College Podcast: Long Beach State's Eric Valenzuela Talks 2021
On this episode of the Baseball America College Podcast, presented by MyBookie and Rapsodo, Teddy Cahill and Joe Healy are joined by Long Beach State coach Eric Valenzuela to talk about what clicked for the Dirtbags in 2020, what the Dirtbag brand means to him and what has him excited about his 2021 team.
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Long Beach State got off to a quick start in 2020, ending the season ranked in the top 25 and with a 10-5 record that included series wins over California, Wake Forest and Mississippi State. Because the season was canceled, we'll never know, but the Dirtbags looked the part not only of a postseason team but of a team that could have hosted a regional come June.
Going into 2021, there are still a lot of reasons for optimism in the program, even as they lost key pieces from the team in lefthander Adam Seminaris and outfielder L.J. Jones to the draft. Just about everyone else is back, which means that Valenzuela and his staff will have some tough decisions to make before opening day next season, but it also means that it's entirely likely that the 2021 Dirtbags will be right back where they were last season, pushing for the postseason.
Among the topics discussed on this episode are:
- What went right for the team in 2020
- The point at which Valenzuela realized he might have a special team on his hands
- What he and his staff learned in their first year in Long Beach
- What the Dirtbag brand and tradition means to him
- What has him most excited for the 2021 season
- What it has been like to watch his former Saint Mary's players Corbin Burnes and Tony Gonsolin thrive in MLB
- The story of Gonsolin being convinced he'd be a big league outfielder rather than a pitcher
- His dad's boxing gym and how boxing translates to baseball
- Which boxer he would most describe as a Dirtbag
- His favorite sandwich