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SCV players have a good history in MLB Draft

Posted: June 4, 2014 9:45 p.m.
Updated: June 4, 2014 9:45 p.m.
Valencia High grad and UCLA junior is the highest rated among Santa Clarita Valley draft prospects. Valencia High grad and UCLA junior is the highest rated among Santa Clarita Valley draft prospects.
Valencia High grad and UCLA junior is the highest rated among Santa Clarita Valley draft prospects.

In the last five-year span (2009 to 2013), Major League Baseball teams have selected a Santa Clarita Valley product 38 times in the First-Year Player Draft and the fewest selected in one year was four in 2013.

It’s pretty safe to say that the Santa Clarita Valley will be well represented again in the 2014 MLB Draft, which begins today and ends on Saturday.

Four SCV products are rated in the top 500 of Baseball America’s draft-available players list.

Valencia High graduate and UCLA junior catcher Shane Zeile is the highest rated among Santa Clarita Valley draft prospects. Baseball America has him at No. 164 overall, which would put him in the early fifth round.

Zeile’s uncle Todd, a former Hart High and UCLA star, was drafted in the second round in 1986 and went on to have a 16-year Major League career.

Andrew Rohrbach, who was at College of the Canyons from 2011 to 2013 and became the ace of the Long Beach State pitching staff this season, is ranked at No. 262.

Rohrbach is a hard-throwing curiosity, who just began pitching in 2011 and has already had Tommy John surgery.

Hart shortstop Nick Valaika is rated No. 343. If he or a Hart player gets taken in this draft, it will make 15 years in a row for an Hart Indian in the draft.

Valaika would also be a rarity in that his three brothers — Chris, Matt and Pat — were drafted.

Hard-throwing West Ranch right-hander Jake Bird is ranked at 414.

He, like Valaika, is committed to UCLA.

“The scouts picked up on him early in the fall and winter season and we got increasingly higher attendance through the season,” said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill on the attention.

Burrill said Bird topped out at 93 mph this year, but scouts also like his cutter — a pitch thrown exactly like a fastball, but has late movement.

There are a handful of other players who have also received some attention from scouts, and could therefore be taken.

College of the Canyons has a trio of players, head coach Chris Cota said, who have received the most attention.

Freshman first baseman Roberto Ramos, who batted .317 with seven home runs and 31 RBI this past season, is a possible mid-draft selection.

Sophomore pitcher Ryan Cruz (3.58 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 112 strikeouts in 168 2/3 COC innings) and freshman shortstop Jose Haros (.298 average/.400 on-base percentage/.371 slugging) are other possibilities.

The Master’s College’s best possibilities are junior shortstop Jonathan Popadics (.348/.466/.508, 20 stolen bases and 28 RBIs) and Steve Karkenny (.373/.483/.578, 28 stolen bases, six home runs and 45 RBI), who both recently became the second and third Mustang players to play in the prestigious amateur Cape Cod League.

“I don’t know if they’ll go this year or not or if they get drafted and will (sign) this year or not,” said TMC head coach Monte Brooks. “I would assume it would be the latter rounds based off the feedback we’re getting.”

Mission College has some locals who are possibilities.

Most notable are Saugus graduate and infielder Austin Rodriguez, who was a middle of the order batter for the Centurions and has seen his power increase over the years, and former Hart first baseman and Western State Conference Player of the Year C.J. Witkowski.

The draft is a crapshoot, so many of these players might not get drafted.

And other names could pop up that haven’t been mentioned yet.

Valencia High shortstop and the state leader in home runs Keston Hiura has received lukewarm interest from Major League scouts, but that’s not necessarily telling on if he will get drafted or not.

The first and second rounds will take up all of Thursday’s draft. On Friday, rounds three through 10 will be conducted. The draft wraps on Saturday with rounds 11 through 40.


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