Like No. 1 pick Delmon Young of California's Camarillo High, Stewart was no stranger to major league scouts, either. He was heavily cross-checked by top brass and wound up as the No. 10 selection in the first round by the Colorado Rockies.
The difference between Stewart and Young this year was that Young did not have as dominant a season as he did as a junior while Stewart's numbers popped off the charts. Following a junior season in which he pitched, hit 17 homers with 65 RBI and led Camarillo to a CIF Southern Section title, Young did not pitch as a senior (except for one or two early season stints), finished with seven homers and 28 RBI and his team lost in the CIFSS Div. I quarterfinals. Stewart smashed 16 homers and drove in 61 runs to set Orange County records and was the key cog for a La Quinta team that went 30-2 and won the CIFSS Div. IV title.
It's obvious that one of the reasons for Young's lower totals as a senior was that opposing pitchers hardly ever gave him anything decent to swing at. The 2002 Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year also missed about a month of the season with a sprained ankle. If it was somebody else with 16 homers and 61 RBI, Young may still had to have been Mr. Baseball once again. But it was Stewart, a top 10 pick of the draft in his own right.
In addition to the season stats, Stewart almost set a state record for career RBI with 164. He fell short of the all-time reported state best of 168 set in 1993 by current Los Angeles Dodger Daryle Ward, who played his prep ball at tiny Bethel Christian of Riverside.
Stewart also finished with 39 career home runs, which will be tied for the No. 4 mark on the all-time state list. Ironically, one of Stewart's teammates at La Quinta, Cole Garner, finished with 42 career homers. Most of Garner's homers came during his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons at Artesia High of Lakewood. The only totals on the all-time state list higher are the record of 46 set two years ago by Ismael Salas from Marian Catholic of San Diego and the mark of 43 set last year by Pacific Grove's Trevor Howell. In one game, a 25-0 rout of Garden Grove Santiago, Stewart had four hits, two homers and 10 RBI.
Stewart signed a contract with the Rockies last week and left Saturday for the team's rookie league team in Casper, Wyoming.
La Quinta coach Dave Demarest, who has coached several prominent players, including Bobby Crosby (Oakland Athletics AAA shortstop) and Gerald Laird (state career hits and runs scored leader), said Stewart's season was typical for the career he had.
"Everything seemed to come his way and he deserved it," Demarest said shortly after the Aztecs nipped league rival Pacifica of Garden Grove, 2-1, in their last game. "In 1992, I coached A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez) in the summer and everybody said then how he was a better person than he was a player. It's the same with Ian Stewart. He plays the game at such an even keel and he has a great support system of family and friends around him."
Ian's family and friends will now be able to look over the state's all-time list of Mr. Baseball State Players of the Year and they'll see that name listed with all of the others for many, many years to come.
Note: Stewart's career totals for RBI and home runs were initially reported at 170 and 40, respectively. Coach Dave Demarest rechecked his books this week, though, and came up with slightly lower totals.
STATE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
(All selections by CalHiSports.com)
2003 -- Ian Stewart (La Quinta, Westminster) 3B
2002 -- Delmon Young (Camarillo) OF/P
2001 -- J.P. Howell (Jesuit, Carmichael) P
2000 -- Mike Stodolka (Centennial, Corona) OF/P
1999 -- Ryan Christenson (Arlington, Riverside) C
1998 -- Sean Burroughs (Wilson, Long Beach) 3B
1997 -- Jon Garland (Kennedy, Granada Hills) P
1996 -- Eric Chavez (Mt. Carmel, San Diego) P-SS
1995 -- Eric Chavez (Mt. Carmel, San Diego) P-SS
1994 -- McKay Christensen (Clovis West, Fresno) OF
1993 -- Derrek Lee (El Camino, Sacramento) OF
1992 -- Jason Kendall (Torrance) C
1991 -- Dmitri Young (Rio Mesa, Oxnard) 3B
1990 -- Mike Lieberthal (Westlake, Westlake Village) C
1989 -- Todd Johnson (Bullard, Fresno) C-P
1988 -- Scott Davison (Redondo, Redondo Beach) P-DH
1987 -- Tom Redington (Esperanza, Anaheim) SS
1986 -- Brian Johnson (Skyline, Oakland) C
1985 -- Gregg Jefferies (Serra, San Mateo) SS
1984 -- James Mitchell (El Cerrito) OF
1983 -- Kurt Stillwell (Thousand Oaks) SS
1982 -- Bret Saberhagen (Cleveland, Reseda) P
1981 -- Lenny Dykstra (Garden Grove) OF
1980 -- Darryl Strawberry (Crenshaw, Los Angeles) OF
1979 -- John Elway (Granada Hills) OF
1978 -- Lloyd Moseby (Oakland) 1B
1977 -- Craig Landis (Vintage, Napa) SS
1976 -- Rickey Henderson (Technical, Oakland) OF
1975 -- Carney Lansford (Wilcox, Santa Clara) SS
1974 -- Lonnie Smith (Centennial, Compton) OF
1973 -- Robin Yount (Taft, Woodland Hills) SS
1972 -- Scott McGregor (El Segundo) P
1971 -- Keith Hernandez (Capuchino, San Bruno) 1B
1970 -- Terry Forster (Santana, Santee) P
1969 -- Jeff Burroughs (Wilson, Long Beach) OF
1968 -- Tim Foli (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) INF
1967 -- Bill Buckner (Napa) 1B
1966 -- Kemer Brett (El Segundo) P
1965 -- Bob Boone (Crawford, San Diego) P
1964 -- Willie Crawford (Fremont, Los Angeles) OF
1963 -- Bob Tolan (Fremont, Los Angeles) P-OF
1962 -- Rudy May (Castlemont, Oakland) P
1961 -- Bob Bailey (Wilson, Long Beach) SS
1960 -- Wade Blasingame (Roosevelt, Fresno) P
Note: List extends back to 1899 in Cal-Hi Sports Record Book and Almanac. Call 1-800-660-1334 to order previous editions. Others on all-time list include Don Drysdale (1954), Frank Robinson (1953), Bob Lemon (1939), Bobby Doerr (1936), Ted Williams (1935), Joe DiMaggio (1931), Joe Cronin (1924), Harry Heilmann (1912) and Walter Johnson (1905).