ENCINITAS — A senior at San Dieguito Academy will be playing baseball next year at one of the nation’s top public universities.
Tyler Howard, a 17-year-old centerfielder for the Mustangs baseball team, has signed a letter of intent to play baseball at UC Davis in 2023.
San Dieguito Academy announced Howard’s decision on social media last week.
“Congratulations, Tyler, on your signing and commitment to play baseball at UC Davis! We are so proud of you and all your hard work,” the school wrote in an Instagram post.
“I’m really excited for this opportunity — I love the guys up there (at UC Davis). I know a couple of other dudes who already committed there from my class, and I like the college atmosphere they have up there,” Howard said. “I’m also excited because I’ll be able to get playing time my freshman year, and that was important to me when I was looking at different options.”
Howard is one of San Dieguito’s top athletes and quickly became a team leader since being called up to the varsity squad his sophomore year, according to Mustangs baseball coach Carlos Fletes.
“Since Tyler’s freshman year, we always really had high hopes for him, and he’s done everything he’s had to do as a ballplayer to get himself into this position,” Fletes said. “He’s wonderful, easy to coach, and as a teammate, he’s a good teammate and a great leader, and just a hard worker for everybody.”
Last season as a junior, Howard led the team with a .390 batting average. The Mustangs’ outfielder also had a home run, three triples and 11 stolen bases.
Fletes credited much of Howard’s improved power as a slugger to his hard work in the offseason.
“He’s gotten much stronger in the last couple of years, and he’s very athletic,” Fletes said. “Offensively, he’s very strong. He’s a leadoff or three-hole hitter who drives in runs and is capable of stealing up to 30 bases in a season. Defensively, he catches everything coming his way. As a person, he’s a hard worker and a team captain — everybody follows his lead. He works so hard in the weight room — the first guy in here and the last guy out. At the same time, he keeps it fun in the clubhouse and allows the guys to stay relaxed.”
Howard also credited his work in the gym during the offseason as pivotal to his outbreak of success as an upperclassman. He is always looking to improve in every facet of the game.
“My freshman year, I came in starting JV,” Howard said. “I was our top hitter as a freshman, and I got called up to varsity my sophomore year. Going into my junior year, I got bigger and more physical and became the team captain and leader. This past summer, I went to the gym even more and played 28 games in a single month. Working hard in the gym and playing as much baseball as I could. It’s all about the mentality of how you go about the things you do to get better.”
Howard said his coaches and parents have been vital in propelling the senior to this point in his playing career, the senior added.
“I’ve always looked up to my parents; they’re such an inspiration to me. My mom, in particular, went to this high school and was an athlete of the year, so that’s the standard that’s been set that I look toward,” Howard said. “My coaches have such a big role in who I am. They’ve always been super supportive, and they help me get better and better every single day.”
Fletes believes Howard’s commitment to UC Davis reflected positively on the baseball team.
“It’s huge, especially for our program. We have lots of good players, but this really is a big deal because he’s not the biggest outfielder. But with what he’s done through the summer and how much baseball he’s played, he’s also a great student — this is just a well-deserved accomplishment for a kid who came in a little undersized. I’m just so proud of him for the work that he’s put in.”
Howard will begin his studies at UC Davis in the fall of 2023, where he’ll be majoring in managerial economics.