When choosing the state of California’s most valuable high school baseball player for the 2009 season, it appears to be a win-win situation.
There are only two candidates, really, and both offer a tremendous resume that makes each seem equally worthy of selection as the state MVP.
First there is Norco’s Matt Hobgood. The power-hitting pitcher has already picked up national MVP honors from both Gatorade and USA Today. He also led his team to the Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinals and led the nation in home runs. He wasn’t bad on the mound, either, posting an 11-1 record with over 100 strikeouts and a microscopic ERA.
Then there is Capistrano Valley’s Tyler Matzek. When it comes to storybook endings, Matzek has re-written the plot. After pitching his team to a victory in the semifinals, he entered the Southern Section Division 1 championship game in the sixth inning of a 0-0 ballgame and worked his team out of a jam. He then hit a home run for the game’s only score and proceeded to close out the seventh inning to gain the victory and a section championship.
Like Hobgood, Matzek has received his share of honors. The LA Times and Orange County Register, along with Cal-Hi Sports, have all named Matzek as the area, or state, player of the year. The Southern Section coaches couldn’t choose between the two, making them co-MVPs of the All-Division 1 team.
However we don’t do co-MVPs at MaxPreps and so our decision is a tough one. In the end, Hobgood’s numbers at the plate and on the mound are too hard to ignore. Hobgood’s pitching numbers are similar to Matzek’s and in fact he was the first high school pitcher chosen in the Major League Baseball Draft (Matzek was the fourth). Hobgood also led the country in home runs showing the unique ability to dominate in two facets of the game.
For these reasons, Matt Hobgood is the MaxPreps California Most Valuable Player for 2009. Following are the 30-member all-state first and second teams as well as the coach of the year winner.
Coach of the Year
Jim Stassi, Yuba City
Upsets were the norm in California during the section playoffs this year with very few No. 1 seeds capturing section titles. But one team that avoided the upset bug this year, and the past three seasons for that matter, is the Yuba City Honkers. Led by Coach Jim Stassi, the Honkers have become a state power. Of course it helps that Stassi has had one of the nation’s best catchers calling signals behind the plate the past four years. The fact that the catcher is his son Max is perhaps an even greater testament to the elder Stassi’s coaching ability. In winning three straight Sac-Joaquin Section championships, the Honkers have won 86 games and lost just seven in three seasons. Yuba City was 27-3 this year. Max Stassi, who was drafted by the Oakland Athletics, certainly wasn’t the only star for the Honkers, who also had one of the state’s top pitchers in Michael Lowden and one of the top juniors in Max’s brother Jake. Derek Noall, Hunter Graves and James Haymore all have been key contributors for the Honkers the past three seasons.
MaxPreps California All-State Team
P – Tyler Matzek, Capistrano Valley (Mission Viejo), Sr – Matzek led Capistrano Valley to the Southern Section Division 1 championship by picking up the win and also hitting the game-winning home run in a 1-0 victory over Edison in the championship game. Matzek had a 13-1 record on the year with five shutouts and 106 strikeouts in 85 innings pitched. He was the MVP of the South Coast League, the Division 1 All-Southern Section team and he was also MVP of the Orange County Register’s all-county team and the Los Angeles Times’ All-Southland team. Matzek batted well, hitting .404 with eight home runs and 32 RBI. He was selected by the Colorado Rockies with the No. 11 pick in the Major League Baseball draft.
P – Aaron Northcraft, Mater Dei (Santa Ana), Sr – The player of the year in the Trinity League, Northcraft was also the Most Valuable Pitcher at the National Classic and was a member of the Southern Section Division 1 first team as well as the Orange County Register’s all-county first team. He was 10-2 on the year with 70 strikeouts in 77 innings pitched with a 1.55 ERA. He also batted .362 (34-for-94) with 19 RBI and three home runs. He was chosen in the 10th round by the Atlanta Braves in the MLB draft.
P – Ryon Healy, Crespi (Encino), Jr – Helped lead the Celts to the Southern Section Division 2 championship and was named the MVP of the All-Southern Section Division 2 team. He batted .468 with 24 RBI, 10 doubles and three home runs and was 11-0 on the mound with 101 strikeouts. Named to the LA Times’ All-Southland team.
P – Kurt Heyer, Edison (Huntington Beach), Sr – Posted an 11-3 record with 116 strikeouts in 100 innings and an ERA of 0.82. He was a member of the Orange County Register’s all-county first team and also made the Southern Section Division 1 first squad. Heyer was named the pitcher of the year in the Sunset League.
P – Sean Silva, Clovis West (Clovis), Sr – One of several top-notch pitchers for the Golden Eagles, Silva posted an 11-1 record with 111 strikeouts in just 78.2 innings pitched. He had a 1.69 ERA and also threw a no-hitter. The co-MVP of the Tri-Rivers Athletic Conference, Silva was a first team Fresno Bee all-area selection and batted .341 with 25 RBI and 34 runs scored.
P – Zack Jones, Santa Teresa (San Jose), Sr – The Mercury News Player of the Year, Jones was drafted in the 24th round by the Royals in the MLB draft. He batted .508 with eight home runs, 13 doubles and 30 RBI, but was also stellar on the mound with a 14-0 record and a 0.88 ERA with 98 strikeouts in 88 innings pitched. He has the MVP of the Mount Hamilton League and has signed to play at San Jose State.
P – Justin Jones, Oakdale, Sr – The player of the year by the Modesto Bee, Jones was drafted in Round 7 of the MLB draft by the Chicago White Sox but has also signed to play at Cal-Berkeley. He posted a 22-0 record the past two seasons, 10-0 this year, with a 0.42 ERA as a senior with 118 strikeouts in just 66 innings pitched. He also batted .413. He’s struck out 242 batters in 136 innings over the past two seasons.
P – Robbie Erlin, Scotts Valley, Sr – The MVP of the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League and the Santa Cruz Sentinel’s all-county team, Erlin was chosen in the third round by the Texas Rangers during the MLB draft. Erlin posted a 9-1 mound record with a 0.34 ERA and 125 strikeouts in just 62 innings pitched. He had four shutouts and one no-hitter and pitched 45 scoreless innings during the seasons. Erlin was also a force at the plate, hitting .510 with 28 RBI and 33 runs scored.
C – Josh Leyland, San Dimas, Sr – Named the MVP of the All-Southern Section Division 4 team, Leyland was chosen in the 16th round of the MLB draft by the Oakland Athletics. Leyland was also the MVP of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune all-area team and batted .506 with 38 RBI, five doubles and 11 home runs.
C – Max Stassi, Yuba City, Sr – One of the most fundamentally sound catchers in the country, Stassi is a three-time All-Metro MVP by the Sacramento Bee. He batted .538 with 38 RBI, 56 runs scored, 11 doubles and 11 home runs for the Honkers while leading the team to its third straight Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 championship. He has a scholarship to UCLA, but he was also chosen in the fourth round of the MLB draft by the Oakland Athletics.
C – Andrew Susac, Jesuit (Carmichael), Sr – Blessed with one of the strongest arms of any catcher in the country, Susac was taken on the 16th round of the MLB draft by the Phillies. He batted .443 with 35 runs scored, 34 RBI, nine doubles and eight home runs in leading the Marauders to their second straight Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 championship. Earned a spot on the Sacramento Bee’s All-Metro team and was the Delta River League MVP.
1B – KC Hobson, Stockdale (Bakersfield), Sr – Hobson led Stockdale to its second straight Central Section Division 1 championship and was named the Bakersfield Californian’s Player of the Year for the second year as well. He posted a 7-1 record as a pitcher with a 2.72 ERA. He also led the Central Section in home runs with 15 while driving in 47 runs and batting .489. He was taken in the sixth round of the MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays.
1B – Vince Bruno, Clayton Valley (Concord), Sr – The top hitter for the North Coast Section Division 2 champions, Bruno batted .543 with 29 runs scored, 37 RBI, 15 doubles, three triples and three home runs. He also stole 17 bases and made just one error in 220 chances at first base this year for the Eagles. Named the MVP of the Diablo Valley Athletic League.
1B – Aaron Wirsch, El Toro (Lake Forest), Sr – Wirsch bounced back nicely from an injury last year to be a force on the mound and at the plate for the Chargers. He was 11-0 with 89 strikeouts in 77.1 innings pitched and an ERA of 1.54 on the mound. At the plate, he batted .346 with 12 home runs and 31 RBI. He was named to the Orange County Register’s all-county first team and the Southern Section Division 2 first team. Wirsch was named the most valuable player in the Sea View League and he was chosen in the seventh round of the MLB draft by the Orioles.
IF – Jiovanni Mier, Bonita (LaVerne), Sr – Selected No. 21 in the first round of the MLB draft by the Astros, Mier was the first high school shortstop taken. He batted .394 with 37 runs scored, 10 doubles and five home runs for the Bearcats and was named to the all-area team by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
IF – Matt Davidson, Yucaipa, Sr – Drafted with the 35th pick in the supplemental portion of the Major League Baseball draft by the Diamondbacks, Davidson was one of the state’s top players along with Matzek and Hobgood. He batted .553 with 45 RBI and 11 home runs and was named to the All-Southern Section Division 2 first team, the LA Times All-Southland team and the Press-Enterprise all-county first team.
IF – Wes Hatton, Norco, Sr – Hatton was a versatile player for the Cougars, sharing league MVP honors in the Big 8 with Matt Hobgood. He also made the Press-Enterprise all-county first team, the LA Times’ All-Southland team and the All-Southern Section Division 1 team. Taken in the fourth round of the MLB draft by the Angels, Hatton batted .500 with 14 doubles, six home runs and 22 RBI while also going 5-1 on the mound with a 1.24 ERA.
IF – Tony Renda, Serra (San Mateo), Sr – The San Mateo County and West Catholic Athletic League MVP, Renda batted .420 with 30 runs scored, nine doubles and two home runs. Renda became the all-time hit leader at Serra with 139 basehits. He also stole 18 bases and was drafted in the 42nd round of the MLB draft by the Dodgers.
IF – Nolan Arenado, El Toro (Lake Forest), Sr – Named along with teammate Aaron Wirsch as the MVP of the Sea View League, Arenado was also picked to the Orange County Register’s all-county first team and the Southern Section Division 2 team. He batted .517 on the year with five home runs and 12 doubles. Also landed a spot on the Los Angeles Times’ All-Southland squad and was drafted No. 59 by the Rockies
IF – Christian Lopes, Valencia, Soph – One of the top sophomores in the country, Lopes batted .453 for the Vikings with 39 runs scored, 33 RBI, 12 doubles and 15 home runs. He was named to the All-Southern Section Division 1 first team and was MVP of the Foothill League.
OF - Kelly Dugan, Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks), Sr – A first baseman and outfielder for the Knights, Dugan was chosen in the second round of the MLB draft by the Phillies. He was named to the All-Southern Section Division 1 team after batting .379 with 35 RBI, 13 doubles and eight home runs.
OF – Jake Marisnick, Poly (Riverside), Sr – One of the top athletes in the state, Marisnick was selected in the third round of the MLB draft by the Blue Jays. He earned a spot on the Riverside Press Enterprise all-county first team, the LA Times All-Southland team and the All-Southern Section Division 1 team. He batted .404 with six home runs and 31 RBI and also stole 22 bases.
OF – Mitch Haniger, Mitty (San Jose), Sr – Drafted in the round 31 of the Major League Baseball draft by the Mets, Haniger was a first-team all-county selection by the Mercury News after belting 12 home runs and hitting .364 with 25 RBI, 49 runs scored and 32 walks. Has a scholarship to play at Cal-Poly.
OF – Chris Jacobs, Westchester (Los Angeles), Sr – Versatile enough to play infield and outfield for Westchester, Jacobs batted .500 with 33 RBI, 33 runs scored, 12 doubles and 12 home runs. He helped Westchester win the City Section Division 2 championship by hitting two three-run homers in the finals against Monroe. He was drafted in the 37th round of the MLB draft by the Diamondbacks.
OF – Matt Moynihan, Cathedral (San Diego), Sr – One of the fastest players in the state, Moynihan was drafted in Round 37 by the Atlanta Braves in the MLB draft. He batted .430 with 45 runs scored and 21 RBI to go along with five triples and four home runs. He made the All-San Diego Section first team.
OF – Marquise Cooper, Edison (Fresno), Sr – Drafted in the third round of the MLB draft by the Florida Marlins, Cooper was the County/Metro Athletic Conference co-player of the year and was member of the Fresno Bee’s all-area first team. He batted .454 with 47 runs scored, 25 RBI and 34 steals on the season.
MAXPREPS CALIFORNIA MVP
Ut – Matt Hobgood, Norco, Sr – The top California player chosen in the Major League Baseball draft, Hobgood went to the Baltimore Orioles with the No. 5 pick overall as a pitcher. The Gatorade National Player of the Year and USA Today’s National Player of the Year, Hobgood was one of the state’s best as a pitcher and a hitter. He had an 11-1 record on the mound with a 0.92 ERA with 101 strikeouts in 68.2 innings pitched. At the plate, Hobgood was the national leader in home runs with 21 while batting .475 with 55 RBI. He was the Southern Section Division 1 co-player of the year with Matzek and was the player of the year on the Riverside Press-Enterprise all-county team.
Ut –Brooks Pounders, Temecula Valley (Temecula), Sr – The Pirates snagged Pounders with the No. 53 pick in the second round of the MLB draft. Pounders was the Southwestern League MVP and was also the player of the year by the North County Times. Also named to the Southern Section Div. 1 team, Pounders was 9-2 on the mound with 92 strikeouts and a 1.96 ERA. He also batted .400 with seven home runs.
Ut – Ryan Wilkins, Cathedral (San Diego), Sr – Named the MVP of the San Diego Section by the Union-Tribune, Wilkins batted .426 with 39 RBI, seven doubles and eight home runs. He also was 8-1 on the mound with 99 strikeouts and a 2.23 ERA in 66 innings pitched.
Ut – Dylan Floro, Buhach Colony (Atwater), Sr – The Merced Sun Star Player of the Year, Floro was taken in the 20th round of the MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Rays. Floro was 7-0 on the mound with 109 strikeouts and only 11 walks in 61.1 innings with a 0.46 ERA. He also excelled at the plate with a .462 average that included 26 RBI, 10 doubles and four home runs.
P – Mike Renner, Chatsworth, Sr – Renner was named the Los Angeles City Section’s player of the year after leading the Chancellors to the city title. Renner was 10-2 on the mound with a 1.44 ERA.
P – Keegan Yuhl, Poway, Jr – Yuhl posted one of the best records in San Diego County, going 12-1 on the mound with 83 strikeouts and a 2.51 ERA in 75.1 innings pitched. He was the pitcher of the year in the Palomar League and was also first team All-San Diego Section.
P – Michael Lowden, Yuba City, Sr – One of the top pitchers in the Sacramento area, Lowden was an All-Metro pick while posting an 11-0 record with 102 strikeouts and a 1.17 ERA in 72 innings for the Honkers.
P – Philip Valos, Stockdale (Bakersfield), Sr – Valos led the pitching staff for the Mustangs, posting an 11-1 record with a 1.52 ERA in 64 innings pitched. He struck out 93 batters on the year and picked up the win in the section finals against Clovis West. He also batted .380 with nine doubles and 34 RBI.
P – Christian Jones, Monte Vista (Danville), Sr – Considered one of the top pitchers in the bay area, Jones went 7-1 during the season with 98 strikeouts and just 14 walks with a miniscule 0.64 ERA in 66 innings pitched for the Mustangs.
P - Billy Wardell, Freedom (Oakley), Sr – Wardell helped lead Freedom to the Division 1 championship in the North Coast Section as he went 9-1 on the season with 103 strikeouts and a 2.01 ERA in 59.1 innings pitched. Named the MVP of the Bay Valley Athletic League.
P – John Wilson, Cleveland (Reseda), Sr – The MVP of the West Valley League, Wilson pitched the Cavaliers to the league championship with an 11-2 overall record. He struck out 83 batters and walked 14 while posting a 2.84 ERA in 81.1 innings pitched.
P – Abraham Torres, Montgomery (San Diego), Sr – The pitcher of the year in the South Bay League, Torres was a member of the All-San Diego Section first team after posting a 10-1 record with a 0.85 ERA and 86 strikeouts.
C – Austin Wynns, Poway, Sr – The MVP of the Palomar League, Wynns batted .376 with 29 runs scored, 32 RBI, eight doubles and five home runs for the Titans. He was also named to the All-San Diego Section first team.
C – Drew Sandler, Simi Valley, Sr – After helping lead Simi Valley to a Southern Section championship as a junior, Sandler had an MVP season as a senior, earning player of the year honors in the Marmonte League and also finding a spot on the All-Ventura County team. Sandler was also selected to the All-Southern Section Division 1 team.
C – Gene Escalante, Rodriguez (Fairfield), Sr – An outstanding defensive catcher, Escalante was the MVP of the Solano County Athletic Conference and was chosen in the 28th round of the MLB draft by the Brewers. He was also solid at the plate with a .426 average that included 29 RBI, 11 doubles and five home runs.
1B – Kyle Boudreau, Beckman (Irvine), Sr – Batted .444 with six home runs and 34 RBI while finding a spot on the All-Orange County first team. He was also named to the All-Southern Section Div. 2 team and was the MVP of the Pacific League. Led Beckman to the Southern Section Division 3 championship game.
1B – Blake Proctor, Redwood (Visalia), Sr – The easy choice for MVP in the West Yosemite League, Proctor rapped 13 home runs and drove in 39. He batted .449 on the season and scored 41 runs to earn a spot on the Fresno Bee’s All-Area first team.
1B - Patrick Conroy, Drake (San Anselmo), Jr – Conroy filled up the box score as he batted .407 with 41 RBI, eight doubles and 11 home runs for the Pirates while also going 12-4 on the mound with a 1.66 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 93 innings pitched. He was named the MVP of the Marin County Athletic League.
IF - Brett Bishop, Buchanan (Clovis), Sr – Headed to Cal on a scholarship, Bishop batted .432 in league play and .354 overall while belting 10 home runs and eight doubles to go with 30 RBI. He was a member of the Fresno Bee’s All-County first team.
IF – Christian Yelich, Westlake (Westlake Village), Jr – Earned a spot on the All-Southern Section Division 1 team after batting .489 (46 for 94) with eight doubles and five home runs. He was also named to the All-Ventura County first team.
IF – David Nick, Cypress, Sr – The UCLA signee was named to the All-Empire League team and was also a first team pick on the Orange County Register’s all-county team and the All-Southern Section Division 2 team. He batted .388 with 26 RBI and eight home runs. He was picked in the fourth round of the MLB draft by the Diamondbacks.
IF – James Roberts, Mitty (San Jose), Jr – The top junior in Santa Clara County, Roberts set a school record with 55 hits, according to the Mercury News, and batted .462 with 37 RBI, 10 doubles, two home runs and 39 runs scored. He was also a threat on the basepaths with 16 stolen bases. Made the Mercury News all-county first team.
IF – Jack Marder, Newbury Park, Sr – The shortstop was named the MVP of Ventura County by the Ventura County Star. He batted .427 on the year with seven doubles and six home runs and was chosen in the 30th round of the MLB draft by the Diamondbacks.
IF - Jake Rodriguez, Elk Grove, Jr – One of the top juniors in the state, Rodriguez earned All-Metro first team honors in Sacramento while batting .522 with 39 runs scored, 47 RBI, 10 doubles, four triples and five home runs for the Thunder Herd.
OF – Nick Backlund, Valley Christian (San Jose), Sr – Led the Central Section in home runs with 13 and batted .438 with 38 RBI. He was a member of the West Catholic Athletic League first team and was also named to the San Jose Mercury News all-county first team.
OF – Anthony Hutting, Tesoro (Rancho Santa Margarita), Sr – A first team pick in the South Coast League, Hutting made the Orange County Register’s All-County first team and the All-Southern Section Division 1 first team. He batted .444 with nine doubles and five home runs. He was chosen in the 38th round of the MLB draft by the Rangers.
OF – Matt Marnati, Yucaipa, Sr – Earned all-county first team honors by the Press-Enterprise after batting .456 with 10 doubles, five triples and four home runs with 27 RBI. He also made the All-Southern Section Division 2 first team and will play at Cal Baptist next season.
OF – Trayce Thompson, Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita), Sr – The son of former NBA No. 1 pick Mychal Thompson, Trayce batted .333 with nine home runs and was a two-sport standout for Santa Margarita in basketball and baseball. He made the Orange County Register’s all-county first team. He was selected in the second round of the MLB draft by the White Sox.
OF – Darrel Mathews, Clayton Valley (Concord), Sr – Headed to Cal on a scholarship, Mathews was instrumental in leading Clayton Valley to the North Coast Section Division 2 championship as he batted .451 with 33 runs scored, nine doubles and seven triples.
OF – Blake Dunn, Bullard (Fresno), Sr – The co-MVP of the County Metro Athletic Conference, Dunn was also a member of the Fresno Bee’s all-area first team while batting .456 with 11 doubles, five triples three home runs and 33 RBI for Bullard.
Ut –Andrew Rich, Washington Union (Easton), Sr – Rich was named the Fresno Bee’s Player of the Year after earning MVP honors in the North Sequoia League for the third straight season. According to the Bee, Rich won 36 games in his career and had 180 career hits. As a senior, he batted .474 with 23 RBI, 14 doubles and three home runs. He was also 10-1 on the mound with 62 strikeouts and a 2.04 ERA in 75.2 innings pitched.
Ut – Ryan Tella, Irvington (Fremont), Sr – One of the top all-around players in the East Bay, Tella batted .500 with 27 runs scored and 27 RBI with eight doubles, four triples and two home runs. He also had an 8-0 record with 87 strikeouts, 14 walks and a 1.54 ERA in 59 innings pitched.
Ut –Stephen Piscotty, Amador Valley (Pleasanton), Sr – The MVP of the Bay Valley Athletic League, Piscotty was chosen in Round 45 of the MLB draft by the L.A. Dodgers. He batted round .433 with 28 RBI and four home runs for the Dons and also had a 7-3 record on the mound with a 1.77 ERA and 56 strikeouts.
Ut – Michael Booth, El Camino Real (El Camino Real), Sr – An all-Los Angeles City Section selection for the second year in a row, Booth led the section in home runs with 14 while knocking in 42 runs and batting .427 with nine doubles and 40 runs scored. He also excelled on the hill, posting a 6-2 record with a 2.55 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 57.2 innings pitched.