Baseball: The player of the year chase is on…

We’re at the midpoint of the baseball season with Bonita, Bishop Amat, Covina, Chino Hills, Glendora, Sierra Vista and South Hills all having great years and in league title position, with Bishop Amat on top of the Division 4 poll and Bonita No. 3 in D-3. It’s also a great time to check in with our leading candidates for player of the year. By no means is player of the year limited to this list, you never know who might have a great second half or go nuts in the playoffs, but for now, I’ll share who I think the top ten candidates are, and of course, these are in no particular order.

Above: If you had to name a front runner, it’s hard to argue against Garza, doing it offensively and defensively for the Hacienda League leading Bearcats, also ranked No. 3 in Division 3.

Ty France, South Hills, Jr. — Of course we don’t have the numbers on him, South Hills doesn’t like this stuff to get out, but we’ve seen France enough to know whether he’s catching or pitching, he’s been a force and swings a great bat too. In fact, you can say the same thing about his teammate C.J. Saylor, also having a great year offensively and defensively.

Nick Hynes, Covina, Jr. — I don’t know if it’s Valle Vista League pitching or what, but statistically, he’s a monster. Hynes is batting. 588 with 15 RBIs and three home runs, and the Colts are in first place.

Elias Novelo, Sierra Vista, Sr — Another player who fills out the stat box for the impressive Dons, going for their third straight Montview League title. Novelo is hitting .453 with an area-leading 35 RBIs and three homers. But that’s only half the story, he’s also 7-0 on the mound with a 1.46 ERA and 42 strikeouts.

Justin Garza, Bonita, Jr. — If we were giving away the award today, how could you give it to anyone else. All he’s done is go 7-0 with a 0.37 ERA, owns a head-to-head win over Diamond Bar’s Kenny Mathews, and has been nails in the absence of 6-8 lefty Adam McCreery. If that’s not enough, he’s also among the area hitting leaders batting .429.

Kenny Mathews, Diamond Bar, Sr. — The Cal State Fullerton bound pitcher is 4-2 with a 0.67 ERA and 56 strikeouts. The Brahmas don’t have a lot of offense, except for Mathews and a few guys. Mathews also is hitting .444 with seven doubles and 11 RBIs.

Joseph Keller, Chino Hills, Jr — Doing it hitting and pitching for the Sierra League leading Huskies. Keller is batting. 575 with 8 RBIs and 2 home runs. On the hill he is 2-2 but has an impressive 0.95 ERA in 22 innings.

Rio Ruiz, Bishop Amat, Jr. — Best player on the best team? It’s easy to make the argument, and he’s having another solid year. Ruiz is hitting. 482 with 24 RBIs, seven doubles, two triples and two home runs.

Rouric Bridgewater, Diamond Ranch, Sr. — He’s probably the area’s most feared hitter on a team that isn’t going to win much. But statistically, he’s doing it again, batting .467 with 18 RBIs and four homers.

Matt Munoz, San Dimas — One of the best defensive infielders I’ve seen, and the kid can hit too, batting .429 with eight RBIs and 3 triples.

Nick Cooksey, Glendora, Sr The Tartans slugger is batting .439 with 17 RBIs and five home runs. John Alexander you could put on this list too, I’ve always thought John has the smoothest swinging stroke around.

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  • fyi

    Bonita joins the LA times top 25 this week.

  • Witness

    Adam Alcantara of Bishop Amat should also be on this list.
    Batting avg .560
    Kid can straight out hit!

  • 12th man

    Alcantara has proven to be one of the top hitters in the valley..His RBI numbers are low only because its hard to bring in runs when your the lead off hitter & when the bottom of your line up is struggling & fails to get on base on a consistent basis…He has a natural stroke & could easily be the number 3 hitter on any other team..Without Alcantara the Lancers are strictly a pitching team with a mediocre line up which probbably doesnt get past the second round of the playoffs..

  • Who Would Have Guessed?

    Alcantara supporters,

    Interesting now how some Bishop Amat faithful see how it is on the other side of the tracks. Ruiz is a good ball player but is by no way putting up MVP numbers, not even on his own team. To top it off on the defensive side of the ball he is having a terrible year. Haven’t checked the stats recently but he had 1/3 of the teams errors last I checked and got demoted to third base. But some how Fred wants to put MVP status on these numbers.

    Who would of guessed?

  • Fred Robledo

    In regards to Ruiz, I disagree, his power numbers are far away the best on the team (.786 slugging), has almost double the amount of RBIs of his next teammate, plus he bats for an impressive average. And when you have a team in your area considered one of the best in the state and No. 2 in the Times’ Southern California poll, a player of the year nomination comes with it, and well deserved. The other reason Ruiz is the most important is because he puts up these numbers against teams that knows he’s their best player. They try to pitch around him, walk him, and he still puts up numbers.

  • 12th man

    You can credit Alcantara’s on base percentage .639 which ranks twentieth amongst Southern Section leaders not to mention his team leading 9 stolen bases have obviously boosted Rio’s numbers on the runs batted in dept~ Not to take anything away from Rio cause it takes a talented player to consistently drive in runs especially with runners in scoring position..

  • Facts not Opinion


    Why only half the truth, Alcantara leads the team in hits and stolen bases. Alcantara OBP is almost 100 points higher than Ruiz. Your argument of pitching around Ruiz failed big time since they both have walked eight times this season. You also forgot to mention that Ruiz leads the team in errors with nine and a fielding percentage of .727 the second lowest on the team. He gets demoted from SS to 3rd because he is doing so poorly and some how you still think he is a valid MPV.

    In summary second best batter on his own team and second worse fielder (worse starting fielder) and you feel he could be the area MVP. Sorry that’s right they pitch around him, I would think that the best hitters on every team is pitched around. You question why people don’t respect your opinion?

  • AMAT 73

    Fred J ,
    Yes Rio is the easy pick but maybe he should be 1A and Alcantera 2A when picking from AMAT’s squad. He is a great contibutor and was carrying the team for a while .Alcantera is a big part of Rio’s RBI totals.

  • Tommy Lasorda

    Way, Way, Way, toooo early!

  • 12th man

    The numbers dont lie! My only beef is that Alcantara should be considered for MVP honors…He’s probbably the best lead off hitter in the Southern Section according to the numbers on Maxpreps.. He ranks 20th but thats only because he’s the only player who has played in 17 games everyone else in front of him has there on base percentage done on a average of 12 games..There’s no doubt he would be #1 if the rest of the players average was done on 17 games!!

  • Fred Robledo

    Look, I’m not going to debate the two, ask me off to the side at a game and we can talk about it, that way I know who I’m discussing it with, not here. Back when I started blogging at the Star-News I got into this same sort of discussion with an anonymous blogger. Later found out it was the fathers dad going back and forth with me. The problem with these sort of discussions is that while I personally would never bash another player to make my point, anonymous commenters can be pretty cruel with theirs. I’m just inviting it if I keep discussing it. But to your point, you’re absolutely right about Alcantara, he’s having a great year, and I’m guessing by the looks and size of him, he’s going to be tough in football too, the kid has been working out. By the end of the year, maybe he is the MVP. That’s why I said you never know what’s going to happen over the next month and in the playoffs. If this is horse race, they just made the first turn, long way to go.

  • Tommy Lasorda

    What the heck? A me imposter? That previous comment wasnt me. Good point Fred. You will never make everyone happy. Just be proud of all the boys for their hard work.

  • tommy john

    Wallace Gonazlez MVP

  • Stats don’t lie


    You know I’m not the dad, but even if I was so what. You throw stats out their, we throw them back and you say this isn’t the place.

    Sounds like you don’t want to admit your wrong, stats don’t lie?

  • Playball

    Kenny Mathews should be a solid contender since he only pitches against the other teams #1 and is hitting over 400 when he is consistantley pitched around. He carries DB on his shoulders every game. Tough job!

  • sheenman

    tommy john:
    AHAHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAAHHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA are you joking??????????????? REally proved himself this year, great stats. NOT

  • Witness

    Rio was not demoted! get your facts right.


    Where do you get people get your information from?!?!!?!?!?!?! Rio was not demoted!!!

  • Love Master

    The Bearcats Thomas Castro is a strong contender for this most prestigious honor of player of the year! He can play any position and has unlimited potential; Hes a natural!

  • Would be nice to know…..

    But I know we can’t……

    Of all the considerations for POY or MVP – which of these kids are the true “student-athletes”?

    We all know there is a ton of talent in the area and kids who would have D1 scholarship opportunities but don’t take the right classes and get it done in the classroom.

    And my definition of good grades is NOT a 2.0 to be eligible to stay on the team.

    NOTE: I’m not saying any of these kids do or don’t have the grades to play at the next level.

    Just a thought……

  • Tommy Lasorda

    Just a side note, Garza has 4 wins against 3 of the top 10 teams in the Valley. Have a great day!

  • really

    Alcantara is a very good player but he is no Rio Ruiz. Rio is in a class of his own. Rio will be selected in the 1st round of the 2012 MLB draft. The only player I might think about picking over Rio for player of the year would be Bridgewater.

  • Love Master

    I think it would be great if they posted the athletes GPA along with the statistics on Maxpreps.

  • The Man

    Alcantara is a sophomore. Rio is a junior. Alcantara’s 1st year on Varsity. Rio’s 3rd. They’re both Great kids. Rio has more experience in competetive ball. He’s seen the best pitching & hit the best pitching. Amat is lucky to have them both on their squad.

  • really dude?

    why would it be great to post a student’s GPA? that’s none of anyone’s business. if they play for the team they are eligible aren’t they? next you’ll want cell phone numbers and their parents credit score.
    no a 2.0 isn’t good enough for D1 but then again, that’s the parents fault for allowing the kid to slack. again, their business, not yours.

  • Love Master

    really dude,
    Let’s just call em Athletes, not Student Athletes. Hell, we pay for it all anyway!
    Not even close to giving parents personnel info.

  • Kimosabi

    Having been at the game yesterday & hearing the way Ruiz talked (yelled) back at his coach, twice, during the game made me see him in a different light..

  • kimosabi – whatever

    Dude nice slam…. great reporting without knowing anything about what led up to it or what it really meant… go ahead slander the kid, wont’ matter anyway…. by the way, Everyone wants to yell at that coach…

  • Kimosabi

    Wasn’t trying to slam or slander the kid!The kid got picked off at 2nd (back door) after his coach warned him a few times about it right before it happened. Coach had every right to lean into him. Guess it got the best of the kid,.. It happens.. Unfortunately didn’t make the kid look good. It is what it is….

  • Kimosabi

    Wasn’t trying to slam or slander the kid!The kid got picked off at 2nd (back door) after his coach warned him a few times about it right before it happened. Coach had every right to lean into him. Guess it got the best of the kid,.. It happens.. Unfortunately didn’t make the kid look good. It is what it is….

  • Amat69

    Kimosabi, whatever,
    Heat of the moment; it happens. No harm, no foul, everyones just fine!

  • softball

    what happened to softball’s mvp chase ?

  • really

    I agree with love master: Post GPAs right next to batting averages or ERAs; all are earned. The first question major colleges ask is; whats your GPA? Then if theyre really interested, send transcripts. If the player and parents knew their GPA would be posted, they would try harder in school and parent would get more involved resulting in smarter kids.
    Average (GPA, ERA or BA) theres your player index, the true Student athletes value.
    The kid that can balance and do well in both gets my vote for Player of the year.

  • FBFan


    I wasn’t there, but your comments are what is wrong with young adolesents today. They think that it is okay to yell back at authority figures in a rude manner. There is no defense for that kind of behavior. I’m not talking about one kid, I’m talking about the landscape of 13-18 year olds across the country.

  • Just a Fan

    John Wooden, the greatest coach/ teacher in history, devised the pyramid of success as a direct result of recognizing that letter grades were often inappropriate indicators of how well a student might actually be performing. Ultimately he came up with his definition that says that “success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best that you are capable.” Some student/ athletes are of course slackers, however there are others who are trying their hardest but may never achieve a letter grade of above 2.0, in fact may do tremendously well just to get that. I don’t see the point in embarrassing a bunch of kids to satisfy another parents ego.

  • really?

    Just a fan,
    Quoting the great John Wooden, I like that! John Wooden would have been the first coach to sit a kid who would be slaking in the classroom and you know it. What kid in your words are trying their hardest but may never achieve a letter grade of above 2.0,? Its high school; how much easier does it get? Show up and you get a 3.0.
    In college its always easy to find out what a student athletes GPA is and what classes their taking, why not in high school? And yes, just like a good batting ave. its nice to see the good grades too.

  • Tommy Lasorda

    I hear that Bonita kid won AGAIN…..8-0? Wow!

  • Just a fan

    So every kid gets a 3.0 for just showing up in high school? I would imagine there are some teachers that might be surprised to hear that. Maybe they don’t need to spend nights and weekends grading tests and homework or putting together lesson plans. All teachers can now simply give grades based on just showing up! And good grades at that!
    And who would have known that all kids are equally as smart. We no longer have to seperate them into GATE programs and special learning. Just get on the short bus everyday, come to school and you too can have a 3.0!
    Since this is the case we can just put 3.0 next to all of the batting averages and ERA’s and be done with it.

  • really?

    Just a fan,
    So, your going to continue to beat that dead horse. I don’t know of to many student athletes that take the short bus to school. It sounds like this subject has hit a little too close to home for you, so I won’t go on after this, as to spare your feelings in this matter.
    have a nice day and tell your kid you love them!

  • Joe Amat

    Since we’re talking academics, for the 2010-2011 school year Bishop Amat athletic teams have achieved a cumulative TEAM G.P.A. in excess of 3.0. Academics continue to be at the forefront of our student-athletes. It is especially heartwarming in light of the size of the Bishop Amat varsity athletic teams. Well done, Lancers!

    And since this is a baseball thread, the 24 Baseball athletes are at 3.38

  • another sgv fan

    OVERALL MVP Kenny Mathews pitches and hits.

    next Justin Garza , however he does not have the offensive “get pitched around” worries that Mathews does.

    would love to add C. J. Saylor or Ty France to the discussion if only one really knew their stats. They both hit and pitch. Need their stats from the coach.

    NOW, I would add offensive/slugger MVP’s and that could go to a few :

    Bridgewater: unreal masher, and getting pitched around but still putting up numbers.

    Ruiz or Alcantara. To hit against the type of pitching they face day in and day out is wild.

  • another sgv fan


    This is a good idea , lets have a scholar athlete team with min 3.5 gpa and see what you come up with.

    I feel that if a player is eligible at 2.0 thats what counts. A low GPA should not be considered in any MVP discussion. period.

  • just a fan

    Matt Gelalich is hitting .400 and has a GPA to match. I’ll take Matt over any on your posted list Fred.

  • GPA

    joe amat,

    I know a few of those kids on that baseball team and have to say that is a great gpa 3.38 being that two of them have a tuff time with the 2.0 requirement. You must have a few at 4.0+ to keep it that high.

  • fb102


    You have THAT correct. Players that HARDLY play prop up the GPA of the entire team.

    Wonder if the GPA of the player who was dismissed from the team[for grades] is calculated into the team GPA?

  • Daddy Boy

    Garza has carried this team all year long without MAC. If the award was today, it’s a slam dunk. Anybody thinking Matt G should be above Garza is just stupid or I bet it’s fat daddy on the blog.

  • just a fan

    That’s where your wrong Daddy Boy, Garza’s a great kid and has done well this season.
    Matt Gelalich is the “Straw that Stirs the Drink” if he doesn’t get on base, the Bearcats loose!

  • Daddy boy

    just a fan

    Wrong? We’ll look at the history of the game? Pitching is what kept Bonita in it all year long. Hitting is just starting to come around. Look at the stats over the last 20 games.

    Greggy stay off the “the drinks” and focus on the mid section.

  • just a fan

    I don’t know if he has carried the team, but he sure has played well. every team has a spark that gets things going, Matt G is that spark! I will also say that Garza has pitched against some pretty weak teams. All of the Bonita kids have pitched great this year, Tassone, Murfett, Garza, McCreery, however it’s the bats, base-running and fielding that’s going to carry us.

  • Fat Daddy

    Daddy Boy,

    Sorry but comments not coming from me. I do appreciate “Just a Fan”s critique but along with you I do agree that Justin is having an MVP type season and the Bearcats would not be the same team without him. I also believe that Justin will pitch beyond HS and be very successful wherever he chooses to play. Best of luck to ALL the Bearcats during the remainder of the season.


    P.S. Thanks for your concern about the mid-section, I’m working on it 😉

  • Daddy Boy

    Just a Fan

    Like I said: Pitching, Pitching , Pitching…

    Learn the game! Nice try Greg, the cat’s out..

    Pretty easy to figure out when a dad comes on the blog and uses different names. Keeping reading Greg, you’re into it!

  • Just a Fan

    Three pitchers all the same on the Bonita staff, no one better than the other, interchangeable, no one other than Matt Gelalich chases down those fly balls in the Bonita/Amat at game, thats what they call a game changer. Dont be afraid to check Max Preps, he leads the team in all offensive categories, BA .452 OBP .539 SB 15
    Hes the number one player on the number one team, which normally makes for a player of the year 😉

  • Daddy Boy

    Just a fan(Greggy)

    Last time I checked Maxpreps, Garza is doing it on Offense and defensive. Hitting and Pitching , now 9-0 shutting down DB for second straight time. That appears to be what he been doing all year long, carrying more hats than one! Now that’s MVP material.

    Get off your boys nuts greg, The fat intake of those burrito’s are clogging your brian cells.