SB Grizzlies building ballplayers for the next level


The Santa Barbara Grizzlies collegiate team won a division title.

The Santa Barbara Grizzlies collegiate team won a division title and played in the Bownet Premier League championship game.

The Santa Barbara Grizzlies Baseball Group was established in the fall of 2013 and just completed their second summer of baseball development on the Central Coast. The SBGBG have established themselves as a developmental program for age groups 12-21 years of age, fielding a 15U, 17U team and a collegiate team.

The program is directed by former Major League Baseball player Jeff Salazar. The teams spent six months training and playing competitively on the Central Coast.

“Our goal long-term is to teach our players important lessons on the baseball diamond that translate socially into everyday life,” Salazar said of the program. “We cater to all different types of athletes with some having the ability to play at the next level. At the end of the day, we want our players to have an enriching experience that will make them better players, more importantly, better people.”

The 2014 collegiate team was coached by Roderick Hutchinson of St Bonaventure High and former minor league player Lou Lucca. For the second year in a row, the college team competed in the Bownet Premier League, winning the inland division and playing in the championship playoff game. Several players had breakout performances for the Grizzlies. Left-handed pitcher and former Santa Barbara High star Gabe Grandcolas anchored the pitching staff, with right-hander Jeff Swartz of Ventura College and righty Gabe Neustadt of Santa Barbara City College rounding out the bullpen.

Offensively, there were many contributors throughout the summer campaign. The combination of junior college and high school players made up the nucleus of the roster. SBCC’s Cody Santana, Oxnard JC’s Brian Magna and Jeremy Sanchez, and Ventura College’s Keith Tatum were consistent performers for the Grizzlies. The high school players on the roster all came from the top programs on the Central Coast. Santa Barbara High was represented by outfielders Daniel McKinney, Dalton Schroeder, shortstop Bryce Morison and infielder John Jensen. From Dos Pueblos was infielder Luke Coffey. Rounding out the roster was Jacob Pritchard and Zach Torra from Santa Ynez High and outfielder Avery Tuck from St. Joseph High. Representing the Grizzlies in the Bownet Premier 2014 All-Star game was Santana, Neustadt, Magna, and Morison.

The 17-under squad played a 25-game schedule over 10 weeks.

The 17-under squad consisted of many of the top prep underclassmen in the area.

The Grizzlies 17U were coached by former UCSB Gaucho, Ryan Palermo. In his second year at the helm, the Grizzlies played a competitive schedule of 25 games in 10 weeks, highlighted with travel to Los Angeles to play in the Trosky Showcase tournament and traveling north to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for its annual team camp. Filling out the roster were many of the top high school players from Santa Barbara High, Dos Pueblos, San Marcos, Santa Ynez and Carpinteria. Several members of the Grizzlies 17U were selected to play in Trosky Showcase events and received invitations to the annual Area Code Tryouts held at Westmont College.

The Grizzlies 15U were coached by Gabe Grancolas, Kevin Gowdy and Skyler Sabado, and all operations were overseen by Jeff Salazar. The 15U played a competitive schedule versus teams from the Central Valley, Central Coast and Los Angeles. The roster featured players from Santa Barbara’s finest elementary schools that have developed and played in Goleta Valley South Little League, Dos Pueblos Little league and Santa Barbara Pony Baseball.

Several players within the program have made their mark at their respective high school and junior college programs receiving attention from universities and national showcased across the country. Gowdy, a right-hander from Santa Barbara High, has received an invitation to train with Team USA 17U in Cary, N.C., the month of August. He also has gained national notoriety from Perfect Game National and the New Balance Area Code Games.

Players on the 15U team have come out of the local youth leagues.

Players on the 15U team have come out of the local youth leagues.

Tuck received invitations to perform and play for Perfect Game events in California and has been selected to the roster of the Underclassmen team for the New Balance Area Code Games in Long Beach.

Former members of the Grizzlies Collegiate team have also garnered attention and college interest. LHP, Austin Kamel of Oxnard College has signed a National Letter of Intent to attend BYU for 2015. Sabado will attend Benedict College in South Carolina for 2015.

The Santa Barbara Grizzlies Baseball Group is a non-profit organization providing year around instruction and competition on the Central Coast for youth, high school and college athletes. The main goal is to provide professional instruction, so that local players can develop socially and athletically with the goal of playing at the next level.