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Head Coach: Gary Remiker (13th year as head coach)
2012 Results: 30-5; Western League Champion; San Diego Section Division III Champion
Key Losses: C/1B Jesse Kay (California); SS Hutton Moyer; 3B/OF Brandon Nelson
Top Returning Players: Sr. LHP/OF Stephen Gonsalves (San Diego); Sr. RHP Michael Martin (UC Irvine); Sr. SS Hayden Grant (Purdue); Sr. RHP Alex Schick (California); Sr. LHP Andrew Wright (Pepperdine); Jr. LHP Brady Aiken (UCLA)
Notable Matchups: March 5, 7, 9, 12, 14 vs. Hilltop-Lolita’s Tournament; March 18, 19, 21, April 2, 4 vs. CCHS City Conference Tournament; ; March 27-29 vs. USA NHSI Tournament; April 29 vs. Mater Dei
THE ONLY HIGH SCHOOL-AGED TEAM from San Diego County that boasted a pitching staff in 2012 that equaled the one head coach Gary Remiker will trot out this spring at Cathedral Catholic High School was the staff used by head coach Brian Cain for the powerhouse travel ball team San Diego Show.
The reason for that comparison is obvious: The two staffs were virtually one in the same.
The Cathedral Catholic Dons will open their season on March 5 as the No. 2 team in the 2013 Perfect Game National High School Preseason Team Rankings thanks in large part to the return from 2012 of five pitchers – three lefties and two righties – who have committed to NCAA Division-I schools. All five also pitched for the Show over the summer.
“Typically, good high school teams are going to go out there and probably have two power pitchers,” Remiker said in a telephone conversation with PG last week. “They might have a third pitcher that’s pretty good, and then you’re getting into some pretty average pitching after that. For us to be able to run five pitchers out there that have Division-I scholarship offers is pretty unique.”
The roll-call is impressive. It starts with 2012 Perfect Game All-American Stephen Gonsalves, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound left-hander ranked 35th overall in the class of 2013 who also performed at the 2012 PG National Showcase and has signed with the University of San Diego.
Gonsalves made 13 appearances (10 starts) and finished 9-0 with a 1.91 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 66 innings from the mound for Cathedral in 2012. He also hit .348 (32-for-92) with 25 walks, a .508 on-base percentage and a team-high 27 runs scored while batting leadoff and playing centerfield when not pitching. His fastball has touched 92 mph and he’s ran a 6.76-second 60-yard dash at PG events.
Perfect Game ranks Gonsalves the No. 50 overall (college, juco, high school) prospect in June’s MLB First-Year Player Draft.
“What Stephen brings to the table is, obviously, a tremendous amount of talent; scouts love his upside,” Remiker said. “And just in terms of me, as a coach, I obviously appreciate how good he is but I also appreciate how nice of a young man he is. He’s remained humble (and) he’s willing to do whatever the coaching staff asks him to do.
“I just like the fact that even though he’s projected to be a high (draft) pick as a left-handed pitcher, he hasn’t done anything to jeopardize the team,” Remiker continued. “He’s not worried about how playing centerfield is going to affect his draft status or anything like that. So I just appreciate the fact that he’s still putting ‘team’ first.”
The Dons’ other top returning pitchers are senior left-hander Andrew Wright (a Pepperdine recruit); senior right-handers Alex Schick (California) and Michael Martin (UC Irvine); and junior left-hander Brady Aiken (UCLA).
Martin (6-2, 205 pounds) was 7-2 with 0.90 ERA and 72 Ks in 62 innings as a junior, and his fastball touched 90 at the PG National Showcase. He also hit .374 with a team-high 40 hits in 107 at-bats and drove in a team-18 runs from the plate.
Aiken (6-3, 220) was equally effective during his sophomore season, finishing 6-1 with a 1.32 ERA in 47 2/3 innings (11 appearances, seven starts) with 69 strikeouts. Aiken’s fastball sat consistently in the 87-88 range when he pitched at the PG Junior National Showcase in mid-June. He was also a .403 hitter (29-for-72) and has risen to No. 43 in the class of 2014 national rankings.
Schick finished 4-1 with 1.04 ERA in 40 1/3 innings.
Perhaps most impressive is the fact that this group was able to win a CIF San Diego Section Division III championship as underclassmen.
“Even though we did have a lot of underclassmen, the seniors we had on that team were really solid players and good leaders,” Remiker said. “They were able to mentor our younger players a little bit, so therefore some of our younger players, although very talented, they didn’t feel like they had to do everything because we had good senior leadership.”
Remiker pointed out that Gonsalves and Martin had played extensively on the varsity level as sophomores in 2011 and didn’t find their performances in 2012 the least bit surprising.
“What I was a bit surprised with was how well Alex Schick and Brady Aiken performed, it being their first year playing at the varsity level,” he said.
The pitching certainly looks to be in place for the upcoming season, but the Dons could use a little more offensive firepower to complement their arms. They hit .292 and averaged just better than 4.1 runs per game in 2012.
“I think we’re going to have manufacture runs, go kind of old-school, for a multiple of reasons,” Remiker said. “The bat changes (to BBCOR) a couple of years ago have reduced the power numbers in high school baseball considerably and our (playing) field is quite big, so you’re not going to hit a lot of home runs.
“What you hope to do is get guys to commit to focusing on a line-drive approach and hopefully hit the ball in the gaps,” he continued. “We have enough guys who can run, so we should be able to hit a lot of doubles and triples this year and hopefully steal a lot of bases.”
Equaling the accomplishments of last season will be a tall order for this year’s Dons. But even though they finished the 2012 campaign ranked No. 1 in the Perfect Game Pacific Region (California and Hawaii) and at No. 8 were the top-ranked California team in PG’s final National High School Rankings, they want more this year.
That includes winning the USA Baseball National High School Invitational in Cary, N.C., in late March and being ranked toward the top in the final national high school rankings at the end of the season and not just at the beginning.
“Last year our team met its goal in terms of winning our Section championship and winning our league title,” Remiker said, adding that the Dons won 30 games for the second time in a row and for only the second time in school history. “With all of that success last year and with all of our pitching coming back this year, I do think that they’re motivated to maybe realize some larger goals.
“We certainly want to repeat as Section champion, but by getting some national notoriety this year for our team and for our school, I know our guys have some loftier aspirations.”
All of the prospects that will lead the Dons this season –including 2013 shortstop/outfielder Hayden Grant (Purdue) – played for Cain and the San Diego Show at several PG national tournaments last summer, including the inaugural 17u PG World Series in Goodyear, Ariz.
“I don’t necessarily care which travel team they play for – I don’t necessarily tell them to go play for the Show nor does the Show come and call me and recruit guys – it’s just kind of worked out where the Show has grown it’s program to be maybe the elite travel team in San Diego, and we have some of the elite athletes in San Diego right now,” Remiker said. “It’s just kind of happened that a lot of them are on that team.
“I do like the travel ball experience in the summer,” he concluded. “It gives these guys the opportunity to play a lot of games over the summer against good competition, and some of the more elite players that go off to some of these really elite tournaments get exposed to college coaches.”
And Remiker has at least six prospects on his 2013 roster with D-I scholarships to prove it.