CARY, N.C. — Cathedral Catholic High in San Diego has a history of churning out pitching prospects. When the school was still called University High, it was the starting point for the successful careers of Barry Zito and Mark Prior.
This year, there's a reason the Dons have been ranked at, or near, the top of Baseball America's bi-weekly Top 25 rankings. The pitching pipeline continues and the team is deep on the mound, with five pitchers already committed to Division I programs.
At the top of that list is lefthander Stephen Gonsalves, a San Diego recruit who is one of this year's top draft prospects. Gonsalves pitched well in the team's win against Grayson High from Loganville, Ga., today at the National High School Invitational, keeping his perfect high school record in tact.
Gonsalves has added a little physicality to his frame, but stuff-wise looked mostly like he did in the summer, with one exception: He continues to tinker with his delivery. He was using more of an old-school, throwback delivery on the showcase circuit, but has simplified things some this spring.
"I was kind of just hustling myself," Gonsalves said of making the pitching change over the summer. "I kind of lost balance when I started hustling through it a lot. I started picking up how I was losing it over the summer and I just had to simplify it down.
"The big deal over the summer with the old school delivery was to get my hands above my head and separate higher and getting deep with my arm circle. I switched it up a little bit today, getting more motion in with my hands and my legs, to keep on track—a good tempo and just staying on line was key today."
Gonsalves sat in the 88-91 mph range early, but was more in the 85-87 mph range by the third inning. He mainly pitched off his fastball and showed very good command of the pitch, while only mixing in a few 68-71 mph curveballs.
Relieving Gonsalves on the mound was lefthander Andrew Wright, but if you missed the pitching change, you could have done a double-take. Wright and Gonsalves have a lot of similarities. Like Gonsalves, Wright has a physical frame at 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds.
Wright pitched two innings in relief in the Dons' 14-2 win over Grayson. He didn't allow a hit or a walk, while striking out three.
"He's been lights out," Cathedral Catholic head coach Gary Remiker said. "He's been extremely consistent for us; real dominant out of the bullpen for us. He's kind of coming off some arm injuries, coming out of eighth grade or so. So he didn't even pitch for us freshman or sophomore year. So development-wise, he had a tremendous summer this past summer. He pitched a lot of innings and he needed that development. His improvement from last year to this year has been phenomenal. He's been real lights out; we've got a tremendous amount of confidence in him late in the game, to come in and close it, and one of these games he's probably going to get a chance to start and see how far he can go."
Wright pitched with Gonsalves on the San Diego Show this summer and has benefited from the extra attention that brings.
"You're always under fire because you're following somebody like Stephen Gonsalves," Wright said. "So, you know you have to produce, and it's just a nice opportunity to get exposure in front of a lot of people."
The Pepperdine recruit sat in the 87-91 mph range today. His fastball has heavy life to it, and he keeps it down in the zone, but Wright doesn't have a traditional arsenal of secondary pitches. He doesn't throw a breaking ball, instead mixing in a splitter and a changeup.
He uses the splitter as his out-pitch and has been throwing it for about a year, he said. Wright learned the pitch from a family friend—who also happens to have 14 years of big league experience—former Indians righthander Charles Nagy.
"My pitching coach taught me it," Wright said. "I kind of have a downhill motion that hides the ball well when I throw it."
Remiker said Wright will continue to pitch out of the bullpen at the NHSI, but would like to get him a chance to start for the Dons later this spring.
"He's gotten more comfortable on the mound just from more experience from last year to this year," Remiker said. "So he's in a position now where he's more comfortable on the mound and he's able just to trust his stuff and let it go . . . the sky's the limit for that kid potential-wise."