When Brett Mooneyham was having a good day, he was nearly unhittable as a pitcher. At the plate, he went from a decent high school hitter to one of the top bats in the Buhach Colony lineup.
There was little the recent graduate didn't do for a team that won the Central California Conference title, went 27-7 and advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship series.
He was 9-2 with a 0.97 ERA as a pitcher, holding opponents to a .116 batting average. He struck out 103 in 58 innings. He batted .379 and led his team with five home runs and 35 RBIs.
For his effort, Mooneyham is The Bee's 2008 High School Baseball Player of the Year.
He was a major part of a Buhach Colony team that came within one victory of a section title.
"The goal was to win the section title," said Mooneyham, who will pitch for Stanford next season. "We didn't get that, but you can't be upset with the season we had. We accomplished so much."
Mooneyham was a big part of it. He used his 6-foot-6-inch frame to its full advantage, whipping fastballs in the mid-90-mph range past batters at an alarming clip. He developed off-speed pitches that made his fastball look even faster.
And, this year, he helped at the plate as well.
"I batted something like .290 last year," he said. "I didn't want that to happen again."
So he went to work during the offseason. While his father, former Oakland Athletic Bill Mooneyham, worked with him on his pitching, several members of the Buhach Colony team would meet at Mooneyham's home to play catch and work on their hitting.
"You want to get better at everything," he said. "But I really concentrated on the hitting."
His pitching was already at a high level. While he committed to Stanford early in the season, Major League Baseball scouts kept coming. It wasn't out of the ordinary to see more than a handful of scouts with radar guns, charting every pitch.
"I noticed them before the game but never during the game," he said. "I look at it like they've got a job to do, and so do I."
His commitment to Stanford most likely kept him from being a top draft choice. Instead, the San Diego Padres chose him in the 15th round. Mooneyham, though, reiterated his plans for next season:
"I'll be playing for Stanford," he said.
Before he heads to Palo Alto, Mooneyham will play one more summer season with the Merced Volunteers, a travel team that includes several Buhach Colony teammates. It's one last chance to recall the high school season he and the Thunder had.
"I'll always remember those games where we played so well together: the Fresno Tournament, that first game against Golden Valley, our games against (crosstown rival) Atwater," he said. "It was a great year."
To comment, click on the link with this story at www.modbee.com. Bee staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2300.