The Southern Arizona recruiting Class of 2015 isn’t among the deepest of the last decade, but last week in Long Beach, Calif., Salpointe Catholic pitcher Jio Orozco rose to the top of the list.
Playing for the Cincinnati Reds team in the Area Code Games, which is probably the top competition for high school baseball players every summer, Orozco made the all-tournament team, the elite of the elite.
What’s more, the Reds went 5-0, winning the championship under coach Clark Crist, a Cincinnati scout who was the starting shortstop on Arizona’s 1980 College World Series championship team.
“Jio was just outstanding,” said Crist. “He had no command issues. It was impressive because every time he pitched, he looked into the bleachers and saw 200 scouts and college coaches pointing radar guns at him. It didn’t faze him.”
Baseball America clocked Orozco, who was 8-1 at Salpointe last year, with a 93 mph fastball and calculated that he averaged 89 mph.
“You have to be very good just to get in the Area Code Games,” said Crist, who had tryouts from 80 players for the 25 spots on his team. “I coached (Washington outfielder) Bryce Harper on the Reds team. It’s a high-intensity showcase, and the Tucson kids that made the team all did well, especially Jio and those two Sahuaro kids, Javier Medina and Cesar Salazar.”
Orozco, who has committed to play for Andy Lopez at Arizona, is my choice as Tucson’s leading recruit in the Class of 2015.
Runner-up: Chris Meyers, CDO, golf. Meyers last week was accepted academically to Stanford and will now choose between golf offers from the Cardinal, Arizona and TCU. Impressive. Name to keep in mind: Catalina Foothills sophomore Gavin Cohen, who has Pac-12 potential and should be a strong contender for a state championship the next three years.
Top prospect Class of 2016: Tucson High volleyball player Mia Sokolowski, who has narrowed her college scholarship choices to Arizona and Texas.
Sokolowski is 6 feet 4 inches and a franchise recruit. Some of her athletic genes come from her father, George Banks, a Marana High School grad who was an All-WAC forward at UTEP and played 14 seasons in the EuroLeague.
Top prospect Class of 2017: How about Rio Rico distance runner Allie Schadler? Last year, she became the first freshman girl to win the state cross country championship since 2008. She also won the state title in the 1,600 and finished second in the 800 in the track championships in May.
Top prospect Class of 2018: Salpointe Catholic freshman quarterback/receiver Jamarye Joiner, already 6 feet, 170 pounds, is the top skill position prospect in Tucson since ex-Lancer Cam Denson, and maybe since the 1990s. Joiner, whose uncle Tamoni Joiner was an All-State halfback at Amphi and an Oregon Ducks letterman, projects as a Pac-12 recruit. Runner-up: Salpointe girls golfer Haylin Harris, who has had 10 top-four finishes on the JGAA circuit this year, including victories in the Michael Thompson Invitational and the Mesa City Championship.