Grant Holman Continues To Shine In Spotlight

CARLSBAD, Calif.—Grant Holman is more than merely comfortable in the spotlight. He thrives in it.

Holman first showed that as a 13-year-old when he pitched a no-hitter in the Little League World Series, not to mention hitting a grand slam and a game-winning three-run homer during the tournament. He’s continued in high school, winning San Diego County Player of the Year honors last year after leading Chula Vista’s Eastlake High to a section championship as both the Titans’ top pitcher and leading hitter.

All eyes have been on the 6-foot-6, 215-pound Holman this season. Scouts from more than a dozen teams parked behind home plate on Wednesday for the righthander’s latest start, radar guns cocked, watching and evaluating his every move.

As usual, Holman flourished.

Holman pitched six sterling innings with three hits allowed and 10 strikeouts, lifting Eastlake to an 8-1 victory over host La Costa Canyon in a battle of San Diego high school baseball blue bloods.

Holman, who is committed to California and ranks No. 299 in the BA 300, improved to 22-0 in his high school career, a startling feat pitching in the top division in one of the most talent-rich areas in the nation.

“I just try to play my game. I try not to let it get in my head,” Holman said. “Obviously it’s going to put a little bit of adrenaline into my system seeing all those scouts back there, but I just try to pitch like I usually pitch. Hopefully if I perform like I usually do, they’ll be impressed with what I have.”

Holman came out firing 91-94 mph in the first inning before settling in at 89-91. He held his velocity, bumping 90 mph into the sixth inning as he crossed the 90-pitch mark, and stayed in control the entire way, throwing 64 of 99 pitches for strikes.

He consistently landed his 78-79 mph changeup in the strike zone and got swings and misses on it, earning above-average grades on the pitch from the scouts in attendance. He also mixed in a 78-81 mph split-change and unleashed a 73-75 mph curveball starting in the fourth inning, gradually throwing it for strikes as the game went along.

The end result was what it usually is for Holman: a win, for both himself and his team.

“That’s the guy we know,” Eastlake coach David Gallegos said. “Every time he’s on the mound he’s hard to beat, and we have a chance to win it.”

Dominance isn’t new for Holman. What is different is the leadership role he’s had to take.

While he’s always been a premier player at Eastlake, Holman shared the spotlight last year with shortstop Ben Ramirez, a 35th-round draft pick of the Cubs now at Southern California, and third baseman Casey Schmitt, BA’s preseason Mountain West Conference freshman of the year currently hitting .302 for San Diego State.

This year, it’s Holman carrying the load, a dynamic he’s taken in stride.

“Those guys last year did a great job at leading this team last year, and I feel like they kind passed the reins on to me,” Holman said. “I feel like it’s my responsibility and the other seniors’ responsibility to prepare these underclassmen for the challenges.”

So far, so good. With Holman leading the way, Eastlake is off to a 10-1-1 start and ranks No. 24 in the BA High School Top 25 rankings.

“He’s a great spokesman for our team,” Gallegos said. “He speaks well in front of people. He’s a class act kid.”

Of course, Holman has had plenty of help, and did again on Wednesday.

Junior Keoni Cavaco, a San Diego State commit, went 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored. Freshman shortstop Marcelo Mayer, a rising standout already drawing scouts’ admiration for his sweet lefthanded stroke, went 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a run scored. And Holman, who hit .381 with 12 homers last year, helped himself at the plate by drawing a pair of walks and scoring twice.

La Costa Canyon countered Holman with 6-foot-7 junior lefthander Spencer Jones, a Vanderbilt commit who is primarily a first baseman and only really began pitching this year.

Jones pitched a career-high five innings, working 90-92 mph in the first inning but dropping to 83-85 mph by the fifth. He also flashed a snapping 75-78 mph curveball he landed for strikes, although its consistency wavered.

“He’s getting better every start,” La Costa Canyon coach Justin Machado said. “We just started using him this year and you saw signs of good stuff. We’re going to just keep building on it. I think he’s going to be something special.”

Junior outfielder Garrett Bevacqua, the son of former Padres infielder Kurt Bevacqua, managed two of La Costa Canyon’s three hits off Holman, including turning on a 94-mph fastball and driving it down the right field line for a hard single. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Bevacqua also showed smooth defense in right field and a strong arm. He is uncommitted.

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