High school teammates make history
Moustakas and Dominguez both taken in first round of Draft
Mike Moustakas and Matt Dominguez met at an age when what occurred on Thursday at Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft reminded them of just how long they've known each other. They were once just a pair of baseball rats called up from the playground, taking their first steps into the hotly competitive world of amateur baseball in Southern California's San Fernando Valley, where baseball ambition runs as high as the temperatures in the summer.Moustakas was eight years old, already a player creating a reputation by diving for balls in the dirt and then launching the sod out of them. Dominguez was the shy seven-year-old, bred on baseball from his two older brothers, who were already teaching him the meaning of competition. From these days came the earliest memories for both players, days of sun and heat, days of playing with and pushing each other, and, finally, on Thursday, graduating into the world of professional baseball before a worldwide audience. "My oldest memory of Matt is when we first played together and he hit a home run to right field that was absolutely crushed," Moustakas said. "The kid could always hit." The same can be said of Moustakas. As teammates at Chatsworth High, they matured into arguably the most dynamic tandem of high school teammates in Draft history. They finished their high school careers by winning a Los Angeles City Championship last Saturday at Dodger Stadium, their first championship since their freshman season. They were ushered into their professional careers on Thursday when they became the highest pair of high school teammates ever chosen in the first round. The Kansas City Royals selected Moustakas, a high school shortstop, with the second overall pick. The Florida Marlins, pleased to discover that Dominguez was available with the 12th overall pick, pulled his name off the board and immediately began to envision him playing third base in Miami. Moustakas and Dominguez are the fourth pair of high school teammates to be drafted in the first round since the Draft's inception in 1965. They are the first set of position players since 1972, when Jerry Manuel and Mike Ondina of Rancho Cordova High School in Northern California became the first pair of high school teammates to be selected in the first round. Manuel had a modest Major League playing career, but Ondina topped out with a pair of 12-home run seasons in Double-A. But never have two high school teammates of the same graduating class been premium infield prospects gifted with power potential, arm strength and defensive ability, nor been considered consensus picks to become not only Major League starters, but potential impact players. All of this began modestly. Moustakas, 18, and Dominguez, 17, have complemented each other in a productive way. They are typical contrasts. Moustakas is gregarious by nature, Dominguez, reserved. Linked from a young age by baseball and the desire to continually improve, they forged a relationship based on mutual respect. "I've been playing with him or against him for the last 10 years, however long it's been," Dominguez said. "I'm kind of sad it's over." Moustakas felt the same way. "He's probably one of the best friends I've ever had," said Moustakas, who hit a California single-season record 24 home runs and finished his prep career with a state record 52 home runs. "He's like my brother. We hang out on and off the field. It's really something to stand at shortstop and look to your right and see a guy who is a first-round pick and your best friend. It's pretty special."
|1. TB||LHP||David Price||Vanderbilt U|
|2. KC||SS||Michael Moustakas||Chatsworth HS (Calif.)|
|3. CHC||3B||Josh Vitters||Cypress HS (Calif.)|
|4. PIT||LHP||Daniel Moskos||Clemson U|
|5. BAL||C||Matthew Wieters||Georgia Tech|
|6. WSH||LHP||Ross Detwiler||Missouri St U|
|7. MIL||LF||Matthew LaPorta||U Florida|
|8. COL||RHP||Casey Weathers||Vanderbilt U|
|9. ARI||RHP||Jarrod Parker||Norwell HS|
|10. SF||LHP||Madison Bumgarner||South Caldwell HS|
Dominguez drew lessons from his two older brothers, who both played at Chatsworth before he did. Matt said he called his older brother, Danny, 23, a former catcher, now in the Coast Guard, to tell him the news. The family, including parents Fernando and Cindy, were waiting for word if Matt's brother Jason, 21, a college pitcher, would be drafted in the following rounds."I think you could tell that Matt and Mike were pretty solid, good ballplayers," Fernando Dominguez said. "But I'm not sure that anyone could dream that they would continue to develop and evolve into Major League prospects. First round picks in the top 12 players in the nation? I don't think anybody really anticipated this when they started." As freshmen, they were both starters on a Chatsworth team that went 35-0 in 2004 and repeated as mythical national champions. The Chancellors have seven Los Angeles City Championship baseball titles, but had never had a first-round pick before Moustakas and Dominguez. In a region where baseball achievement is measured by Hall of Fame and All-Star standards, Moustakas and Dominguez had prep careers that will probably follow them well into their professional years. Moustakas, a left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, who grew up admiring Chipper Jones, hit .577 this year and struck out two times in 34 games. As a junior, he hit .427 with 14 home runs and 47 RBIs. He played shortstop in high school, but said he knows that his possible destination as a pro is second base. His left-handed swing and approach resembles Sean Casey, according to one scout, and according to another scout, his aggressive approach is reminiscent of Ken Caminiti. His bat could very well dictate his position as well, which doesn't rule out third base. His fastball was clocked as high as 94 mph this spring, an indication of his arm strength. "Moustakas, in my judgment, is pretty much more mature and stronger than Dominguez at this stage," veteran scout George Genovese of the Los Angeles Dodgers observed. "I would love to have both kids. Barring any injuries, both should play in the big leagues for a long time and have a degree of success." Dominguez is a supremely talented defensive third baseman with power. He set a state record with 65 RBIs as a freshman. He hit better than .400 three times in his high school career, including .447 with 13 home runs and 41 RBIs this season. He hit 41 career home runs for Chatsworth and drove in 187 runs. "I saw him hit a ball over 400 feet with a wooden bat last summer," Marlins scouting director Stan Meek said. "He's got kind of a whippy bat and a smooth swing. We think the bat and the glove really work. We think he'll have plus power at the position." Genovese, who signed more than 30 Major Leaguers that combined for more than 2,400 career home runs, also believes Dominguez is a rare defensive find, which makes his power-defense package rare. "Defensively, right now, he can play in the big leagues," Genovese said. "I'm not so sure he wouldn't be a good shortstop. He's got quick hands and reactions and throws from all angles with velocity and accuracy. He reminds me of [Adrian] Beltre." Genovese has seen a lot of Southern California prospects. He even signed Gary Matthews Sr. out of San Fernando High, stealing him, in 1969, out from under the noses of many area scouts. He believes Moustakas and Dominguez are equal to any players the Valley talent pipeline has produced before them. "These two kids compare to anybody that has come out of this area in the past," Genovese said. "To me, they're right up there with Yount at the same stage. They couldn't have done any better anywhere. Their skills will show you all you need to see." Moustakas said he knows that he and Dominguez will always be linked, both in their home towns, and when they reach the Major Leagues. One day you're playing for Valley North, the next, Commissioner Bud Selig is introducing you to the world. "Being compared to all the guys from our area is great, but those guys are proven Major Leaguers, and we're still in high school," Moustakas said. "If I'm, from now on, mentioned in the same sentence as Matt Dominguez, I'm more than happy. There's no other way I'd rather have it." After they learned they were first round picks on Thursday, there was one final memory to create. Days before the Draft, Moustakas called Dominguez and told him that he wanted to see him after the Draft. Moustakas called Dominguez and learned he was at a nearby mall, visiting a sporting goods store to buy a Marlins hat. Moustakas met Dominguez there. The player called Moose greeted his friend with a bear hug. "I gave him a hug and told him congratulations," Moustakas said. "We always pushed each other to be better. We were never very complacent about how good we were. We always wanted to become better." Dominguez obliged. "I got my hug and my hat," he said. Moustakas and Dominguez got their gear and a little something else. They took home one last memory of childhood and one beginning memory for the big leagues.
John Klima is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.