Notes from the North

Nick Gonzales was the only player with New Mexico ties to get selected in this year’s Major League Baseball amateur draft, which started Wednesday.

The New Mexico State second baseman was picked seventh overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates. This year’s draft was cut from 40 rounds down to five thanks to the league taking an extended break during the coronavirus shutdown. It’s looking more and more likely there will be no minor league season, necessitating the reduction to five picks per team.

It marked the first time that the University of New Mexico hadn’t had at least one player taken since 2011. Since 1992, the Lobos have had only two years (2005 and 2011) since 1993 in which no one was taken.

Gonzales is the highest draft pick in NMSU’s history, snapping the one-year record held by former Aggies teammate Joey Ortiz, who was taken by the Baltimore Orioles in the fourth round of the 2019 draft.

The Lobos have had just three players taken in the first round: D.J. Peterson (12th pick to the Seattle Mariners in 2013), Jim Kremmel (9th pick to the Washington Senators in 1971) and Kevin Andersh (7th pick to Pittsburgh in 1984).

Kremmel is the only one to have made the majors, debuting with the Texas Rangers on Independence Day in 1973. Andersh reached Double-A before an arm injury did him in and Peterson reached Triple-A but was cut loose by the Chicago White Sox last year.

Andersh, of course, led Albuquerque's Volcano Vista Hawks to the Class 5A state title in 2019 before announcing his retirement. His replacement? Santa Fe High grad Todd Flores, a man who owns the distinction of being the head coach of the reigning state champ whose title defense was cut short after just five games this past spring due to the coronovirus.

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Speaking of the baseball draft, Kevin Chavez remains the answer to a trivia question for people around our neck of the woods. He is the last Santa Fean to get his name called by an MLB team. The soon-to-be 31-year-old (happy June 24 birthday, Kevin) was taken in the 34th round of the 2007 draft by Tampa Bay.

He made it as far as high Class-A ball before his career ended in 2010 with Hudson Valley in the New York-Penn League — a team that, coincidentally, briefly had current Santa Fe Fuego manager Bill Rogan call radio play by play in the 1990s.

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As we close the book on the 2019-20 school year, there were a few new names added to the state’s record book kept by the New Mexico Activities Association.

West Las Vegas junior guard Brianna Marquez was not only a scoring machine for the Lady Dons (18.3 PPG), but she peppered her name in the state’s assist category. Her 14-assist performance against Hatch Valley in the Class 3A quarterfinals March 10 occupies the top spot in the single-game assist list. She also owns the third-best total of 10 assists, which was accomplished against Los Lunas on Jan. 17. Marquez shares that spot with … herself, as she dished out 10 assists against Tularosa on Jan. 4.

Marquez is also the all-time assist leader for a single season, as she recorded 179 overall for an average of 6.0 per game. Second on that list belongs to Peñasco senior Adrianna Tafoya, who had 157 on the season for the Class 2A runner-up team.

It was a banner year for Peñasco, and its name is littered in the state’s record book. The Lady Panthers’ pressing ways led to 517 steals on the season, which is second-best all-time. Tafoya placed fourth on the individual list with 141 steals, and Alexandria Sandoval is sixth at 128. Oh, and Marquez is eighth on that list with 113.

Meanwhile, the Lady Panthers scored 2,039 points last year, which ranks third on the team scoring record for a season. Leading the way was Carly Gonzales, who scored 21.7 points per game to finish her five-year varsity career in 10th place on the career scoring ladder with 2,190 points. She also placed 10th in field goals (261) and eighth in free throws made (197) in 2019-20. Her 407 rebounds on the year placed her third, and Gonzales recorded 12 blocks in a game against Questa on Feb. 22.

For two programs, this past season was a remarkable one.

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Not enough baseball for you?

Try this on for size. The NMpreps.com Baseball Showcase is still on the docket this fall. The two-day event is basically a recruiting combine for college programs around the state.

Players entering their freshman through senior high school season in 2020-21 are invited for a camp that's essentially split into separate categories for position players and pitchers. Players can opt to participate in both, with entry fees for pitchers topping out at $25 and position players at $50.

Early deadline to enter is July 25. The camp runs Sept. 3 for freshmen and sophomores and Sept. 4 for upper classmen. The entire thing will be held at the sprawling Albuquerque Regional Sports Complex near the Nusenda Community Stadium off Interstate 40.

Details are available online through NMpreps.com.

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Website MaxPreps.com released a list of the top 10 boys basketball programs in the state over the past 10 years in May. While no Northern New Mexico programs were on the list, three programs were on the “next five” list. MaxPreps.com based its points system on state and national Top 25 finishes in its Freeman rankings, state championships and state championship appearances.

Pecos was 11th with 132 points, thanks to finishing the decade with four straight state championships, and Capital was right behind the Panthers with 118 points. The Jaguars accumulated that thanks to three state championship appearances. In 13th place was Española Valley, which won two state titles and played in four championship games over the past 10 years.

The best team in the state, according to MaxPreps? The Albuquerque Hope Christian Huskies, which accrued 345 points on the strength of seven state titles and a runner-up finish in 2012. The team that beat Hope Christian in 2012 was St. Michael’s.

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Dr. Michael Johnson

Way to go Nick! All these years of watching you become one of the best players in the nation has paid off!

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