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Big West Perspective on All-Star Weekend & 2022 MLB Draft
Potential 1st Rd Pick Brooks Lee, and Futures’ Game Participant Denzel Clarke, homer in game at Matador Field.
Had the pleasure of heading to Dodger Stadium Saturday, to check out the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game, in which CSUN’s Denzel Clarke took part, making this spectacular catch. Clarke, a 4th Round Pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, has been on a quick rise on the pro baseball front, since his standout performance in last year’s Draft Combine. He’s currently ranked 14th, among Oakland A’s prospects, starting the season at Single-A Stockton (CAL), before being promoted to High-A Lansing (MDW) on June 14th, the anniversary of the 2021 MLB Combine. Dave Serrano, who coached Clarke at CSUN his last two seasons, had the following comments about the player’s future, in March of 2021.
The All-Star Game returns to Dodger Stadium for the first time since 1980, and thankfully, a potential walk-out by concessions workers for the weekend festivities has been averted, for now. It’s full steam ahead for all the events leading up to Tuesday’s Mid-Summer Classic, including the Futures Game, Celebrity Softball Game, Extra Innings Concert, which happened Saturday, and Home Run Derby, which takes place Monday.
For the second straight year, the draft is being held in July, as part of All-Star Weekend. This is a smart move by MLB, and should continue. Previously, the draft was held in June, when Super Regionals would be in full swing. Having the draft in conjunction with the All-Star game, allows for greater visibility, and greater participation from college and high school prospects. Per this OC Register piece, from JP Hoornstra, TV ratings for the event went up 100%.
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If you follow Big West Baseball, your top-of-mind marketing for the upcoming MLB Draft, centers around Cal Poly SS Brooks Lee, expected to be a Top Ten selection (he ended up 8th), was on the Baltimore Orioles’ “Short List” to potentially be the Top Pick in the Draft, per Mike Axisa of CBS Sports.
Had the Orioles tabbed Lee on Sunday, he would have been the first conference player to go in the top spot since current Angels’ Manager, Phil Nevin went number one to Houston, in 1992. (Five picks later, the Yankees tabbed HOFer Derek Jeter, out of Kalamzoo, MI.) Nevin ended up playing a dozen years in the big leagues, and was 7th in career WAR of any player taken in the 1992 Draft, per Baseball Reference. (Shout out Bergenfield, NJ and U Mass product, Ron Villone.)
RECENT BIG WEST PLAYERS, DRAFTED IN THE FIRST ROUND
2022 Brooks Lee, Cal Poly SLO (8th by Minnesota Twins)
2021 Mike McGreevy, UC Santa Barbara (18th by St Louis Cardinals)
2017 Keston Hiura, UC Irvine (9th by Milwaukee Brewers)
2015 Dillon Tate, UC Santa Barbara (4th by Texas Rangers)
2014 Matt Chapman, Cal State Fullerton (25th by Oakland A’s)
2013 Michael Lorenzen, Cal State Fullerton (38th by Cincinnati Reds)
2012 Mitch Haniger, Cal Poly (39th* by Seattle Mariners - Supplemental Pick)
2011 Kolten Wong, Hawaii (22nd by St Louis Cardinals - Hawaii was in WAC)
2010 Christian Colon, Cal State Fullerton (4th by Kansas City Royals)
2010 Gary Brown, Cal State Fullerton (24th by San Francisco Giants)
2007 James Simmons, UC Riverside, (26th by Oakland A’s)
2007 Wes Roemer, Cal State Fullerton (50th by San Francisco Giants - Supplemental Pick)
2006 Evan Longoria, Long Beach State (3rd by Tampa Bay Rays)
2005 Rickey Romero, Cal State Fullerton (6th by Toronto Blue Jays)
2005 Troy Tulowitzki, Long Beach State (7th by Colorado Rockies)
2005 Cesar Ramos, Long Beach State (35th by San Diego Padres - Supplemental)
2005 Garrett Olson, Cal Poly (50th by Baltimore Orioles - Supplemental Pick)
2004 Jered Weaver, Long Beach State (12th by Los Angeles Angels)
2003 Chad Cordero, Cal State Fullerton (20th by Montreal Expos)
2001 Bobby Crosby, Long Beach State (25th by Oakland A’s)
2000 Adam Johnson, Cal State Fullerton (2nd by Minnesota)
BIG WEST DRAFT HISTORY
CAL STATE FULLERTON TITANS (18 First-Round Picks)
The flagship program in the conference, the Titans are all alone atop the rankings, with their eighteen first-round picks. Tim Wallach (MTL 10th, 1979) has the highest career WAR of any Titan, but Matt Chapman, Oakland’s top choice in 2014, now with Toronto is a solid 3rd among all-time Titans (behind Justin Turner) with the bulk of his career still to go.
Michael Lorenzen, still in the big leagues after being a 1st Rounder in 2013, while Mark Kotsay, current Oakland A’s manager, had a seventeen-year big league career, after being picked ninth in 1996 by the Marlins. Chapman was the Titans’ last first-rounder, back in 2014. Connor Seabold and Scott Hurst, who both made their MLB debuts in 2021, were both 3rd Rounders in 2017.
Wallach is the all-time Titans’ leader in MLB games played (2,212) and HR (260),while 2005 first-rounder Rickey Romero has the most wins (51) of any pro Titan. 2003 first-rounder Chad Cordero has 128 career saves, while Jeff Robinson (1983 2nd SFG) logged 454 appearances in the bigs, tops amongst Fullerton draftees.
The calling card for the Baseball Titans isn’t necessarily producing stars, but churning out guys that end up playing for a while, emphasizing the Augie Garrido/George Horton philosophy of being able to play role. Tim Wallach (2,212 games) and Mark Kotsay (1,914) were first-rounders, but Justin Turner (2006 7th CIN) and Reed Johnson (199 17th TOR) also both played over 1,300 games in the big leagues. Mike Lamb (1997 7th TEX) played nearly a thousand games in ten MLB seasons, while the trio of Dylan Floro (2012 13th TBR), Chris Devenski (2011 25th HOU) and Vinnie Pestano (2006 20th CLE) all logged more than two hundred games as big league relievers.
LONG BEACH STATE DIRTBAGS (10 First-Round Picks)
Last first-round pick for the Dirtbags was back in 2006 with Evan Longoria, which capped a three-year run of first-rounders for the Beach, with Jered Weaver going 12th to the Angels in 2004, and Troy Tulowitzki going 7th to the Rockies in 2005. Jason Giambi, who has the second best career WAR for a Dirtbags’ player, behind Longoria, was a 2nd Round pick in 1992.
In more recent history, Matt Duffy (2012 18th SFG) and Jeff McNeil (2013 12th NYM) has carved out pretty good big league careers, while both Garrett Hampson (2016 3rd COL) and Jaren Duran (2018 7th BOS) continue their ascension. Giambi has played in the most MLB games for any Beach alum, while on the pitching side, Bryan Shaw (2008 2nd ARI) has 729 career appearances, nearly 200 more than the next Dirtbags’ pitching alum Jared Hughes (2006 4th PIT) who checks in with 542. Jered Weaver is top all-time arm, with 150 wins, while 1970 first-rounder, Randy Moffit (whose big sister is Tennis Hall of Famer, Billie Jean King) leads Beach alums with 96 career saves.
CAL POLY MUSTANGS (4 First-Round Picks)
When Brooks Lee’s name was called by the Minnesota Twins (8th Overall) on Sunday, it gave the Mustangs their fourth first-round pick. Cal Poly’s last first-rounder came back in 2012, when Mitch Haniger was taken in the supplemental part of the round. Southpaw Garrett Olson went 48th (supplemental) in 2005, becoming the second Cal Poly player to go in the first round, John Orton, who went 25th in 1987 to the Angels was the first. Orton ended up playing 156 big league games, over five seasons.
UPDATE: RHP Drew Thorpe was drafted by Yankees in 2nd Round (61st Overall), since this piece was filed.
Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith (1977 4th SDP) has played the most games by (2,573) of any Cal Poly player to reach The Show. His 2,573 games are nearly as many as the next seven big league Mustangs combined. Mike Krukow (1973 16th CHC) had a solid career on the mound, racking up 124 major league wins, most by any Cal Poly arm, and has extended that in the San Francisco Giants’ broadcast booth. Bud Norris (2006 6th HOU) had 47 career saves over his decade in The Bigs.
Spencer Howard (2017 2nd PHI) and Mark Mathias (2015 3rd CLE) are both currently in the big leagues, while Haniger has played just nine games in 2022, after having a big year for the M’s in 2021 with 39 HR and 100 RBI. Haniger’s 104 career MLB HR are the most by any Cal Poly player ever drafted into the pro ranks.
UC SANTA BARBARA GAUCHOS (3 First-Round Picks)
The most recent Big West first-rounder before Brooks Lee, was Mike McGreevy, who went 18th to St. Louis, in 2021. The ‘Chos also saw Dillon Tate (2015 1st TEX) go fourth overall, after closing out his career at UCSB. Prior to Tate, the last Gaucho to be picked in the first round was Derek Vanacore, who was tabbed 11th in 1984 by Kansas City, but never made the big leagues.
Barry Zito was a first round pick (9th overall) by Oakland out of USC in 1999, and had pitched at UC Santa Barbara as a Freshman in 1997. He transferred to Pierce College in the Valley in 1998, and was a 3rd Round pick by Texas, but opted to join the Trojans in 1999. Zito played at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium in 1997 with Michael Young (1997 5th TOR), who made the bigs with the Rangers, and played fourteen MLB seasons. Young is the Gauchos’ current career WAR leader, but Shane Bieber may have something to say about that sooner than later. He won the Cy Young and the unofficial “Pitcher’s Triple Crown” in the COVD-shortened 2020 season.
Kyle Nelson (2017 15th CLE) of Arizona joins Bieber and Tate as current Gaucho big leaguers. UC Santa Barbara has had seven of their last ten draftees, dating back to 2019 go in the top eight rounds. Michael Young is tops amongst Baseball Gauchos in both games (1970) and HR (185), with a .300 average. Skip Schumaker (2001 5th STL) logged 1,149 MLB games with a career .278 average, and earned a World Series ring with the 2011 Cardinals. Ryan Spilborghs (2002 7th COL) played in 619 games over his seven seasons, and hit .272 with 62 homers, second behind Young on the Santa Barbara career list. He’s now a baseball host & analyst for Sirius XM. On the pitching side, Tate and Bieber are 1st and 2nd in terms of MLB games pitched, with Bieber in the top spot for wins, with 45.
HAWAII RAINBOWS (3 First-Round Picks)
Kolten Wong is the most recent ‘Bow to go in the first round, back in 2011, when St Louis tabbed him with the 22nd pick. Hawaii was in the WAC at the time, and have not had a first-rounder, since they joined the Big West in 2013.
Hawaii had two previous first-rounders, Mark Johnson, who went 19th to the Astros in 1996, and Mike Campbell, who went 7th to the Mariners in 1987. Wong’s 1,035 career games and 73 HR are both tops in UH history. Chuck Crim (1982 17th MIL) tallied 47 wins and 45 saves over 449 career games in the big leagues, while Scott Karl (1992 6th MIL) leads all Hawaii hurlers with 54 big league wins in 178 career games.
Josh Rojas (2017 26th HOU) has secured a regular spot in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ line-up over the last two seasons, making him the first ‘Bows big leaguer, since the school came on board in the Big West. Glenn Braggs (1983 2nd MIL) launched 70 long balls over seven big league seasons, that encompassed 692 games. Greg Garcia (2010 7th STL) is 3rd in career MLB games for Hawaii, with 578.
Aaron Davenport (2021 6th CLE) and Jeremy Wu-Yelland (2020 4th BOS) are both single-digit choices in the last two drafts. The first two since Wong was selected in the first round, in 2011.
CSUN MATADORS (3 First-Round Picks)
While Denzel Clarke is on the rise in professional baseball, the Matadors haven’t had a first-rounder since Adam Kennedy (1997 1st STL), twenty-five years ago. Steve Ellsworth was 9th pick in the Secondary Phase of 1981 by the Red Sox, making the big club for a year in 1988, pitching eight games. Gil Kubski (1975 1st LAA) went 12th in 1975 and ended up playing 22 big league games.
Clarke was the first Matador drafted since 2018, and first single-digit rounder since Conor O’Neil (2017 7th NYM). Kenny Rosenberg (2016 8th TBR) reached The Show in 2022 with the Angels, the first Matador big leaguer since CJ Fick (2007 15th STL) who pitched 20 games in 2012. Jason Thompson (1975 4th DET) leads CSUN players in career WAR at 24.9, with 1,418 MLB games, where he hit 208 homers over eleven seasons for four teams. Kennedy leads all CSUN players with 1,691 games and a World Series title with the 2002 Angels.
Kameron Loe (2002 20th TEX) appeared in 322 games, registering 34 wins, both tops for CSUN big leaguers. Jeremy Hernandez (1987 2nd STL) had 10 wins in 133 career games over his five-year big league career, where he racked up 20 saves as well. Lyman Bostock (1972 26th MIN) logged a career .311 average in 526 games, before his career was cut short by tragedy, when he was murdered in 1978, at the age of 27. Bostock’s was a rising star, as he’d signed a contract with the Angels prior to the 1978 season, after hitting .336 with 14 HR and 90RBI with the Twins in 1977.
UC RIVERSIDE HIGHLANDERS (2 First-Round Picks)
James Simmons was the last first-rounder for the Highlanders, the 26th pick by Oakland in 2007. Daron Kirkreit went 11th overall to Cleveland in 1993, when UCR was at the Division 2 level. Neither Simmons, nor Kirkreit ever made the big leagues. Kirkreit, also a pitcher, bounced around to four five organizations in eight years, he did get one start at AAA. Simmons rocketed to AAA within two seasons, but an arm injury in 2010 curtailed what looked to be a promising big league career.
The most prominent big leaguer for UCR was Troy Percival (1990 6th LAA) who was drafted as a catcher, and converted to a closer by the Angels, and was on the mound when they recorded the final out of the 2002 World Series.
More recently, the Highlanders had a run of 3rd rounders from 2009 to 2011, Joe Kelly (2009 3rd STL), Rob Brantly (2010 3rd DET) and Matt Andriese (2011 3rd SDP). Kelly reached the big leagues in 2011, and is still taking the ball in The Show. He’s pitched in three World Series, winning twice with Boston in 2018 and the Dodgers in 2020.
Brantly played two seasons in the bigs for Miami in 2012 & 2012, and has since stayed in pro ball, with short stints with Chicago (AL), Philadelphia, San Francisco, and most recently with the Yankees in 2021 and 2022.
Andriese was traded by San Diego to Tampa Bay, where he reached the big leagues in 2015. He last pitched with Boston and Seattle in 2021, and started 2022 with Yomuri, in Japan. Mark Rzepczynski (2007 5th TOR) became an interesting MLB trivia question, due to the spelling of his name, but also managed to log 506 games in a ten-year career, where he saw action for eight clubs. He earned a ring as a lefty specialist with St Louis in 2011.
John Lowenstein (1968 18th CLE) was the first scholarship baseball player in UCR history, logged two World Series with Baltimore over his sixteen year career, while Eric Show (1978 18th SDP) took the mound in the 1984 Fall Classic, against the Kirk Gibson Tigers. UC Riverside had a player drafted every year from 1998 to 2019, a streak that ended in 2020 . Cole Percival signed with the Dodgers as an Undrafted Free Agent, but no Highlander was selected in the COVID-truncated, Five Round Draft.
When Mark Contreras (2017 9th MIN) joined the Twins in May for one of his two big league stints, he became the first Highlander in the show since Andriese in 2015. There are currently two additional UC Riverside players poised at AAA, Ryan Lillie (2017 5th MIA) with the Padres chain and Vince Fernandez (2016 10th COL) with the Oakland organization, both await the call.
UC IRVINE ANTEATERS (One First-Round Pick)
The lone Eaters’ first-rounder is Keston Hiura (2017 1st MIL) who was 9th pick in ‘17 Draft, and after rapid advancement, crashed the big leagues with an impressive season in 2019 (.303/.368/.570 19HR 49RBI in 84g) But the last three years for Hiura have been somewhat uneven, to the point that he was optioned to AAA prior to the 2022 All-Star Break. But, fear not, as it’s likely that Hiura could return to the big club sooner than later.
Irvine’s draft pedigree was affected by the fact that from 1993 to 2001, the school didn’t sponsor a baseball program. While Hiura has been the only first-rounder from either era, they have had six 2nd Round Picks over their history. In recent history, both Andrew Morales (2nd Rd, 71st Overall, STL) and Taylor Sparks (2nd Rd, 58th Overall, CIN) went in 2014, and Andrew Thurman (2nd Rd, 40th Overall, HOU) was selected in 2013.
Both Brandon Lewis (2019 4th LAD) and Andre Pallente (2019 4th STL) are the most recent single-digit draftees since Hiura. Pallante made his big league debut on April 10th, and has moved into the Redbirds’ starting rotation, as of June 4th, the seventh UC Irvine player to reach The Show, since baseball returned in 2002.
As far as big-league pedigree, Brady Anderson (1985 10th BOS) played in 1,834 big league games, and launched 210 career HR, and Doug Linton (1986 43rd TOR) logged 112 career appearances over seven big league seasons, with five different clubs. Linton’s career record is 17-20, with a 5.78 ERA. Christian Bergman (2010 24th COL) appeared in 71 games over his MLB career, with 11 wins, and Dylan Axelrod (2007 30th SDP) tallied nine wins in 59 career games, at the Major League level.
After Hirua (247 career games 44HR), Bryan Peterson (2007 4th MIA) played in 181 big leagues games from 2010 to 2012, all with the Marlins. Peterson’s best year came 2011, when he played 74 games, and hit .265 with 2 HR and 10 RBI. Calvin Faucher (2017 10th MIN) made the Tampa Bay Rays’ roster in 2022, throwing out of the bullpen. The next save am Anteater alum gets in the Major Leagues, will be the first in their history.
UC DAVIS AGGIES (0 First-Round Picks)
The highest Aggie ever drafted was Daniel Descalso (2007 3rd Cardinals), and he’s also played the most MLB games (1,079) of any player out of the UC Davis program. Most recently, Tanner Murray was taken in the 4th Round of the 2020 Draft by Tampa Bay, making him the first single-digit round draftee for the Aggies since Jake Jeffries went in the 3rd Round of the 2008 Draft, also to the Rays. Jeffries tapped out with 9 games in AAA for the Marlins in 2013.
Ty Kelly (2009 13th BAL) played 118 games, mostly with the Mets and Phillies (69g in 2017). Eddie Gamboa (2008 21st BAL) spent eleven years in affiliated ball, with four organizations, finally cracking the majors in 2016, pitching in seven games for the Tampa Bay Rays, and has pitched in Mexico since 2018. Gamboa totaled 68 wins and 12 saves in 272 minor league games.
Joe Biagini (2011 26th SFG) appeared in 222 major league games, with fifteen wins and three saves to his credit. He spun seven and a third scoreless innings over six appearances for Toronto, during their 2016 Post Season run, which saw them lose to Cleveland, in the ALCS. Biagini last pitched in the big leagues in 2021, where he appeared in one game for the Cubs, spending most of the year with Iowa (AAA). The Blue Jays currently have him stashed at AAA Buffalo.
Murray is currently at Bowling Green (A+) in the Tampa Bay chain, while Robert Garcia (2017 15th KCR) is currently at Jacksonville (AAA) in the Miami organization. The Aggies fortunes are looking up, under new Head Coach Tommy Nicholson, who played at Texas, and spent six years in pro ball, with the White Sox and Rockies’ chains, playing 570 career games, and ascending as high as AAA.
CSU BAKERSFIELD ROADRUNNERS (0 First-Round Picks)
The Runners have never had a first-round pick, but remember, they’ve only been playing baseball since 2009. In their short D-1 history, they have had two single-digit round picks, Darius Vines (2019 7th ATL), currently in AA, and Scott Brattvet (2013 8th CIN) who peaked at High-A over his four years with the organization, but did get a brief, two-game audition at AAA Louisville in 2015.
The Runners have produced two big leaguers in Austin Davis (2014 7th PHI) and Mickey Jannis (2010 44th TBR). Jannis appeared in one game for Baltimore on June 23rd of 2021, a 13-0 loss to the Astros. He’s spent part of 2022 with the Chicago Dogs of the now Independent American Association.
Davis reached the bigs with the Phils in 2018, and is currently part of the Boston Red Sox bullpen. He’s logged 118 career games in the Major Leagues, with a 3-5 record, and 4.90 ERA. He made an appearance in the 2021 ALDS for Boston, against Tampa Bay. He missed his Sophomore season with CSUB, but was good enough in 2014 to get onto the draft board with the Phillies.
Among recent draftees, Jacen Robertson (2021 16th ARI) is currently in the Cal League, with Visalia, while Lefty Edgar Barclay (2019 15th NYY) is on a couple of prospect lists for the Yankees, as he works at High-A Hudson Valley. Barclay was a JuCo transfer to CSUB, and got drafted after a lone season with the Runners.
UC SAN DIEGO TRITONS (0 First-Round Picks)
The Tritons joined the Big West in 2021, after a solid run as a Division 2 power. They reached the D2 College World Series three straight seasons from 2017 to 2019, reaching the final in 2017. UC San Diego missed the post season in D2 just three times since 2005 (in 2006, 2013 and 2016), and hope to put together a similar string of success at the D2 Level.
Most recently, Shaw Whitcomb (2020 5th HOU) had his name called in the last round of the COVID-shortened 2020 Draft. He was the third 5th Round pick in UCSD history, and is currently at AA Corpus Christi. The highest pick in Tritons history was their lone second-rounder, dating back to their D3 Days, Bill Pinkham (1981 2nd TOR) . Pinkham got as high as AA for the Jays, but never reached the big leagues.
The Tritons have had six players reach the big leagues, all but one came during their Division 3 Era. Guido Knudson (2011 28th DET) reached The Show in 2015, pitching four games for the Tigers, after playing during UC San Diego’s D2 membership.
Edgar Gonzalez (2000 30th TBR) was drafted the last year the Tritons were in Division 3, and ended up playing 193 big leagues games, from 2008 to 2009 for the hometown Padres. Gonzalez, while drafted out of UC San Diego, began his career at San Diego State, and prepped at Eastlake HS in Chula Vista. He played in two WBC for Mexico, in 2009 and 2013, and comes from a baseball family, as his brother, Adrian, played in the Majors for fifteen years and four clubs, most notably, the Padres and Dodgers. Edgar wrapped up his career in Japan, and then got into coaching, and was recently (2019) the Manager for the Yankees’ entry in the GCL.
Bob Natal (1987 13th MON) ended up playing 120 games in the bigs from 1992 to 1997, batting .197 in 289 ABs. He’s an answer to a trivia question, as he was the player the Expos lost in the Expansion Draft to the Florida Marlins, when they entered the league in 1993. Kerry Dineen (1973 4th NYY) crossed paths with some big names over his time in the Yankees’ organization. He played for Hall of Famer Bobby Cox at AAA Syracuse in 1974 and 1975, where one of his teammates was “Louisiana Lightning” Ron Guidry, who won the 1978 AL Cy Young Award. Dineen played in 16 MLB games, 11 for the Yankees, who traded him to Philadelphia, prior to the 1977 season, for INF Sergio Ferrer.
Pitchers Mike Saipe (1994 12th COL) and Randy Miller (1974 5th BAL) both had the proverbial “cup of coffee” in the big leagues, appearing in two and six games, respectively. Johan DiPoto (2019 35th KCR) is proving to be a find, as he’s moved up to AA for the Royals, while Ted Stuka (2019 14th DET) is at High-A West Michigan for the Tigers. Just seven Tritons have been selected in single-digit rounds, since 1973.