When he pitched for Eaglecrest High School, Braxton Lorenzini didn’t exactly have the physical tools that gave him the unmistakable look of a potential future Major League Baseball player.
Two years have done wonders though, and the San Diego Padres believe the former Raptors’ right-hander has the size (a growing 6-foot-3, 175-pound frame), velocity and loose arm that could eventually move him up the pro ranks.
Those tools led San Diego to select Lorenzini in the 33rd round of last month’s MLB First-Year Player Draft, as he went a few rounds before the other two players with Aurora ties — Regis Jesuit’s Matt Schmidt (37th round to the New York Yankees) and Brent Schwarz (39th round to the Colorado Rockies) — were selected.
“They have really high projection ratings on me; they like how loose my arm is and how tall I am,” said Lorenzini, who flew to Arizona June 12 for a physical and to sign a contract.
“They envision me gaining 20 or 30 more pounds and throwing consistently at 95 (miles per hour) and maybe getting as high as 98,” he added. “I’m super excited, I can’t wait.”
The Padres wanted to draft him earlier — around the 13th round — but his contract desires put them off slightly. Eventually, they still took the 20-year-old, agreeing to terms on a contract that includes a provision for Lorenzini’s college education to be paid for if his playing career doesn’t pan out.
Lorenzini is represented by the same agent who works with Regis Jesuit graduate Max George, who was drafted out of high school in the sixth round in 2014 by Colorado and is currently with the Rockies’ full season Single A team in Asheville, North Carolina.
After he signed his contract, the Padres sent Lorenzini to their Rookie League team in Arizona, where he’s yielded one earned run in four innings in three appearances.
Lorenzini made his pro debut on July 3 and threw two shutout innings in a 7-3 loss to Kansas City. It was the first game action since the early part of May for Lorenzini, who hadn’t had time to pitch for his summer team before he was drafted and threw only at some camps for MLB teams.
He surrendered a run in one inning against the Royals again in a 7-5 win on July 9 and most recently pitched a scoreless inning in an 8-1 loss to the Texas Rangers’ Arizona League Rookie team on July 12.
Lorenzini is a long way from where he was in high school, when he threw just 80 or 81 miles per hour. He finished 1-4 with a 3.82 ERA in eight appearances as a senior in 2013 for coach Tory Humphrey’s Eaglecrest team and struck out just 13 hitters in 25 2/3 innings, doing what he could with a lanky frame.
“It was tough, I wasn’t fully grown into my body when I was in high school, but I did everything I could,” said Lorenzini, who got to pitch at Coors Field twice in his high school career.
“I just wasn’t physically up to speed with everyone else,” he added.
After an injury-plagued year at Central Christian College (an NAIA school) that resulted in a medical redshirt, Lorenzini moved to West Hills College in California, which is coached by Stefan McGovern, who coached with Humphrey at Metro State.
At West Hills, Lorenzini’s velocity increased into the low 90s and he struck out 55 batters in 58 2/3 innings to open some eyes. A subpar defense affected his numbers — he was 1-7 with a 4.30 ERA — but he threw a tough slider and an effective split change up. His progress and confidence became noticeable, which came as no surprise to Humphrey.
“As a scout, I always thought Braxton had the potential to be a pro and DI, it has just taken time to develop,” said Humphrey, who is an associate scout with the Cleveland Indians. “I sent him out to my friend (McGovern) and he really blossomed. I’m excited for him because he has had to work from nothing for it.”
According to a release from West Hills, McGovern will miss having Lorenzini in his rotation.
“Sure I would have loved to have Braxton for one more year, because we’re talking about one of the best pitchers in the state at our program,” McGovern said in the release. “It would have been great to work on some of the things he struggled with as a freshman this upcoming season, but I believe he’s in good hands in the Padres organization.
“This is a very exciting time for Braxton, but also a very exciting time for our baseball program here at West Hills College, as it tells us we’re bringing the right types of student-athletes into our program.”
McGovern won’t be without a Lorenzini on his roster, however, as 2015 Eaglecrest grad Jake Lorenzini is headed to follow his big brother there. Jake Lorenzini started for four years on the infield at Eaglecrest and earned his way onto the All-City and All-Centennial League first teams for his senior season. Another former Raptor, Clayton Johnson, is also at West Hills.
Youngest brother Cody Lorenzini, another starting pitcher who Humphrey sees potential in, will start his senior year in the fall at Eaglecrest.
Braxton Lorenzini is just focused on making the most of this chance.
“Ever since I was little, I always imagined myself making it in baseball,” he said. “This has been my dream forever, since I was 4 or 5, so the hard work has paid off.”
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel