Joaquim committed after a weekend spent on campus with Neu and the rest of the Bears baseball staff, which started with a prospect camp on Sept. 12.
“He saw me at the NorCal World Series, at the beginning of this summer. Then, Cal camp was when we really got to talk,” said Joaquim, who is a power arm on the mound and in the outfield, as well as a power bat at the plate. “It was just a one-day camp. We showed up there around eight o’clock, and we practiced for a little bit, and then we had a game. He talked to me during the game, and asked me if I wanted to visit, and I visited basically the next day. It’s been like a really quick process. I always knew they were pretty interested in me, and I was always really interested in them, so I had to think about it for a while.”
Despite playing only 7 varsity games last season, Joaquim had scholarship offers from the Bears and St. Mary’s. He’s played each of the past two summers at the prestigious Team USA 15U NTIS – National Team Identification Series – and was quite busy on the travel ball circuit this past summer.
“I did the NorCal World Series, I went to Georgia for the national championships, then I went to Arizona for the 15U championships, then I went to L.A., NTIS in North Carolina and that’s really it,” Joaquim said.
His sojourn down to Georgia was for the 14U Travel Ball Select Series – in which his NorCal Baseball squad won the national championship – and his trip out to Arizona saw his team play up for the 15U national championship.
“We were basically a 14U team playing up, and we actually got to the championship,” Joaquim said. “We wound up playing one of the best 15U teams in the country, and had a pretty good game with them, so we knew we would be able to compete with the 14U. When we actually went there, almost every single game, we mercy rule’d them, so we did pretty well in our age group.”
Joaquim is highly regarded as both a pitcher and an outfielder, and though he didn’t pitch a single varsity inning last season he'll likely be the No. 1 or No. 2 starter this spring for the Gauchos. It was his hitting – well over .400 at the junior varsity level – that got him called up for the final four games of the regular season and the playoffs, where he hit .450 as a designated hitter. Next year, he’ll play both ways once again.
“[Neu] saw that I was a good athlete, and that I had power on the mound and off the bat,” Joaquim said. “That was definitely something he said that interested him. He could tell that I could make plays from anywhere in the outfield, if it came to that. He said I could be a two-way guy. He’s really excited about my pitching, and the power that I have on the mound. I like to make plays, and I’ll play first base, if I have to.”
On the hill, Joaquim brings an 84-88mph fastball, a two-seam cutter, a change up and a curveball. He describes his cutter as more of a slider, since it has sliding movement, but he still calls it a cutter.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder is the second member of the 2017 class for Cal, and, appropriately enough, he’s good friends with the only player to precede him in committing to the Bears in this class: Darren Baker.
“I’m really close with Darren,” Joaquim said. “We both play on NorCal, so we’ve been playing together for a while.”
Having known Baker for three years didn’t help nudge the commitment, though it wasn’t a non-factor.
“Cal was always my first college love,” Joaquim said. “It was the first college I ever really knew about, and as I grew up and found out about more colleges, it was still always in my top three or four. As soon as he committed, he was one of my good friends at the time, and he was talking about how much he liked it. It definitely perked my interest even more, even though they were already at the top. I’ve always liked the school, and the idea of going there.”
What really drove home the idea of coming to Cal for the 3.57-GPA student was his first visit as a recruit.
“It was definitely the coaches, at first,” Joaquim said. “When I stepped foot on the field, the coaches were just great. The visit was amazing. The campus was fantastic. I like how it’s close to home. I remember, the first thing we did was, we get inside the building by the baseball field, and I had no idea the basketball arena was right there, and he takes me in this dark room, and he said, ‘Oh, let me turn on the lights,’ and the lights turn on, and there’s the basketball arena. My jaw dropped. It was awesome. It was really cool.”