Pitching runs in family for A.J. Vanegas

General : : General
Jim Ecker        
Published: Saturday, August 15, 2009

A.J. Vanegas is a 6-foot-3 pitcher with a 94 mph fastball who’s tough to hit. So are his sisters.

Brittany pitched for the women’s softball team at Kenyon College in Ohio this year and Erin pitched for the fast-pitch team at Redwood Christian High School in Alameda, Calif., this past season as a senior. So you might say pitching runs in the family.

So who’s got the best fastball – A.J., Brittany or Erin? “I’d say Brittany, but Erin has more movement,” A.J. responded, diplomatically leaving himself out of the equation.

He’s never tried to hit against them, but he’s caught them before.

“It comes in pretty quick,” he said. “It’s a shorter distance, so you have to react a little quicker. The angles they can utilize and their movement is a lot different than baseball, and they can actually make the ball rise. So it’s quite an experience and pretty fun to do. I just go out there with a glove and a mask to help them out. I think it would be pretty tough trying to get in there and hit.”

A.J. has taken his best fastball to San Diego this week for the Aflac All-American High School Baseball Classic, to be played Sunday night at PETCO Park. “I watched the game on TV last year, and one of my goals was to make it this year,” he said. “I feel great. I’ve never played baseball on TV before. It’s going to be my first experience.”

A.J. compiled a 9-2 record with a 1.20 ERA at Redwood Christian this year, with 100 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings. His team reached the championship game of its postseason tournament, but fell short in the finals. “It was kind of a bitter end,” he said, “but other than that I felt our team had a great season. Everyone improved, so yeah, I was pretty happy with it.”

A.J. carries a 3.6 GPA in high school and plays the trumpet in the jazz band. He began playing the trumpet in fourth grade and liked it. “It ended up I was actually pretty good at it, so I stuck with it,” he said. “It’s fun to do.”

The jazz band recorded a CD this year, but A.J. said it hasn’t been released yet.

A.J. has committed to playing college baseball at Stanford, pending the 2010 draft. He described Stanford as his “dream school,” the same school his father, Al, attended. His mother, Lisa, played college volleyball at Azusa Pacific University.

A.J. committed to Stanford as soon as he was admitted academically. “I’m excited to go there,” he said. “It’s going to be quite an experience.”
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