Prep Baseball Report

Season Preview: Ayala Bulldogs

Devon Rodriguez
California Area Scout

With the 2019 high school baseball season just around the corner in California, we have begun rolling out team previews from around the state. Today we focus on the Ayala Bulldogs. Starting the season at #15 in the California Power 25 rankings, the Bulldogs make the jump to Division 1 looking for the same success they had in Division 2.

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Team: Ayala

Nickname: Bulldogs

Section: Southern Section, Division 1

League: Palomares League

Head Coach/Years at school: Chris Vogt (9th season)

Team Twitter Handle: @ayalabaseball

2018 Overall Record: 19-12 (9-6, 2nd Place in League)

2018 Postseason Finish: Semi-Finalist in Division 2

Number of Returning Starters: 7

Number of Returning Pitchers: 6

Top Returning Players:

’19 LHP/1B Joe Naranjo, ’19 C John Pappas, ’19 CF/LHP Dylan Cook, ’19 3B Daniel Ramirez, ’19 RHP Diego Santiago, ’20 RHP/1B/OF Ethan Rivera, ’21 OF Cole Koniarsky

Other Players to Know:

’20 MIF Jacob Johnston, ’21 OF/C Jacob Badawi, ’21 SS/3B Luke Solis, ’22 MIF Ty Borgogno

College Commitments:

’19 LHP Joe Naranjo - Cal State Fullerton, ’19 C John Pappas - Cal Poly Pomona, ’19 LHP/CF Dylan Cook - Utah Valley State, ’19 3B Daniel Ramirez - Cal Poly Pomona, ’19 1B Rico Figueroa - Concordia of Nebraska, ’20 MIF Sean McLeod - St. Mary’s College, ’20 MIF Jacob Johnston - Towson, ’21 OF Cole Koniarsky - Cal State Fullerton

2019 Outlook:

If there is one team in California that is ready to make the jump to the vaunted CIF SS Division 1 it is this Ayala Bulldogs team. After making it to the final four in Division 2 last year, Coach Vogt and the Bulldogs seem poised to make a deep run again even as they move up to Division 1. Coach Vogt is as confident as ever in his 2019 team and if this team is able to live up to its potential don’t be surprised if they are holding that Division 1 trophy at the end of the year.

The Bulldogs check in at #15 in our Prep Baseball Report Power 25 Rankings and we will find out early on in non-league if this team is for real and ready to establish themselves as a powerhouse for the 2019 year. Early season matchups against Esperanza and a rivalry game against Chino Hills will be good tests for this Ayala team. However, the games everyone will be circling on their calendars are the Boras Classic games. They will match up against the best California has to offer and this should give us a great idea of what will be in store for this Bulldogs team for the rest of the year.

The Bulldogs are favorites to win their league and barring some major slip-ups they should be in a good spot come playoff time. Not too often will you come across a roster as experienced and loaded as this Ayala team. With eight college commits and four starters with three or more years starting on varsity, there shouldn’t be a moment that is too big for this team. Coach Vogt raves about the makeup of this team and they will be led by its two captains ’19 LHP/1B Joe Naranjo, a CSUF commit, and ’19 C John Pappas, a Cal Poly Pomona commit. Naranjo will be Mr. Do-it-All for the Bulldogs. Coach Vogt expects Naranjo to be a presence in the middle of their lineup while also throwing important innings on the mound for this team. When Naranjo is swinging well, “we are a different team”, says Vogt. Look for Naranjo to be one of the most exciting players in Southern California this season and one that is firmly on the radar of MLB scouts. Pappas, on the other hand, is this team’s “vocal and emotional” leader, according to Vogt. Vogt expects his backstop to have a big year both behind the plate and swinging the bat.

That is not all for the Bulldogs though, as they also return ’19 LHP/OF Dylan Cook who is coming off of injuries last season. Coach Vogt is excited with how Cook has looked on the mound during the fall and he expects him to step in and be a major contributor for this team. You can also expect to see much more speed and athleticism from this Bulldogs team. This excitement will come from ’21 OF Cole Koniarsky, a CSUF commit, who as a sophomore hit an absurd .467 with 3 home runs and was named 1st Team All-CIF. Coach Vogt says Koniarsky “has not come close to his ceiling” and that should scare all pitchers and teams in Southern California. Expect another banner year from Koniarsky as he will be not only one of the top sophomores in the area but one of the top players in California. Another player who will help put pressure on opposing teams is 2019 is 3B Daniel Ramirez, a Cal Poly Pomona commit. Ramirez is a three-year varsity starter who hit at an impressive .400 clip last year. Ramirez and Koniarsky will make opposing teams work for every out and make them pay for any mistakes using their speed and athleticism.

Other notable players that will make significant contributions for this Bulldogs team are ’19 RHP Diego Santiago and ’20 RHP/1B/OF Ethan Rivera. Santiago was a surprising and welcomed addition to their pitching staff last year. He became a pitcher last year after injuries took a toll on the team and became one of the more reliable arms for Coach Vogt. Look for Coach Vogt to thrust him into big-time roles this year. Rivera will make an impact both on the mound and at the plate for this team. Last year he stepped in to be the team’s #1 starter and posted a 1.67 era, so expect Rivera to build off last year and provide the Bulldogs a reliable arm whenever his name is called upon. Rivera will also prove to be one of the toughest outs in the lineup with his ability to drive opposing pitchers crazy by running up their pitch counts.

Coach Vogt has a lineup and pitching staff that looks to have few holes for this 2019 season. This Bulldogs team will be able to beat teams in a variety of ways, blending speed and athleticism with power and solid pitching. Ayala will be battle tested come playoff time and if they stay healthy then look for this team to be one of the best and most exciting teams in all of California.


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