Long Beach, Calif. —— Last week, we spent a couple days at Long Beach City College to watch a few full squad scrimmages; pitchers went one inning (four batters, regardless of outcome) with three different lineups rotating through each day. Between both scrimmage dates, we ended up with good looks at 42 players on their fall roster — virtually the entire pitching staff, as well as three full sets of position players who will compete for time this spring.
Below, here are a few notable junior college baseball prospects that stood out at Long Beach City College.
Reminder: these are just quick snippets and observations that barely scratch the surface on each prospect. We publish each player’s full, in-depth scouting report page — including high-definition game video — behind the paywall exclusively for our subscribers to access…
Damian Garcia, RHP, Long Beach City College, 2020
An under-the-radar righty new to the mound with few high school innings under his belt, Damian Garcia (6’2″, 153) gives LBCC an interesting relief look. He’s long, lean, and loose, with a low three-quarters arm angle and a ton of hard, late life on his fastball down and to arm-side. He had some command problems in both my looks here, but when the fastball is down, it runs very hard and very late in on RHH bats, registering up to 86 mph. Garcia pairs it with a sweeping 72-75 mph slider that has late wipeout bite down and away when he gets full extension. It’s clear Garcia needs reps, and a good bit of work to smooth out his mechanics, but there’s a real power relief feel here and the LBCC coaching staff is optimistic he’s got enough upside along with being a relatively clean slate on the mound that they’ll be able to mold him into something of value. Probably not a guy to recruit hard this spring, as he’s so underdeveloped, but if he irons out some problems with staying on line to the plate and adds inevitable bulk to his frame and strength to his arm, Damian Garcia has the quirkiness and upside as a relief arm to potentially be a Division I-quality recruit come 2020.
Matthew Johnson, RHP, Long Beach City College, 2019
Taller, longer, and leaner than Garcia, Matthew Johnson (6’3″, 190) wowed in two innings of work across these scrimmages, sitting 84-88 with decent fastball life and good plane. More importantly, he paired it with a sharp overhand curveball in the low 70s that gave hitters up and down the LBCC lineup fits in both outings. Johnson has come a long way since last year’s JuCo debut, growing both physically and mentally, and he’s a much sharper, better pitcher than he was a season ago. There’s still plenty of weight to add to his long, lean frame, and considering he’s already flirting with 88 and showing spin to both sides of the plate with the curve, it follows there’s more in the tank as far as his repertoire is concerned, as well. If the rest of the fall goes as well as the first few weeks did here, expect Matthew Johnson to be one of LBCC’s rotation arms to begin the spring season; he’s significantly less polished with less of a track record than the other two guys slated for rotation work this spring (Garrett Rennie, Matt Stearns), but a solid year would make Matthew Johnson a Division-I quality prospect with real development and upside still to come.
Chris Rubottom, SS, Long Beach City College, 2019
A kickback from Division-I Wofford College in South Carolina, Chris Rubottom (6’1″, 170) figures to be LBCC’s starting shortstop or second baseman in spring 2019, contingent on whether David Rivera will be with the team (more on Rivera and that situation below). Rubottom is a slick infielder who can handle shortstop just fine as is; he has clean, consistent footwork and gets good reads on balls off the bat. His internal clock is ideal for the position, and he’s got more than enough arm strength to play short on an everyday basis, as well. Offensively, he’s got decent barrel skills and some physicality that should produce gap-to-gap pop, but most importantly, he can run; LBCC had Rubottom at 6.79 in the 60-yard dash earlier this fall, and we had him at 4.21 up the line to first base from the RHH batter’s box. Solid if not spectacular, Rubottom should take care of business this spring and find a solid Division I orDivision II program for whom he can make an immediate impact next season.
Andrew Schmitt, OF, Long Beach City College, 2019
An under-the-radar prospect for LBCC, Andrew Schmitt (5’9″, 185) makes the list here after showing out at each scrimmage date we viewed in mid-September. He’s undersized for a corner outfield role, but he’s very well-built physically and he has the bat path and bat speed to produce at least modest pop in the air, particularly to his pull side. More at point for this set of game notes, he made four exceptional plays in two full scrimmage days earlier this month, running in to dive on a couple line drives fading fast in front of him, and running back to make two other difficult catches at/on the warning track in left. He gets good jumps defensively, shows good situational and spatial awareness, and can really read the ball off the bat — particularly with some of those hooking and slicing shots that corner outfielders inevitably must deal with when hit. Don’t know as much about Schmitt’s track record; he’ll be one to track closely this spring at LBCC.
Matt Stearns, RHP, Long Beach City College, 2019
A kickback to LBCC from Division II Cal State-Dominguez Hills, Matt Stearns (6’2″, 215) touched 90 mph with his sinking fastball in his outing at a scrimmage on September 21. Three times this summer/fall now I’ve had him comfortably 86-88 mph, flirting with 90 mph, with heavy, hard sink to his fastball that produces a ton of ground ball contact from hitters on both sides of the plate. Stearns is a no-nonsense guy who fills up the zone and embraces contact, especially because he can draw so much weak ground ball contact thanks to late downward life on his fastball and the command profile to consistently live at the knees to both sides of the plate. His secondary stuff needs to take a significant step forward for him to really be a frontline Division I-quality recruit, but I like Stearns to sneak up on some folks this spring; he’s got the size and arm strength to play at the highest collegiate level, and if he produces as a rotation arm this spring like he should, he’ll be a nice find for a coach who did his homework.
Dennis Stevenson, RHP, Long Beach City College, 2020
An undersized freshman with a ton of arm strength, Dennis Stevenson (5’10”, 145) flashed an 84-87 mph fastball paired with an above-average look at both a slider and a curveball in two one-inning stints at LBCC’s scrimmages this fall. He’s a high-energy reliever who pitches to better downward plane than you’d expect from his height, and he’s got the velocity and secondary pitches to really challenge hitters and sequence a little bit like he’s already thinking about how to set up guys. He may prove talented enough to start at LBCC, either this year or next, but his high-energy/high-effort presence on the mound and above-average athleticism (Stevenson hops off the mound quickly and fields his position very well) make me wonder whether he’d be better in relief as a high-adrenaline fireman of sorts. The sharpness of his stuff and command will fall back some after an inning of work, too so perhaps that’s a likely fit, anyways. Regardless, just like Damian Garcia, Dennis Stevenson is a new face at LBCC who has a real shot to develop into something of quality by the end of his sophomore year 18 months from now.
- Jacob Gregg, RHP: Didn’t participate in fall scrimmages during my look, but touched 88 mph on the mound this summer; command an issue there, but Gregg has a Division-I frame and some arm strength; needs to put it together and show out this coming spring.
- Johnny Kuhn, RHP: A former Long Beach State recruit (fall 2017) who bounced back to Golden West College in the spring of 2018, Johnny Kuhn is now on campus with the Vikings this fall. His grades are reportedly an issue, and he’s been dealing with nagging injury issues, so he didn’t throw during LBCC’s scrimmages this month. It remains to be seen if his grades will be good enough to attract Division-I recruiters, or if it’d be better for him to redshirt and get things right a year from now. Regardless, he’s got as big an arm as anybody on the staff with reports of him working up into the low 90s with regularity.
- Sammy Osuna, 1B: Freshman to watch at first base this coming spring with an incredibly projectable body (6’3″, 165) and a sweet, sweet lefty swing; fits well defensively at first base, too, and if the power comes along with his above-average bat speed, Osuna may become a hot commodity in a few months’ time.
- Bodie Parker, OF: Strong, intense outfielder who transferred in from Chaffey College; best bat speed on the team; looking to do serious damage on every swing and won’t get cheated on his hacks. Feels like a feast-or-famine type hitter but he’s going to hit some bullets when he gets a hold; must-follow this spring for more.
- Rafeeq Rahim, OF: Transfer from Los Angeles Pierce College and formerly a recruit of Division-I program Cal State Northridge. Look the part with great body (6’2″, 190), good speed (6.85 60-yd. dash), and great athleticism; can his baseball actions actually rise to the occasion? Below-average arm; nevertheless, no doubt Division I recruit if his bat comes along quickly.
- Garrett Rennie, RHP: Likely ace of the LBCC staff this spring; coaching staff gave him off days during both scrimmages to mitigate overuse after a fairly long summer season. Comfortably works into the low 90s with command, polish, poise, maturity; no-doubt Division I recruit with real shot to be a weekend starter depending on where he lands next year. Nice kid, high-quality makeup.
- David Rivera, SS: No-doubt Division I quality defensive infielder; grades remain an issue, and he previously considered sitting out 2018-19 in order to better qualify academically next year to attract legit Division I recruiters; later, decided he’d rather play this year and would instead target NAIA schools after LBCC. Who knows. We’ll see what he ends up deciding the next few weeks and then on into the spring season; regardless, he’s a legit infield prospect who will immediately be one of the few best defensive shortstops at the JuCo level in California if/when he steps on the field.
- Matt Stanford, 1B/3B: Everyday first baseman for LBCC last year, making a big move to third base this season to make way for Sammy Osuna. I’m not completely sold on Stanford’s bat yet, but there is raw power there, particularly as a high-ball hitter; needs to prove last year’s extended slump/fade to finish is but a memory, and he’s made wholesale adjustments at the plate. If he produces offensively this year and holds his own at third base, he ought to draw some Division I interest.
- Trevor Sutt, RHP: Little righty (5’8″, 170) who doesn’t top out higher than 82 mph, but man, can he pitch. Mixes speeds, hits his spots, commands the ball down… Sutt is going to throw way more innings for LBCC than they expect of him this year, and it’s because he really knows how to set up hitters and execute pitches, even if he’s way undersized and all his stuff itself is below-average. Likely never destined to be a Division I recruit, but some small school will wind up very happy with him after LBCC. This kid can pitch.
- Brett Wells, C: A kickback from the University of Dayton, Brett Wells figures to be LBCC’s starting catcher this year ahead of Andrew Mugica, David Balboa, Jackson Roeder, Dean Kefalas, and Robert Barham. I like Wells behind the plate a lot; he brings a certain gravitas with a strong and accurate arm (1.96-99 game pop times), and his bat may sneak up on some folks when he’s finally given regular at-bats this spring. Should do well to handle a promising pitching staff, too.
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