THE BEE'S OUTSTANDING BASEBALL HITTER OF THE YEAR: JAKE GATEWOOD
• Vitals: Senior, Clovis
• Squaring up: One of Central Section's most-feared hitters has taken school record-tying career home run total (12), Tri-River Athletic Conference Silver Slugger Award, 77 team wins, a Division I title and reported $1.83 million signing bonus to the Milwaukee Brewers organization, which selected him 41st overall in Major League Baseball's June amateur draft. This season, his .387 overall average was highlighted by a .447 mark in the TRAC, the state's best league this year. The 33-5 Cougars (No. 1), Buchanan (No. 6), Clovis North (No. 16) and Clovis West (No. 27) were all ranked in the state by Cal-Hi Sports. It's generally believed that the 6-foot-5, 195-pounder would have hit 10 to 15 more career home runs had he played his home games virtually anywhere else in the section other than cavernous Lloyd Merriman Field.
• He said it: "It could have been a zoo this year and Jake could have easily become self-centered with all the professional attention he attracted, but he made it fun. It was not uncommon to have 50 scouts at our games. I thought he performed about as well as he could under the circumstances. I compare him to a right-handed Darryl Strawberry -- skinny, tall and when he extended his arms, look out, that ball screamed. He has more power than any kid I've seen, just an extreme talent, really." - Cougars coach James Patrick
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