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Moustakas powers his way to the top

June 17, 2007|Dan Arritt | Times Staff Writer

He established state season and career home run records, helped his team win a City Section championship and was selected No. 2 overall in Major League Baseball's amateur draft by the Kansas City Royals.

But what stood out most for Mike Moustakas during his senior baseball season at Chatsworth?

"The dog pile," he said.

Moustakas was referring to the on-field celebration that followed the final out of the Chancellors' 2-1 victory over Reseda Cleveland in the Championship Division final at Dodger Stadium on June 2.

He charged in from his shortstop position and dropped a shoulder into pitcher Trent Jones. They tumbled to the ground and were quickly buried under a mountain of teammates.

Moustakas won a City Section title as a freshman, but he and his teammates came up short of that accomplishment the next two seasons. Ending his high school playing days the same way they had begun, in one big pile of emotions, was the perfect ending to a phenomenal prep career.

"I had one goal this year," said Moustakas, The Times' player of the year. "That was to win the City championship, at all costs."

While media members concentrated on his record-breaking home run march and scouts attended every game to analyze his skills and gauge his potential, he kept his eye on the prize.

"I can't think about records too much," he said. "If I did, it would have impeded the season. My goal wasn't to break any home run records, my goal was to help my team win the City championship."

It did just that, but records fell too.

In a West Valley League game against Woodland Hills El Camino Real on May 8, Moustakas slammed a first-inning home run over the right-field fence for the 48th of his career, breaking the state record set by John Drennen of San Diego Rancho Bernardo from 2002 to 2005.

A week later, Moustakas hit his 22nd home run of the season in a 16-3 league victory over Cleveland, breaking the state record set by Chris Walston of Lakeside El Capitan in 2002.

Moustakas finished with a .577 batting average, 24 home runs and 59 runs batted in. He was selected the City player of the year for the second consecutive season.

Days after winning the City title, Moustakas received more good news. He was made the baseball draft's No. 2 pick overall by the Royals, virtually assuring he will forgo his scholarship to USC.

"I didn't think I would go that high," he said.

Moustakas is quick to credit Chatsworth Coach Tom Meusborn for his development as a ballplayer as well as a person.... and for making that dog pile possible.

"It's not even about baseball," Moustakas said of his coach's influence. "It's about being a man and being responsible for your actions. He has basically shaped me into the person I am today."


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