The accolades just keep rolling in for the UCSB baseball team.
First, UCSB Head Coach Bob Brontsema was named Big West Coach of the Year. Then the Gauchos had nine players named either a first or second team All-Big West selection. And now Santa Barbara boasts an All-American.
On Friday, junior James Garcia was named a Louisville Slugger third team All-American, making him the first Gaucho All-American since Jerrold Roundtree in 1991.
“I didn’t pay that much attention to [the award],” Garcia said. “I just try to go out and do my job. When I heard [about the selection], I was as surprised as anybody. It’s a great honor. I was just surprised and happy that someone felt I was worthy of that type of award.”
As a transfer from El Camino Junior College, Garcia enjoyed a stellar year as the Gauchos’ #1 starter. The righty became UCSB’s first 10-game winner since 1991, finishing the season with a 10-4 record. The Torrance native also completed the season with a 3.10 ERA, good for second on the team, and led the Gauchos in innings pitched (122), strikeouts (112) and complete games (5).
All of Garcia’s success has fueled talks that the junior will leave UCSB before his senior season for the bounty of Major League Baseball. According to Pitching Coach Tom Myers, Garcia is likely to be selected between rounds 10 to 15, and if selected, Myers believes Garcia is ready for the pros.
“[Garcia] is going to have a good pro career,” Myers said. “We’d love to have him back here, but if the pro teams come calling and the money is right, we encourage our players to do what is best for them.”
For his part, Garcia has yet to make a decision regarding his future. But he knows that if MLB comes calling, it may be hard to turn down.
“I don’t think I can make a wrong decision,” Garcia said of either coming back to Santa Barbara or going pro. “Coming back would be [good]: I could get closer or get my degree altogether. I’d be coming back to a great place, great coaches and a team that is going to win a lot of games. But if the round and the money is right, then I’m going to have to go.”