A San Diego Padres scout called Merced Volunteers coach Rollo Adams on Thursday.
He wanted to know when Brett Mooneyham would pitch at the American Legion State Tournament in Yountville.
The 6-foot-4 left-hander will get the ball Saturday when the Vols open the double-elimination, six-team tournament against Lakewood at 3 p.m.
"He didn't give me names, but he said half of the Padres front office will be there," Adams said.
The Padres drafted the Stanford-bound pitcher in the 15th round in June's Major League Baseball draft.
San Diego has until Aug. 15 to sign Mooneyham. After that date, the Padres lose his rights and he won't be available in the draft until after his third year at Stanford.
"He gives us our best chance to win Game 1 because he's going to be tough to hit," said Adams, whose team is trying to win its second straight state championship and third in four years.
"If he's on his game, he'll send us into the winners bracket."
With Mooneyham, Dylan Floro, Nick Bernardi and Justin Koehler, the Vols (21-13) have the arms to make another run at a state title.
Mooneyham struck out 11 hitters in six innings to help Merced wrap up the Area 3 championship last week against Stockton Ed Stewart.
"When he's on, and he's been on, he's unhittable," catcher Joe Medeiros said. "Even when he's off, there aren't many teams around that are going to beat him.
"What's the most runs Brett is going to give up? Two, three, maybe four runs? Our offense will more than cover that."
With five straight trips to Yountville, the Vols come into the tournament as the favorite -- even with Covina's 25-0 record.
The Volunteers have the offense to back their pitching. Merced scored 29 runs on 35 hits in the two-game sweep of Ed Stewart.
While most legion teams spend the summer playing other teams in their area, the Vols have traveled to tournaments in Las Vegas, South Dakota and Colorado.
The Volunteers have faced the level of competition they'll see this weekend all summer.
"If we hit the ball like we did last weekend, we'll be tough to beat," Adams said.
"That's not (saying) anything against Covina or Lakewood. We travel and that has helped us the last four or five years.
"That's why our program has been so successful."
The experience helps, too.
The Vols have nine players -- most of which played on last year's state title team -- who have already graduated high school on their roster.
Lakewood has none.
"It helps because this is nothing new for us," Medeiros said. "It's the same thing they say about an experienced quarterback or pitcher.
"We're used to the big atmosphere. Most of our guys have been to state and played on a state championship team."
Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Legion State Tournament
All Games at Cleve Borman Field in Yountville
Covina vs. San Bernadino 9 a.m.
Fairfield B & L vs. Burlingame noon
VOLUNTEERS vs. Lakewood 3 p.m.