Lee Brewer was not The Record’s All-Area Baseball Player of the Year last spring (it was impossible to deny St. Mary’s center fielder Jarron Silva, now at UCLA), but he certainly produced a deserving season.
Brewer, now a senior and third baseman for the defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South champion Bulldogs, batted .393 with nine home runs, nine doubles, a triple and 29 RBI. He also posted an on-base percentage of .590 and a slugging percentage of .820 for an unearthly 1.510 OPS. Brewer might be a corner infielder and a power hitter, but he’s also fast, with 14 stolen bases in 16 tries.
He’s been recruited by NCAA Division I programs, namely on the West Coast, and don’t be surprised if he appears for a West Coast Conference program.
Brewer is one of 10 of my returning players to watch for the 2017 season. Here are 10 more:
Christian Almanza, St. Mary’s 1B, junior
Almanza commanded his bat like a veteran all-star as just a sophomore last season. The tall lefty batted .360 with a homer, 10 doubles and 25 RBI, with an on-base percentage of .424. While he can remain a contact hitter, expect Almanza’s power numbers to grow as he physically matures.
Jacob Standridge, Bear Creek RHP, senior
Standridge wasn’t given a 6-foot-6 frame, a superb fastball or a gnarly breaking ball. But man, the Bruins’ ace knows how to pitch. And Standridge’s expertise, with a great, aggressive means of throwing strikes and mixing location and speeds, led Bear Creek to the San Joaquin Athletic Association championship and an unexpected playoff run. Bear Creek knocked out area foes Lodi and Lincoln (via upset) of the Division I South playoffs, and had St. Mary’s on the ropes with a one-run lead entering the seventh inning before a dramatic comeback. Standridge went 8-1 with 1.00 ERA including six complete games. He struck out 57, walked 15 and didn’t allow a homer.
Cody Bolton, Tracy RHP, senior
Bolton is a two-time first-team All-Area pitcher who’s headed to play Division I ball at the University of Michigan. He’s a slender-but-powerful, 6-foot-5 pitcher, who went 8-1 with a 1.96 ERA as a junior. Bolton came through on a big stage, beating Elk Grove in Game 2 of the Division I finals series by allowing one earned run on eight hits across six innings, with seven strikeouts and one walk.
Joseph Chalco, Lincoln CF, senior
Chalco is the type of player — fast, incredibly smart and an excellent defensive player — who would excel in any era of baseball. The returning first-team All-Area pick batted .316 with seven doubles and four triples, and his arm in center field was a great weapon for Lincoln.
Nate Torres, Bear Creek C/RHP/UT, senior
Torres came into his own as a powerful middle-of-the-lineup basher late in the season for Bear Creek. Oh, and he can pitch, too! Torres batted .427 with a homer, 15 doubles and a whopping 37 RBI, with a .519 on-base percentage and a .629 slugging percentage for an OPS of 1.148. On the mound, Torres went 4-2 with a 1.81 ERA in seven starts.
Josh Alvarado, Tracy OF, junior
Alvarado wasted no time making an impact on the varsity stage. The Bulldogs’ speedy outfielder hit .330 with seven doubles and 22 RBI, with five stolen bases. He might move to center field after the graduation of Robert “Yaya” Garcia and could be a leadoff hitter should Tracy move Brewer to the middle of the order. However, Brewer had great success at the top spot so a Brewer-Alvarado, 1-2 punch could be deadly.
Jack Mayer, Ripon RHP/UT, senior
Mayer was a menace in the Trans-Valley League for the Indians as a junior. He batted .356 with 13 RBI but his major impact came on the mound. Mayer went 11-2 with a 2.08 ERA, four shutouts, six complete games, no-hitter and 98 strikeouts.
Kyle Rachels, Manteca UT, junior
Rachels thrived in relative obscurity for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champion Buffaloes a year ago. The then-sophomore, a second-team All-Area pick for The Record, batted .351 with three homers, five triples, seven doubles and 31 RBI. Junior standouts may define VOL baseball in the city of Manteca, as Sierra’s Jacob Peterson, a fellow second-team All-Area pick, is another player to keep an eye on.
Dillon Tatum, St. Mary’s C, junior
Tatum was not only a solid backstop for the Rams, but had some pop, batting .349 with three homers (including one in the playoffs), seven doubles and 23 RBI. He and Almanza could be a premier 3-4 duo that can wear down TCAL pitching with the best of them. Plus, that experience at catcher is invaluable for any team with section championship aspirations.
Tyler Lozano, St. Mary’s IF, junior
Lozano was an unsung hero for the Rams, batting .417 with four doubles and a .525 on-base percentage. Expect him to be a fixture at the top of the order for St. Mary’s.
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