Prep Baseball Report

California JUCO opening day notes: RCC vs. CUESTA

Steven Hardesty
Central Coast/North LA Area Scout

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As the month of January closes out it signals the start of the various levels of amateur baseball in California’s opening days first with JUCO opening day taking place on Jan. 26th. For this year's opening day I made the trip up the 101 freeway to San Luis Obispo to take in a match up between two perennial power programs in Southern California. The 2022 CCCBCA State Champions and Orange Empire Conference power Riverside City College Tigers opened a 3 game set against the back to back WSC-North champion Cuesta Cougars.

Both teams ran out a pair of Big West Conference commit arms to open the game who would match 0’s for the first 3 innings. The Tigers jumped out to a lead in the 4th by plating 2 unearned runs and would stretch it to 4 in the 5th on a 2 run HR before the Cougars would storm back with 4 runs in the bottom half of the 5th inning. In the 6th Cuesta would plate 2 more runs and would go on to hang on for a 6-5 win stranding the tying and go-ahead runs on base.

Each team featured several intriguing prospects in their lineups who had good showings. While adding a few more interesting pieces who should be names to know going forward for fans and 4-year college coaches as they are looking for JUCO pieces for their recruiting classes.

Check out below for an overview of the standout performers of the day and a few names to know. 

Riverside City College:

+ Julian Cazares So. LHP 6’ 185 lbs. UCSD Commit Cazares is an interesting arm from the LH side who showed a quick arm with a good feel for his delivery. Use his lower ½ effectively while working down the mound with good intent and showing the ability to stay relatively online in the delivery. Works out of a high ¾ slot with some depth in the back swing but did a decent job of repeating well. His FB works 86-88 MPH consistently and he did bump 89 with some riding life to the pitch when up in the zone. FB plays better to his arm side, but there is feel to get to the glove side. His CHG flashed above average, even plus at times because of the arm speed he throws it with and the deception it causes for hitters. There is swing/miss action on the CHG and is a true weapon helping his FB velocity play up. Mixes in a 69-72 MPH CB with tight spin that when he throws it down in the zone or below has swing/miss action. Cazares had some issues consistently locating the zone on this day, but his athleticism, arm action and pitch mix should give him a chance to start at the next level for the Tritons. If not he is a leverage reliever who can get both RH and LH hitters out.

+ Marc DiCarlo JR. OF/RHP 6’4 220 lbs. DiCarlo worked out in RF during INF/OF and showed the athletic ability to handle an OF corner although the arm will likely play better in LF. Once the game started he slotted in at 1B where he looks the part of at least an average defender with good hands and feel for working around the bag with his feet. Where DiCarlo stands out is in the batters box with his LH swing which has plenty of strength to it. He is balanced at launch and really uses his lower ½ to start the swing while keeping his hands back with a clean path to the baseball and through it. The approach presently works through the middle with leverage which he flashed with a loud double to LCF early in the game. He hammered two hard ground balls pull side later in the game, but the swing in the first at bat left me intrigued about the offensive potential ahead for DiCarlo as he continues to refine his approach/timing at the collegiate level to show what should be above average power and above average hit tool.

+ Eddy Alfaro SS/RHP 5’10 180 lbs. Alfaro jumped out immediately during BP when I was watching him take his defensive work at SS. His actions were smooth, quick and with athleticism that projected him as at least an above average defender with plus potential. During INF/OF he showed a natural feel for his angles, the rhythm to his  feet, a quick release with accuracy and an ability to throw from multiple arm slots which helps his fringe above average arm strength play up. Once the game started he showed consistency in game with his actions and made a dynamic play going behind second base with a full extension dive popped to a knee and threw a one hop strike to first base to nail the base runner. But, don’t mark Alfaro as a glove only SS there is real potential for him offensively. Hitting in the 5 hole he showed good bat speed, leverage in his bat path, an aggressive approach with strength through contact. He just missed a hit in first at bat on a FB up in the zone, but later he was able to take a middle away elevated FB and drive over the RF’s head to the wall for an easy stand up double. Alfaro is a Cal Baptist kick back who should find himself a new home at the D1 level where he will impact the program defensively and has potential be an impact offensive weapon in addition.

Cuesta Cougars:

+ Jackson Cloud So. RHP 6’1 185 lbs. CSUN commit Cloud is coming off a stellar freshmen campaign which had a few schools inquiring about him as a transfer recruit before committing to CSUN. With a good frame that has some present strength to it and athleticism in the delivery he is an interesting piece on the mound. Working with good tempo in the delivery and showing a pretty clean, repeatable operation getting down the mound there was a good feel for the strike zone, plus as he settled in flashed a feel for command of his FB, CB, SLD trio. His FB works 85-87 consistently with arm side ride to it, but he bumped 88-90 on a few occasions over the outing which could be more consistent as the year goes on. What makes Cloud dangerous is a pair of above average to plus breaking balls in his SLD and CB. The SLD is sharp with horizontal break and comes in at 75-77 MPH with late action flashing true swing/miss life consistently. He has added a 68-71 MPH CB with depth that tunnels well off his FB and froze several hitters for called strikes and bad swings from hitters. He throws a CHG in the 78-80 MPH range which is a 4th offering presently but he shows some feel for it to be a change of pace for LH hitters. There is enough in Cloud’s profile to project him as a potential starter at the next level. But, the combination of impressive breaking balls with ability to tick his FB velocity up in relief could make him a potential wipeout reliever at the next level.

+ Austin Taylor RS FR. LHP 6’ 165 lbs. With an athletic wiry frame with some strength in the lower ½, but plenty of room to fill out with additional strength. It was a quick 5 batter look on the day, but it was a very good one. He shows good body control with intent in the delivery. The operation is relatively low effort with quick to fast arm speed and the ball comes out of his hand really well. His FB sat at 86-87 MPH while touching 88 at its peak with riding life through the zone with only one good swing against it for F-7. He snaps off an interesting breaking ball in the 73-75 MPH range with some power to the break flashing swing/miss life. Threw a CHG during warm ups but did not feature it in game action, but it flashes promise at 78-79 MPH with good arm speed on the delivery. Taylor faced 5 total hitters collecting 3 strikeouts, 1 fly ball out and picked a runner off to record 1.2 innings of work with a walk as the only blemish against him. Currently working as a reliever there is projection for him to potentially start with the 3 pitch mix, delivery and athleticism. Although if he stays in the pen there is two swing/miss offerings with a potential 3rd offering to be a leverage reliever going forward.

+ Mikey Bell RS FR. 3B 6’2 200 lbs. Bell is a kickback from Cal Poly SLO and originally out of the Fresno area. A physically well built athlete who has really good actions across the board. He showed a few different tools on the day that should give him a strong chance to return to the D1 level after playing at Cuesta. The first thing that caught my eye was the smooth arm strength he possesses at 3B, it’s an easy arm action with life out of the hand and plenty of carry to profile as at least above average and could be fringe plus arm strength with how clean the throwing motion is. Fielding actions are fluid with good footwork and soft hands, can move laterally with ease and plays downhill confidently. Bell should be at least an above average defender at 3B going forward, but does flash potential to be a plus defender as he continues to polish his tools over there. The swing is quick with a fluid turn of the lower ½ into his upper body and hands while showing lift in his bat path. Shows strength through contact and although didn’t collect a hit you can see average to potential above average hitting ability while flashing average power which could also trend up if he looked to pull the ball in the air consistently (approach shows gap to gap rhythm). I came away highly intrigued by the future possibilities for Bell.

+ Makani Nabarro FR. CF 6’ 165 lbs. On a day with plenty of good freshmen prospects Nabarro may have been the best one of the day. The athletic LH hitting CF for the Cougars put together a strong showing off tools and performance. At the plate it’s a loose and fast LH swing with rhythm to his approach and a feel for timing. He is aggressive as a hitter when he gets a pitch to hit, but shows good swing decisions staying within the zone for all swings against a high quality LH arm. There is strength through the middle of the field with 2 deep drives the wall in CF and then turned on a pair hard line drives singles to RF. A quick twitch athlete Nabarro shows at least above average running ability and is a fringey plus runner presently. A talented offensive threat Nabarro showed plus defensive ability ranging deep to both gaps to run down fly balls and then flashing his athletic ability coming in on a sinking line drive to lay out for a full extension diving catch to rob a hit from the Tigers in a key situation. The arm is fringe average in strength, but playable in CF. A top of the order potential hitter with impact defensive ability at a premium position Nabarro should be a close follow for 4-year colleges and could if he makes a few jumps be a MLB draft follow in the future the potential is there.

Names To Know:

In a one day look not all highlights are caught or players won’t always have their best results. With that in mind there were several other players who showed interesting tools/potential or futures. The names below are ones to keep an eye on going into the spring and going forward.


+ Marcus Moyer FR INF/C 5’8 160 lbs. R/R athletic MIF who shows smooth actions at 2B with above average defensive ability. Top of the order bat with speed.

+ Richard Tejeda FR C 6’ 215 lbs. R/R physical C who hits in the three-hole. Absolutely smoked a double in game. Plenty of juice in the bat to be an impact hitter. Good receiver who has a feel for pitch presentation. Interesting backstop with offensive impact.

+ Logan Ortega FR OF 6’1 175 lbs. L/R Wiry strong LH hitting OF who takes an aggressive swing with strength. Crushed a 2 run HR flashing his in game power. Interesting bat who can handle either corner OF spot and could play CF with his athleticism.


+ Diego Murrillo RS SO. SS 5’11 170 lbs. R/R solid defender who moves well with good feet and hands. Arm is fringey for SS, but would be an above average defender at 2B. Good approach at the plate with bat to ball skills.

+ Aidan Botti FR INF 6’3 185 lbs. L/R Somewhat raw but shows tools between the clean LH swing with strength, moves well on the INF playing 2B and could easily handle 1B or an OF corner. Interesting LH bat who has defensive versatility.

+ Andrew Seibert FR RHP 6’4 195 lbs. Did not throw on this day, but plenty of talk about him as an arm to watch for the Cougars. Threw 8.2 innings of relief later in the week against the Tigers to pick up a win allowing just 1 run on 4 hits in the appearance.

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