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MLB Draft: An SCV shutout?

The possibility of no locals getting selected is higher than usual

Posted: June 6, 2010 10:08 p.m.
Updated: June 6, 2010 10:22 p.m.

The Master’s College’s Joe Zeller might be drafted by a Major League organization for his pitching and hitting abilities.

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The hype really hit last year with Stephen Strasburg.

It’s still heavy this year with super 17-year-old Bryce Harper being projected as the top pick of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Locally, though, this may be one of the leanest years for the MLB Draft in almost a decade.

There is the possibility that no player with local ties is selected at all in the draft.

That’s worst-case scenario, but a possibility nonetheless.

“I think anything’s possible with dealing with professional sports,” said The Master’s College head coach Monte Brooks. “Our valley may be down, but it may be that way across the country.”

Last year, 12 locals were drafted — which is a high number. But this valley has consistently produced multiple draft picks each year since the early 2000s.

Even in a down year, the Santa Clarita Valley has made a big splash in the draft.

In 2008, when three local players were selected, Hart High’s Michael Montgomery was selected in the first round by the Kansas City Royals, 36th overall.

Yet this year will be much different.

No local player is that highly touted.

“I don’t see anybody in our (Foothill) league getting drafted this year,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder.

Though Snyder said if anyone got drafted, it would be Hart shortstop Pat Valaika.

Hart head coach Jim Ozella said he thinks Valaika’s commitment to UCLA is firm, though.

Snyder said had power-hitting right fielder Kyle Eaton been healthy, he might have been selected as a pitcher. But the Valencia coach said Eaton needs surgery on his pitching elbow because it was damaged due to overuse by his club team last summer. Eaton didn’t throw one pitch for the Vikings this past year.

That puts the spotlight on the local colleges and college players with local ties.

College of the Canyons head coach Chris Cota said he has two possible draftees — outfielder and West Ranch graduate Cal Vogelsang and left-handed pitcher Steven Messner, who had Tommy John surgery a year and a half ago, according to Cota.

Vogelsang was COC’s best offensive player this year, batting .380 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs.

“He had an outstanding season,” Cota said of the freshman. “He stayed consistent through most of the season, (provided) power in the middle of the lineup and gave us a heck of a defensive right field.”

Messner, Cota said, has a lot of upside.

The 6-foot-1-inch pitcher was 2-4 with a 5.40 ERA in 45 innings this season.

Brooks is hoping senior pitcher Joe Zeller will be grabbed by a team.

He went 5-7 with a 5.24 ERA in 91 innings and batted .320 with nine home runs and 52 RBIs at the plate.

Brooks said Zeller’s velocity increased to the mid-90s this season, but he lost some control.

Outfielder Pete Goeman is another possibility.

The senior wrapped up an outstanding career at TMC by batting .346 with three home runs, 22 RBIs and 40 stolen bases in 2010.

Yet after the first round, it’s anyone’s guess as to when a player will be drafted or if he will be drafted.

“It’s tough. Baseball’s not just played in Santa Clarita. Every area has a scout and has someone who will cross check. It becomes a tough thing to predict,” Snyder said.

It’s also difficult for seniors, because they have less leverage in negotiations because they can’t go back to school.

Hart graduate and UC Santa Barbara infielder Matt Valaika and Saugus graduate and UC Irvine infielder Casey Stevenson were both drafted as juniors last year.

They could go again.

Valaika hit .301 with four homers and 35 RBIs.

Stevenson is batting .318 with four home runs and 38 RBIs this season.

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