Former Pitman High baseball players Drew Walker and Mateo Garcia have their sights set on Division I competition after signing their National Letters of Intent last week.
Walker, who is getting set to pitch his freshman season at Modesto Junior College, will be taking his talents to UC Santa Barbara next fall while Garcia, who is set to start his sophomore year at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, will be transferring to Santa Clara University next school year.
This past spring, Walker was named Central California Athletic League Pitcher of the Year after going 9-0 in 10 games started. In 54 1/3 innings, he posted a 0.52 ERA, which was top ten in the entire CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. In total, he surrendered just seven runs, four earned off of 21 hits and 26 walks while striking out 88 while leading the Pride to a league championship and a semifinal appearance in the section playoffs.
This offseason, Walker has transformed himself by putting on 20 more pounds of mostly muscle and adding nearly seven miles-per-hour to his fastball. Additionally, he had developed a slider.
“I spent a lot of time this summer and fall gaining that velocity, gaining a lot of weight and putting on some muscle,” he said “UCSB had already shown some interest, but then I sent them some video after I gained the weight and speed, they came and watched, and they liked what they saw even more.
“My dad (Pitman head coach Andy Walker) helped me a lot. My MJC coach, Alex Leach, helped me become more physical and really helped me understand my throw and be more efficient in my throw. But other than that, it’s been me pretty much on my own in the gym in my house just putting on muscle.”
Also collecting awards the past few seasons has been Garcia, who graduated from Pitman in 2022. In his senior year with the Pride, he slashed .417/.541/.761/.1.303 with 35 hits, 21 walks, five home runs, 29 RBI and 53 runs scored. He was named CCAL Defensive Player of the Year. His defensive efforts at third base and in the outfield in his first season at San Joaquin Delta earned him All-Conference honors in the California Community College Athletic Association.
“Last year at Delta, there were a few injuries that led me playing the outfield. I played right field for the most part for the second half of the year, and I did really well,” Garcia explained. “I think that's really what helped my versatility. I think Santa Clara really liked me because they can stick me at any position to help the team win. I really take pride in that. I worked all year last year to get better at that, and I think it all paid off. I think it's something that really helped me out, especially this year in the recruiting process.”
Aside from their fits in the respective baseball programs, Garcia and Walker each had rave reviews for their future campuses. They will head to their new schools at the start of next school year.