Without delay, I present our 2017 All-Metro baseball and softball teams. Another tremendous group of athletes, in both genders.
First, I have to deal with the elephant in the room, and that is the abundance of outstanding starting pitching.
With only two spots available, some terrific arms are left outside the lists. Ezra Acosta of Cleveland, Bodhi Bolen of Rio Rancho, Daniel Romero-Martinez of Valley and Josiah Armijo of Volcano Vista immediately come to mind.
But I must also address the situation of Mitchell Parker, because I can’t ever remember a player that has given me more of a headache as I tried to grind through this annual process.
On sheer talent alone, Manzano’s junior left-hander is arguably the most gifted starting pitcher in the metro area. But you will have noticed, he does not occupy one of the two slots here today.
First, I never have picked any All-Metro team, in any sport, based just on the talent of an individual, or their future potential. That would border on unprofessionalism. My task now, as it always has been, is to identify the athletes who had the best seasons, and recognize them.
Barring something unforeseen, such as a physical ailment, Parker seems likely to be a high draft pick in the 2018 Major League Baseball amateur draft. By the start of next season, and probably sooner, we will be speaking of him in tones similar to that of Carlsbad’s Trevor Rogers.
His won-loss record was 4-5. OK, you say, the Monarchs didn’t score any runs for him and it’s not fair to judge him that way. That’s reasonable enough. With a team that could swing it, Parker would have won seven games easily. (This is the worst-kept secret in Albuquerque’s prep baseball community.) Truthfully, what gave me the most pause were rocky outings against two middle-of-the-pack teams, Volcano Vista and Albuquerque High.
I did find a compromise, however, including Parker on our first team as a utility player. He did lead Manzano in average and RBIs, and that lineup had little protection on either side of him.
State champion La Cueva occupies seven of the 22 overall slots, including five on the first team.
Sophomore Ben Schoneman is my starting pitcher and is joined on the first team by teammates Austin Schlagel at second base, Ryan Phillips in center field, Richard Ware at third base and Ryan Johnson at designated hitter.
Cleveland has two on the first team: sophomore shortstop Treston Shallenberger (the youngest member of my starting 11) and outfielder Jason Herrera. Rounding out the first team are Albuquerque Academy outfielder Markus Parrish, Cibola first baseman Jack White and Valley catcher Adrian Sanchez.
La Cueva’s undefeated group also has seven out of 22 on our All-Metro list.
Four are on the first team, led by senior outfielder and UNM signee Andrea Howard. The Bears’ playoff battery of pitcher Kendra Keahbone and catcher Jessica McAlister also are there, plus outfielder Sydney Truett.
A couple of former Eastdale Little League standouts from Sandia — remember, La Cueva was not the only high school that featured members of that World Championship team from a few years ago — also are part of my first team in third baseman Victoria Reyes and DH Bailey Martinez.
Big-hitting sophomore Ramsay Lopez of Eldorado is at first base. Valencia’s underappreciated Ashley Young holds down things at second base. Cleveland’s speedy leadoff batter, Jelaeni Kapanui, is the first-team shortstop.
West Mesa outfielder Maya Contreras makes a repeat appearance on the first team, which is rounded out by Cibola sophomore Abigail Marquis as the utility player.
This is about the highest-powered offense I’ve ever put together in this sport, and there are some extremely heavy bats and some awfully talented girls who just missed out.
In addition to Contreras, McAlister and Howard also are making back-to-back appearances on the first team.