It’s almost impossible to predict the future, but all things point in the direction that Jack Tomlinson’s baseball skills will translate to the college level. The 2019 Christopher High graduate left for the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) two weeks ago, leaving one brilliant chapter of his life in the rearview mirror and eager to start the next phase of his career.
“It’ll be tough to leave, but I can’t wait for college to start,” Tomlinson said six days before he left Gilroy for La Jolla, where the UCSD campus is located. “For the past month, I’ve decided to make the most of my downtime I had and started training after I got a 12-page workout plan from UCSD. The baseball team has a strength coach and he wrote up the whole thing for the players. I wanted to be in the best shape of my life before going to school, so I started eating super clean and did all the little things to prepare myself.”
In addition to eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods, Tomlinson prepared for the college game by playing in the California Collegiate League for the San Francisco Seals. The 6-foot, 182-pound outfielder was the youngest player on the squad, as the rest of the team was filled with players who were incoming college sophomores, juniors and seniors.
“At first I was a little interested about being the only incoming freshman to see how different it would be (in terms of fitting in),” he said. “But as soon as I started playing, they treated me like anyone else on the team and everything felt normal.”
The Seals played their home games at the College of Alameda in a league that includes the Palo Alto Pufcaps, Healdsburg Prune Packers, Lincoln Potters and Humboldt Crabs. It’s a wood bat-only summer league featuring college players throughout the country. Tomlinson, who has a goal to play beyond college, got a glimpse of what life would be like in rookie ball, Single-A and Double-AA levels.
Long drives. Late night games where you don’t get back to the motel until midnight or later. Then when you get to the motel, you’re sharing a room with three other players.
“Learning how to deal with that and waking up the next day and going to the gym at 8 a.m. and then getting to the ball park at 3 and doing it all over again is something I’ll take with me,” he said.
Despite the grind, Tomlinson enjoyed his month playing for the Seals (an ankle injury that has since healed forced him to prematurely end his summer season).
“The California Collegiate League is a lot different than any baseball league I’ve played in,” he said. “Although it was tough at times, it made me feel like a kid again. It was fun and loose, and I learned a lot.”
Even though the fall quarter for UCSD doesn’t start until Sept. 26, Tomlinson is already on campus to get an early start for fall ball. He’s always prepared himself for this moment—to play college baseball and if all goes well to get drafted one day—by doing the right things, being responsible and putting himself in a position to succeed. And if that means getting to bed at an earlier time when others might be hanging out at night, then so be it.
Sacrifices need to be made, and Tomlinson has his priorities—academics and baseball—in order. Tomlinson, of course, had a spectacular senior season at Christopher High in which he was named to the MaxPreps California All-State First Team for the medium school division (1000 to 2000 students). Tomlinson compiled a list of gaudy stats, but none was more impressive than walking 35 times in 30 games, a testament to his patience at the plate and ability to read pitchers well.
It was a storybook ending for the Cougars, who won the school’s first-ever Central Coast Section baseball championship with a victory in the Division II title game.
“It was quite a rush (when the final out was recorded) because the entire lineup was all seniors,” Tomlinson said. “Ever since we were freshmen, we talked about winning CCS at some point. We were always talking about it every year. We kind of jelled immediately, and it just seemed surreal it happened after talking about it for so long. After the last out was made, I don’t even remember running into the dog pile. I kind of blacked out for a moment and started remembering things when we took the awards afterward.”