DR not drinking the Skipworth Gatorade

Kyle Skipworth, catcher for the Riverside Patriot team who was eliminated from the CIF-SS Division IV playoffs by Diamond Ranch on Tuesday, was named the 2007-08 Gatorade California Baseball Player of the Year on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-4, 200 pound senior, regarded by many as a first-round draft pick in the Major League Baseball first-year player draft on June 5, went 2-for-3 against Diamond Ranch but second-seeded Patriot (27-3) lost 5-3 with a trip to Friday’s final at Dodger Stadium on the line.

Skipworth was just one of several imposing players for Patriot (6-foot-8, 255-pound first baseman Matt Lollis looked like a fifth-year senior, in college). A MLB mock draft by BaseballAmerica.com’s Jim Callis projects Skipworth as the sixth overall pick by the Florida Marlins organization.

After all I heard about Skipworth, I was surprised to see Diamond Ranch’s leadoff batter, who drew a walk, break for second the very first pitch to the next hitter. A startled Skipworth bounced a day-late throw into second. But really, his pitcher’s slow delivery didn’t give him a chance. Skipworth quickly erased any doubts about his arm strength later that inning, gunning down a would-be base stealer at third by such a margin the guy didn’t bother to slide.

Batting from the left side, Skipworth unfurled the fluid swing that produced these stats his senior season: a .540 batting average, 47 RBI and 13 home runs in just 94 at-bats (That’s an RBI every second at-bat and a HR every 7.2 at-bats). Once he fills out that lanky frame, he is going to be an absolute man child.

Although, Skipworth struck out in the first inning along with his two teammates, something that seemed to complete a first-inning role reversal of the No. 2 seed and the team that finished third in their own league. After Patriot starting pitcher Mitch Patito hummed a 90-mph fast ball in for a first-pitch strike, an unflappable Diamond Ranch team had him in left field and a 2-0 lead before the inning was over. The Patriot reliever went the remaining 6 1/3 innings.

Skipworth carried his weight in the loss, reaching base his next three at-bats by sandwiching an error with two singles. He scored the go-ahead run in the fifth but could only watch as Diamond Ranch plated three runs in the final two innings to end his magnificent high school career.

Skipworth is now a finalist for the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year award to be announced in June.

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