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The draft dream

Local players may hear their names called as MLB draft begins today

Posted: June 8, 2009 9:36 p.m.
Updated: June 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.

University of California, Santa Barbara infielder Matt Valaika fields a ground ball in this undated photo. Valaika's strong junior campaign has increased his stock heading into the 2009 MLB draft.

The Major League Baseball draft has now grown to the biggest height it has ever seen.

The 2009 draft will span three days, instead of the usual two, with the first round being televised live today at 3 p.m. on the MLB Network.

The hype surrounding this year's event centers around San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who is all but guaranteed to be the first selection.

Last year, viewers were able to see Hart High's Michael Montgomery selected in the first round by the Kansas City Royals.

It appears that a repeat of a Santa Clarita product being drafted in the first round won't happen again.

Nonetheless, over three days, someone with local ties will almost assuredly be grabbed by a Major League Baseball team.

The candidates from year to year come most frequently from College of the Canyons and or Hart High.

Every year since 1999, a Hart product has been picked.

There are a couple who might get taken this year.

Hart graduate and College of the Canyons sophomore Brian Charnock has been getting looks, said COC head coach Chris Cota.

Charnock didn't play until his junior year in high school, but has developed into a possible five-tool player, Cota said.

The outfielder batted .333 with six home runs and 36 RBIs this past season.

Hart head coach Jim Ozella said his former shortstop Matt Valaika was so impressive this past season that he might be taken within the first 10 rounds.

Valaika recovered from a torn labrum suffered last year to lead UC Santa Barbara with a .343 batting average.

The middle infielder added six home runs and 45 RBIs.

Ozella said catcher Trevor Brown and Devin Rodriguez also got looks from scouts, but both are committed to play for four-year universities which makes their signability more difficult.

Brown is going to UCLA and Rodriguez is bound for Cal.

Cota said Chipper Smith and Trevor Bloom could also get taken, but he added if that happens, it would probably be in the late rounds of the draft.

Smith would be the first draftee ever with ties to Golden Valley High.

The left-hander was 5-5 with a 3.04 ERA in 2009.

Bloom was an All-Western State Conference outfielder. He batted .378 with nine home runs and 55 RBIs, both team highs.

Three recent Saugus graduates are possibilities.

But the question is: Will they be drafted?

Major League scouts spent time at Centurions games early in the season to check out pitcher Kyle Hooper and shortstop Zachary Vincej.

Hooper, a 6-foot-4-inch, 190-pound pitcher, is committed to UC Irvine.

Vincej will play at Pepperdine.

Saugus head coach John Maggiora said center fielder Stefan Cordes is a player who hasn't been on the radar as much as his two teammates, but his power, speed and size (6-foot-3, 185 pounds) project well for the professional level.

Maggiora suggested that Valencia's Dylan Jones, who is committed to Oregon, is a draft possibility.

Cal State Fullerton senior and Valencia graduate Jared Clark has had a big season, batting .350 with 11 home runs and 74 RBIs.

When he is drafted, it will be the fourth time.

West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill said scouts have looked at first baseman Jake Bernards and shortstop Cal Vogelsang, but both those players have circumstances that make them more difficult to select.

Bernards has a football scholarship to San Diego State and Vogelsang is committed to play baseball at UC Irvine.

UC Irvine head coach Mike Gillespie indicated two weeks ago that Casey Stevenson, who will be a senior next year with the Anteaters and is a Saugus graduate, could be taken.

High school seniors, junior college players and players who have spent at least three years at a university are eligible for the draft.


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