Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Taking a summer vacation

To my loyal blog readers, all three or four of you.
I am sorry to ruin your summer vacation, but the NCAA has banned me from blogging about Cal Poly sports for the next month.
OK, not really. But the NCAA is cracking down on blog updates from NCAA Championship events if you can believe that. Read all about it here.
I am going on vacation through July and probably won’t be posting any updates until the football team opens camp on Aug. 8.
Until then, check out my blog updates from the 98-mile kayak trip down the coast of SLO County.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Big West among best in college baseball

How about a hand for the Big West Conference.
The Big West tied a conference record when it sent four baseball teams to the NCAA Tournament a couple weeks back and two teams are still alive.
Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine, two teams that lost 2 of 3 to Cal Poly this season, have advanced to the College World Series.
UC Irvine, which did finish ahead of the Mustangs in the Big West standings, is going to the Series for the first time in program history.
Cal State Fullerton, which finished behind Cal Poly in the standings and lost a series to the Mustangs eight days before the 64-team field to the playoffs was unveiled, is going to the College World Series for the 15th consecutive year.
Two other Cal Poly opponents, Rice, and it appears Oregon State (which is up early against Michigan in the second game of their super regional), are on their way to the College World Series as well.
Which solidifies Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee’s recent comments about the Mustangs playing “one of the toughest schedules in the country” and that the disappointing part about not making the tournament is, “if you can just get to a regional, anything can happen.”
Look at Cal State Fullerton. The Titans lost 11 of their final 17 games going into the tournament and are off to Omaha.
Cal Poly was likely one of the last three teams left out of the tournament, a committee chairman recently told Baseball America.
The baseball publication also points out a notable fact about the tournament:
“Every single West Coast team is on the left side of the bracket, making it impossible for two West Coast teams to meet in the national championship series and making it more difficult for Western teams to get to the College World Series.”
East Coast bias anyone?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Day 2: Running MLB Draft blog

Tribune college beat writer Brian Milne is writing a running draft blog during the two-day MLB First-Year Player Draft. Here is Friday's live entry, which will be updated throughout the final 45 rounds scheduled for today:

Welcome to Day 2 of the draft. Today will be a little slower since the three main Cal Poly guys went yesterday in the first five rounds. All three were underclassmen who confirmed they will be forgoing their final years of eligibility at Cal Poly. The Mustangs have now lost 10 underclassmen in the past three drafts.

The three who have been wiped off the board: OF Grant Desme, RHP Evan Reed and RHP Thomas Eager.

There were two other selections that may hurt Cal Poly in the future. Two players who had already signed with Cal Poly were drafted yesterday as well. Cabrillo High left-handed pitcher Danny Duffy was taken by the Kansas City Royals with the 96th overall pick early in the third round. Fresno City College catcher Jameson Smith was drafted 10 picks later by the Florida Marlins. Both will likely go pro.

8 a.m. – Today’s draft, which begins shortly after 8 a.m., continues where Thursday left off with as many as 45 rounds taking place. The draft will conclude after all 30 teams have passed on a selection or after the final selection of the 50th round.

Who to look for locally: Kansas shortstop Erik Morrison, from Arroyo Grande. Oral Roberts right-handed pitcher Chance Chapman, from Templeton. There are a handful of Cal Poly guys that could get a sniff. LHP Grant Theophilus and OF Logan Schafer would be on my board, but neither player will probably garner much attention until next year. … One additional Cal Poly signee should go today in David Van Ostrand, younger brother of former Mustang Jimmy Van Ostrand. The younger VO played for Hancock and the SLO Blues.

There are some noteworthy players from outside the county who may pop up: Devin Lohman, for example, who has played for the SLO Blues and signed with the Big West’s Long Beach State. MLB has ditched the draft-and-follow rule, so that is expected to cut down on the number of prep and community college draft picks. A couple Hancock and Cuesta players could slide in there late.

11 a.m.
– Finally a local player goes on the second day. Templeton’s Chance Chapman, a senior right-handed pitcher at Oral Roberts, was selected with the 263rd overall pick by the Philadelphia Phillies in the eighth round. The 6-4, 210-pounder also pitched locally at Cuesta College.

– Morrison still hasn't gone. The Arroyo Grande prospect, who was a junior shorstop at Kansas this past season, was projected to go as high as the seventh round, according to Kansas head coach Ritch Price (formerly of Cal Poly). His signability may be a problem for some teams.

1 p.m.
– At the 30-round mark, still no Morrison or Van Ostrand for that matter. I'm guessing those two play another year of college ball. Van Ostrand may be the only good news for the Cal Poly program in this particular draft.

1:30 p.m.
– As expected, Chapman was thrilled with his selection in the eighth round – a pretty impressive feat for a unheralded pitcher out of Templeton High who got zero scholarship offers and played a pair of mediocre seasons at Cuesta College.
Chapman evolved into a lights-out starter for Oral Roberts this year and was a second-team All-American who struck out 17 and then 19 batters in a game this season.

“Man, I’m pumped,” he said in a phone interview. “I didn’t really know what team I was going to. I just wanted to get picked up by somebody. … Growing up, I was always and Oakland A’s fan. I didn’t really pay that much attention to the Phillies, but I’m their biggest fan now.”

3:30 p.m. - The second day of the draft has been slooooooooow for locals. Only Chapman has gone. Cal Poly’s Adam Buschini’s brother was drafted though. OF Shane Buschini, who plays at the University of San Diego, was selected in the 11th round (357th overall) by the San Diego Padres.

4 p.m. -
A rash of guys went late in the draft but aren't expected to sign, according to their coaches. ... Cuesta RHP Jason Roenicke was drafted 829th overall by the Cincinnati Reds (27th Round). He is likely attending UC Santa Barbara next season.

Arroyo Grande’s Erik Morrison, a junior shortstop at Kansas, slipped down to the 49th round where he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates (1,415th overall).

Also, Righetti’s Devin Lohman, who has signed with Long Beach State, went 1,277th overall to the Colorado Rockies (43rd round).

Cal Poly’s Logan Schafer, a third-year sophomore, was also drafted by the Rockies with the 1,376th overall pick (47th round).

Under the new rules set on draft picks, players have until Aug. 15 to sign with their respective team.

I think that's it for this year's draft. Thanks for following. See Saturday's Tribune for a complete wrapup of the final day.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Running MLB Draft blog ...

Tribune college beat writer Brian Milne is writing a running draft blog during the two-day MLB First-Year Player Draft. Here is Thursday's live entry, which will be updated throughout the five rounds scheduled for today:

  • 11 a.m. The draft is a go. ... The first player with a local tie expected to go in today's draft is Cal Poly RF Grant Desme. He is expected to go in the first two rounds. The first round is being covered by ESPN2. The best bet would be late first round or compensatory pick for Desme. If he doesn't go by the second round, Desme could possibly consider returning for his senior year.
  • 11:50 a.m. Here's our draft preview from today's paper, which takes a closer look at Desme and also lists other players with local ties who may go in the draft.
  • Noon Talking to local scouts the past couple days, they said they would be shocked if Desme is around after the second round. If he slides, it's probably because of the broken right wrist, which he injured in the final game of the UC Davis series. He hopes to get the cast off by next week and would like to play short-season ball by early July.
  • 12:30 p.m. A lot is being made about Canadian-born players in the draft after Seattle picked Phillippe Aumont (Ecole Du Versant) with the 11th pick of the first round. Among the batch of Canadians in this draft is Hancock and SLO Blues first baseman David Van Ostrand, brother of former Cal Poly slugger Jimmy Van Ostrand. Jimmy Van Ostrand is the leading hitter for the Lexington Legends, a Class-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. David Van Ostrand has also signed with Cal Poly but will have to consider a draft offer.
  • 12:45 p.m. Another player Cal Poly fans should be aware of is Cabrillo High pitcher Danny Duffy, a 6-3 left-hander who has a 94-mph fastball. Duffy has signed with Cal Poly, but few think he's going to make it there considering he's pitching before a dozen scouts a game in high school. Here's the scouting report on Duffy along with a video if you've never seen him pitch.
  • 1 p.m. Desme said he's been contacted by every MLB team and that no one team has stood out in the predraft process. His favorite team growing up in the Bakersfield? The New York Yankees of all teams. The Yankees have the 30th and final pick off the first round before the compensatory round. They also have the 94th pick in the second and 124th pick in the third round. But I'm guessing the Yankees are looking at pitchers the way their rotation has been of late. ... Here's a list of the draft order.
  • 1:20 p.m. Of the first 25 picks in the draft, eight are originally from California. None are from Big West schools. It just goes to show what a hotbed California is for baseball talent and what big-name programs recruiters from West Coast schools like Cal Poly are up against.
  • 1:30 p.m. Check that, with the 26th pick in the first round the Oakland A's took Big West Pitcher of the Year James Simmons from UC Riverside. After the selection, Peter Gammons said, "I don't think there's any question he'll be pitching in the big leagues." Sounds like something I alluded to in a blog entry on Simmons earlier this year. Maybe I should be working for ESPN.
  • 1:45 p.m. Many fans are checking out the draft process for the first time because it's being televised on ESPN2. While all of these guys sound good, I believe only four players from last year's draft have made it to the majors, so it's important to note that it takes some time. Look at Atascadero's Scott McClain drafted out of high school by the Baltimore Orioles in 1990. McClain, one of the best homegrown products this area has seen, is still playing minor league ball and has played in a total of 22 big league games, cracking an MLB lineup for the first time in 1998.
  • 2 p.m. First official round ends with the Yankees taking ... a pitcher of course, Andrew Brackman out of No. Carolina St. Desme won't become the first Cal Poly position player since John Orton to go in the official first round. Orton, a catcher, was taken by the California Angels with the 25th overall pick of the 1987 draft. Cal Poly LHP Garrett Olson was drafted in the compensatory round after the first round in 2005 (48th overall selection) in 2005.
  • 3 p.m. Another Big West pitcher goes, but still no position players. Cal State Fullerton right-hander Wes Roemer goes in the compensatory round to Arizona (50th overall pick).
  • 3:30 p.m. The compensatory round is complete and no players with county ties have been picked. The draft pool is relatively shallow in terms of power outfielders, which is why Desme should be going soon.
  • 3:37 p.m. Desme is selected by Oakland Athletics, who apparently need some hitters after nearly getting not hit by Schilling and the Red Sox today, in the second round with the 74th overall pick.
  • Desme becomes the fourth-highest draft pick in Cal Poly baseball history. Left-handed pitcher Garrett Olson was taken in the compensatory first round in 2005 (48th overall). Catcher John Orton was drafted by the California Angels in 1987 (25th overall) — the highest-ever selection of a Mustang baseball player. And infielder Dave Oliver was selected by the Cleveland Indians in 1973 with the 53rd overall pick in the third round.
  • 4:20 p.m. Over the weekend, Desme told me he would likely leave Cal Poly a year early if taken in the first couple rounds of today's draft. He should address that question at a 5 p.m. press conference today at Baggett Stadium.
  • 5:30 p.m. Sure enough, Desme confirmed that he plans on signing a professional contract, leaving Cal Poly a year early.
  • 6 p.m. Two other Mustangs were drafted on the first day and told The Tribune that they will leave Cal Poly early. RHPs Evan Reed and Thomas Eager were drafted while I was at the press conference for Desme. Reed, a closer, was taken in the third round by the Texas Rangers (110th overall). He confirmed he plans to leave school a year early like Desme. Eager, Cal Poly's No. 1 starter as a third-year sophomore, was taken in the fifth round by the St. Louis Cardinals (172nd overall). He will leave the program with two years of eligibility remaining.
That's it for now. For more on the draft, see Friday's Tribune. I'll also be writing a blog on Day 2 of the draft tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

What scouts think about local prospects

Seven years of covering the local side of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, and I still run into the same problem every year.
No matter how many voicemails and emails I send out, I almost always get shut down when trying to get on-the-record comments from big league sources on the small-time prospects out of Cal Poly and Cuesta College.
Coaches, front office execs, even scouts rarely talk publicly about potential draft picks in fear of giving away their team’s draft-day plans.
The scouts will talk about players off the record, or go on the record if they can remain anonymous, but rarely is one willing to attach their name to the comments.
That’s what makes MinorLeagueBaseball.com's online scouting reports interesting. While there are no names attached (shocker), the reports are supposedly filled out by major league scouts.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were reports posted on Cal Poly OF Grant Desme and RHP Evan Reed.
Both have been listed among the top 100 players in the draft, according to Scouts, Inc., and are projected to go on the first day (Rounds 1-5).
The local birddogs I’ve talked with echo those projections as well, speaking on condition of anonymity of course.