By Rick Assad
Special to BurbankNBeyond
You know that baseball is right around the corner when the weather begins to warm, the birds are chirping, and the days become longer.
And so it is for Burroughs High, which finished 2012 with a 12-15 overall record, 9-5 in Pacific League play for fourth place, and lost to Ventura, 4-1, in the opening round of the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
What does 2013 have in store for the Tribe?
Second-year Head Coach Kiel Holmes expects more wins than losses, and will rely upon a deep and talented pitching staff, along with several players leading the way.
“We’re returning key pieces from last season,” Holmes said. “We’ve built something good, and I think we’re going to be one of the last teams standing for the league title.”
Most successful baseball teams are built around pitching, and the Indians have an ace in senior Daniel Barraza, who throws in the low-to-mid 80s, and is coming off a season in which he struck out 23 batters in 20 innings, and had a 3.64 earned-run average.
“He’s really worked on his location,” said Holmes of the 6-foot-4 left-hander. “He’s focused in on throwing strikes.”
Barraza is backed by senior Luis Pereyra, who is the No. 2 hurler, and was named all-league second-team after posting a 1.10 ERA in 17 innings. When not on the mound, Pereyra will play third base.
“Luis has struggled some with his location,” Holmes explained. “He’s able to throw several pitches effectively, and he threw a two-hit, complete-game shutout against Burbank to end the season and send us to the playoffs.”
Senior Brandon Ortega is the closer and has adopted a “submarine-style” motion this past summer, and according to Holmes, has retired some of the better hitters in Southern California.
“He has the potential to be all-league,” Holmes said.
Additionally, Ortega will make some starts and be in center field when not pitching.
The rest of the staff includes sophomore Thomas Wilson, a 6-4 right-hander who will eat up innings, senior Miles Haddad, who throws slightly below side-arm, and junior Cameron Rodriguez, a lefty who pounds the strike zone and has a good breaking ball.
Senior Patrick Christopher will spend the majority of time at first base and hit as the designated hitter as well.
“Patrick played on the junior varsity last season, but he’s going to be an important bat in the middle of the order,” Holmes said.
Sophomore Noah Hoed will also play first base and the outfield.
“Noah’s a big kid at 6-6 and is just coming into his own,” said Holmes. “He’s starting to develop and has natural power. He has good speed and huge power potential. This is a player with an incredibly high ceiling.”
Haddad, who batted .263 and had seven runs batted in, will play second base.
“In my opinion, Miles is the best defensive second baseman in the league,” Holmes said. “He has great hands and footwork.”
Haddad is backed by junior Anthony Robles, who can also play third base, and is the “most improved” player according to Holmes.
Rodriguez transferred from Notre Dame in Sherman Oaks, and will also see action in right field.
“He’s very strong and still developing, and will be a solid hitter who can hit to all fields,” said Holmes.
Senior Brian Pozos will start at shortstop, and is coming off a campaign in which he was an all-league, first-team performer after hitting .353 in league, with 12 runs scored, 10 stolen bases and eight RBIs.
Senior Chris Davies is the primary catcher and will lead off at the top of the order. Davies made honorable mention after batting .323 with 10 stolen bases, 11 runs tallied and eight RBIs.
“He has a strong throwing arm and was among the team leaders in average, on-base percentage, runs and stolen bases,” said Holmes.
Senior Jimmy Cramer will patrol left field after leading the junior varsity in hits.
“Jimmy’s bat really blossomed in the summer,” Holmes said.
Senior Akira Abderrahman will see time in right field and is ready to break out.
“He batted .500 in the summer, but didn’t play winter ball,” said Holmes.
Every team can use sophomore Aidan Anding’s skill set because he’s capable of playing in the infield and outfield, and is among the best utility players in the league according to Holmes.
Junior Tyler Renta is the reserve catcher, and will also play in the outfield and be the DH.
Burroughs will participate in the Easton Tournament as well as the “Best in the West” Tournament in Phoenix, Arizona.
Pacific League action begins March 15 at home against Arcadia at 3:30 p.m.