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MLB Draft preview: Up in the air

Several locals could be taken in a number of spots — and others not at all

Posted: June 4, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 4, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Valencia senior Trey Williams (pictured) was once thought of as a top-10 pick in this year’s MLB First-Year Player Draft. Due to circumstances partially beyond his control, Williams is now seen as a third- or fourth-round selection.

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Intrigue is the word for this week’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft — both nationally and locally.

With baseball’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, teams have to alter the way they select amateur players.

There are now 10 less rounds, the signing deadline has been moved up a month to July 13, and heavy taxes are placed on teams who sign players for above slot money.

How that will affect locals is anybody’s guess.

But the draft is anybody’s guess anyway.

For a year, it was guessed that Valencia senior Trey Williams was one of the nation’s top prizes — as prognosticators had him going possibly as high as within the first top 10 picks of the draft.

But Williams, a power-hitting natural third baseman, is now being looked at as a possible third- or fourth-round selection.

Williams is rated as the eighth-best third baseman talent by Baseball America and the 79th-best prospect overall by MLB.com.

The senior batted .378 with five home runs and 24 RBIs this year and walked 24 times in 28 games.

“He never got pitched to. Unfortunately it got frustrating,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder. “He hasn’t lost his skills. He has power, a plus arm, still has plus range, power to all fields. He still has all the tools. They didn’t go anywhere.”

Nonetheless. Williams, a Pepperdine commit, will go somewhere and it will mark the ninth consecutive year that a Valencia product has been drafted.

Valencia senior catcher Brian Mundell, a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo commit, is another possibility.

Mundell has jumped onto the radar with back-to-back stellar high school seasons and strong showings in offseason showcases.

The power-hitting catcher hit .390 with nine home runs and 32 RBIs.

“He improved himself more than any player I’ve had,” Snyder said, in terms of the draft. “Brian really was not really known going into the summer. All fall he worked himself in the weight room, and offensively and defensively worked with (Hart graduate and former minor league catcher) John Curtis.”

Snyder said because of the new CBA and with teams more worried about signability, especially with high school players who have more bargaining power, there’s no telling where Mundell could go.

But he said he has heard that it could be as high as near the 10th round.

Another possible high pick could be College of the Canyons sophomore pitcher Cory Jones.

The hard-throwing right-hander went 6-0 with a 2.79 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings.

College of the Canyons head coach Chris Cota said he has heard that Jones, who has a strong three-pitch mix including a 97 MPH fastball, could go in the top 100 picks.

The Oregon State commit could be joined in the draft by sophomore catcher Drew Sandler (.303 batting average, three home runs, 16 RBIs), freshman center fielder Kevin Lenik (.283/5/24) and sophomore first baseman and Oregon commit Jake Jelmini (.407/6/28).

The Master’s College has its own pitcher who could be picked in the first half of the draft in senior right-hander Charlie Gillies.

The West Ranch High graduate went 8-6 with a 2.17 ERA, striking out 118 batters in 99 2/3 innings this year.

“He’s got a tremendous sinker. He has a big-league sinker, throwing 91 to 92 MPH,” said TMC head coach Monte Brooks. “You’re talking good sinker with movement and consistent in the strike zone.”

Senior infielder/outfielder Tanner Leighton (.323/3/22, 31 stolen bases) is another possibility, as is Hart graduate and junior catcher Bryan Lucas (.288/9/34).

Hart head coach Jim Ozella said Lucas took some swings at Hart High last week and the ball was jumping off his bat.
Another thing going in his favor is he is strong-armed defender behind the plate.

Hart’s top draft prospect may be Trevor Brown, now a junior at UCLA.

The versatile infielder/outfielder/catcher is batting .326 with three home runs and 46 RBIs for the Bruins this season.

“He has great upside for pro ball,” Ozella said.

Other possibilities are senior catcher Jenzen Torres (.301/8/40), Cal Poly Pomona’s all-time home run leader, and Cal State San Bernardino senior pitcher Casey McCarthy (5-5, 3.84 ERA).

A Hart graduate has been drafted every year since 2000.

Saugus High graduate and Pepperdine junior middle infielder Zach Vincej has risen in draft stock since last season, and with a big 2012 he could see himself taken at some point of the three-day draft.

He is batting .348 with two home runs and 23 RBIs.

Hard-throwing West Ranch senior right-hander Michael Silva was the object of most scouts’ desire with the Wildcats, despite pitching 13 2/3 innings this season. He was 1-2 with a 1.54 ERA, but throws in the low 90s.

“They ask about him,” said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill of the scouts.

Senior Foothill League Player of the Year J.C. Cloney (8-1, 1.84 ERA) wins and is left-handed. But it’s uncertain as to if the Long Beach State commit would be picked.

“We’re in love with the guy,” Burrill said. “In our mind, we think he’s pro-ready. But (scouts think) he doesn’t throw with that sexy miles per hour.”

The first round of the draft takes place today, with rounds two through 15 on Tuesday and 16 through 40 on Wednesday.

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