Los Angeles Preps: Michael Jordan

Inland Empire: Top baseball prospects of 2011

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
7:39
PM PT
The Inland Empire has been well represented during the last few Major League Baseball drafts.

Chino Hills first baseman Chris Parmelee was selected 20th overall by the Twins in 2006, Riverside Patriot catcher Kyle Skipworth was chosen sixth overall in 2008 by the Marlins, and Norco right-hander Matt Hobgood went fifth overall to the Orioles two years ago.

A number of other I.E. high school players were selected in the latter parts of the first round in recent drafts.

This season’s crop of seniors might not have a sure-fire top 10 pick like Skipworth and Hobgood, but there should be a few local names called out during the this year’s draft June 6-8 in New Jersey.

Here’s a look at some of the top prospects from the region.

The Elite

Jacob Anderson, Chino: Slick, speedy and powerful, Anderson can play a corner outfield spot or first base. He madea name for himself by winning the home run derby at the Under Armour All-American Game last August at Wrigley Field in Chicago and might just be the first I.E. player drafted next month. Anderson has committed to Pepperdine but it’s more likely he’ll be playing minor-league ball next spring.

Daniel Arellano, Corona Centennial: At 6 feet 2, 205 pounds, pro scouts like Arellano’s size and raw power. A right-handed hitter and left-handed thrower, Arellano slammed 12 home runs as a junior at Centennial, splitting time between first base, the outfield and the mound. He committed to Long Beach State prior to his junior season.

Ryan Garvey, Palm Desert: As the son of Steve Garvey, the legendary Dodgers first baseman, Ryan has inherited his father’s smooth swing and natural power. An outfielder and first baseman, Garvey has seven home runs for a Palm Desert team that’s ranked No. 1 in Southern Section Division 4. Garvey has signed with USC.

Brandon Martin, Corona Santiago: Martin’s soft hands and strong, accurate arm has placed him in the upper echelon of middle infield prospects. He also passes the speed test with ease, but needs to continue cutting back on his strikeouts. Martin signed with Oregon State in November after de-committing from Cal State Fullerton.

Best of the Rest

Austin Bailey, Temecula Great Oak: A lean middle infielder with a lightning-quick release, Bailey entered the week hitting .493 with a team-high three home runs after connecting twice last week against Vista Murrieta. He signed with San Diego.

Scotty Burcham, Palm Desert: Another member of a star-studded team, Burcham plays shortstop for the Aztecs, hitting .329 with three homers and 20 RBIs. He has signed with Sacramento State.

Kevin Davidson, Yucaipa: Davidson, the younger brother of 2009 supplemental first-round draft pick Matt Davidson, came into the week hitting .525 in 24 games. In addition to playing third base, the UC Riverside recruit also owns a 6-1 record on the mound with a 1.94 ERA.

Kyle Ferret, Corona Santiago: Ferret is another big-bodied catcher who hits more for average than power. He’s smooth and steady behind the plate as well.

Steven Pallares, Corona Santiago: Another top player for the Sharks, Pallares came into the week hitting .473 while splitting time between third base and the mound. He has signed with San Diego State.

Chris Rabago, Riverside Poly: Rabago has seen his numbers dip after hitting .425 with five home runs as a junior and then signing with UC Irvine last fall. The shortstop came into the week hitting .292 with one home run for the 12-10 Bears.

Michael Jordan, Murrieta Valley: A 6-1 right-handed pitcher who signed with Pepperdine, Jordan has a 2.18 ERA in 45 innings this season.

Dave Schuknecht, Palm Desert: Another steady catching prospect, Schuknecht usually bats behind Garvey and came into the week hitting .390. He signed with Arizona.

Next year’s crop

R.J. Ybarra, Riverside Poly, C
Cody Bruder, Corona Santiago, 2B
Vahn Bozoian, Chino Hills Ayala, OF

Taft's C.J. Blackwell glad to be back

December, 14, 2010
12/14/10
8:42
PM PT


WOODLAND HILLS -- Welcome back.

It had been a while since C.J. Blackwell was in the familiar surroundings of the Southland, years and years in fact. He did, after all, spend quite a bit of his youth growing up in Georgia, fine tuning his basketball skills on the other side of the country.

Palm trees and the beach, the Lakers and Staples Center, along with traffic and the crowded freeway systems around these parts were the furthest things on the mind of the Los Angeles native. Blackwell went about his business accordingly, plain and simple.

This past summer, however, when the opportunity to return to his roots finally presented itself, he jumped at the chance. Months later, with a spot secured in the starting lineup at Taft High, it’s as if Blackwell never left the place he used to call home.

“It’s nice to be back, no doubt,’’ said Blackwell, an 18-year old senior who was born in the greater Los Angeles area and moved to the South to be with family before he was 10. “I think I’ve been able to fit in at Taft, all of my teammates are cool. We think we can do some big things this season, that’s our main goal, our only focus.’’

The arrival of Blackwell could not have come at a better time considering the Toreadors lost a pair of key players from last season’s team that advanced to the City Section championship game, where it lost to Los Angeles Westchester, 70-60.

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Inland Empire: Todd Handley of Riverside King has some hang time

October, 6, 2010
10/06/10
10:00
PM PT

Tom Hauck
Todd Handley of Riverside King has proved to be one of the most elusive ball carriers around.

Few athletes can claim a 44-inch vertical leap. Those that do are usually found on the basketball court, or near the high jump pit.

LeBron James reportedly has a 44-inch vertical leap, so did Michael Jordan.

Kobe Bryant? He comes in a bit lower at 38.

Todd Handley, a 5-foot-8 senior running back for Riverside King, hit that mark in April at the Nike combine at USC, placing him among the best leapers in the nation in SPARQ testing.

But the three-year starter is just as impressive moving horizontal. He clocked a school-record 10.98 seconds in the 100 meters during last spring’s track and field season, and went 4.54 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Nike combine.

It’s no wonder that Handley has proved to be one of the more elusive ball carriers in the Inland Empire, totaling 552 rushing yards and seven touchdowns through four games this season. As a junior, he ran for 1,343 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in 10 games.

He had 206 rushing yards and a touchdown last Friday in a one-sided loss to Corona Centennial, the top-ranked team in the Inland Empire.

On Thursday night, he’ll be counted on to carry the load against visiting Corona Santiago, a team that’s ranked No. 5 in the I.E. but has shown a weakness on defense, allowing an average of 28 points a game.

Still without a scholarship offer, you can bet Handley will be giving it his all against the Sharks.

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