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Rancho Bernardo Keeps Rolling

By John Maffei
May 26, 2005

SAN DIEGO--The key to success is simple, Rancho Bernardo High coach Sam Blalock says: "It all comes down to the kids."

And over the past decade, the Broncos have had a lot of great kids, including five first-round draft picks--Jaime Jones (1995), Matt Wheatland and Scott Heard (2000), Cole Hamels (2002) and Danny Putnam (2004, drafted out of Stanford)--11 players drafted in the first 10 rounds and more than two dozen draftees overall.

The school's success should continue this year. Scouts project outfielder John Drennen as a potential first-rounder, and lefthander John Dutton, first baseman Allan Dykstra and righthander T.J. Peabody could get drafted as well.

Padres general manager Kevin Towers said he sees a lot of Mark Kotsay and Jeremy Burnitz in Drennen, a slugging center fielder. "Drennen reminds me a lot of (Rangers outfielder) Laynce Nix," Towers said.

Blalock is familiar with Nix because the coach's nephew is Rangers third baseman Hank Blalock, another Rancho Bernardo alum.

"There are tons of good players and coaches," Sam Blalock said. "And while we all think we're great coaches, it comes down to the kids. The personal responsibility to succeed falls to the individual.

"We don't do a lot of fancy stuff in practice. We don't spend time running 15 different pickoff plays or special defenses. What we do in practice is hit, hit, hit, work the pitchers and play defense. We don't do a lot of funny stuff."

Blalock did say the team's success and the success of the individuals perpetuates itself.

"When you're a sophomore, the seniors are your heroes," Blalock said. "When that sophomore sees the senior working hard, going the extra mile, the senior becomes the instructor.

"The pros draft kids on skill and character, and I tell my kids to be straight with pro scouts. If you want to play pro ball, tell them. And to make it, you have to have the intangibles. For my nephew Hank, the intangibles were off the chart. Plus, you have to get some breaks and stay injury free."

Blalock said he expects Drennen, who has signed with UCLA, to go pro. Dykstra, who has signed with Wake Forest, is an outstanding student and will probably go to school. Dutton, who is 6-foot-2 and 160-pounds, probably will bypass the pros for now and go to San Diego State to mature. Peabody, who has a 94 mph fastball, could go in the late rounds of the draft.