Shortstop Cesar Cuevas will play Division I next season at Chicago State
BREMERTON — Cesar Cuevas knew he would have to leave his family behind in California to pursue his baseball dream of playing in college.
The first step was signing to play at Olympic College, which he did last season.
The second step was realized when Cuevas agreed to play at Chicago State, a Division I college located in Chicago, next season in the Western Athletic Conference.
To say Cuevas was thrilled with the opportunity to continue playing baseball while eventually earning a business degree would be an understatement. Cuevas, a sophomore, said he had an open mind when it came to recruiting out of high school and knew moving away from his family in Murrieta was part of making his dream come true — sacrifice now for a strong future to help his family later.
He kept that same mentality the second time around and credits his own maturity with helping him make another leap of faith. Cuevas said living on his own and “having responsibilities and taking care of them” has led to his growth. “Also just a trust that I built with the coaches.”
The bonus, it turned out, was finding out how much he liked the Pacific Northwest, specifically Bremerton and the surrounding communities.
“It’s definitely great to live in this area,” he said, adding he doesn’t mind the rain as it’s completely different from the dry, arid, desert he’s used to in Southern California. Cuevas and his Ranger teammates will go hiking and fishing — taking advantage of Kitsap’s recreational opportunities.
“We like to get outside,” he said. “We take what we can get when it’s not raining but we love the scenery.”
OC head coach Ryan Parker likes Cuevas hard-nosed approach to the game as well as his laid-back personality.
“On the field, he’s a leader for us,” Parker said, adding Chicago State is a good fit for Cuevas. “He plays the right way.”
Cueva has been producing on the field for the Rangers.
In 117 at-bats, Cuevas has a .299 batting average hitting in the three hole with a .521 slugging percentage and a .364 on-base percentage. Cuevas has hit 10 doubles, two triples, four home runs and 20 RBIs. Defensively, Cuevas has a fielding percentage of .955 at the shortstop position with 13 double plays, 44 putouts and 63 assists.
Cuevas said playing in the Northwest Athletic Conference, one of the most competitive junior college-level conferences in the country.
“It was a big jump from high school,” he said, adding not only has his power increased but his baseball IQ in the past two seasons thanks to the coaching staff and tougher game situations. “Overall, I’ve definitely matured and understood the game a lot more just by the experience I’ve gotten,” he said.
Currently the Rangers, who host Everett for a 1 p.m. doubleheader Saturday at Knights Field in Bremerton, are 17-21 (5-11 North Division) and are looking to stop a six-game losing skid.