Between his Hall of Fame namesake – Cal Ripken, Jr. – and perennial All Star Jose Reyes, Stockton (Calif.) St. Mary's junior Ripken Reyes didn't have much choice when it came to picking his career path.
When Reyes's father -- a former Whitworth College shortstop – chose the name of one of the all-time greats at the keystone position for his infant son, he knew, right then and there, that his boy would be a shortstop. On Friday, Ripken – a 5-foot-10, 160-pound switch hitter – took one more step on the path to being a big-time infielder, pledging his commitment to California pitching coach Mike Neu to become the second member of what's now a three-man class for the Bears in the 2015 cycle.
Following San Jose (Calif.) Will C. Wood two-way star Jeremiah Burks, and preceding the Sunday commitment of San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine catcher Ty Greene, Reyes added a hefty amount of speed to the future Bears lineup with his commitment.
"I work with a speed coach –John McBride – out here in Stockton, and that's a big part of my game," said Reyes, who stole six bases in eight attempts as a sophomore, and runs a 7.00-second 60-yard dash (equivalent to a 4.67 40-yard dash). "A big part of my game is just going 110 percent, going hard. I'm just a blue-collar player. I go as hard as I can. That's just the way I play. I pressure the defense, and make them get me out. I'm a tough out, and that's just my game. That's the way I play, and it's the way I was taught."
Reyes is a defense-pressuring catalyst, who fits exactly into the mold that the Cal staff has established as its program model for incoming players.
"I talked to coach Neu and coach [David] Esquer, as well, and their style, what they look for, is exactly how I play," Reyes said. "They want guys who want to win. Coach Esquer wants to win and coach Neu wants to win, and they want people who will go out and play as hard as they can and bring a national championship to Berkeley, and that's exactly what I want to do."
Reyes has been described as a scrapper, a winner and a gamer much in the mold of Mike Reuvekamp, and adds a run-producing speed ball element to the Bears' game, akin to what helped UCLA win the College World Series four months ago.
While Reyes – who boasted a .394 on-base percentage as a sophomore – only hit .262 last season, he scored 21 runs and drew 13 walks, along with six HBPs. He also reached three times on errors.
Reyes received attention from UC Davis, Cal Poly and Long Beach State before an unofficial visit to Cal during the summer sealed the deal.
"It was amazing. I loved the campus. The facilities were absolutely beautiful," Reyes said. "I'm a big weight room guy, and their weight room facilities were gorgeous. It was just a great experience."
Reyes grew up watching Big West stalwart Cal State Fullerton, and modeled his game after Richy Pedroza – known as the Pete Rose of college baseball at just 5-foot-6, 150 pounds.
"He's a little shortstop, just like I am, and he's a hard-nosed switch hitter just like me," Reyes said.
Cal's academic profile was also a big attraction for Reyes, who has a 3.5 cumulative GPA.
"My mom has a doctorate in English, and academics are a big part of my life," Reyes said. "I'm focused on being a true student-athlete, and Cal has a great academic program. I'm looking forward to being a student-athlete."
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