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Arizona baseball recruiting: Jacob Blas brings experience on big stage to Wildcats in 2017

This is a big-time prospect the Cats are bringing in

Jason Bartel

When the Arizona Wildcats visit the USC Trojans this weekend, one UA fan in attendance will have a little more invested in the game than the rest.

Jacob Blas, a 2017 Arizona commit, will make the short trip up to Los Angeles from his hometown of San Marcos, CA.

These won't be the first Arizona games Blas has seen this year. The high school junior made his way to the first of the Wildcats' games at the Tony Gwynn Classic in February, but was too sick to check out all three games.

"I was so sick it was brutal," he joked. "I couldn't go to school, I couldn't even see. I lost like ten pounds. It was just bad."

Blas, who earned a rating of 9.5 out of 10 at a Perfect Game Showcase, will also be attending this year's version, along with a few other Arizona commits.

Jacob has a lot of experience in big-time events before coming to college. He will have participated in a couple of Perfect Game Showcases, including one this coming June, and was even a member of the 15U Team USA team that traveled to Mazatlan, Mexico in 2014.

"I've never been emotional like that, but I was in tears of joy when that happened," he explained of the moment he was selected to take part in that.

"I'd never been like out of the country," Blas continued about going to Mazatlan. "I went to Puerto Rico when I was younger to play baseball, but I had never been on that big of stage."

"That was a life-changing experience for me," Blas said of his time with Team USA. "That opened up so many opportunities for me for the college recruitment. And I developed some unique bonds with my teammates and roommates from that I still have to this day."

"It gave me confidence that I can hang on the big stage."

That big stage will prepare him well when travelling to Pac-12 parks throughout his college career.

"It was crazy," he said of playing against Team Mexico in Mazatlan. "There were like 15,000 people cheering and going against us, and we ended up winning that game. It was so fun. I really like playing in that type of environment. The bigger the game, the more fun they are, and I feel like there will definitely be a lot of them (in the Pac-12)."

Like many Arizona baseball commits, Blas has been to campus during the baseball offseason, taking in the sights and sounds of other Arizona Athletics events while on his visit.

He committed to U of A on his visit in September, choosing the Wildcats over schools like the University of San Diego, San Diego State, Stanford, and Cal State Fullerton. His final three were Arizona, Oregon and USD.

After making the decision to become a Wildcat, Blas returned to Tucson in December for the basketball game against UNLV.

"The atmosphere during the basketball game was really cool," Blas explained. "That was really fun. There were a bunch of us (Arizona baseball commits) there."

Among other places Blas has visited was Oregon, and he actually was on his visit at the same time as former Oregon commit and current Wildcat freshman pitcher Cody Deason.

"I really liked it there," Blas said of his time in Eugene. "The weather though, I'm a hot weather person. And I thought at Oregon the coaches were really cool, but honestly I just fell in love with Jay's coaching style. I just felt really connected to him and that was a much better fit for me as a person."

Coach Johnson had already been pursuing Blas while he was still at Nevada, but the move to Arizona really opened Blas' eyes to what could be.

"I really liked him then," the prospect said about Johnson recruiting him to Nevada. "But I really wanted to go to a bigger school, so I didn't think that would be a good fit for me. But once he came to Arizona, he reached out to me and he saw me play a few times and we kept in touch. Then I came out for the visit, so I went with it."

"I feel like he's a lot more relate-able," Blas explained of what sticks out about Arizona's head coach as opposed to others that were recruiting him. "I really felt connected to him. And I really like his baseball approach. I feel like he's going to be able to develop my game and help me reach my goals."

When Blas arrives on campus in the fall of 2017, all of Arizona's current options at shortstop will have moved on, opening up an opportunity for this freshman to earn playing time right away.

And his style fits perfectly into what Johnson is doing in Tucson, as well as Hi Corbett itself.

"Defense is definitely the strongest part of my game, and I have pretty good speed," Blas said. "I love how they play. It's going to be a good fit. I'm really aggressive and like to use my speed to my advantage."

Plus, the facilities aren't bad either for trying to become a professional baseball player.

"Hi Corbett is just a beautiful ballpark and I can't wait to call it home for the next couple years," he added about Arizona's stadium. "With all the cheering, it was just overwhelming, and they have all the resources you need to succeed."

He says he patterns his game after his role model, Derek Jeter, hitting more line drives than anything. But this video says otherwise:

So what's he trying to do before he makes his way to Arizona, or possibly the MLB Draft?

"Just trying to become a better athlete," explained Blas, who currently stands in at 5-foot-11, 165 pounds. "Just hitting a lot and doing everything I can to be better."

Assuming he doesn't end up being a high draft pick in two years, this is a guy who could keep the recent tradition of great middle infields alive, bringing a strong defensive game along with the kind of offensive game that plays well at Hi C and the rest of the Pac-12.