Cole Hamels (Rancho Bernardo HS)
Hamels has had a borderline Hall of Fame career.
His 59.0 career WAR exceeds that of Whitey Ford, Orel Hershiser, and Sandy Koufax. That just shows you what kind of career Hamels enjoyed. Six years after being the Philadelphia Phillies’ choice for the 17th overall pick in the 2002 draft, he led the Phillies to the 2008 World Series title by winning both the NLCS and World Series MVP awards that postseason.
Hamels has a career ERA of 3.43 and a solid 123 ERA+. He has twice finished under 2.80 in ERA with more than 30 starts. He also has eight seasons of 200+ innings pitched. He was a workhorse for the Phillies and Texas Rangers. He is a four-time MLB All-Star, as well. In 2019, at age 35, he tossed over 141 innings with a 3.81 ERA for the Cubs. He last pitched in 2020 for the Braves.
He is the ace of this all-San Diegan staff.
David Wells (Point Loma HS)
Wells was drafted out of Point Loma High in 1982 by the Toronto Blue Jays. He pitched his first six seasons with Toronto before his career really took off as a member of the Yankees. In 1998, he won 18 games and was an All-Star as he pitched five shutouts that season. He threw a perfect game on May 17 that season against the Twins. He was the ALCS MVP and then helped the Yankees break San Diegans’ hearts as the Yankees won the 1998 World Series against the Padres. He briefly returned to Toronto and, in 2000, set a career-high with 20 wins and nine complete games. Both led the league.
He ended up pitching for 21 seasons. He even had a year with the Padres in which he ended up throwing the first pitch in Petco Park history in 2004. It was a cool honor for a local guy to be the one to do it. Despite being 41 years old, Wells won 12 games with a 3.73 ERA for the Friars that season. He then went to the Red Sox and then back to San Diego for a brief time. Between 2006 and 2007, he made 27 starts for the Padres.
Wells was the head coach for his alma mater Point Loma Pointers for several seasons until resigning in 2018. Point Loma also boasts another legendary pitcher later on in this list. The Pointers made it to the CIF San Diego Division I championship game in 2021.
Barry Zito (University of San Diego High School)
Zito was drafted ninth overall out of USC by the Oakland Athletics in 1999. He made quite an impression in his rookie season of 2000 when he won seven games with a 2.72 ERA and an ERA+ of 173. He pitched seven solid seasons for Oakland, which included three All-Star appearances and the 2002 AL Cy Young award. He won 23 games that season with a 2.75 ERA in almost 230 innings. In an impressive feat of reliability and durability, Zito made at least 34 starts in six straight seasons and 10 straight seasons of at least 32 starts.
In 2007, he went across the bay to the Giants. He helped them win their 2010 and 2012 championships. In the postseason, he made ten career starts with a 2.83 ERA and six wins. Zito was the definition of the “crafty lefty.” He last played in 2015 when he attempted a comeback with the A’s that was short-lived. When Zito was in his prime, he was maddeningly efficient and tough to beat.
University of San Diego High School boasted some very strong baseball teams in the past. Zito was on the same USDHS baseball team as Mark Prior. The school has been moved and is now Cathedral Catholic High School.
Stephen Strasburg (West Hills HS, San Diego State)
Strasburg played for Tony Gwynn when he was head coach of the SDSU baseball team. “Stras” came into the big leagues with much fanfare. He was drafted No. 1 overall by the Nationals in 2009. He exploded onto the scene in 2010 when in 12 starts, he had a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings. In 2016 and 2017, he earned consecutive All-Star selections with a 3.01 ERA and 387 strikeouts over those two seasons.
He sealed his legacy in 2019. He finished the regular season leading the National League in wins (18) and innings pitched (209). He also posted a 3.32 ERA and 135 ERA+, finishing fifth in Cy Young voting. However, that was just the beginning.
In the Wild Card Game against the Brewers, Strasburg came into the game in relief of starter Max Scherzer in the seventh inning. It was an unconventional entrance, but Strasburg thrived, tossing three shutout innings on four strikeouts to seal the win for the Nationals and help them advance.
Then in the NL Division Series, he made two starts against the fearsome Dodgers and went 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 12 innings. The Nationals eventually won the series in five games to advance to the NL Championship Series.
The Nationals swept the Cardinals, with Strasburg’s help in Game 3, pitching seven shutout innings and striking out 12 in a dominant performance. In the World Series, he made two starts against the Astros. After helping the Nationals dominate Game 2, he appeared again in Game 6 with the Nats down 3-2 in the series. He out-dueled Justin Verlander, tossing 8 1/3 innings of two-run ball while striking out seven in the near-complete game effort.
This catapulted the Nationals to a World Series title in seven games, and Strasburg was named World Series MVP.
West Hills High out in Santee plays in the Grossmont Valley League, which they won last spring.
Don Larsen (Point Loma HS)
How can you not include the guy with the only perfect game in World Series history? He became an instant legend on October 8, 1956. It was Game 5 of the 1956 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers. The series was tied at two games apiece, and the Yankees turned to Larsen for a chance to take control of the series.
All Larsen did was toss a perfect game, 27 up and 27 down, striking out seven in the process. The Yankees went on to win that World Series in seven games.
Larsen went on to have a solid 14-year career, with a career 3.78 ERA over 412 games. Aside from the 1956 title, he also helped the Yankees win a second ring in 1958.
Yes, that makes two pitchers from Point Loma HS that have pitched perfect games for the New York Yankees.
Some of these are starters that did not quite make the cut for the starting rotation.
Trevor Cahill (Vista HS)
The Athletics selected Cahill out of Vista in the second round of the 2006 draft. He was an All-Star in his second season in 2010, finishing with a 2.97 ERA and 18 wins, garnering some Cy Young votes. After that, he bounced around and played for nine teams in 13 years.
Vista plays in the Avocado East league. They boast eight MLB draft picks to this point.
Aaron Harang (Patrick Henry HS, San Diego State)
Harang is one of the long-time San Diego players that stayed home to play his college ball for the Aztecs. He was drafted twice, once in 1996 out of high school and then again in the sixth round of the 1999 draft, by the Texas Rangers.
He burst onto the scene with the Reds, with his best season coming in 2006. That year, he posted a 3.76 ERA and career-best 124 ERA+. The following year, his 3.73 ERA and 124 ERA+ garnered some NL Cy Young votes.
His calling card was his ability to eat innings. He logged over 200 innings in four seasons, including two years north of 230 innings. He pitched for the Padres in 2011, posting a 3.64 ERA in 170 innings for his hometown club. He finished his career with 128 wins over 14 seasons.
Last season, Patrick Henry HS won the Eastern League and made it to the third round of the CIF San Diego playoffs. Former Silver Slugger first baseman Eric Karros also is a Patrick Henry alum.
Mike Leake (Fallbrook HS)
After being drafted in the seventh round in 2006 out of Fallbrook, Leake went to Arizona State and became the eighth overall pick of the 2009 draft by the Reds. He made it to the major leagues that next season, making 22 starts for the Reds in 2010. While he was never an All-Star, Leake was another hurler who was a reliable innings-eater. He posted six seasons of at least 185 innings. His best season came in 2013 for the Reds, when he had a 3.37 ERA and 112 ERA+ in 31 starts. He made at least 30 starts in eight seasons.
Fallbrook went 20-15 last year, making the playoffs out of the Valley League.
Joe Musgrove (Grossmont HS)
You didn’t think I was leaving him off, did you? It’s not a stretch to say that Musgrove is currently the most popular active player from San Diego for several reasons. One, he has burst onto the scene and plays for the San Diego Padres. Before that, he was a depth piece for the Houston Astros before becoming a mainstay in the starting rotation for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came to San Diego ahead of the 2021 season via trade.
That is where his legend took off. In just his second-ever start in the uniform of his childhood team, the Padres, he tossed the first no-hitter in franchise history. Against the Texas Rangers on April 9, he went the distance without allowing a hit and was just a hit-by-pitch away from a perfect game. From that moment on, he was a fan favorite in San Diego.
In 2022, he made his first All-Star team donning the brown and gold. He ended the season with a 2.93 ERA and 127 ERA+. His legend grew more in the Wild Card Series in New York against the Mets. In the decisive Game 3, he absolutely baffled the Mets for seven shutout innings, striking out five and allowing just one hit. He was so good, in fact, that Mets manager Buck Showalter felt compelled to have him checked all over for a sticky substance, even behind his ears. They found nothing, and his stardom grew.
Musgrove signed a contract extension through the 2027 season, a five-year deal worth $100 million. It won’t be long before he is in the starting rotation of this fantasy squad.
Grossmont made it to the CIF San Diego Open Division title game in 2021.
Mark Prior (University of San Diego HS)
As mentioned, Prior and Zito were teammates at University HS. Prior became a phenom, earning an All-Star bid in 2003 with the Cubs in his second season. He posted a 2.43 ERA and 179 ERA+ in 30 starts, finishing third in NL Cy Young voting. His potential was tantalizing. Unfortunately, injuries derailed what could have been a stellar career. He pitched for parts of five seasons in the bigs, with the last being in 2006.
Jim Wilson (San Diego State)
While it doesn’t list where Wilson attended high school in what would have been the late 1930s, he was born in San Diego and attended San Diego State in the early 1940s. He broke into the majors in 1945 with the Boston Red Sox. In 1954, he tossed the first no-hitter in Milwaukee Braves history. Between 1954 and 1956, he earned three straight All-Star appearances with the Braves and Baltimore Orioles. Over 12 seasons, he pitched in 257 games, including 75 career complete games.