By John Philip Wyllie
When Brian McBride took over the reins of Bonita Vista High School's varsity baseball team this spring, he realized he had two huge holes to fill. The graduations last June of pitching ace, Sean Warlop (USD) and leading hitter, Jake Mc-Lintock, (SDSU) left McBride a team with more questions than answers. But with the emergence of 6'2" 210 pound right handed ace Joel Zumaya, McBride has what amounts to two players in one. Zumaya has been devastating in the early going both on the mound and at the plate and his abilities have not gone unnoticed.
"Joel's had scouts out at every game and plenty of them," McBride confirmed. "He is probably the most dominant player in the Metro league today. When you put Joel's pitching and his hitting together, he is looking at what is potentially a Player of the Year type of season.
Zumaya's attraction to baseball began about nine years ago while he was still in elementary school. He credits his grandmother with sparking his initial interest.
"My grandma is a big baseball fan. She got me into baseball when I was little and she has always been there for me," Zumaya said. With many of his
relatives living in Tijuana, Zumaya learned his baseball on both sides of the border. "My uncle wanted me to play on his Little League team and one day he just threw me in to pitch." Zumaya has remained on the mound ever since, but in the last year he has become one of the area's dominant pitchers.
"He really started making his mark last year," according to his
catcher, Ivan Salzedo. "He pitched very well against Vista, held them to one run and nearly shut them out. This year he came out (in his season debut) and pitched a two-hit shutout against Torrey Pines (with eight strikeouts).
Zumaya is taking baseball more seriously than ever.
"I have an agent and he believes I have it. So I have been stepping it up, working out and jogging. By working out a lot, I have been able to increase the speed of my fast ball, Zumaya said.
"Joel's very powerful on the mound," Salzedo acknowledges. "He throws in the mid to high 80s and has a curve ball that just drops off the table. He's also got an awesome change up." McBride finds a lot to like in Zumaya including his dedication.
"Joel understands how to pitch much better than he used to. We expect him to be our best pitcher, which he is, but he is also our best and most powerful hitter. His hitting is for me, a tremendous thrill to watch. He's a complete player and one that we are very fortunate to have."