The Times' baseball player of the year: Seth Hernandez of Corona

Seth Hernandez did not play high school baseball until this season, his junior year. He was home schooled. Thirty-three games later, the impression he made, the impact he had and the accomplishments he achieved won’t be soon forgotten.

In a season that left many wondering if they were watching a baseball prodigy, Hernandez helped lead Corona High to a 30-3 record and a Southern Section Division 1 title by going 9-0 on the mound with an 0.62 ERA and hitting eight home runs, driving in 34 runs and batting .354 as the No. 3 hitter in the lineup.

“He’s as good as any high school baseball player I’ve ever seen,” coach Andy Wise said.

Hernandez, who is 6 feet 4 and 190 pounds, has been selected The Times’ player of the year in high school baseball for 2024. Committed to Vanderbilt, he’s considered one of the top three prospects for the 2025 amateur draft.

He made a smooth, effortless transition to high school baseball. He fit right in, using his combination of confidence and humility to be a dependable contributor. With his bat, he delivered clutch hits, including a two-run home run in the section semifinals that helped eliminate Huntington Beach. On the mound, his fastball in the mid-90s and terrific breaking pitch left him unbeaten.

He was having fun playing every game.

“It’s great to dominate,” he said. “You put in so much work behind the scenes and when you perform, it’s great. You get emotional a little bit but also keep it under control.”

“He can do it all,” Wise said. “He’s supremely confident, humble, not afraid to fail, will smile in the face of adversity and loves the big moment.”

Teaming with left-hander Ethan Schiefelbein on the mound, Corona proved to be the No. 1 team in the nation. The Panthers won the National High School Invitational in North Carolina before closing their season with five playoff wins against tough Division 1 opponents.

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