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2010-11 Newcomer of the Year: Valencia's A.J. Balta

Posted: July 5, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 5, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Valencia sophomore baseball player A.J. Balta was voted the Signal's 2010-11 Newcomer of the Year.

 

It should take time to adjust.

Players often need to be eased into the lineup and given time to pay their dues.

Not Valencia sophomore A.J. Balta.

He didn’t need any of that.

Balta was 2-for-5 in his varsity debut and 1-for-2 with a home run and four RBIs in his second game.

He never let up, playing a key role in the Vikings’ Foothill League championship with astronomical numbers.

Foothill League and All-Santa Clarita Valley player of the year honors followed.

Now, he’s The Signal’s 2010-11 Newcomer of the Year.

Simply put, Balta’s numbers were spectacular all season long.

In fact, they’re how he paid his dues — in the form of 11 home runs and a .523 on-base percentage, both of which led the league.

His .425 average commanded respect from pitchers league-wide much like a seasoned veteran.

When it came to Foothill League play, when the pressure was really on, he belted nine of his home runs.
On the season, Balta scored 36 times and drove in 25 runs.

He also walked 15 times, demonstrating his patience and discernment at the plate.

Both traits were key this year in helping the Vikings win their eighth Foothill League championship in 10 years.

So as Balta sits back coolly and waits for his pitch, there are a couple things for opposing pitchers to remember.

First, it’s going to be crucial to hit the spots.

Second, it would be a mistake to overlook Balta any longer.

Third, he’s still got two more years.

The latter might be a little bit concerning.

Given his production and overall maturity on a team laden with talented players and in a league looking to intimidate its newcomers, it would be easy to forget that this was Balta’s first time in the varsity limelight.

It didn’t take Balta much time to adjust.

And the reality is that if he continues to progress, it might be the league that is forced to adjust to him.

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