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New Players and New Coach for Spartans in 2017

Hope springs eternal but the last few years have been pretty dismal for the diamond Spartans. A new head coach has been hired and he brought on new and experienced assistants. Things will change of that there is little doubt but will it translate to wins? That's another question. Below is the list of newbies who want to be part of a new beginning.

Coach Hawkins has a daunting task ahead of him in righting the Spartans' ship
Coach Hawkins has a daunting task ahead of him in righting the Spartans' ship
SJSU Athletic Department

Big Changes With the Spartans for Baseball in 2017

Not entirely surprising but, San Jose State has a new baseball coach in Jason Hawkins. He comes from the University of Utah and takes over a program that is reeling from too many years of losing. He replaces Dave Nakama who, for one reason or another, just couldn't find the winning combination. He wasn't very popular with the fan base but I'll have to say that he was always very helpful to me when I needed information about players and such. I wish him well.

Enough of that; on to recruiting. When a new recruit is signed up they do have the right to go with another school when a new coaching staff comes on board. Luckily, most of the signees back in November have decided to come to San Jose anyway and a few gems were included. But, there's more. Coach Hawkins went out and got a few more late signings to show up and a few verbals that were reported on fan sites that didn't. Some may show up later. It's all very confusing, I know, and the best indication of what's what is when the 2017 roster is posted. Below is what's what as I see it now.

Jeremy Polon, LHP, El Camino HS, West Hills, CA
Jeremy could be the best of the group. The first part of this writeup was written last year. The second paragraph is new.

This kid could be a real steal. I read in the LA Times that he was rated the top pitcher in the City Section. He was pitcher of the year in his league and co-City Section POY. He was 11-2 and 1.13. He made Cal-Hi Sports Underclass All-State. He does have a down side; he's a big fan of the Dodgers and follows Clayton Kershaw a lot. I'll forgive him if he can pitch like that guy. An interesting side light is his battery mate, Eric Yang, is also very good. I fantasize but I suspect he's committed elsewhere. Crap, I just found he committed to UCSB, although I found nothing on NLI, just verbal.

Jeremy had another great year but I could find no stats. He pitched his team to the second city championship in a row and he pitched in the final game at Dodger Stadium. His team was rated one of the top 30 teams in the country so he pitched in tough games so he's had trial by fire. An ace.

Jackson Cunningham, RHP, West Ranch HS, Valencia, CA
Jack (as well as Polon above) was selected to the Perfect Game All-American Team Honorable Mention. Before you get too excited the list is huge but, still, well deserved. That's about all I could find. Amazing, isn't it?

Jakob Gonzalez, RHP, La Mirada HS, La Mirada, CA
Jakob was 4-1 and 1.73 in 28 IP. He had two starts in 4 appearances and strikeouts to walks ratio was 21/12. For those of you who have attended the Spartans' games in the past, how do you like those walks? Nor do I. Jakob, cut down on the walks. That was in 2015. He improved in 2016. He was 7-1 and 1.14 in 55 IP with a WHIP under 1.00. His strikeouts to walks ratio was about 3:1 which is just fine and he walked only 19 in those innings. Well done. I might add he hit over .400 and 1 his senior season as well. Hmm. This is almost needless to say but he was his league's MVP.

Aidan Malm. OF, Whitney HS, Rocklin, CA
Aidan ended his season by hitting .587 and 2, if you can imagine that. He also had 22 RBIs in 24 games and 14 stolen bases. He has good size at 6'1" and 195 and, uh, what's not to like? In addition he made his league's Defensive POY and that's always nice. He also made the Sacramento River Cats' All City Team. Does anyone else see him roaming CF for the Spartans?

Tevin Cadola, RHP, Butte CC, Oroville, CA.
He's 9-2 and 1.94 with 92 strike outs in 93 IP. That's quite a work load but he's held up well. Yeah, he'll get a look too.

Cameron Keup, RHP, Cosumnes River CC, Sacramento, CA
Cameron went 0-1 and 7.59 in the stats I found. He pitched in only 21 innings so I don't know what's up with him. We'll see. Maybe injured.

Jaiden France, RHP, Grambling State University, Santa Clarita, CA
He's a big kid at 6'4". In his freshman year at Grambling he was 2-1 and 5.17 in 47 IP. He had 23 strikeouts and 18 walks so I think he has work to do in terms of command. He started in a few games but was used in a variety of situations. Well traveled young man.

Chris Williams, OF, San Joaquin Delta CC
Here's a blast from the past. Chris played his freshman year at SJS and transferred out to Delta. I think he improved. He slimmed down a bit, grew up a bit, and started hitting for power; much needed at SJS. He hit .322 and 7 as he switched from 1B to OF. Welcome back, Chris. More of the power sauce please.

Kyle Blakeman, OF, Sacramento City CC, Sacramento, CA
Kyle hit .298 and 2 his sophomore season in 141 AB's. He could be pressed for playing time.

Kellen Strahm, OF, Lane CC, Sheldon, OR
I found nothing.

Kent Burckle, SS, Saddleback CC, San Clemente, CA
Just as an aside, Kent hit .484 his senior year in high school. No wonder he wound up at Loyola Marymount his freshman year when he hit .269 in limited duty. At Saddleback he hit .331 and 1 in 133 AB's. Pretty good but the Spartans record of juco transfers has been spotty.

This will be a huge year of transition for the Spartans. They will have a new coach with new expectations and some will choose to move on. That always happens when the coach is hired from the outside. However, the Spartans need a serious wake-up call to get off their losing ways. Newbies to watch? Jeremy Polon leads my list followed by Jack Cunningham and Aidan Malm. Chris Williams returns so I can't really count him as a newbie but he has shown he can hit for power. Kent Burckle looks good, too. The Spartans need all the help they can get in all phases of the game. Good luck, coach and welcome aboard.