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Season Preview: San Joaquin Memorial


Blaine Clemmens
Northern California Director of Scouting

With the 2019 high school baseball season just around the corner in California (starts today for the CIF-Central Section!), we've been rolling out team previews from around the state and are back at it.

In this edition we take a look at the San Joaquin Memorial Panthers (Fresno). SJM competes in the County/Metro Athletic Conference (CMAC) and is coming off a Central Section D2 championship, which will have them squarely in the crosshairs of all their opponents. They open up today, weather permitting, vs Garces Memorial (Bakersfield).

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Team: San Joaquin Memorial 

Nickname: Panthers

Section: CIF-Central Section, Division 2

LeagueCounty/Metro Athletic Conference (CMAC)

Head Coach/Years at school: J.D. Salles (3)

Team Twitter Handle: @SJMHardball

2018 Overall Record: 23-9

2018 Postseason Finish: Central Section-D2 Champions

Number of Returning Starters: 6

Number of Returning Pitchers: 2

Top Returning Players:

'19 SS Bret Carrell; '21 2B Eddie Saldivar; '21 OF/UTL Tanner Sagouspe

Other Players To Watch:

'20 1B/C/UTL Tyler Davis; '21 P/OF Orin Hirschkorn

2019 Outlook:

Coming off a championship season and having six starters returning, the Panthers look to be in great shape to defend their championship. But as we all know, teams must first earn a playoff spot to be able to defend a title, so first things first. The team does bring back that position player talent, but on the other side of things, returns only two pitchers. Lack of depth on the mound has derailed many a team over the years. Then again, new players getting their chance to shine is fun for coaches and at a program with a history of success, there will be kids who step up and grab their opportunity.

Coach Salles expects the strength of the team to play strong defense while having the ability to be potent on offense and put up plenty of runs. As mentioned previously, that will be important because the Panthers will also need to find an ace for the pitching staff, that one pitcher who can shoulder a big load and take on other teams' top pitchers.

Of the team's top returners, sophomore 2nd baseman Eddie Saldivar (5-9, 160, L/R) is an exciting, catalyst type talent. He hit .430 with 5 homers as a freshman, to go along with 21 stolen bases. That is one heck of a freshman year! His defense also rates very highly. His partner up the middle is senior shortstop Bret Carrell (6-0, 175, R/R) a four-year varsity player who Coach Salles feels can play at the next level. He has hit in the middle of the line-up his whole career whole also playing very good defense at the most important position. A middle infield like that is a GREAT place to start.

Also returning and expected to play a big role is sophomore outfielder/pitcher/utility man Tanner Sagouspe (6-0, 175). He had a fantastic freshman campaign, hitting .330 with two homers and can play any position on the field. A true "baseball guy" as Coach Salles describes him.

The pitching staff does return senior RHP Matt Alvarez, who may find himself filling that #1 role. Sophomore Orin Hirschkorn will be in the mix after some time as a freshman. Listed above in the beginning was two returning pitchers but a deeper look at the stats from last year show more than that got some time on the mound. Junior 1B/RHP Joey Bell should get in the mix for innings, as well as time at one of the corners and Carrell will also get his turns on the mound. Senior Bobby Browning also had time on the mound last season.

Time will tell if the Panthers have that ace emerge. Until then, it will have to be a talented and experience offense to lead the way. The league will present challenges, with Sanger, Bullard, and Madera all expected to be in contention. The early season schedule kicks off with the ALWAYS strong Coca Cola Classic and right out of the gate the Panthers get a loaded Buchanan HS team, #7 in the preseason PBR Power 25, with another game later in the tourney against traditional TRAC power Clovis HS. From there they will participate in the Central California Showcase tournament and draw a couple of tough Northern California schools, Rocklin and Berkeley, before heading into league play.

SJM will also play in the LOADED Fresno Easter Classic in mid-April, but as of this posting that schedule is not published yet.

UPCOMING EVENTS

SHOWCASE STATE DATE LOCATION
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
SoCal ProCase CA 06/08 Hart Park

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