2018 which was good for fourth best on the staff. The top three innings leaders all departed via graduation leaving McLellan as the leading returner in terms of innings. McLellan who also has a shot at one of the middle infield positions is a strike thrower that shows poise on the mound.

There are other pitchers that figure into the potential rotation for the Torreys.

Junior righty Aidan Risse who, despite throwing only 13.2 innings last year, has the attention of the coaching staff. He's a "great competitor and poised on the mound," said Edman. "Throws three pitches for strikes in the low-to-mid 80's."

Junior lefty Joseph Cetale will get his first taste of varsity baseball after not registering an inning pitched in 2018, but his versatility as a first baseman in addition to his abilities on the mound have coach Edman thinking he's going to be fine. "He locates three pitches very well and works efficiently," said Edman of the southpaw Cetale. "Also has a smooth stroke (at the plate) and can pick it at first base."

Sophomore Ben Pajak could also figure into the rotation as well. The six-foot-3, 180-pound righty will also factor into the lineup as an outfielder where his bat has impressed the coaching staff. "He hits for power and I think he will for average too," said Edman.

Speaking of hitting, the Torreys graduated their top three hitters in terms of average. However, four of the next five hitters in that category return led by senior Alex Steigerwald who hit .309 with a team leading 20 RBI.

As the Cornell bound catcher so could the Torreys. "He's a great leader, receiver, and blocker," said Edman. "He manages our staff incredibly well."

Junior RHP/OF EJ Kreuzmann, a power hitter who always finds a way to get on base has a chance to earn the closer role for the Torreys. Senior outfielder, Kai Acol, is a high level defender who can "really go get it" in the outfield is an excellent base runner who always finds a way to get on - he totalled 12 walks and reached on an error five times in addition to his 21 hits a season ago.

Other players that will be counted on to contribute offensively are juniors Zach Schwartzberg, Shilo Caravantes, and freshmen Alvaro Partida, Chris Esquivel, Jake Bold, and Johnny Luetzow.

In other words, the cupboard is not bare for Coach Edman and the Torreys.

After an up-and-down season - their longest win streak was four games - in 2018, the Torreys are hopeful that 2019 will bring the results they desire.

"We have a very good offense," said Edman. And in high school baseball that's a great start.

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