It’s no secret that San Diego is a hotbed for baseball talent. In fact, Bloomberg ranks San Diego as the top city in the United States for major league talent per 100,000 residents. That’s pretty high praise, and it’s very deserving. Unfortunately, not many of these names played for the hometown San Diego Padres (I will give Ted Williams credit for playing for the PCL Padres in 1936 and 1937).
This is an article to brag about how talented our beloved city of San Diego is when it comes to baseball.
Almost yearly, a local San Diego prospect, or prospects (plural), get first-round draft hype. In 2021, two prep players from San Diego-area high schools were selected in the first round. Eastlake’s Marcelo Mayer went fourth overall to the Red Sox, and Carson Williams from Torrey Pines was taken 28th overall. You can watch baseball almost anywhere in San Diego county and enjoy high-quality baseball.
It’s also fun to follow players from schools you either attended or played against if you were like me and played high school baseball in San Diego County (Go San Pasqual Fighting Eagles).
Let’s take a look at a “Field of Dreams” scenario where time doesn’t matter, but good baseball does. Players must have either played high school baseball in San Diego or have played the majority of their college baseball in the San Diego area to have made this list. Simple as that.
Here are the greatest baseball players at each position that call or have called San Diego home. We also check in on how some of their alma maters have fared recently on the diamond.
General Manager: Billy Beane (Mount Carmel HS, UC San Diego)
Before Beane became a failed-pro-prospect-turned-executive-guru, he stood out for the Sun Devils of Mt. Carmel. After parts of six seasons bouncing around four major league clubs, Beane became an advanced scout for the Oakland Athletics in 1990. From there, he worked all his way up to becoming the general manager in 1997. He became a three-time Sporting News Executive of the Year for his cost-effective tactics at creating a winning baseball team. His efforts and philosophies inspired a book and the consequential movie Moneyball, with superstar Brad Pitt portraying Beane.
The Athletics made the playoffs eight times in his 20-year run as GM.
In 2021, Mount Carmel HS made it to the third round of the CIF San Diego Division III playoffs.
Manager: Dave Roberts (Rancho Buena Vista HS)
To some factions of the Padres fanbase, this may be considered “Dodger loving.” Say what you want, but Roberts is one of the better baseball men to come out of a San Diego-area high school. First, he was instrumental in helping the Boston Red Sox come back from down 0-3 in the 2004 ALCS to win their first World Series title in nearly 90 years. His stolen base in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Yankees is one of the most famous swipes in baseball history.
He also played for the Padres in 2005 and 2006, batting .285 with a .358 on-base percentage.
Now, of course, he is the skipper for the hated Los Angeles Dodgers. He guided them to a World Series title in 2020, and his Dodgers teams have won three National League pennants. He was named Manager of the Year in 2016. He leads this fantasy team of San Diegans from the dugout.
RBV went 20-13 last spring, finishing second in the Avocado East league.
Catcher: Bob Boone (Crawford HS)
Boone is, of course, the father of two baseball star sons in, Bret and Aaron Boone, as well as the son of two-time MLB All-Star Ray Boone. Bob Boone caught for the Philadelphia Phillies and California Angels for most of his career. He won seven Gold Gloves behind the plate and earned four all-star bids. He also helped the Phillies to their first World Series championship in 1980. Boone was not known so much for his bat (career-high 12 home runs, .254 lifetime hitter) but more for his glove and arm (8th all-time in putouts as a catcher, 3rd in games caught all-time).
The Crawford Colts have fallen on tough times of late on the diamond, but they have had several alumni get drafted, including Dave Duncan (109 home runs in 11 years) and Ed Herrmann (80 home runs in 11 years).
First Base: Adrian Gonzalez (Eastlake HS)
This may be tough to swallow, as Gonzalez is now considered more of a Dodger than a Padre. He absolutely tortured the hometown boys since his departure from the Padres in 2010 until he left the Dodgers after 2017. The fact is, Gonzalez was a darn good baseball player and made Padres fans proud for five solid seasons. He is a San Diegan who is second on the Padres’ all-time home run list, three homers shy of being the all-time franchise home run king.
Gonzalez once hit 30+ home runs in four straight season for his hometown Padres. He certainly was a fan favorite when he called Petco Park home, but that also makes the sting of him as a Dodger that much more painful. Gonzalez is a five-time All-Star four-time Gold Glove winner, and he has won two Silver Sluggers at one of the toughest positions at which to shine offensively since there are so many big bats playing first base.
He finished his big league career in 2018 with 317 homers.
Eastlake usually has a solid baseball program. They won the CIF San Diego Open Division championship in 2021.
Second Base: Mark McLemore (Morse HS)
Pickings were a bit slim at second base, but that doesn’t mean McLemore wasn’t a good player. He played in 19 seasons, most of those with the California Angels and Texas Rangers. He collected 1,602 hits over his career. His best season was with those 2001 Seattle Mariners that won a record 116 games. He hit .286 with 117 hits and a .790 OPS. He was more known for his speed than his power, as he stole 39 bases to his five home runs.
He had six RBI during the 2001 postseason with Seattle. He also played for the Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics, and Cleveland Indians. He retired after the 2004 season.
Morse High School is in the City League near downtown San Diego. Other notable Tigers baseball players are Adam Jones (you will see him later), Quintin Berry, and Sam Horn. In 2021, Morse HS made it to the third round of the CIF San Diego Division IV playoffs.
Shortstop: Alan Trammell (Kearny HS)
Trammell broke his hometown Padres’ hearts when the Tigers defeated the Padres in the 1984 World Series. He hit .450 in that series and, ironically, was the MVP against San Diego. Let’s not let that take away from the fact the Trammell was one of the best in the game in the 80s. He played his entire 20-year career with the Detroit Tigers.
Trammell was a lifetime .285 hitter with 2,365 hits. He was a six-time All-Star, won four Gold Gloves, and three Silver Sluggers to go along with his World Series MVP trophy. His best season was in 1987 when he finished second in MVP voting after batting an absurd .343 with 28 home runs and 105 RBI. Those numbers for a shortstop back then were revolutionary.
He was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2018.
Kearny HS finished above .500 and made the playoffs this past spring.
Third Base: Graig Nettles (San Diego HS, San Diego State)
Most diehard Padres fans know Nettles’ name from his brief time at the end of his career with the Padres that, included the World Series run in 1984. He is known around the league for his 11 years with the New York Yankees. He led the American League with 32 home runs in 1976. He finished his career with 390 home runs and 2,225 hits.
Nettles was selected to six All-Star teams, he won two Gold Gloves, and is a two-time World Series champion. Racking up games played at third base placed him third all-time with 2,412. He played three seasons in San Diego until he reached age 41, hitting 51 home runs in those three years. He played until he was 43 years old with the Montreal Expos in 1988.
The San Diego High School Cavers are one of the more recognizable schools given the fact that the school is located right on Park Blvd. downtown. Other notable baseball alumni are Jacque Jones (165 home runs in 10 years) and Deron Johnson (245 home runs in 16 years).
Left Field: Ted Williams (Hoover HS)
Is there really anyone else even close? Ted Williams is one of the, if not the greatest, hitter to ever live. Keep in mind he lost three seasons of his career in his prime to bravely fight in World War II and most of an additional two seasons while serving in Korea. Still, with that five-year interruption, his numbers are eye-popping. He slugged 521 home runs, accumulated 2,654 hits, batted a mind-blowing .344 over his 19-year career, and won the MVP award twice.
If there were the array of awards there are now (Silver Slugger, Gold Gloves), I am sure he would need a separate house to keep all of that hardware. He had a career wRC+ of 188 (to put that into context, Mookie Betts‘ 185 wRC+ in 2018 won him the AL MVP). It’s safe to say that had he not been so patriotic and brave as to drop his illustrious baseball career to serve his country, he likely would have finished north of 600 career home runs.
Williams played his entire career with the Boston Red Sox. His career .482 on-base percentage is still the best all-time by a large margin. The Splendid Splinter also walked almost three times per one strikeout. Modern hitters would get dizzy just thinking about that. The two-time MVP was one of the easier inductions into the Hall of Fame, getting in on his first try in 1966.
Hoover High School has one of the richest histories in sports in San Diego county. Ray Boone (Bob’s father) also played for the Hoover Cardinals.
Center Field: Adam Jones (Morse HS)
It’s not really fair to put Adam Jones in the same outfield as Ted Williams and the right-fielder-to-be-named, but Jones has been great in his own right. He is a five-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner, and Silver Slugger at one of the toughest positions at which to maintain success. From 2011 to 2017, he hit at least 25 homers.
Jones was one of the better and more consistent center fielders in baseball in the 2010s decade.
Right Field: Tony Gwynn (San Diego State)
This is the most unsurprising inclusion in the history of sports lists. Yes, I know he technically grew up in Los Angeles and Long Beach. But what he accomplished after arriving on SDSU’s campus makes him the greatest San Diego athlete ever. He is Mr. Padre and Mr. San Diego.
He became a San Diego State Aztec and then never really left San Diego. Before during, and after his MLB career, Gwynn represented San Diego proudly, and the feeling among San Diegans is mutual.
San Diegans know the numbers. However, I am going to list them anyway because I love to marvel at the mountainous amounts of awards and stats Gwynn accumulated throughout his 20-year career with the Padres. 15 All-Star selections, five Gold Gloves, seven Silver Sluggers, eight batting titles, and a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He collected 3,141 hits with a lifetime batting average of .338. He really was the Ted Williams of his time, which is cool since Williams is also featured in this fantasy team of San Diegans. Gwynn was part of the two National League pennants in Padres history, as well as both World Series appearances.
San Diego State is a very well-respected baseball program, thanks to Gwynn. Gwynn was everything right with the city of San Diego, and we deeply miss him.
Brady Anderson (Carlsbad HS)
Carlsbad has a solid history of ballplayers, with six MLB draft picks, and Anderson is one of them. The three-time All-Star was one of the best hitters on the Baltimore Orioles of in 1990s.
His 1996 campaign was bonkers. Over 149 games, he slugged 50 homers, with 110 RBI, with a 1.034 OPS. His 50-homer mark was the franchise record until Chris Davis hit 53 in 2013.
Hank Blalock (Rancho Bernardo HS)
After being a third-round pick in 1999, Blalock burst onto the scene early in his MLB career. He made his first All-Star team at age 22 in 2003, after hitting 29 homers with 90 RBI and .300 average. He made a second consecutive All-Star team in 2004, with 32 home runs and 110 RBI for the Rangers. He put together three successive 25-plus homer seasons in his first three full seasons in the league.
Rancho Bernardo HS is one of the top baseball powerhouses in California. They have produced 24 MLB draft picks, including six first-rounders, all since 1995.
Kris Bryant (University of San Diego)
Yes, Bryant is a Las Vegas, NV native, but he became a star at USD. He became the first USD Torero to win the Golden Spikes Award, basically the Heisman for college baseball. He was an All-Star during his rookie campaign with the Cubs in 2015. He hit 26 homers and 99 RBI on his way to winning NL Rookie of the Year. He followed that up with an even better 2016, swatting 39 home runs, driving in 102 runs, with a .939 OPS. He was named NL MVP, and he helped the Cubs end their World Series drought, hitting two homers in the World Series against Cleveland.
As of now, he is a four-time All-Star and currently plays for the Colorado Rockies.
Eric Chavez (Mount Carmel HS)
Like Beane, Chavez is a former Sun Devil. Like Blalock, he was a power-hitting third-baseman. Between 2000 and 2005, he put together six consecutive seasons of at least 25 home runs. In four of those campaigns, he reached 100 RBI.
Chavez wasn’t a one-trick pony either, being considered one of the best defensive third basemen of that era, winning six consecutive Gold Gloves. He had four seasons of at least 150 hits, 27 home runs, and 100 RBI. He finished his career in 2014 with 260 home runs.
Tony Clark (Christian HS, San Diego State)
Clark has had just as active of a post-playing career as he did on the baseball field. He became the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association in December 2013. Before that, the former Aztec had four 30-plus homer seasons. He was an All-Star in 2001 for the Tigers. He hit 251 career homers with over 1,000 hits.
The Christian Patriots in El Cajon made it to the third round of the CIF San Diego Division II playoffs this past spring.
Gavvy Cravath (Escondido HS)
As an Escondido native myself, Cravath is a must-have. Cravath played most of his pro ball before World War I for the Philadelphia Phillies. He led the league in homers six different times. From 1913 to 1915, he hit at least 19 homers with 100 RBI. He posted an OPS+ of at least 170 in two seasons. Usually, that mark wins someone an MVP.
This can be an extensive list. I'll add Gavvy Cravath Born in Escondido in 1881 he Played during deadball era with Phillies 1913-1920. He lead MLB in HR 8 times. I believe he was the 1st from SD County to play in MLB pic.twitter.com/U4yMUU3nai
— Glenn Turgeon (insert blue checkmark here) (@Coacht77) December 30, 2022
Troy Glaus (Carlsbad HS)
Anderson isn’t the only slugger with light-tower power from Carlsbad. Glaus arguably had more power. In the peak of the homer-happy “Steroid Era,” Glaus led the American League with 47 bombs in 2000, finishing that season with a 1.008 OPS. In 2001, he put together his second straight 40-homer season for the Angels. In 2002, he helped lead the Angels to their first and only World Series title to this point, defeating the Giants in seven games. With his three homers, .385 average, and whopping 1.313 OPS in the epic series, he was named MVP.
He finished his career with 320 home runs, including 182 with the Angels, which is sixth on the Angels all-time list.
The Lancers of Carlsbad won the 2021 CIF San Diego Division II championship.
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Kevin Mitchell (Clairemont HS)
Mitchell was a slugging outfielder in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He won NL MVP in 1989 for the Giants after smacking 47 home runs and 125 RBI, and 1.023 OPS, all of which led all of baseball. He also homered in the 1989 World Series, when the Giants fell to the Athletics in the Bay Area series.
He ended up playing 13 seasons in the big leagues, racking up over 1,100 hits and 234 home runs.
Clairemont made it to the third round of the CIF San Diego playoffs in 2021.
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Native of Escondido, CA. Lived in San Diego area for 20 years. Padres fan since childhood (mid-90s). I have been writing since 2014. I currently live near Seattle, WA and am married to a Seattle sports girl. I wore #19 on my high school baseball team for Tony Gwynn. I am a stats and sports history nerd. I attended BYU on the Idaho campus. I also love Star Wars.