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Baseball Preview: Starting Pitchers
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Valenzuela made an immediate impact during his first season at the University of San Diego in 2004 as the Torero mound corps led the West Coast Conference in team earned run average. All four graduating pitchers from his 2004 staff went on to sign professional contracts at season's end.
He was also the catalyst for the 2006 recruiting class that was among Baseball America's Dandy Dozen and also spearheaded the recruiting efforts for the 2008 USD class that was ranked the nation's best by Baseball America.
Valenzuela helped guide the Toreros to the first 40-win season in program history in 2007 with a 43-18 overall record, as well as a program-best No. 4 national ranking and a No. 8 national seed in the NCAA Tournament. He helped guide three pitchers to All-American status in 2007 and 2008 as well as helping guide Brian Matusz to the WCC Pitcher of the Year and the No. 4 overall pick in the 2008 MLB draft. Also under his tutelage, USD has had three pitcher's (Matusz-2007, Josh Romanski -2007 and AJ Griffin-2008) named to Team USA.
In 2008, under Valenzuela's guidance, the Torero pitching staff ranked fourth in the nation in strikeouts (566), fourth in fewest walks (149) and seventh in ERA (3.40). Three of his charges were selected in the first six rounds of the Major League Draft including Brian Matusz (the No. 4 overall pick in the MLB draft), Romanski (4th round) and Ricardo Pecina (6th round). Last June three pitchers from his 2009 staff were chosen by big league clubs in the annual draft.
A native of Covina, Valenzuela returned to Southern California after serving as an assistant coach at St. Mary's College for two seasons (2002 & 2003). While at St. Mary's, he coordinated much of the team's community programs, including directing youth camps and clinics. Valenzuela served as the Gaels third base coach, managed recruiting efforts and also directed the team's strength and conditioning program. His background in developing young talent includes managing the pitching staff of the Brewster White Caps of the Cape Code League in 2003.
Valenzuela garnered All-America honors as a prep athlete at Bishop Amat High School and went on to accept a baseball scholarship at Arizona State University where he was a member of the Sun Devil's 1998 College World Series team. After transferring to Pepperdine, Valenzuela would be honored as the Waves' team captain his senior year, leading Pepperdine to the 2001 West Coast Conference Championship title.
Valenzuela graduated from Pepperdine in 2001 with a B.A. in Criminal Justice. His father, Victor, was an assistant boxing coach for the United States in the 1984 Olympic Games and currently runs the Duarte Boxing Club in Duarte, Calif. His sister, Nicole Valenzuela, was a member of the USD softball team from 2005-08. Valenzuela and his wife Betty have three-year-old daughter Catalina Esmie along with one-year-old twin sons Benjamin Evan and Noah Matthew.