No. 21 Draft prospect clobbers 452-foot homer during MLB Desert Invitational

Cal’s Lomavita showcases well-rounded arsenal in standout weekend

February 19th, 2024

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Exactly two years ago, a freshman named Caleb Lomavita strode into the batter’s box of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in a key spot in the ninth inning of the MLB Desert Invitational. On that day, he delivered a game-tying home run, his first for the Cal Golden Bears; this afternoon, he clobbered one of his longest roundtrippers since, a jaw-dropping 452-foot shot that soared deep onto the left-center-field berm.

If there’s one thing for certain about Lomavita, who has emerged as a potential first-round pick in the 2024 Draft, it’s that he plays the game with an untempered exuberance that is infectious throughout his dugout.

That charisma and personality was on display in Cal’s 2024 Desert Invitational finale Sunday afternoon against Boston College, but so was his prodigious power and ability to handle a variety of arms from behind the dish, all of which has accumulated into him becoming MLB Pipeline’s No. 21 Draft prospect.

In a seesaw 12-10 offensive slugfest, no wallop made a louder sound off the bat than Lomavita’s fifth-inning homer. He ambushed the first pitch from junior right-hander Eric Schroeder, delivering a no-doubt shot that left the bat at 113.9 mph.

“Scouting report was: Loma’s going to get a slider,” Lomavita said. “He put it in the wheelhouse and I didn’t do too much."

Lomavita, a former Hawaii Gatorade Player of the Year during high school, added another knock and sac fly later in the contest, bringing him to 5-for-13 over the weekend with a 1.053 OPS. He boasts a unique setup in the box, preferring an open stance with his feet traditionally close together, closing off as he begins his stride in order to generate additional power. He is routinely able to find the barrel despite tweaks to his mechanics and a swing that can be launch-focused at times.

“Honestly, as long as I feel good, I change my stance every day,” Lomavita said. “It's me being an athlete in the box knowing that I can hit the ball in all different types of ways and adjust to different circumstances. It's huge for me just because I need to know what type of player I am and I've grown in that way. So I think I really just need to be as athletic as possible.”

The last time Lomavita stepped between the white lines as part of the Desert Invitational, he was a freshman carrying around three gloves -- one for the infield, one for the outfield and his catcher’s mitt. Described by Cal head coach Mike Neu as having “off-the-charts makeup” to describe his personality and outlook on both the game and life, Lomavita has morphed into the engine that will make the 2024 Cal Bears go.

Sunday’s game afforded Lomavita the unique ability to work with seven different members of the Golden Bears’ pitching staff. The 21-year-old has made strides as a receiver over the offseason, even earning the confidence of Neu to operate as the primary pitch caller on occasion, a job not always afforded to collegiate backstops.

“I love calling pitches just because of how competitive I am,” Lomavita said. “I played backyard baseball before and we played Wiffle ball in the back and I knew exactly what pitches I needed to throw. I also pitched my whole career up until college. So I kind of know how it works, but I really do enjoy calling the game.”

Lomavita begins what could potentially be his final collegiate campaign as the second-ranked catcher on MLB’s Pipeline 2024 Draft list. After showing glimpses of his potential in ‘22 as a freshman All-American, he burst onto the national landscape with a 16-homer sophomore campaign. Both his hit and power tool project as a tick above average, buoyed by the fact that he hit .316 and .329, respectively, during the wooden-bat Cape Cod League the past two summers.

Lomavita was quick to discuss how proud he was of his teammates for their ability to battle back Sunday, while also lauding the freshmen for contributing to what was a 28-run opening weekend for Cal in their second go-round at the Desert Invitational. He grounded out to end the game in the ninth, but ripped off a 29.3 ft/sec sprint speed in the process, a mark that very few members of the catcher fraternity at any level of the professional ranks can boast.

“It feels like I was a freshman again,” Lomavita said of returning to the event. “I mean, jitters are still there. Other nervousness, feeling of excitement -- it's all the same. I mean, I'm a little kid when I get back on the field.”