Image credit: (Photo by Alyson Boyer Rode)
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif.—Remember the name Sam Hliboki. It’s going to be one to know for the 2019 draft.
Hliboki stole the show for Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.) on day one of the Boras Classic at JSerra High School, standing out in a loaded pool that included top 2018 draft prospects Cole Winn and Brice Turang. Hliboki, a junior righthander, delivered a four-hit shutout with seven strikeouts, lifting the Wolverines to a 1-0 victory over Turang and Corona Santiago.
“He keeps growing like we expect,” Harvard-Westlake coach Jared Halpert said. “He’s a tremendous young man, a fierce competitor. What he’s been able to do is what we were hoping for. As far as the progress he’s made, it’s a credit to him and how hard he’s worked.”
Hliboki stands 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and will be 16 years old for his entire junior season. After starring at the IMG National Classic as a sophomore and committing to Vanderbilt, Hliboki seized the No. 1 starter’s role at Harvard-Westlake, a position previously held this decade by Lucas Giolito, Max Fried and Jack Flaherty.
Hilboki brought his best stuff Tuesday, sitting 87-88 mph and touching 90 on his darting, cutting fastball that consistently evaded barrels. He also repeatedly froze hitters with a tight-spinning 69-72 mph curveball, and flashed a 75-76 mph slider.
“My mentality was just attack,” Hliboki said. “Attack with the fastball, with all my pitches, just keep attacking through the game. Even if I fell behind in counts, just keep filling it up.”
Hliboki didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning, surrendered only one extra-base hit—a double by potential top-10 pick Turang—and stayed strong until his 107th and final pitch.
By the time he was done, evaluators in attendance were buzzing about his potential, given his youth, physicality and year of development still ahead.
“Kind of speaks for itself,” Halpert said. “(Complete-game) shutout against a really good offensive team. Sam obviously did a great job.”
Sophomore shortstop Drew Bowser, a Stanford commit, supplied the scoring with an RBI triple in the fifth. Outfielder Sam Biller saved both the game and Hliboki’s shutout with a diving catch along the right field line for the final out with the tying run on second.
Turang, ranked No. 5 on BA’s Top 300 draft prospects list, went 1-for-3 with a double, a hard lineout and a strikeout for Santiago. Cruz Berrios pitched six innings with three hits and one run allowed but took the loss.
Orange Lutheran 9, El Toro 1
Cole Winn pitched five innings of one-run ball as Orange (Calif.) Lutheran won its first game since returning home from the National High School Invitational.
Winn, ranked No. 33 on BA’s Top 300 draft prospects list, gave up three hits, walked one and struck out seven. He touched 94 mph early before settling in at 90-92, drew multiple swings and misses on his low-80s slider, and flashed an upper-70s curveball and low-80s changeup.
He also hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning.
“(Coach) came up to me and said ‘I’m going to hit for you’ and I go ‘Nah, no you’re not,” Winn said, chuckling. “I proved I should’ve stayed in there.”
Center fielder Chad Born, a fast-rising sophomore, went 3-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI out of the leadoff spot for the Lancers. Right fielder Jasiah Dixon, a Southern California commit, went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base, and Evan Adolphus and Brandon Heidel each hit a two-run double.
Lefthander Erik Tolman, ranked No. 243 on BA’s Top 300 draft prospects list, gave up nine hits and seven runs in 4.2 innings for El Toro (Lake Forest, Calif.). The Cal Poly signee pitched at 85-88 mph with a mid-70s curveball and low-70s changeup.
Simi Valley 1, Cathedral Catholic 0
Owen Sharts pitched a one-hitter to lift Simi Valley (Calif.) to victory in its Boras Classic debut.
Sharts allowed a single to the second batter of the game and nothing else the rest of the way. He walked one, struck out four and held his 90 mph velocity into the late innings.
“This is our first year in this tournament, so we’re coming out with a chip on our shoulder,” said Sharts, a Nevada signee. “Lot of big names in this tournament. We knew I got the ball and had a great chance of winning today.”
Sharts pitched at 90-91 mph with his fastball and drew swings and misses with both his 74-76 mph curveball and 81-83 mph changeup. He retired 15 straight at one point and didn’t allow a runner past first base.
As for his last name that has made him a bit of a social media star?
“There’s no such thing as bad press,” Sharts said. “So if my name gets me out there… I’ve heard all the names in the book, all the jokes, so keep ‘em coming. It doesn’t bother me. I’ve heard everything.”
Cade Brown, a San Diego commit, allowed just two hits and one unearned run in five innings but took the loss for Cathedral Catholic (San Diego).
JSerra 3, Newbury Park 2
Michael Curialle threw out the tying run at the plate on a relay for the final out, cementing a thrilling victory for host JSerra.
Curialle, a junior shortstop committed to UCLA, hit the decisive home run in the sixth inning and then fired a bullet from shallow left field to the plate in the top of the seventh to secure the win.
Junior righthander Jake Reed, a San Diego commit, pitched five scoreless innings to earn the win for the Lions. Newbury Park (Calif.) senior righthander Carson Lambert took the loss after pitching six innings with six hits and three runs (two earned) allowed. The Southern California signee worked 88-90 mph early before dropping to 84-87 in the later innings.