At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds with a fastball that has topped out at 94 mph, Gilroy High junior Quinn Larson checks off all the boxes from a Division I prospect standpoint.
But Mustangs coach Dennis Castro said it’s Larson’s intangibles—the competitive fire and love for the game—that fuels Larson’s drive to reach his potential. Case in point: Larson taking the start in last year’s Central Coast Section Division V playoff title game.
“Here’s a sophomore at the time going up in Gilroy’s first finals of CCS, and he did an outstanding job and exactly what I anticipated he would be able to do,” Castro said, referring to Larson pitching 4 1/3 solid innings that helped propel the Mustangs to their first-ever CCS title, 5-4 in 10 innings over Pacific Grove. “That was a big game and he didn’t fold. He didn’t allow the pressure to get to him. He went out like he normally does: put on his plants, put on his cleats and go play ball.”
Larson’s talent and intangibles were the reasons why Fresno State made him an offer three weeks ago. On Easter Sunday, April 22, Larson made a verbal commitment to play for the Bulldogs. Larson will make it official in his senior year, when high school athletes can sign their letter of intent to play for a four-year program.
“I’ve been wanting to play D1 since I was 11 or 12,” Larson said. “It’s always been a goal of mine and things definitely ramped up this past year.”
Larson took two visits to the Fresno State campus within the last month, the first with his dad and the second with his mom.
“The second trip there, that’s when things felt best and I could see myself going there,” Larson said.
Larson credited Erik Wagle, the president of Dub Baseball and Kinetic Performance Institute (KPI) in Morgan Hill, for jump-starting his recruitment to Fresno State.
“Erik sent multiple videos of me to Fresno State and gave them my number, and that’s how I got introduced to them,” Larson said. “He’s been a huge help and has a lot of connections. There is a lot of technology down there at KPI to get all the video and analytics, and it’s been a huge help and a great reason why I’ve been able to do this.”
Larson also credited his parents, John and Carole, and Gilroy coaches Castro and Matt Hemeon for instilling in him a strong work ethic.
“My coaches at Gilroy showed me how to work hard and my parents helped me fall in love with working out from a young age,” Larson said. “My dad is so obsessed with working out, and we have a nice home gym where I was able to get all my stuff done and grow bigger and stronger during quarantine.
“My dad is a CrossFit guy and I see how obsessed he is, and that makes me want to work out and make myself better for baseball. My mom does CrossFit as well and she’ll have her friends over early in the morning to work out. They’re both big on fitness and it helps a lot with my game.”
Castro said Larson has a tireless work ethic, both from a physical and mental standpoint.
“I don’t see any quit in Quinn,” Castro said. “He’s going to give you all he’s got until he can’t give you anything else. Whether it’s practice, work on the side, whatever it is, he’s giving it his all. With that said, he loves the game. He’s out there laughing, smiling, having fun and keeping the game fun. All the things you want in a ballplayer.”
In addition to his fastball, Larson utilizes a changeup and slider in his pitching repertoire.
“Once Quinn gets comfortable and starts throwing more of the changeup and getting comfortable with throwing it in any count, he’s going to be pretty filthy,” Castro said.
The Mustangs entered the week 3-15-1, but Larson said he and his Gilroy teammates are looking to finish the season strong and set a strong foundation to make another run at league and section titles next season.
“We got off to a rough start this season, but I feel like we’re bringing it back and playing some better and cleaner baseball lately,” he said. “Going forward, I just want to provide for my team and do whatever I can to help us succeed. Next year I’ll be a senior and more into a leadership role, and I want to help this team make a CCS repeat of last year. That was the most fun I’ve ever had and we definitely want to experience that again.”
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]