View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


MLB teams grab four locals

Hill, Clark, Valaika and Hooper are selected on day two of the Major League Baseball Draft; event

Posted: June 10, 2009 10:29 p.m.
Updated: June 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Kyle Hooper of Saugus. Kyle Hooper of Saugus.
Kyle Hooper of Saugus.
Valencia graduate Virgil Hill. Valencia graduate Virgil Hill.
Valencia graduate Virgil Hill.
Valencia High graduate Virgil Hill was selected in the sixth round of Wednesday’s Major League Baseball Draft, highlighting a day in which four locals were taken.

Hill, who has played at Los Angeles Mission College in Sylmar the past two seasons, was taken 189th overall.

Valencia graduate and Cal State Fullerton first baseman Jared Clark was taken in the 12th round by the Colorado Rockies.

Hart graduate and UC Santa Barbara infielder Matt Valaika was chosen by the Cincinnati Reds in the 20th round and 2009 Saugus High graduate Kyle Hooper was selected in the 28th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Hill, who committed to play at USC recently, said he’s leaning toward signing with the Cardinals.

“I think it’ll be this year. This year, most likely, I’m going to sign,” Hill said. “Being through the process two times before this, it kind of opened my eyes up a little bit to work harder to open a few more eyes.”

The 19-year-old outfielder was drafted in the 35th round last year by the Oakland A’s and the 28th round by the Florida Marlins after his senior year at Valencia in 2007.

Hill said he didn’t sign both times because he felt he wasn’t mature enough.

Things have changed though.

Hill, a three-sport athlete in his junior and senior years at Valencia, has blossomed since leaving the high school.

The former football player and track and field star was a solid baseball player in high school, but not spectacular.

It was his speed that put him on the map.

But the 6-feet-tall, 185-pound athlete has developed into a multi-faceted baseball player.

In 2009, he batted .462 with 10 home runs and 48 RBIs at Mission College, stealing 27 bases in 40 games.

“The last two years have really been my successful years just because I’ve had time to focus on one sport,” Hill said.

Fellow Valencia graduate Clark has also been drafted multiple times.

This was the fourth time and highest for the Cal State Fullerton first baseman, who went 361st overall.

Clark is batting .363 with 12 home runs and 81 RBIs this season.

“I’m very happy,” said Clark, a 2004 Valencia graduate. “The Rockies have a great organization.”

But he added: “I’ve got a job to do. ... My pro career will start after it.”

Cal State Fullerton is in the College World Series where it will play Arkansas Saturday in Omaha, Neb.

Valaika’s pick marks the 11th consecutive year a player with ties to Hart High has been taken in the MLB Draft.

The UC Santa Barbara second baseman’s selection, 599th overall, comes with some irony as well.

The Reds picked his brother, Chris, in the third round of the 2006 draft.

He is currently playing for the team’s Triple-A affiliate, the Louisville Bats.

“Now I can take his starting spot,” said Valaika, who batted .343 with six home runs and 45 RBIs for UCSB in 2009.

The 2006 Hart graduate has options though.

The UCSB junior can return to school for his senior year, which gives him more bargaining power.

Major League clubs must sign draft picks with college eligibility left by August 17 or forfeit them.

“It all depends on how much money they offer me,” Valaika said of if he will sign or not.

But he added: “I always dreamed about playing with my brother. If it happens that would be amazing.”

Hooper was the only local high school player taken.

He is committed to play for UC Irvine next year.

“I really don’t know,” Hooper said on if he will sign with the Pirates, who took him 835th overall. “It’s something I got to talk to my family about.”

Hooper was 6-2 for Saugus in 2009 with a 3.48 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 66 1/3 innings pitched.

“Irvine’s a great school,” he said. “The coaches there are unbelievable. I really don’t think I could go wrong with either choice.”
The final day of the draft is today and there are more players with local ties that could go.

Yet, as the draft has told us in the past, it is unpredictable.


Most Popular Articles

There are no articles at this time.
Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...