Rivera Shines Bright In Southern California

Rivera Shines Bright In Southern California Prep infielder has strength in versatility By John Sandberg Print Like many baseball careers, Chris Rivera’s began early. Long before learning to read or mastering his times tables, Rivera was developing his swing in a rather unconventional fashion. “When I first started playing baseball I was 3 or 4 years old,” the prep star from Fullerton, Calif., said. “I started swinging with a hockey stick and my dad was throwing me balls and he saw a natural swing in there.” Sooner or later that hockey stick would be replaced with a bat, and it wasn’t long before Rivera’s father was finding other ways to promote the game for his son, this time by showing him old tapes of Pirates legend Roberto Clemente. “I used to love watching him throw from the outfield and watching his swing,” Rivera said. “He played hard every at-bat, every time he ran the bases, every throw he made.” It’s safe to say Rivera was hooked at a young age. His skills developed early and he began to play against older competition. In 2007, Rivera played on USA Baseball’s 14-and-under National Team as a 12-year-old, an experience that he says sparked his ability and made him play even harder. Now a rising senior at El Dorado High (Placentia, Calif.), the 6-foot, 175-pound infielder is getting close looks from scouts. Despite struggling on offense during his junior year, scouts are still impressed by Rivera’s bat speed and raw ability, as well as his defense. Matt Lucas, the interim head coach and former assistant at El Dorado, first saw Rivera play when he was in middle school. It was clear even then that he was an exceptional talent. “He was one of those guys who stood out right away,” Lucas said. “Even as an eighth-grader he was head and shoulders above everybody else that he was playing with.” Rivera has committed to Cal State Fullerton, but he hasn’t always wanted to play college ball in the Golden State.
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