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Los Angeles Times 1996 All-Valley Baseball Team | PLAYER
OF THE YEAR

Garcia's Bat Was No Joke

June 05, 1996|DANA HADDAD

Bryan Garcia said he had them all fooled.

After sitting on the bench last season and batting fewer than 20 times, nobody expected Garcia to lead the area with a .524 average.

Certainly not Quartz Hill Coach Dave Stradling, who figured to squeeze the 8-foot-3, 170-pound senior into the lineup and bat him seventh.

But from the first day of the 1996 season to the very last, when the Rebels took an unexpected nose dive in the first round of the playoffs, Garcia has amazed Stradling.

In Quartz Hill's 7-6 loss to Charter Oak, Garcia hit a home run over the new scoreboard in center field.

"The first thing their coach said to me after the game was, 'I can't believe how far Garcia hit that ball,' " Stradling said. "I couldn't believe it, either. It had to be 460 [feet] where it landed."

Garcia simply shrugs, looking back on a season in which he played like Superman.

"The talent was there," he said. "I just didn't show it sometimes."

Garcia finished with seven doubles, four triples, four home runs and 26 runs batted in. He was 19 for 19 in stolen-base attempts, stealing home six times but only once on a double steal.

A hard-throwing outfielder, Garcia also pitched in relief and led the area with six saves. But after he pitched a one-hit shutout against Antelope Valley to open Golden League play, Garcia became the team's ace, finishing 5-1 with a 1.01 earned-run average, and 63 strikeouts and only seven walks in 43 innings.

After throwing 20 pitches for the Seattle Mariners' brass recently, scout Fate Young said to Garcia, "We'll call you on draft day."

"I'm real nervous," Garcia said. "They're a professional ballclub and I'm only 17."

Stradling said Garcia was the team clown last season. Garcia said he was biding his time until his senior year.

"I love it," Garcia said. "This is what I wanted to do my last year, and it was an experience. I worked real hard. I knew the draft was coming up this year and I wanted to be in it."

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