UCLA baseball has 15 new players coming to Westwood this fall to replace the 10 who got picked in the 2021 MLB Draft and even more who graduated and went elsewhere. From top recruits to under-the-radar prospects and high-profile transfers, All Bruins is breaking all of them down to see what they could offer UCLA in 2022 and beyond.
Here is the scoop on incoming freshman Ethan Gourson.
The Bruins’ most recent commit showed left-handed power during his senior season and could become an impact bat off the bench this spring.
Ethan “Duce” Gourson was committed to Arizona’s 2021 recruiting class as far back as 2018. It seemed that Gourson would head to Tucson this fall, but with former Wildcats coach Jay Johnson leaving for the LSU job this summer, the Point Loma High School (CA) alumnus made a late change, heading to Westwood instead. Committing to UCLA baseball in August, Gourson is the latest recruit added to Baseball America’s No. 1-rated recruiting class.
Perfect Game had Gourson ranked as the No. 456 player and No. 87 shortstop in the country. In California, Gourson was ranked No. 49 overall and No. 18 among shortstops in the 2021 recruiting class.
In his senior season, Gourson’s statistics told a different story than where he was ranked in his class. During regular season play, the left-handed shortstop hit .449 with eight home runs, 11 doubles and 29 walks compared to his nine strikeouts.
Those statistics helped the incoming freshman earn All-CIF First Team honors for the San Diego Section. Gourson had high-profile company, featuring on the first team with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, Marcelo Mayer.
Gourson features a short swing at the plate with solid power packed into his 6-foot-1 frame.
Back when he was still committed to the Wildcats, Johnson praised the program’s incoming shortstop slugger.
“I think (Gourson) is a player that has unlimited potential,” Johnson said.” I think another one [is] that when you look at him one year from now, two years from now, you will all say, ‘Well, we certainly see why you guys recruiting him hard.’”
Coach John Savage will now have a chance to unlock that “unlimited potential” Johnson spoke of.
With three-year starter Matt McLain leaving, Gourson’s fellow incoming freshman Cody Schrier and senior infielder Jake Moberg are the likely top competitors for the starting shortstop spot. Gourson, on the other hand, may have to wait for playing time to show that potential.
Listed as a member with the Yakima Valley Pippins of the West Coast League this summer, the team’s statistics record shows Gourson not playing an inning with the team.
Gourson being a late addition to the Bruins brings new questions that Savage may have to answer this spring. With all but Kyle Karros’ spot up for grabs in the infield, Gourson could find a role playing out of the depth of the roster. Matchups will arise in every midweek game for playing time, often giving the weekend bats a rest. Schrier and Moberg hold larger chances of sticking in the infield, making the left-handed hitter’s chances to secure an early starting gig much lower off the bat. Gourson could begin his collegiate career as the backup shortstop, find another role in the infield or pick up on the outfield skills he dabbled with in high school. Either way, versatility can be a plus for the Bruins entering Pac-12 play, and the more at-bats he gets in 2021, the more of a weapon Gourson can be in the future.