2017-07-21 / Sports

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Locals carve careers in Major League Baseball, other pro circuits
By Jonathan Andrade

Mike Scioscia Mike Scioscia BASEBALL

Jett Bandy remembers where it all started.

Bandy, a 2008 Thousand Oaks High graduate, said clashes against talented local players prepared him for his future in Major League Baseball.

“There’s competitive kids who are good at baseball,” said Bandy, a catcher for the Milwaukee Brewers. “When you have that many guys in one area going to the pros, and to the big leagues, everyone’s pushing each other to get better.

“When you have that competition when you’re young, it’ll help you succeed when you get older.”

The former Lancer made the Brewers’ opening day starting lineup this season. He was batting .211 with six homers and 18 RBI entering the All-Star break.

He was sent down to the minor leagues for a short spell, but he was called back to the bigs on July 18.

“It’s what you strive for your whole life,” he said. “It’s one thing getting there. It’s another thing staying there.

Jett Bandy Jett Bandy “I hope to get back into the big leagues and stay there.”

Bandy, the older brother of Calabasas High girls’ basketball head coach Jenna Bandy, isn’t the only local playing pro baseball.

Christian Yelich, a Westlake grad, stars for the Miami Marlins. Jered Weaver (Simi Valley), Matt Magill (Royal), Justin De Fratus (Rio Mesa), Andrew Lambo (Newbury Park), Nick Lovullo (Newbury Park) and Sean Gilmartin (a Moorpark native) also play pro ball.

David Soliz, a head coach for Rio Mesa High and the Conejo Oaks wood-bat college squad, said he’s happy to see many familiar faces playing the game at the highest levels.

“It’s a testament to the quality of talent we have in the area, and it’s a testament to how hard they work,” he said. “It’s not easy to get drafted and play in the minor leagues or big leagues. Our area is very rich in talent.”

GOING DEEP—Christian Yelich, a Westlake High graduate, is a standout centerfielder for the Miami Marlins. At press time, Yelich sported a .282 batting average with nine homers, 45 RBI and 59 runs. 
Courtesy of Denis Bancroft/Miami Marlins GOING DEEP—Christian Yelich, a Westlake High graduate, is a standout centerfielder for the Miami Marlins. At press time, Yelich sported a .282 batting average with nine homers, 45 RBI and 59 runs. Courtesy of Denis Bancroft/Miami Marlins Yelich, a 25-year-old who tracks down fly balls at center field for the Marlins, was batting .282 with nine home runs, 18 doubles, 45 RBI and 59 runs at press time.

During the summer, the former Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Award winner helped Team USA take gold at the World Baseball Classic in Los Angeles.

“It was such a cool moment, especially after we won, the flag, the USA chants throughout the game,” Yelich told the Miami Herald. “The tournament was just awesome.”

Weaver, a 34-year-old pitcher in his 12th season in the majors, joined the San Diego Padres this spring after 11 seasons with the Los Angeles Angels. The former Long Beach State Dirtbag struggled from the bump early this season with the Padres, going winless in nine starts while nursing a 7.44 earned-run average before being placed on the disabled list with hip inflammation.

The pride of Simi Valley, who made his major league debut on May 27, 2006, has earned 150 wins throughout his career. He won 20 games in 2012.

Magill, a 27-year-old pitcher who was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008, signed a minor league contract with the Padres in January.

The righty rings up the radar gun for the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate, the El Paso Chihuahuas. He sported a 6-4 record in his first 16 starts. Magill notched a 4.04 ERA through 91 1/3 innings, tallying 70 strikeouts and 40 walks.

Lovullo, who helped Newbury Park win the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 championship in 2012 at Dodger Stadium, suits up in the Boston Red Sox’s organization.

He’s a second baseman for the Portland Sea Dogs in Double-A. The son of Arizona Diamondbacks skipper Torey Lovullo has been one of the Red Sox’s hottest prospects: This year, he’s gone from the Single-A Greenville Drive, to the Single-A Advanced Salem Red Sox and then to the Sea Dogs on July 15.

De Fratus has been throwing for the Double-A Arkansas Travelers in the Seattle Mariners’ organization since signing with the team on May 11.

The 29-year-old had a 2-5 record with a 3.47 ERA entering the All-Star break.

David Soliz said former Spartans, including De Fratus, former big leaguer Dmitri Young and Steve Soliz, the skipper’s brother who is the catching coach for the Angels, return to campus to speak with current prep players.

“As a coach, I’m lucky to have some guys like that to give the players little bits of wisdom,” David Soliz said. “It’s really helped our players that have come through Rio Mesa to be able to listen to these guys. They’re giving them the firsthand experience of what it’s like.”

The veteran players preach the benefit of hard work to the youngsters.

“For our kids to hear that from them kind of gives them a little more validation,” Soliz said. “It gives them something to strive for on a daily basis.”

Lambo, a 28-year-old right fielder who hit for the first cycle in Altoona Curve history April 8, 2013, played with the Oakland Athletics during spring training.

The Newbury Park product batted .263 with two homers for the A’s before being released in March. Lambo, a cancer survivor, was drafted by the Dodgers in 2007. He currently plays in Connecticut with the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League.

Gilmartin, who was born in Thousand Oaks, started the spring in the New York Mets’ organization before being picked up off waivers by the St. Louis Cardinals on June 11.

The Moorpark native, who played prep baseball at Crespi, made eight starts with the Las Vegas 51s and another with the Memphis Redbirds before being sent to the disabled list.

The 27-year-old, who was an All-American at Florida State, has made 66 big league appearances in his career, maintaining a 4.14 ERA in 78 1/3 innings.



Two former Pepperdine baseball standouts have been making waves in the big leagues this year.

Eric Thames, a first baseman for the Brewers, is flexing his power this season, launching 23 home runs while batting .248 with 44 RBI in 298 at-bats.

Thames, one of the most notable All-Star game snubs, is one of the top home run hitters in the game.

Chase d’Arnaud, a third baseman out of Pepperdine, entered the All-Star break batting .143 with the San Diego Padres. D’Arnaud notched seven hits, including two doubles and one homer, in his first 22 games this season.

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