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Baseball: Club team aids in SCV grads’ development

Victory helps players transition from high school to college

Posted: July 28, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 28, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

With some players in the Major Leagues, and many more in the minors, the Santa Clarita Valley has always been known for being a hotbed of baseball talent.


The Victory Baseball Team in Santa Clarita is trying to continue the valley’s rich tradition.


Coached by Greg Smith, the Victory Baseball Team serves as a developmental program for players making the transition from high school to college or even to professional levels.


“The program started about six years ago for high school kids who didn’t make their varsity teams,” Smith says.

“Now, we have about 60 kids split between three teams, and we travel all the way from San Diego to San Luis Obispo.”


This summer, the team has competed in both the Stan Musial League and the Central Coast Baseball League, and currently holds an overall record of 30-22.


Six Victory players were selected to the Central Coast Baseball League All-Star team, including 2010 Golden Valley graduate Kamran Young.


Young, who will be a sophomore for the College of the Canyons baseball team in 2013, is taking full advantage of the opportunities in front of him.


“I want to be the best ball player I can be,” Young says. “I’m working on getting better at base running and being more fundamentally sound on the diamond.”


Over the summer, Young has a batting average above .500 with over 20 stolen bases. He attributes some of his success to coach Smith and the way he teaches the game.


“We’re coached to play the game 100 percent, all the time. He does everything in his power to make us better baseball players and prepare us for higher competition,” Young says.


Competing at a high level on a daily basis is not the program’s only perk.


Victory Baseball also gives players a chance to play in front of collegiate or professional scouts.


“I’ve got a lot of connections with DII, DIII, and even NAIA schools,” Smith says. “Getting the scouts to come to the ballpark is just another way I can help these kids.”


Specifically, one player who benefitted from the advantages and connections presented with the summer program is 2008 Golden Valley graduate Michael “Chipper” Smith.


Victory baseball allowed Smith to harness his skills, earn acollege scholarship to Cumberland University, and, ultimately, be selected by the Miami Marlins in the 38th round of the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.


Smith currently holds a 1-0 record with a 0.00 ERA and eight strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings with the organization’s minor league affiliate in the Gulf Coast League.


“Victory helped me get started against advanced level of players,” Smith says. “It’s really competitive with every lineup, one through nine being solid.”  


Other former Victory players to be drafted include Valencia High graduate Virgil Hill and Hart High graduate Casey McCarthy.


The St. Louis Cardinals chose Hill in the sixth round in 2009, while McCarthy was taken in the 28th round by the Marlins in 2012.


As for the Victory Baseball Team, the program will continue to develop talent and promote opportunities for players with high aspirations.


They’ll be in action Monday at Ventura College as they compete in the Central Coast Baseball Playoff before hosting Rissho University from Japan on August 7 at USC.

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