TEMECULA Temecula Valley High’s Kyle Plantier is a rare breed as a two-sport standout in today’s age of specialized athletes.
The big man on the Temecula Valley campus doubles as his school’s starting quarterback and shortstop, two of the most prestigious positions in prep sports.
This season, Plantier leads the first-place Golden Bears (6-1) in batting average (.388), hits (19), RBI (19), doubles (7), on-base percentage (.475) and slugging percentage (.592). Despite his junior status, Plantier is the Bears’ most seasoned position player on a young team that is trotting out underclassmen across the diamond.
In 2012, Plantier played an integral role on a senior-heavy Temecula Valley squad that won a share of the Southwestern League title with a late surge.
“He got a lot of clutch hits for us in our nine-game winning streak, which helped us win league and get into the playoffs last year,” Bears coach Tony Nobiensky said. “He did an outstanding job as a sophomore.”
On the gridiron, Plantier is a pro-style quarterback that averaged 170.2 yards through the air, per game, last fall.
The Bears junior has the bloodlines, too. His uncle Phil played eight major league seasons with Boston, San Diego, Houston, Oakland and St. Louis and is now the Padres’ hitting coach. Locals might have remembered him when he managed the Storm to a California League championship in 2011.
His father, Ray, was an accomplished amateur ballplayer as well as an all-CIF performer with Poway High. He went onto play at Palomar College, Southwestern College, Fort Hays State (Kan.) and former Division I school United States International University in San Diego.
Question: Being from a baseball family, when did you first pick up a bat?
Answer: My parents told me I threw my first ball at 18 months (old). I started playing my first tee ball when I was four. I played when I was three. We would play wiffle ball with my cousins on my uncle’s side of the family. We would always have tournaments at his house in Poway. We would have big wiffle ball tournaments when we would get together for Christmas or Thanksgiving. It was always the sport was played. It was never basketball or football. It was always baseball. We would always play because it did run in the family.
Q: Did your dad coach you for a lot of your youth?
A: My dad actually was my tee ball coach. He coached me from when I was in tee ball when I was four to eighth grade, when we had a travel ball team which is actually most of this team. Only two starters on this high school team right now were not on the eighth grade team that we had. We’ve all grown up together and we’ve played baseball together.
Q: Do you think having that camaraderie going way back is the reason why your team has played so well in the beginning despite not having many seniors?
A: I think us knowing each other really well when we were younger, especially eighth grade when it really started to click is why we have done so well with me and Garrett (Nimmo), the only returners coming back. For us to have success, we weren’t supposed to be in the picture at all right now. But for us to be in the top of the league and to make a push in these last nine games is really good. The camaraderie has helped us overcome some growing pains I’d say with only two starters coming back.
Q: Do you ever talk hitting with your uncle Phil?
A: Sometimes. It depends. But most of the time it’s my dad because he’s the closest. My uncle is always busy. I will text him some days and I won’t get a reply for a couple days. It’s mostly me and my dad because my dad is older than my uncle. My dad says he thought my uncle a lot of things. Of course, my uncle has gone on and played pro ball. He’s learned from other people and he’s a hitting coach is in the bigs. Other than that, it’s mostly my dad. When I have questions, I will talk to him.
Q: Did you visit your uncle when he was with the Storm in 2011?
A: When he was managing the Storm, I went up a couple times and hit before the game. My cousin would come up from Poway and we would all hang out during pregame. Me and my brother went up for a day. We got there at 9 (a.m.). It was literally a full day. We got on the field. I kind of took everything in. My brother was having more fun with it, but I took it more as a learning experience to see what it’s like to play professionally and to know that their job is 9 (a.m) to 11 (p.m.), every day, no matter what. A minor league day is a really long day.
Q: Is it true that you have options in both football and baseball right now?
A: Baseball, I have a couple schools recruiting me. UC Riverside offered me a scholarship on May 30. In football, I have a couple big time D-I schools recruiting me right now, which is nice to know that I do have options. When I was younger, my parents told me to not pick one sport because you never know, you could blow out your arm playing baseball and then sit out a year and that could be the most important year for recruiting. Like in football, I got hurt this year but it didn’t affect my baseball because of time frame, which was nice. To know I have options outside of one sport is kind of cool. The recruiting process for both sports is nice. I have met a lot of cool people. I know quarterbacks in Florida, Kentucky and Oregon and just from recruiting. The whole process is an experience you never forget you grow up.
Q: Which schools are recruiting you in football?
A: I have gotten stuff from Arizona, Boise State, San Diego State and Northern Arizona. I got invited to Boise State’s camp over the summer on Monday. I am going up there. I will be going to a couple other camps around Southern California and maybe in Arizona. It just depends on what the timing is.
Q: What do you enjoy more? Throwing a guy out from the hole at shortstop or throwing a bomb in football for a touchdown?
A: I really don’t have preference. If I had a preference, I would only be playing one sport right now. There’s nothing like a Friday night game. Walking out in front of a full stadium full of people, hearing your fight song coming out of the tunnel and then going out and playing a whole game of football. There are games in baseball where you have 20 scouts behind the dugout. You know they’re watching you. Honestly, I couldn’t pick. I think picking a sport for when I go to college is going to be the hardest part.
Date of birth: Dec. 2, 1995
Favorite meal: Mom’s pasta
Favorite sports teams: Padres, Chargers, Lakers
Favorite athletes: Tom Brady, Robinson Cano, Jose Reyes
Facebook or twitter: Twitter by far
Favorite school subject: History
Worth reading: “Win Forever” by Pete Carroll
Last movie you watched: Pitch Perfect
Hobbies: Snowboarding, surfing, bodyboarding
Biggest fear: Dying or Growing up. “If I could live forever as a 17-year-old, I would”