By John Philip Wyllie
It is unusual for a freshman to make a high school varsity baseball team especially when the team in question is a quality program like the one at Eastlake High. But that is exactly what shortstop Hector Lorenzana did last year. In the past, this South Bay powerhouse has developed players such as the Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and San Diego State shortstop, Nick Romero. The Titans have also either won or at least been in the hunt most seasons for a CIF championship. It is way too early to tell, but Titan coach, Ernesto Hermosillo believes Lorenzana, his young shortstop, might be the next star to emerge from Eastlake.
“I coached his father for one year when he was in high school and his uncles were very good players too. So, I’ve known his family for a long time and I’ve known him since the day he was born. I see a lot of upside in him. I know what he is made of. He started last year as a freshman and I am excited about seeing him here the next three years.”
Having lost several good players to graduation, Herm-osillo will be fielding a young team this season.
“We have only four returning starters and there is a good chance that we will be starting four sophomores come opening day. We’ll take our adolescent lumps, but we have gotten better since we started in January and I think we will be a whole different ball club come May.”
Pitcher/first baseman Jomel Torres, utility infielder Dennis Walker and Lorenzana are three reasons for Hermosillo’s optimism, but his history with Lorenzana is what makes him particularly intriguing.
“I began playing when I was about three or four,” Lor-enzana explained. “My uncle Luis played for a Padres minor league team and all of my uncles and my dad were good players with the same team that I play for in Tijuana. I’ve been playing down there since I was about five. I play on a traveling team up here too called the San Diego Stars. We just finished our season in Tijuana and I got to go to Hermosillo for a national tournament.”
Playing baseball year round, has no doubt accelerated his development. Lorenzana mov-es from one season and one team to the next without skipping a beat. At the moment, he is focused on helping the Titans achieve their goals.
“My goal is to first of all get our team to the playoffs. I want to make sure that everyone gets along and that I play good defense. I’ll also be working on my (hitting) game. My strength last year playing second base, was my glove. My hitting is getting better and I am developing more power.”
Having come from a family of professional athletes, Lorenzana would like to follow the family tradition.
“My father and my coaches think that baseball is in my future and I believe in myself. When I was about five years old, my uncle got signed right out of high school in the third round (of the annual MLB player draft). It looked like a lot of fun. He was just living the life and that is what I am planning on doing.”
Despite his intense focus on baseball, Lorenzana has remained a strong student, boasting a 3.7 G.P.A. That combination of smarts and athletic ability may make him very attractive in a few years to both college recruiters and to baseball scouts. As long as he is playing baseball somewhere, Lorenzana will remain content.