Sahid Valenzuela is performing a balancing act this summer.
Heading into his junior season at Cal State Fullerton, the St. Francis High alumnus is playing in arguably the best collegiate summer baseball league in the nation: the Cape Cod Baseball League.
He understands the next few months could rocket him up the draft boards of several Major League Baseball teams, but isn’t letting the pressure of his future interfere with the present.
“I think if I do well, it’s something that will help me when [draft] time comes but I don’t want to think about it too much,” Valenzuela said in a phone interview before departing for the East Coast. “It’s a big moment, but I’m not going to let it change the way I play.”
So far, so good.
The star shortstop is batting just below .400 — .381 as of Wednesday night — through 10 games with the Wareham Gatemen of the CCBL. He has 16 hits, eight RBIs, three doubles and a home run.
The league, which features 10 teams made up of the top college baseball players from across the United States, has more than 1,000 alumni that have made it to “The Show.” Last year alone, there were 306 former CCBL players in the MLB, including San Francisco Giants’ stars Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik and Buster Posey.
“It was one of my goals to make it out here,” Valenzuela said. “It’s an honor just to play in that league.”
Valenzuela spent time with the Portland Pickles of the Great West League heading into his freshman season at Fullerton, so playing high-level baseball during the summer isn’t a completely new experience — that includes being away from home and staying with a “host” family. But the level of competition is, Valenzuela said, a “little different” this time around.
“I think every college baseball player that wants to play at the next level wants to play in the [CCBL], so I’m happy to be here,” Valenzuela said.
The 5-foot-9, 165-pounder hit .276 with 66 hits, 37 scored runs, 21 RBIs, 12 doubles and four triples for the Titans during his sophomore season last spring. Coming off his stellar freshman season at Fullerton, in which he was named the Big West Conference Freshman of the Year and a Freshman All-American, Valenzuela said he wasn’t completely satisfied with his year as a whole. But a strong finish, which included a seven-game hit streak and a return to the College World Series, brought his spirits and confidence back to normal heading into the crucial summer before his junior season.
“I just went back to what I knew and things started working for me again,” Valenzuela said. “This game is so much about confidence, and when you have it, it changes things.”
Valenzuela was a four-time All-Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League First Team selection while at St. Francis and he was also named the Register-Pajaronian’s Baseball Player of the Year in 2016. With Valenzuela batting leadoff and roaming the infield at shortstop, St. Francis won a pair of SCCAL championships and also advanced to a Central Coast Section championship game.