After strapping on the gear at the catcher’s position for four years of varsity baseball at Carpinteria High School, Toby Spach recently began a new role at the next level. With the first year of baseball at Santa Barbara City College now under his belt, the former Warrior has since discovered a new talent, 60 feet and six inches away, on the pitcher’s mound.
Spach had never given much thought about becoming a pitcher. “It really just didn’t come up after my freshman year (at Carpinteria High School), it was kind of like solidified that I was going to be the guy behind the plate to work with guys on the mound,” he explained. In fact, Spach wasn’t really sold on the idea of catching at first. “I didn’t start catching until I was like 12, I used to actually be afraid of catching when I was younger,” he said. Spach started high school around five-feet-tall and literally grew into the position, reaching over six-feet-tall by the end of his senior year. During his junior season at CHS, he batted .391 and in his senior year, he made first team All Tri-Valley League. After graduating, Spach played a bit for the seven-time National Baseball Congress World Series (NBC) champion Santa Barbara Foresters.
One thing Spach knew for sure was that he wanted to play baseball at SBCC. “It’s an unreal program. It gets guys to the next (four-year college) level, the coaching staff is second to none,” he explained of playing for the Vaqueros. Spach recalled that he first met SBCC Baseball Head Coach Jeff Walker after his junior year as a Warrior, he contacted him again during his senior year, and as a result, Spach found his way to a diamond where he could play ball and get a two-year degree.
SBCC has enjoyed its share of success, winning five of the last nine Western State Conference (WSC) titles and competing in the Southern Cal Regional all nine of those years consecutively. This year was no different. The Vaqueros placed 11 players on the All-WSC squad, and Walker was named 2019 Co-Coach of the Year. It was the fourth time in eight years that Walker has either won or shared the award.
But it took the coaching staff a little time to realize the special talent they had in Spach. “I went through the entire Fall catching. At the end of the year, (the coaches) said you have a really strong arm, can you throw for us in the bullpen?” said Spach. “We kind of put him on the mound out of necessity, we were kind of thin as far as depth on the mound this year,” said Walker. The tryout went well, with the young catcher’s pitches clocking between 91 and 93 mph. One pitch reached the 95 mark.
“As far as our roster coming back next year, all those guys have the ability to play in college, certainly with Toby being a pro prospect,” explained Walker of his players. To make his upside even stronger, Spach has grown a bit since high school, now standing at six-foot, two inches and having bulked up to 185 lbs. Walker likens him to another Vaquero he coached in 2014, Santa Barbara High School’s Lucas Benenati who played shortstop and third base. “We put him (Benenati) on the mound, and it was way different than his ability to play shortstop, he ended playing some pro ball, too,” said Walker. As far as Carpinteria alum Toby Spach’s future is concerned, it appears the sky’s the limit.