By Shanin Thomas
La Habra Journal
Only a small percentage of guys who play baseball will ever hear their name called during a professional sports draft. However, two of the names called in this year’s Major League Baseball draft were from the La Habra area.
La Habra Heights resident and former La Habra High standout Josh Staumont was the 64th overall pick of the MLB draft on June 8 becoming the highest selected player in Azusa Pacific University baseball history.
“It was an incredible day, but it is only a stepping stone to the rest of my career,” Staumont said.
The 6-foot-2-inch junior was selected by the 2014 American League Champion Kansas City Royals in the second round of the draft.
Staumont, who graduated from La Habra in 2012, was scouted as a dominating, right-handed pitcher. He has reached speeds in the high 90s comfortably, while mixing in a nasty curveball and occasionally throwing a change-up.
Staumont’s record at Division II Azusa Pacific, is 13-8 with a 3.97 earned run average. He also puts up a record breaking 198 strikeouts in a two season stretch.
This past season, Staumont was ranked second in the country with 14.29 strikeouts and ranked fourth giving up only 4.72 hits per nine inning average.
Paul Caffrey, head coach of La Habra High School varsity baseball from 2008 – 2012, remembers Staumont as a “short, chunky kid,” he said.
Coach Caffrey placed Staumont on the freshman baseball team as a sophomore in hopes he would mature. After growing six to seven inches taller into his senior year of high school, Staumont was able to grow into his body, and more importantly, his potential, Caffrey explained.
Staumont noted that while his physical maturity was important, he needed to continue to grow as a player.
“As many people affiliated with the game know, your mental maturity becomes the most integral part of the game as you have to develop and hone the tools that you have been given,” Staumont said.
During his senior season at La Habra High School, scouts flocked to watch other team mates. Command has always been an issue with Staumont, however Coach Caffrey advised professional scouts “to take a chance on him,” he said.
Caffrey has followed Staumont’s career and believes he has one of the best arms in the country. He said the talent is there and with the time and focus of being a professional, Staumont can reach his full potential.
“He has always had the ability,” Coach Caffrey said. “He is really raw … just a thrower.”
From high school, Staumont decided to play at Biola University, where in his freshman year, Staumont led the Golden State Athletic Conference with 109 strikeouts.
He transfered to APU his sophomore year to follow current Azusa Pacific pitching coach John Verhoeven.
Head coach of Azusa Pacific baseball, Paul Svagdis, said Staumont was a great addition to the team.
Coach Svagdis watched the first day of the MLB draft with his 12- year-old son, he said. When the Royals took their turn during the first round, Coach Svagdis told his son, “I think this is the team that is going to take him [Staumont].” He was right and he believes they will be a great fit for Staumont.
“Josh is a humble young man for a guy with such potential as a baseball player,” Svagdis said.
The Royals completed day one of the MLB draft by selecting three right-handed pitchers. Staumont was the last of the three to be chosen.
Staumont said he is “incredibly fortunate for being taken into a great organization such as the Kansas City Royals.”
He knows it is now the time to move his game to the next level, and he explained that he is ready.
“Each and every day I am trying to beat what I did the day before,” Staumont said. “I don’t compare myself to others as I am not trying to be like them, I will push to be the best version of me each and every day.”
Former Sonora and current Cal State Los Angeles pitcher Brandon Quintero was selected in the 16th Round by the Chicago White Sox.
Raider Baseball Head Coach remembers the standout right hander for his tenacity.
“The thing that separates him is his competitiveness,” Tellers said. “When we were in the playoffs he always wanted the ball.”
Tellers explained that Quintero was being scouted as early as his junior year in 2011.
Quintero was named Pitcher of the Year twice for the Raiders and twice earned first-team All-Freeway League honors.
Quintero lead Cal State LA in wins for the last two years. He also lead the team in wins, innings pitched, and strikeouts.
“He knows what it’s going to take, he’s a straight arrow kid,” Tellers added. “As long as he listens to his coaches he’s got a good future ahead of him.”