For quite some time, Pima Community College head baseball coach Edgar Soto has been ready for newly graduated Canyon Del Oro High School baseball standout Ryan Retz.
"We've known about him for a while now," said Soto. "He's played on some 16-and-under teams … when you're focused on recruiting in Tucson, you get to know them at a pretty young age."
Pitcher/infielder Retz will bring last season's 2.46 ERA, .379 batting average and Arizona Daily Star 2009 Southern Arizona Player of the Year honors from to the Aztec field on a baseball scholarship.
Soto has no doubt Retz will make an impact early and often.
"I think he has the quality to step in and be a leader," said Soto. "He can lead by example or lead verbally."
Such leadership will be an asset for Pima, which finished 31-22 last season but missed out on a regional playoff berth in the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament.
Soto already knows a few areas where Retz will be able to bolster the Aztec lineup.
"He's going to play position and pitch, he's so good in both areas," said Soto. "There aren't many two-way guys, most of time we don't do that at the college level, but we're going have him doing both."
"(Retz) just has that rare ability, he's got great instincts for the game," Soto added.
Retz is going to face tough competition in the Arizona Community College Conference, which has two 2009 nationwide top-10 programs — Prescott's Yavapai College and Coolidge's Central Arizona College.
Still, Retz has already proven he can compete with some of the best nationally.
The ex-Dorado was selected to play in last week's 33rd annual Sunbelt Baseball Classic in Norman, Okla.
Team Arizona went 7-1, winning the tournament championship over Texas, and Retz was named the competition's Most Valuable Player.
"That is a really competitive tournament," said Soto of the Oklahoma event. "I'm not surprised though, being Player of the Year in Tucson. We breed pretty good baseball players out here."
No school produces talent like Canyon Del Oro, according to Soto.
"(Retz) has good foundations from his high school coaches – there are not too many schools in the country that can compete with CDO, if you look at the number of major league and college players they produce," he said.
"He understands what it takes," said Soto of Retz's big-league prospects. "He's been working with the football team – he's going to play football at Pima.
"He hasn't missed a workout, he's doing everything (head football coach Pat Nugent) is asking him to — everything he does, he gives max effort," said Soto. "When you've got that figured out, well, I don't doubt he could play professional baseball at some point."
While more than a few baseball coaches might cringe at the idea of a star prospect's arm being exposed to crushing tackles between the sidelines, Soto is just as excited to see what Retz, who won high school championships in baseball and soccer with CDO, can accomplish on the gridiron.
"He might be the first one to really come in and excel in both football and baseball," said Soto, who also serves as PCC's athletic director. "He's just a quality person, a solid individual."
Soto is happy to have Retz aboard.
"I think he's going to get here and we're going to help develop him," said Soto. "He will be successful at whatever he does — we're glad to have him for one or two years."