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June 14, 2012Player of the Year
Jake Sweaney, Garces Jr. C
The Central Section rarely captures the attention of California high school sport fans, but what Sweaney did for the Rams was remarkable. Sweaney hit .496 during the 2012 season, with 49 RBIs, 43 runs scored and 11 homers slugging .950 and posting a ridiculous 1.461 OPS. One of the best things about Sweaney's play this season was his consistency at the plate. The junior didn't rack up his numbers with a couple of good weeks during the season. Instead, Sweaney finished the season on a 32-game hitting streak after going hitless in the season opener. That consistency was huge in helping Garces win a Central Section title.
The 6-foot-2 junior also played the most grueling position in the field, serving as Garces' backbone by playing catcher. His consistency on offense didn't carry over to his catching duties all the time, but that's something he can work on this summer. Garces will have to add weight to his 175-pound frame to hold up at the collegiate level, but again, he's got plenty of time to do so.
Pitcher of the Year
Carlos Salazar, Kerman Jr. RHP
Salazar didn't pitch for one of the bigger schools in the Central Section, but the results were other-worldly. Salazer struck out 159 batters in 77.1 innings pitched this season, dominating hitters in ways that aren't easy to pull off even in video games. Kerman struck out more than two batters per inning, posting a 1.27 ERA while allowing only 30 hits. His biggest problem was his control, as Salazar walked 55 batters this season, which included a pair of 8-walk performances.
Only a junior, Salazar has plenty of time to harness his control issues. What's there is his raw stuff, as the Lions' ace tore through overmatched lineups this season. In one five-start span in March and April, Salazar whiffed 71 batters in 32 innings, which included a no-hitter against Bakersfield Christian. Salazar's pure stuff suggests that he could pitch at the next level, and if he's able to do even better during his senior campaign, he'll most likely get that opportunity.
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