Matt Sauer was the total package during his days at Righetti.

Sauer not only had the talent and ability, he also had leadership and competitiveness.

All that resulted in Sauer, a 6-foot-4, 200-pounder, going 25-9 on the mound with a 1.35 ERA over three seasons. 

Sauer went 6-5 with a 2.58 ERA in 59 2/3 innings as a sophomore. He struck out 79 batters in 59 2/3 innings. The next year, he was nearly unstoppable. Sauer went 10-3 with a 0.83 ERA over 84 1/3 innings, striking out 103 batters.

As a senior, Sauer was 9-1 in 13 starts with a 0.98 ERA, striking out 142 batters over 78 1/3 innings. He threw four complete games that season and had exactly two shutouts over three seasons. 

That in turn got Sauer drafted in the second round by the New York Yankees in 2017. Sauer is now pitching in the Yankees' minor league system. 

Sauer is the next nominee for the Times' Player of the Decade contest. 

Sauer was one of the most dominant pitchers this area has seen over the last decade, if not much deeper into the past, but he was also a standout infielder. 

As a senior in 2017, Sauer hit .427 with 50 hits, 37 runs, 24 RBIs, eight doubles, two triples and a homer. He notched 110 hits over three seasons with 84 career runs, 59 RBIs, 20 doubles, two triples and three homers. He struck out just 27 times and drew 25 walks.

Sauer earned back-to-back All-Area MVP awards in 2016 and 2017.

"I've coached at Righetti for 13 years, and he's as good as anybody I've ever had here," then-Righetti baseball coach Brian Tomooka said in 2017. "With his leadership skills throughout the season, with all the attention he was getting, his main focus was on helping Righetti win baseball games."

Sauer helped Righetti advance to the CIF Southern Section Division 3 title game in 2017.

"This past season was a lot of fun," Sauer said then. "I've played baseball with a lot of the guys on the team since Little League. They're my best friends."

Righetti went 27-8 in Sauer's senior season and won the PAC 8 League title with an 18-3 record.

The Times polled current and former coaches to develop its list of nominees for Player of the Decade. A tournament-style voting contest will then be held to determine the Player of the Decade. Readers will be able to vote online at santamariatimes.com; lompocrecord.com and syvnews.com. Players from Northern Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County whose final seasons where between 2010 and 2020 are eligible.

Sauer is the second nominee from Righetti, joining Troy Prober. Lompoc High has two nominees in Ryan Bower and former teammate Lucas Martin. The other nominees announced so far include three from Nipomo High, Carmelo Hernandez and Jeff and Ryan McNeil; Cabrillo's Dylan Maiden; Pioneer Valley grad Chad De La Guerra; former Santa Maria High star Trevor Garcia; Santa Ynez grads Tommy Rowan and Zach Torra; Righetti grad Troy Prober and former Arroyo Grande stars Kyle Raubinger and Ryan Teixeira.

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