May 16, 2008

Titans’ Torres Tough on Pitchers

By John Philip Wyllie

Starting the week 20-6, the Eastlake Titans Baseball Team is in good shape to reach the CIF playoffs either as the Mesa League champion or as the league runner-up. With solid pitching and strong hitting the Titans are a well-balanced squad ranked among the top 15 in the county. A substantial portion of the credit goes to their star pitcher, infielder and hitter, Jomel Torres.

“Right now, Jomel is our MVP,” said Titans coach, David Gallegos. “He is 9-1 overall in pitching and he has a two point something E.R.A. He is tied in team home runs with six and he is hitting about .480. Defensively he is also strong. He has been offered a scholarship to attend San Diego State, but there are also a lot of (MLB) scouts out here so he could be drafted.”

Playing in the Eastlake High School program there are naturally a lot of comparisons to 2000 EHS graduate and current Padres first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez.

“Like Adrian, Jomel is very dedicated. He comes early, stays late and works very hard. He’s a very dedicated kid. Adrian came in more skillful. He was a stud when he (first) walked on this field. Jomel at first was just O.K., but he was very coachable and he has worked hard to get to where he is.”

Titans star Jomel Torres plans to make baseball his career Photo: J.P. Wyllie

Torres knows that being compared to Gonzales comes part and parcel with playing for the Eastlake Titans. It doesn’t bother him.

“Sometimes here and there I get compared to Adrian, but I don’t mind. Actually it is pretty good considering who he is and what he has done.”

You can tell Torres is something special just watching him in batting practice. He has a sweet swing and exhibits plenty of power. At one point he launched back to back balls over the center field wall with his seemingly effortless swing.

While Torres comes from an athletic family, he is the first to take a major interest in baseball. He got an early start in the sport, and that has helped him.

“I began to swing a bat when I was three or four and I played Tee-ball when I was five or six,” Torres recalled. He fell in love with the sport almost immediately and has been playing ever since. His mother played a major role in his early development.

“My mom memorized everything my coaches taught me and she would refresh my memory constantly. I have gotten a lot of family support. My mom and dad and little sister always come out to my games.”

Naturally, Torres is hoping the Titans can win the Mesa League title and then advance to the Division I CIF San Diego Section Championship, but after this season ends it will be decision time. Should he be picked in the first few rounds of next month’s annual MLB amateur draft there will be a great temptation to postpone his college plans and head immediately into professional baseball.

“At the next level I probably won’t be pitching anymore. I will play in the infield or the outfield. I think everyone is looking at me mainly as a hitter. I have a scholarship to SDSU, but I wouldn’t mind getting drafted as well.”

If he attends SDSU, he will have the opportunity to learn from one of the greatest hitters of all-time, Tony Gwynn.

“His basic thing is hitting and I have always tried to follow what he does (technique-wise). It would be great having him as my coach.”

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