03/30/2017 7:22 AM
Over the past few years, the Arizona Wildcats have retooled their baseball program and developed once again into a national powerhouse. Last year’s College World Series runner-up, Arizona won the whole thing in 2012.
That year, a seventh-grader named Jacob Blas was honing his skills in middle school. Fast-forward to five years later and Blas has become one of the top infielders in the 2017 recruiting class. When he committed to join the Wildcats, Blas knew he’d found a big-time home for his big-time talent.
“I was recruited to a variety of schools and I really like coach Jay [Johnson]. He was at [Nevada] at the time, however once he moved to U of A I knew that it would be the perfect place for me to compete for a national championship as well as become a Major League Baseball Player,” Blas said.
Arizona is currently ranked No. 13 by D1Baseball.com.
But before Blas, who hails from Carlsbad, CA and San Marcos HS reaches Tuscon, he’ll travel north and suit up for the Sweets this summer.
“I see Jake playing a considerable amount for the Sweets,” said coach Frank Mutz. “He is a very special player who is considered to be one of the top shortstop prospects in high school baseball.”
Blas has earned the praise. He earned a 9.5/10 rating at the Perfect Game national showcase in 2016. What’s more, he spent the summer of 2014 as a member of Team USA’s 15U squad that traveled to Mazatlan, Mexico.
“That was a life-changing experience for me,” Blas told SB Nation’s Jason Bartel in an April 2016 interview. “I’ve never been emotional like that but I was in tears of joy when [I was selected to play for Team USA]. It gave me confidence that I can hang on the big stage.”
In playing for his country, Blas got a taste of the high-octane atmosphere he will partake in once he gets to the Pac-12. Spending his summer in Walla Walla will be a tune-up for what should be a successful collegiate—and perhaps professional—career.
“I believe seeing breaking stuff at the college level during the summer gives incoming freshmen a big advantage,” said Mutz. “If they can make the adjustments during the summer, they can most likely contribute right away.”
The Sweets will be counting on Blas to step immediately into the lineup once he arrives in Washington following his high school graduation in June. He will bring a valuable set of tools to Walla Walla.
“Some things that will set me apart in Walla Walla and Arizona are my glove work as well as my base running and leadership,” Blas said.
Blas’ 60-yard dash time of 6.75 seconds placed him in the 97th percentile at the Perfect Game showcase. He should fit in nicely with a Sweets team built on speed.
“He is a plus runner and he will fit in to the type of offense we run,” echoed Mutz.
For some early college commits, the promise of playing at the next level might overshadow their responsibilities with their high school club. However, no one has expressed concern about Blas' attentiveness this spring. Even though he’s been committed to Arizona for a year now, Blas remains grounded in the present as he nears the end of his senior year.
“I keep an eye on Arizona and keep track with how they’re doing and try to watch as many games as I can,” he said. “But it’s easy to focus on high school because I like to embrace the present and not look too much into the future. I still have time left in high school and still have a job to help my team win back-to-back CIF championships.”
Blas will join Richmond’s Vinny Capra, Loyola-Marymount’s Kevin Jordan, California’s Ripken Reyes and Washington State’s Danny Sinatro as members of the Sweets’ middle infield.