Highly-touted Palm Desert incoming senior pitcher Jeremiah Estrada is no longer the only Aztec with a Division I scholarship offer from a southern California baseball powerhouse.
Junior third baseman Jonny Cuevas received an offer from USC during an official visit to the campus last month, and he needed little time to make up his mind to accept a spot on the baseball team of his dream school.
“I’ve always followed USC. There’s always been something about them that drew me,” Cuevas said. “They have a big football team, and I’ve always wanted a school with a good football team. Their baseball program is really, really good, too. Plus, they’re close to home.”
Cuevas said the summer leading into his freshman year, while playing summer baseball with Desert Prospects, his recruiting process took off after receiving his first full-ride offer from St. Mary’s. Other schools began to catch on, including USC, who increased the intensity of their pursuit this summer after the Aztecs’ season finished with a devastating 1-0 loss to Woodbridge in the semifinals of the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs.
In 28 games this season, Cuevas batted .284 with 25 hits, 26 RBIs, 14 runs, five doubles and two triples.
The Trojans, who finished last season 28-28 (15-15 in the Pac-12), haven’t had quite the postseason success Cuevas and members of the Aztecs squad have grown accustomed to in recent years. In the last 11 seasons, USC has made the NCAA tournament just once, in 2015.
But the allure of his dream school was plenty to get the Aztec infielder to verbally commit. Now, he can hone in on improving his skills and putting on about 15 pounds of muscle to prepare for college, rather than wondering and worrying where he might end up.
“It takes a lot of weight off my shoulders. I can just play baseball and not have to worry about the recruiting process or worry about committing anywhere,” he said. “I can just do what I love for two years and not have to worry about anything.”