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2014 Baseball season storylines

03/04/2014, 6:00am PST
By John Maffei

Familiar family names, two-sport stars, new digs for the Cavers

Vista, with strong pitching and defense, will be among the teams competing in the Classic Division of the Lions Tournament next month.

Second generation

Del Norte 3B-RHP Tyler Plantier is the son of Padres hitting coach Phil Plantier. Francis Parker infielder Jonny Vizcaino is the son of former big-leaguer and current Dodgers executive Jose Vizcaino. Poway pitcher Tommy Brunansky is the son of former big-league slugger and current Twins hitting coach Tom Brunansky. Poway third baseman Tyler Nevin is the son of former slugger and current Triple-A manager Phil Nevin. Tyler Nevin had Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery and may miss this season.

Two-sport stars

At 6-feet-5, Riley Adams of Canyon Crest was a monster on the basketball floor for the Ravens, averaging nearly 20 points a game. A catcher in baseball, he has signed to play at USD. Two-time Valley League basketball player of the year Austin Clyde has decided to play baseball at Del Norte after four years away from the game. He averaged 21.2 points and 5.6 rebounds in basketball. Bishop’s junior Bulla Graft is making a name for himself in football, having rushed for 1,590 yards last season. He has impressive baseball tools, too.

On the rise

The 2013 season was El Camino’s first winning season in school history — and the school opened in 1975. The Wildcats open the 2014 season as a fringe Top 10 team. Is this their season? In the City, Hoover returns five starters and has some young impact players. The Cardinals could be in the hunt for a league title.

Keep an eye on

Infielders Nick Allen (Francis Parker) and Ben Ramirez (Eastlake) and outfielders Matthew Rudick (Scripps Ranch) and Mickey Moniak (La Costa Canyon) are all part of the Team USA U-15 National training program. Moniak is a sophomore. The others are freshmen. It will be interesting to track their careers. Poway outfielder Kyle Dean is part of the Team USA U-17 program.

Big brothers

Twins Sam and Jacob Vermillion check in at 6-feet-4, 240 pounds. Most people think their future is in football, but several scouts and coaches believe they can play college baseball.

New digs

San Diego High has played on the same field for more than 50 years. With the help of the Lions Club and the San Diego High Foundation, the field got a major face-lift. Luke Yoder, head groundskeeper at Petco Park, was in charge of the project.

New man

Steele Canyon coach Dan Nerat is in his first year with the Cougars. He was a 25th-round pick of the Oakland A’s in 1991 after a brilliant career as a pitcher at Granite Hills, Grossmont College and William Penn College in Iowa.

Hit and field

Otay Ranch third baseman Eddie Alvarez hit .525 last season and was named the Mesa League Player of the Year. He’s also considered one of the top defensive infielders in the county.

Charity event

Mt. Carmel will host Westview in May in the fourth annual Cancer Awareness Game. The teams wear pink jerseys with the names of cancer survivors on the back. Those jerseys are then auctioned off with the proceeds donated to the American Cancer Society.

Small, but tough

Vista Calvary Christian has produced nine college scholarship players over the last four seasons. This year’s team includes OF-1B Matt Hartman (Arizona) and LHP John Schulz (Oregon Tech). Plus, OF David Carpenter is drawing interest.

Lions Tournament

The 64th annual Lions Tournament is set for April 14-17. The 128-team event will be played in eight, 16-team divisions. The Classic Division includes Rancho Bernardo, Grossmont, Cathedral Catholic, St. Augustine, Madison, Poway, Granite Hills, Vista, Valhalla, Carlsbad, Otay Ranch and Montgomery.


Rancho Bernardo is ranked No. 5 in the state by Cal-Hi and No. 12 in the nation by Perfect Game. Cathedral Catholic is ranked No. 13 in the state by Cal-Hi and No. 16 in the nation by MaxPreps.

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