2018 John Curtis baseball team helps fill college ranks
For the past two seasons, John Curtis Christian School has added baseball to its list of state championship titles. For a school that is historically known for its prep football prowess, it’s quite an accomplishment, as they competed in the LHSAA Division I level.
The 2018 Patriots squad that defeated St. Paul’s for the state title was special in that it produced eight players who signed to play at the college level for 2019. The team ranks among the all-time best in New Orleans high school history, in terms of the outstanding talent it produced.
Historically, the metro New Orleans area high schools have been an abundant feeding ground for college baseball programs. Most of them compete for Louisiana universities and community colleges, but usually there are others who wind up playing for colleges in surrounding states, as well as a few colleges outside of the mid-South.
This year’s college baseball rosters contain over 150 high school players from the metropolitan New Orleans area (East Bank, West Bank, North Shore, and River Parishes), representing 45 high schools attended and 33 colleges to which they advanced.
John Curtis’s contribution to the college ranks this year includes eight seniors who played on its 2018 championship team. Patriots coach Jeff Curtis, the Times-Picayune Metro Coach of the Year in 2018, fielded a talented team, as four of the Patriots’ seniors were first-team All-Metro selections, with three additional seniors and a junior receiving honorable mention recognition.
Infielder Cade Beloso was named the Metro Player of the Year in 2018. He is currently the starting first baseman for the nationally-ranked LSU Tigers. Pitcher Will Ripoll was honored as the Metro Pitcher of the Year that season based on his 10-0 record and MVP honors in the state tournament. He is now Beloso’s teammate at LSU.
Catcher Jay Curtis, a three-time All-Metro Team selection, is currently the starting catcher for University of Dayton in Ohio. Pitcher Ian Landreneau was an All-Metro Team selection based on his 10-0 record. He is now in the starting rotation for Gulf Coast (MS) Community College.
Infielder Logan Stevens signed with Tulane, while infielder Jordin LaBruzza signed with Baton Rouge Community College. Both have filled utility roles for their respective teams this season.
Two additional college signees from Curtis, Landon Gambill (LSU Alexandria) and Hunter Bufkin (Nunez Community College), have been unable to play this season due to injuries.
In the annals of New Orleans prep baseball history, there are two other noteworthy teams that rival the 2018 Patriots’ team in terms of number of players who went on to the next level.
The 1936 Jesuit Blue Jays are often referred to as the best high school team in local New Orleans history. It featured eight players who went on to play professional baseball, including three (Connie Ryan, Fats Dantonio, and Charlie Gilbert) at the major-league level. Amazingly eleven players from that team were awarded All-Prep honors for the season (eight on the first team and three on the second team). The unbeaten Blue Jays won the Louisiana state championship.
The 1980 Jesuit team also captured a state championship. There were eleven players on that squad that eventually advanced to play at the college level. Five were named to the Times-Picayune All-City team in 1980. Will Clark went on to become the 1986 Golden Spikes winner as the nation’s best college player and then have a 15-year major-league career that included six all-star selections.
An updated list (through 2019) of over 1,600 New Orleans area high school players who have gone on to play at the college or professional levels can be viewed at http://www.thetenthinning.com/articles.html.
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New Orleans baseball historian
Richard Cuicchi, Founder of the Metro New Orleans Area Baseball Player Database and a New Orleans area baseball historian, maintains TheTenthInning.com website. He also authored the book, Family Ties: A Comprehensive Collection of Facts and Trivia About Baseball’s Relatives. He has contributed to numerous SABR-sponsored Bio Project and Games Project books.