Update: This story was updated on Wednesday morning to include quotes from Michael Cesar and Chad Bentz.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled the South Anchorage baseball coach’s last name. It’s Taylor Nerland, not Taylor Berland.
Juneau-Douglas High School recent graduate Michael Cesar’s summer vacation is off to a pretty good start.
The Gatorade Company named Cesar the 2017-18 Gatorade Alaska Baseball Player of the Year on Tuesday.
Cesar joins Dylan Baker (2009-10) and Joe Kohan (2007-08) as JDHS baseball players to earn the distinction.
“At first it was just a huge surprise,” Cesar said following practice on Tuesday. “Now that I’m trying to take it all in, it’s just a really big honor, especially bringing it back to Juneau.”
“At first, it was just a huge surprise. Now that I’m trying to take it all in, it’s just a really big honor, especially brining it back to Juneau.” pic.twitter.com/6LSSWiQ2cN
— Empire Sports (@akempiresports) May 30, 2018
In addition to athletic excellence, the award’s selection committee also factors in “high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field” when choosing its winners in all 50 states.
JDHS coach Chad Bentz didn’t know much about the award when won it himself in 1999. He does now though and knew Cesar was a deserving candidate for it.
“When I found out Michael was a contender for it, I really fought hard to push that he should get that award because he screams it,” Bentz said. “Everything that that award represents, he does, and then some.”
According to the Gatorade press release, the 5-foot-9, 175-pound catcher batted .466 and had 20 hits, 12 RBI, 18 runs and eight stolen bases this season. Cesar, a 4.0 student and valedictorian, will play baseball at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington next year.
“I’ve been coaching for 18 years up here, and Michael Cesar is as much a mix of class act and great player as I’ve seen,” South Anchorage coach Taylor Nerland said in the press release. “If I was going to do a draft of players in the state, he’s my first pick. Great energy, great player, great mix of intangibles and tangibles.”
The Crimson Bears captain and four-time All-Southeast Conference selection plays in the state tournament this week. JDHS defeated Ketchikan 11-1 in the Southeast Conference title game on Saturday to nab one of the conference’s two state tournament berths. Ketchikan also qualified for state by winning the most games in the regular season.
JDHS plays North Pole on Thursday at 1 p.m. in the first round. The game will be played at Anchorage’s Mulcahy Stadium.
Last 10 Gatorade Alaska Baseball Players of the Year
2016-17: Jonny Homza (South Anchorage)
2015-16: Jonny Homza (South Anchorage)
2014-15: Nathan Bonck (Ketchikan)
2013-14: Scooter Bynum (Monroe Catholic)
2012-13: Erickson Fish (Sitka)
2011-12: Zach Ferntheil (Service)
2010-11: Adam Manzer (West Anchorage)
2009-10: Dylan Baker (Juneau-Douglas)
2008-09: Ross Venneberg (Sitka)
2007-08: Joe Kohan (Juneau-Douglas)