Shortstop Levi Jordan doesn’t have to see the numbers. He just hears the sounds.
And they are loud: Crack! Ping! Thud!
Those sounds come from the baseball bat of slugger Quinn Rawson, who has a tendency to turn Puyallup High School batting practice into his personal round of home run target hitting.
“Sometimes he will go up there and say he will hit six home runs — and he’ll do it,” Jordan said. “At Heritage Park, there are houses in right-center field, and he is hitting baseballs in their backyards and off the roofs.”
Rawson doesn’t have to act like Hercules. In baseball around Pierce County, he is the god of power hitting.
“Untapped power,” Jordan said. “It is so natural.”
Rawson, the Vikings’ left-handed first baseman who has hit third in the area’s most potent lineup — on one of the nation’s best teams — has been selected as The News Tribune’s All-Area player of the year for 2014.
The University of New Mexico signee has hit seven home runs, driven in 35 runs and has a slugging percentage of .716 in 74 at-bats.
In his three seasons as a starter, Rawson has hit .401 with 23 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs and 92 RBIs.
“There aren’t a lot of guys like him with that kind of power tool. He has light-tower power,” Puyallup coach Marc Wiese said. “And if he had the opportunity to hit with the old (aluminum) bats, I am sure he would have 25-30 home runs for his career.”
For a kid who grew up bigger than everybody else — he is 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds — Rawson solely used to rely on his physical gifts to produce big numbers.
Even after he arrived at Puyallup as a ninth-grader, he just figured he would continue to hit — and keep wowing everyone.
“I thought it was going to be easy,” Rawson said.
Rawson’s freshman season never took off. At a preseason scrimmage, he ran into former teammate Matt Becker while charging a grounder and broke his left arm. His season ended before it started.
In some weird way, the injury might have been the best thing to happen to Rawson. He had to spend long days watching from the dugout while other ninth-graders, including Jordan, saw playing time.
“That whole year, he would come to the games and stand in the dugout with his sling on. You could tell he really wanted to be out there,” Jordan said. “It set a fire in his stomach to get going and start working.”
In 2012, Rawson seized the starting first base job. He hit a home run against Skyview in his second game.
“I went into the season thinking: ‘Here I am, this big guy. What if I don’t hit any home runs — will anybody look at me?’” Rawson said. “And when I hit that home run, the pressure was kind of off me.”
That summer, Rawson joined Seattle-based En Fuego, a club baseball team organized by former major league scout Steve Avila. Avila was also the one who ran the successful Olympia Pepsi club program that produced 85 professional players.
As Rawson started sorting through college options, it was Avila who suggested he took at New Mexico — a hitting haven for sluggers, including DJ Peterson, who was taken 12th in last year’s amateur baseball draft by the Seattle Mariners and is currently with the Advanced-A High Desert Mavericks.
“At batting practice down (in Albuquerque), I saw how the ball flew,” Rawson said. “And I saw DJ Peterson and envisioned myself the same exact hitter.”
Wiese says he isn’t the easiest coach to play for, and he’s admitted that he has been especially hard on Rawson in front of the team throughout the slugger’s career at Puyallup.
“Guys like Quinn — you know they have a chance to be special,” Wiese said. “So you are going to be a little tougher on those guys, doing whatever it takes to help them take it to the next level.”
By no means is Rawson a finished product. He gets in extended hitting funks, like most teenagers. He strikes out, too.
But in clutch time, Rawson almost always comes up with the goods.
“Sometimes being a smaller hitter, I have to be so technical with my hands and my lower half,” Jordan said. “But when Quinn sees the ball, he hits it 400 feet so when I am on base, I am confident he will get the job done.”
ALL-AREA BASEBALL TEAM
Corner infielder: Tyler Ludlow, South Kitsap, sr.
The Narrows 4A’s best player is a rock at first base, hitting for power (6 HRs) and committing no errors.
CI: Bryce Peterson, Enumclaw, sr.
Hornets’ turnaround can be traced to this third baseman’s production (.375 BA, 4 HRs, 26 RBIs, 10 SB).
CI: Luc Powers-Hubbard, Sumner, sr.
Big-time athlete was known for positive, selfless attitude — and clutch hitting (SPSL 2A-leading .481 BA).
CI: Joe Wainhouse, Kentridge, sr.
Built like Paul Bunyan, this Ole Miss signee led state with 10 home runs; dad, Dave, is ex-MLB pitcher.
Middle infielder: Michael Gretler, Bonney Lake, sr.
What a career. Shortstop is SPSL 3A MVP (.459 BA, 5 HRs, 25 RBIs, 13 SB); going to Oregon State.
MI: Logan Knowles, South Kitsap, sr.
Leadoff hitter at shortstop (.444 OBP) also pitches and plays outfield; will play at U.S. Naval Academy.
MI: Matt Mercer, Timberline, jr.
Ultra-competitive, the shortstop (.350 BA, 2 HRs, 21 RBIs) was even a better pitcher (6-0, 0.00 ERA).
MI: Zachary Rohrbach, White River, sr.
Hornets lost six regulars from last year, making shortstop’s output (.426 BA; 5-1, 0.49 ERA pitching) vital.
Outfielder: Darian Clemens, Puyallup, sr.
Chases everything down in center field and hits cleanup in potent Vikings lineup (.443 BA, HR, 25 RBIs).
OF: Jeffrey Morgan, Auburn Mountainview, sr.
True five-tool threat in center field (.392 BA, 2 HRs, 23 RBIs, 21 SB) has committed to Seattle University.
OF: Scott Sunitsch, Beamer, sr.
WSU signee did it all for Titans with bat (.324 BA, 5 HRs, 23 RBIs) and as mound ace (3-1, 1.58 ERA).
UTILITY: Garrett Terrell, Tumwater, sr.
What hasn’t this All-State workhorse done? He pitches like an ace (6-0, 1.40 ERA), and can fly in the outfield.
CATCHER: Brendan Illies, Puyallup, jr.
North Carolina commit has done less pitching in 2014 to concentrate on natural position (.423 BA, HR, 29 RBIs).
PITCHER: C.J. Blowers, Graham-Kapowsin, jr.
Command of three quality pitches improved, and confidence soared (2-3, 1.42 ERA). Watch out in 2015!
P: Luke Heimlich, Puyallup, jr.
Best pitcher in the area (9-0, 0.57 ERA) is also the SPSL South player of the year; Oregon State commit.
P: Jake Kolterman, Decatur, sr.
Hazen transfer was everything Gators had hoped for in ace (4-1, 1.69 ERA). Also hit .408 with 30 RBIs.
P: Ryan Mets, North Thurston, sr.
Narrows 3A MVP and Oregon State signee dominated (7-4, 0.77 ERA; no-hitter, 35-IP scoreless streak).
P: Christian Parsons, Sumner, sr.
A repeat All-Area pick, this season he was a known entity — and still dominated hitters (9-0, 0.62 ERA).
Player of the year: Quinn Rawson, 1B, Puyallup, sr.
Coach of the year: Jamie Weeks, Tumwater
CI: Connor Anderson, Fife, sr.
CI: Troy Johnston, Rogers, so.
MI: Jesse Bollen, Eatonville, sr.
MI: Levi Jordan, Puyallup, sr.
OF: Taiki Green, Bonney Lake, sr.
OF: Michael Toglia, Gig Harbor, so.
C: Brennon Kaleiwahea, Timberline, sr.
Util: Harrison Bragg, Lakes, sr.
SP: Lane Griffin, Puyallup, sr.
SP: Mac McCarty, South Kitsap, sr.
SP: Tyler McDowell, Puyallup, sr.
SP: Taylor Roelofs, Life Christian/Charles Wright, sr.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442