Jakob Marquez always looks forward to Area Code Games tryouts. The senior-to-be received an invitation to try out every year since his freshman season of prep baseball and embraces the opportunity to play with a compete against some of the best baseball players in Southern California.
“Really positive and really competitive, which is always the best about area codes,” Marquez, a catcher, said. “But I think after being more experienced and older and facing better competition, it’s a little more like, easy to go to that setting and perform than it was when I was younger.”
Having some familiar faces around also makes this year’s tryouts a little easier. Marquez has two Valencia teammates — Ryan Kysar and Grant Weiss — there with him. Hart’s Daniel Parra and Isaac Kim, as well as Canyon’s Jace Root, are all moving on to the second round of tryouts, which are held at Westmont College in Santa Barbara.
Kysar, a pitcher, is having fun at the tryouts but is especially working hard to make this year’s roster, since a hamstring injury prevented him from trying out last summer.
He spent plenty of time in the weight room and with pitching coach Jim Wagner at Throwzone academy the week prior to tryouts.
“It’s been my main goal for the summer,” Kysar said. “I’ve been working towards it every day and Jim has been pushing me and constantly talking about it, so it’s a big deal for my family and pitching family. That’s one of the main things I’m going to do this summer.”
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The first round of tryouts, which took place on July 8 and 9, consisted of individual evaluations in the morning, then those who were advancing in the tryout process took part in an intrasquad scrimmage in the afternoon.
Marquez had the opportunity to catch for Kysar in one of the scrimmages. The player who originally was going to catch for him had to hit, so Marquez seized the opportunity.
“I had the whole plan, how I was going to catch everyone and he did absolutely amazing,” Marquez said. “He was cutting up kids left and right. The hitters in the box were literally telling me, ‘That’s the dirtiest curveball I’ve seen in my life.’
“I was just laughing. The coaches were so impressed with Ryan, all the pitches and everything he did.”
Kysar also said that he felt comfortable having Marquez catch for him. Marquez transferred to Valencia after spending his junior year at Hart but is already working well with at least one of the pitchers in Kysar. Both are University of Arizona commits.
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“I just thought it was a better fit for me at Valencia,” Marquez said. “The way their coaching staff works with the players and their mindset on most of the way that the kids play and just letting them play the way they want to play and express themselves and just use all the tools they have the way they want to and that gets better results for the team, not constricting each player to play one way.
“That was really big for me because I’m not a very cookie-cutter player. I do stuff very out of the ordinary and I felt like Valencia could give me a better chance to grow as a player.”
The second round of Area Code game tryouts will be at Westmont College on Thursday. Marquez said he is focused on showcasing his power as a hitter, while Kysar wants to increase his velocity and stay consistent in other areas of his pitching.
“I’m trying to get my ‘velo’ a little bit up from last time, maybe 93 would be my main goal,” he said. “But other than that I think I should just do the same thing as I did last time.”