If the start of the 1988 high school baseball season is any indication, some familiar names and familiar teams again will command attention in the Glendale area.
Hoover, which won consecutive Pacific League titles from 1983 to 1985 and had qualified for the playoffs every year since 1977 before last season, is off to one of its best starts at 6-0.
At Franklin, pitcher Sam Genie is 15-3 over the past three seasons and returns to lead the Panthers in their bid for the Northern League championship.
And at Flintridge Prep, All-Southern Section Small Schools selection Gerrick Aschenbrenner will attract attention from Division I colleges if he can come close to matching the .540 batting average he posted last season as a junior.
The following is an alphabetical listing of the prospects for high school baseball teams in the Glendale area:
Pitching should be Crescenta Valley's strength, but so far the Falcons' hopes have not materialized. "We're struggling," Coach Randy Siebert said. "We should be closing the door in relief, but we're not." Senior Dominique Gonzalez, a transfer from Glendale High, and senior Trey Pogue were both first-team All-Pacific League selections last year and will handle much of the pitching load. Senior Sean Mercer is the top reliever. "We have a lot of seniors on the mound and other than that we're real young," Siebert said. A junior, Hyok Chang, will start behind the plate and a sophomore, Shane Cowsill, will be at first. Juniors Scott Gleason and Louie Dominguez will start at second base and shortstop, respectively, while Dan Sanchez starts at third. Crescenta Valley's power hitters are in the outfield with left fielder Eric Anderson (.350), center fielder Victor Ramirez (.375) and right fielder David Bayles (.400). The Falcons finished 12-11 and third in league play last season, losing to Crespi in the first round of the playoffs, 5-3. They are 2-4 overall and 0-2 in league play this season.
The Eagles missed the playoffs last season, finishing fifth in the Northern League, but several players return, including most of the infield. Manny Washington, an all-league utility player, is starting at shortstop and batting .400. Senior Steve Buccat, a first-team all-league selection as a sophomore, will start at second. Sean Beloud, a right-hander who batted .300 last year, will pitch and play third base. Chuck Engel, a quarterback on the football team, will split time at catcher with junior Bobby Collier. Engel, a senior, batted .330 as the designated hitter last season. First base will be covered by Francisco Del Rio, a left-hander who is 3 for 7 this season. Pitching could be a weakness. Phil Campos and Beloud should throw some innings in relief, but the onus is on junior Brian Kochner. The 6-2, 240-pound left-hander lacks a strong fastball, but has a solid changeup and curve. The Eagles' outfield consists of Anatascio Martinez, Sam Medel and Matt Kelly. Said Coach Mike Houlemard: "Our weakness is our pitching and our strength is on the bases. We're hoping our pitching can keep us in it and then we can run on them."
Franklin should have one of the strongest teams in the Northern League this season, thanks to pitcher Sam Genie. The right-hander is 12-1 in league play over the past three seasons and 15-3 overall with a 1.28 ERA. Genie, who also plays first base, batted .400 last season and led the team with 22 RBIs. Genie is being pushed by Phil Arreola, a junior who was 9-1 on the junior varsity last season with a 1.50 ERA. Both are 1-1 this season. The catcher is Emilio Marquez. Hyung Cho will start at first when Genie is on the mound. The junior batted .375 last season. Sergio Galvez was a second-team all-league selection at second last season, batting .385 and finishing with 15 stolen bases and 18 RBIs. Chad Infranca will start at short while third will be played by either Arreola or senior Oscar Rodriguez, a two-year starter who batted .293 last season. Last season Franklin (12-3) finished second behind Marshall and was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. "We're looking for leadership from Ernie Barraza and Arreola," Coach Rick Campbell said. Barraza is the team's leading outfielder and a returning all-league selection. He batted .383 last season and has a strong arm. He will play in center or right along with either Oscar Rodriguez and Pascual Martinez. Left field will be played by Jose Cervantes.