At a pristine Corona High baseball field, where the infield grass resembles a putting green, you can look left, right, up and down, then shake your head in astonishment at the amount of baseball talent on display.
Shortstop Billy Carlson was told that a joke going around was asking whether the Dodgers or Panthers had a better offseason of acquisitions.
“I think it’s close,” he said with a smile.
The Ebel brothers, Brady and Trey, arrived from Etiwanda and will be available after sitting out eight games. They’ve spent half of their lives in the batting cage and are the sons of Dodgers coach Dino Ebel. Junior pitcher Seth Hernandez enrolled after being home schooled the last four years. He has yet to throw a pitch in high school, but scouts are putting him among the best pro prospects from the class of 2025.
The Panthers have three starting pitchers — Ethan Schiefelbein, Sam Burgess and Hernandez — committed to UCLA, Texas Christian and Vanderbilt. They have three closers whom pro teams might want to try out in Carlson, Trey Ebel and Jacob Skelskey. They might have the best catcher in Oregon commit Josh Springer, a four-year starter. They have a terrific sophomore outfielder in Anthony Murphy and a talented freshman left-handed pitcher in Mason Sims. Carlson and Brady Ebel will rotate at shortstop and third base, forming a standout left side of the infield.
“We all see it as an opportunity,” Schiefelbein said of the all-star team that has been assembled. “We’re all working hard and we’re all working toward the same goal, which is to win as a team.”
Schiefelbein is the most interesting character of all. He was 7-1 with an 0.64 ERA as a junior, including 94 strikeouts in 55 innings. At times, he has a loud grunt when releasing the ball. Imagine the sounds generated by former tennis great Monica Seles.
Even more intriguing is how coach Andy Wise has come to trust Schiefelbein to make decisions on the mound no matter the moment.
“He’s a super intelligent left-handed pitcher who definitely has a mind of his own and an idea of what he wants to do,” Wise said. “I listen to all of the pitchers, but I’m really interested in hearing what he has to say. He’s a kid I don’t want to give any excuses to. I want him to be responsible for his actions, and I think he thrives in that environment.”
Said Schiefelbein: “I’m coming in with a more prepared mindset, a more experienced mindset, a better prepared body. I think my skills will be elevated this spring.”
And that’s scary to think Schieflbein will be even better, considering in his final game of 2023, he went head to head with No. 1-ranked Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and The Times’ player of the year, pitcher Justin Lee, in a memorable Division 1 semifinal playoff game that ended with Corona winning 2-1 in 10 innings.
Springer, the catcher and collaborator with Schiefelbein in calling pitches over three seasons, said, “Over the years he’s developed into knowing what pitches he wants to throw and where to throw them.”
In Schiefelbein’s arsenal is a two-seam fastball, curveball, slider, change-up and he has been working on a cutter. UCLA coach John Savage has told him “to enjoy your senior year and keeping doing what you’re doing.”
The options in the summer for him will be to either play for UCLA or sign professionally.
“Let’s see where this journey takes me. I’m open to everything,” he said.
Of all the players on Corona’s team, perhaps the most important is Springer. He’ll be handling the pitching staff at the catcher position and needs to stay healthy and in the lineup for every game. Wise says he thinks one day Springer will be a major league catcher. No one is happier and more ready to handle fastballs coming in at 95 mph and harder than Springer.
“It makes me a better player,” he said. “I love it.”
Wise has added high school Hall of Fame coach Dave Demarest (La Quinta) as an assistant coach. He’ll be helping beef up the Panthers’ offense.
“No complaints on my end,” Wise said of the Corona roster.
He sure sounds like Dave Roberts of the Dodgers.
High school baseball players to watch
Thomas Bridges, Harvard-Westlake, Sr.: Texas Christian commit was 9-1 with 0.59 ERA last season.
Angel Cervantes, Warren, Jr.: UCLA commit has overpowering fastball.
Seth Hernandez, Corona, Jr.: Vanderbilt commit throws 95-mph fastballs for strikes.
Duncan Marsten, Harvard-Westlake, Sr.: Wake Forrest commit is healthy and touching 99 mph.
Ethan Schiefelbein, Corona, Sr.: UCLA commit is best left-hander in SoCal.
Charlie Caruso, JSerra, Sr.: Northwestern commit will have breakout offensive season.
Dylan Fien, Great Oak, Sr.: UCLA commit is 6 feet 3, 205 pounds with big bat.
Cole Hansen, Norco, Sr.: Oklahoma commit is a top hitter.
Jarett Sabol, Aliso Niguel, Jr.: USC commit has terrific skills and baseball family history.
Josh Springer, Corona, Sr.: Oregon commit is strong defensively and with the bat.
Billy Carlson, Corona, Jr.: Vanderbilt commit is superior fielder, hitter and closer.
Brady Ebel, Corona, Jr.: Just hits and hits and does everything well.
Bryce Rainer, Harvard-Westlake, Sr.: Likely first-round draft pick.
Levi Sterling, SO Notre Dame, Sr.: Texas commit has grown to 6-5 and will pitch and play shortstop.
Diego Velazquez, Crespi, Jr.: USC commit is two-way standout.
Derek Curiel, Orange Lutheran, Sr.: Louisiana State commit is ready for huge season at the plate.
Logan de Groot, Santa Margarita, Sr.: UCLA commit was co-Trinity League MVP in 2023.
Kasen Khansarinia, San Dimas, Sr.: UCLA commit will be four-year standout.
David Mysza, La Salle, Sr.: UCLA commit has terrific hitting form.
Quentin Young, Oaks Christian, Jr.: Has all the tools to be a future first-round draft pick.