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High Schools | BASEBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Stewart Had Knack for Putting on Show

June 22, 2003|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

Local baseball scouts have a way of filtering in and out of high school games unannounced, showing up with their radar guns and notebooks and slipping away as quickly as they arrived.

Major league general managers are a different story. Their arrival, though not quite by motorcade, is almost always known by high school players who try to put on a show for a prospective employer.

Then there's Ian Stewart's story.

The Westminster La Quinta third baseman did not know that Colorado Rockies' General Manager Dan O'Dowd was sitting in the top of the bleachers for a game against Garden Grove Santiago in May.

Stewart found out from his parents after the game, long after an indelible impression had been made on O'Dowd -- Stewart went four for six with two home runs and 10 runs batted in in La Quinta's 25-0 victory.

A month later, Colorado selected Stewart No. 10 overall in the amateur draft.

"I figured I probably impressed him a little bit," said Stewart, The Times' baseball player of the year.

Stewart's stats impressed many baseball followers this year. He hit .462 with 16 home runs and 61 RBIs and was the Southern Section Division IV player of the year after leading the Aztecs (30-2) to the division title.

He established Southern Section career records with 40 home runs and 170 RBIs and tied the record of 16 home runs in a season. He had 15 home runs as a junior.

Stewart, the first high school position player the Rockies have ever selected in the first round, bypassed a scholarship to USC when he received a $1.95-million signing bonus, the third-highest bonus the Rockies have paid an amateur player in their 12-year draft history.

"Every scout that [evaluated him] and everybody that cross-checked him had positive things to say not only about him as a player but as a person," O'Dowd said. "First and foremost is his passion to play the game. The tools are very good, but without that passion, tools aren't applicable at all. The little bit I saw, I certainly saw it and everybody else who knows him saw it too.

"I was also impressed with his physical size, his swing mechanics and his ability to drive the ball. He's got a lot of the same intangibles as a lot of the other [successful] players."

Stewart leaves Saturday for rookie ball in Casper, Wyo.

Until then, he has time to look back on a high school career that began as a freshman outfielder on varsity and ended with a 2-1 victory over Garden Grove Pacifica for the Division IV title.

"We knew it was going to be our last game and we wanted to get that ring," Stewart said. "The [personal] stats are good, but all I really cared about was winning my last high school game."

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

THE TIMES' ALL-STAR BASEBALL TEAM

*--* P Justin Cassel, Chatsworth Sr City Section player of the year went 15-0 with a 1.13 ERA and pitched a one-hitter in City championship game P Steven Wright, Valley View Sr Went 11-1 with a 1.03 ERA for Division I finalists and hit .441 with seven home runs, 19 doubles and 23 RBIs C Angel Sanchez, West Covina Sr Hit .463 with 10 home runs and 27 RBIs and threw out 12 of 15 runners trying to steal. Set school career record with 29 home runs 1B Matt Aidem, Valencia Jr Division II tri-MVP hit .581 with seven home runs, 20 doubles, 38 RBIs and 42 runs. As a pitcher, he went 10-2 with a 2.79 ERA IF Daric Barton, Marina Sr Division I co-MVP hit .363 with 11 home runs and 30 RBIs for Division I champions. Was a first-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals IF Jeff Flaig, El Dorado Sr Division II tri-MVP hit .591 with seven home runs and 41 RBIs and was drafted in the second round by the Seattle Mariners IF Ian Stewart, Westminster La Quinta Sr Division IV MVP hit .462 with 16 home runs and 61 RBIs and was selected No. 10 overall by the Colorado Rockies in the amateur draft OF Jason Corder, Capistrano Valley Jr Expected to be one of the area's top returning players next season, Corder hit .404 with 12 home runs and 33 RBIs for Division I quarterfinalists OF Daniel Perales, Mater Dei Sr Serra League player of the year hit .435 with nine home runs and 27 RBIs for Division I quarterfinalists OF Delmon Young, Camarillo Sr Selected No. 1 overall by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the amateur draft, Young hit .523 with seven home runs, 28 RBIs and 40 runs UTL Trevor Plouffe, Crespi Jr Division III MVP hit .500 with six home runs and 47 RBIs and went 13-1 as a pitcher with a 0.71 ERA for division champions

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