In 66 games this summer against elite competition from California to Arizona to Texas to Florida, Lopes hit 16 home runs with 66 RBIs as a leadoff hitter. Named MVP of three large-scale tournaments over the past two months, Lopes doesn’t let all of this go to his head. For a 13-year-old, that might be the most amazing thing of all. “The best quality about Christian is he’s got a great attitude,” Cruz said. “He’s just got everything going for him. He’s a can’t-miss if he keeps working hard.” Lopes’ parents, Jack and Anglica, have made no small sacrifice in helping to prepare their son for a life of baseball. They work overtime so they can afford to travel across the nation for extended periods to support him. “You know what? There are just so many good kids playing out there, so I don’t want to think ahead too much. Let’s just say Christian is obsessed with baseball,” Angelica said. “That’s what’s on his mind. “He eats, sleeps, whatever, that’s his dream. All we want is for him to go to high school, get a college scholarship, stay out of trouble.” Which brings us to the No. 1 question: Where is Christian planning to play in high school? His first choice is Valencia, though he lives just out of the school boundaries. At least one Foothill League coach – we won’t name names, but no one from Valencia – already has called the parents asking where Lopes is going. Oh yeah, Lopes is also a straight-A student, and just for good measure, he’s taking up football in the Santa Clarita Warriors program this fall, and you can bet Lopes, who’s blazing fast, will prove to be a dominant tailback. “Actually, I played football for one season three years ago but I didn’t really know the game,” Lopes said. “I scored five or six touchdowns, then just played baseball about 10 months out of the year since then.” Little League is heating up this week with the World Series. Lopes can’t help to think what it would have been like to play Little League – instead he always has participated in the more competitive PONY league and travel-ball – and perhaps have a chance to show what he could do on national television. Lopes was 12 just one year ago, and by then he already was hitting tape-measure home runs that would have looked ridiculous on a Little League field. “I would have loved to have been there with Conejo Valley two years ago. I think I could compete with those guys,” Lopes said. Perhaps it’s more meaningful to look into the future, especially with a kid like Lopes. It will be interesting to see just how good he becomes. For now, here’s one piece of advice you can take to heart: Remember the name. Gerry Gittelson’s column appears in the Daily News three times a week. [email protected] (661) 257-5218160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SANTA CLARITA – If you’re wondering who the next baseball superstar from the area will be, look no further than Christian Lopes, a 13-year-old who’s ranked as the nation’s No. 1 player in his age group. Lopes hits 400-foot home runs, and his fastball has been clocked at 84 mph from a regulation mound. Travel Ball Select’s Player of the Year after leading his club team to two national championships this summer, Lopes probably could dominate in high school baseball, but he’s only going into eighth grade. “Baseball is my favorite sport, and it’s my dream to be up their in big leagues one day,” Lopes said. It’s a perfectly reasonable plan if you’ve seen Lopes play. He’s 5-foot-10, 165 pounds and a gifted shortstop, pitcher, catcher, hitter, etc. Even as a 10-year-old, when he carried William S. Hart to the PONY League World Series in Texas, it was obvious Lopes was in a class by himself. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREFrumpy Middle-aged Mom: My realistic 2020 New Year’s resolutions. Some involve doughnuts.“Christian is a very, very special kid,” said his club manager, Lupe Cruz. “He’s got a lot of talent, and he really works hard. I mean, he’s the top 13-year-old kid in the country, so what more can I say? “We play a very highly competitive level of baseball, and he’s that good. A five-tool player.” Lopes has been featured in Baseball America on a regular basis, and that’s about as legitimate as you can get in this world. You’re half-surprised to learn that no, he isn’t related to Davey Lopes, a former Los Angeles Dodgers star. Like all great athletes, Lopes does the extras. He takes batting practice and meets with a private coach on a daily basis and that doesn’t even include the 100 balls he hits off a tee every morning just to wake up.
Best in the nation? Look no further than the valley