Jake Barrett, Tribune baseball player of the year: Mesa Desert Ridge coach Pat Herrera enjoyed the luxury of having the quintessential player the past four seasons in pitcher/first baseman Jake Barrett. And knowing Barrett got better each year only made it nicer for Herrera and the Jaguars.
Mesa Desert Ridge coach Pat Herrera enjoyed the luxury of having the quintessential player the past four seasons in pitcher/first baseman Jake Barrett. And knowing Barrett got better each year only made it nicer for Herrera and the Jaguars.
“Jake was tremendous for us, and there was a lot of pressure that he handled well,” Herrera said. “We had a target on our back early this year, and a lot of that can be attributed to us having Jake. Everyone wanted to beat us and Jake.”
How did Barrett respond his senior season, which ended with the Jaguars winning the 5A Division II baseball title over Scottsdale Horizon in thrilling fashion?
As a hitter Barrett batted .510 with a state-best 20 home runs and 66 RBIs. When it was his turn to pitch he posted a 9-3 record, 1.90 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 62 innings.
That was more than enough to earn Tribune player of the year honors for 2009.
“It was always nice when he was pitching,” Herrera said. “For the past four years, every time he pitched, we knew we had a good chance to win. Everyone played a little more relaxed. He brought that confidence. It’s huge to have a guy like that. Offensively, he’s done it for the last three years. His sophomore year, he carried us in RBIs. Junior year, he was huge. This year, he was off the charts. If anybody got on, we knew he would drive them in. We had that comfort of knowing he was going to come through.”
Barrett, 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, has played in the spotlight often in his prep career. He most recently played on USA Baseball’s 18-and-under national team, so he’s no stranger to having scouts eye his every move.
He has signed a letter of intent to play baseball at ASU this fall, but next week’s pro draft could alter those plans.
Still, he liked the way his prep career ended at Desert Ridge as much as any moment.
“A lot of the seniors on the team have played together four or five years in club and travel ball,” Barrett said. “Our goal was to win state. We were all excited about it.”
Personally Barrett’s top accomplishment was leading the state in home runs this season. He also relished a key region victory over Phoenix Pinnacle when the Jaguars blanked Pinnacle, 6-0, in early April. The teams were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, at the time in 5A-II. Barrett fanned 14 and allowed just three hits in a complete-game victory that night.
Barrett played in last Friday’s Arizona Baseball Coaches Association all-star game and is now preparing to wait and see when and where he’ll be taken in the major league draft on Saturday.
“That’s exciting,” Barrett said. “Not much I can do but wait and watch what happens.”