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Cal stars ready for Major League Baseball Amateur Draft 2009

Well, it was a frustrating season for the Cal Baseball team.  After making the NCAAs last year, there was hope of a repeat.  Unfortunately, it was not the case.  But the season is over and now the focus has turned to the draft.  It starts today at 3 PM PST and continues over the next 3 days.  Although the team was not very successful this year, there is hope for many Cal stars in the Big Show. 

You can follow all the action here at the Draft Central.  And you can follow it in a more "urban, edgy, modern, but non-monetized" way by checking out the official MLB Draft Twitter.

One thing to note about the MLB draft:  like the NFL draft, college juniors are eligible to be drafted, but unlike with the NFL draft, they don't forfeit their college eligibility by being drafted.  Thus, if one of the players discussed below (all of them Juniors) doesn't like how much money they're offered, or what they team drafting them wants to do with them, they always have the option of not signing and returning to school for their senior season.  For players taken in the first five rounds or so, this is unlikely (unless they have unreasonable monetary demands), but for players taken in later rounds, they won't be offered much money, nor will have a great shot at making the majors, so finishing their college degree becomes a more attractive option.

After the fold learn more about some of the Cal stars ready to make the leap.

Brett Jackson



Biographical Data
Player Name: Brett Jackson
Position: Outfielder
School: University of California
School Type: College
Academic Class: Junior
Birthdate: 8/2/88
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 210 lbs.
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Report Date(s): 4/17-4/19/09
Game(s): Oregon
Focus Area
Hitting ability: Jackson has a solid, balanced approach at the plate. He doesn't have a big load to the ball and sometimes looks like he's rushing a bit.
Power: Shows average raw power now, but the way he swings it, he doesn't tap into it. He slaps at the ball a little more as Cal's leadoff hitter. But he does have some pop in there.
Running speed: Has above-average speed, with a football player's stride; someone who runs hard.
Base running: It's OK and he should be able to steal some bases in the future.
Arm strength: Has a plus arm from the outfield.
Fielding: He's fine in center now, but if he gets bigger and slows down, he might have to move to a corner spot.
Range: Runs gap-to-gap well.
Physical Description: Jackson is a big, athletic outfielder with good overall body strength.
Medical Update: Healthy.
Strengths: Strength, athletic ability. Some hitting ability and good speed to go along with good overall actions in center field.
Weaknesses: Strikes out a little too often for a leadoff hitter, but can he hit for enough power to be a No. 3 type. If he gets bigger, he may not be able to stay in center.
Summary: It's not a great Draft class for college bats, particularly in the outfield, so one with the athleticism Jackson has is bound to be noticed. He runs well on both sides of the ball, has a decent approach at the plate and plays a good center field right now. Some may see him as a tweener who isn't a leadoff hitter or a No. 3 type. If he gets bigger he will have to move to a corner, where how much power he actually has becomes a bigger question. He's got more value if he can stay in center, and the team that takes him may be hoping he can stay put.


Mock drafts over at Minor League Ball all have Jackson going somewhere in the supplemental first round (basically, extra picks between the first and second rounds that teams receive as compensation for losing high-value free agents), which if it holds, would be a pretty good place to go, and would set him up to have a good shot at the majors in 3 years or so.  Unfortunately, I was only able to make it out to one Cal game this year, and Jackson didn't make much of an impression on me in that game, so I'll leave you with a couple thoughts from John Sickels:

Brett Jackson, OF, California
     Jackson is another tools guy with a spotty performance record, though he's certainly improved this year, hitting .331/.401/.586, which isn't terrific but isn't bad. His biggest problem is plate discipline, as shown by a 16/44 BB/K ratio in 157 at-bats. Like Davis, Jackson has first-round physical talent but is still learning how to get the most use out of his tools. He could go anywhere in the second half of the first round or in the supplemental round.

**Players Who Should Go Early That Scare Me, and Not In A Good Way: Brett Jackson (too many strikeouts).

Jeff Kobernus



Biographical Data
Player Name: Jeff Kobernus
Position: Second Base
School: University of California
School Type: College
Academic Class: Junior
Birthdate: 6/30/88
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 195 lbs.
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Report Date(s): 5/10/09
Game(s): UCLA


Focus Area
Hitting ability: Kobernus has a quiet approach at the plate. He pushes the bat a little through the zone, but he's got excellent bat speed and can hit the inside pitch.
Power: It's slightly below average now, but projects as an average tool in the future.
Running speed: A plus runner, he's even better once underway.
Base running: Steals bases right now, but may not in the future.
Arm strength: He shows some arm strength.
Fielding: Has above-average defensive skills with good hands, and shows a good ability on the pivot turning the double play.
Range: Has very good range at second.
Physical Description: Kobernus is kind of like a taller version of Mark Grudzielanek.
Medical Update: Healthy.
Strengths: Good hitting skills; solid all-around defensive skills.
Weaknesses: He's not a premium bat and is a second baseman only.
Summary: Kobernus is not the kind of elite college bat scouts might be looking for, but then again, that doesn't really exist in this class. He's got a real chance to be a prototypical No. 2 hitter. He's a solid second baseman who really turns the double play well. He may not be that premium hitter, but he's got some solid attributes that should have him off the board fairly early.


Having seen Kobernus play, I'd say this scouting report is pretty spot-on.  He's an excellent defensive second-baseman, which is good, because I'm not sure his bat would carry in The Show anywhere else on the field.  He's a good college hitter, mind you (he hit .341 this year, including 14 doubles, 3 triples, and 8 homers), but those numbers will drop off as he faces better and better professional pitching.  Mock drafts on Minor League Ball all have Kobernus being taken somewhere in the second round, which still makes Jeff a legit prospect to make the big leagues.

Blake Smith



Earned All-Pac-10 honors as a junior...selected to the Wallace Award Watch List as a potential national player of the year candidate and was a Louisville Slugger second-team preseason All-American utility player in both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball...was instrumental in the USA Baseball National (Collegiate) Team capturing the gold medal at the IV FISU World Collegiate Baseball Championship in the Czech Republic this past summer...helped Team USA to an undefeated 24-0 record and was the team's leading hitter with a .327 average (18-for-55) with five doubles, a triple, three home runs and 13 RBI in 20 games...was also one of the national team's top relievers, sporting a 1-0 record with a 0.00 ERA and two saves, striking out 11 batters with only three hits and three walks in 9.0 innings...hit a home run versus a Cuban squad that competed in the Beijing Olympics...was named Team USA's seventh best prospect in Baseball America...a multi-talented player who is a key contributor for the Bears, either at the plate, in the field or on the mound...has an outstanding arm, throwing in the low 90s with a fastball and a curve, and is a talented left-handed hitter...

A legit two-way player, I still haven't been able to find out if MLB teams are looking at Blake as an outfielder or as a pitcher; it may depend on which team ultimately selects him.  John Sickels likes his name and his bat:

Blake Smith has a great baseball name and two-way ability. He is much more polished as an outfielder than as a pitcher.

If he is indeed taken in the second or third round, as the mock drafts I've been able to find suggest, he'll probably get offered enough money to entice him to forego his senior season at Cal.

Finally, I want to briefly mention a couple of other players that are listed on MLB's draft tracker, though I don't know if either will end up being drafted.  Once teams get past the first 8-10 rounds or so, they may decide to concentrate on college seniors and high school kids unlikely to go to college, as whatever money they may offer these kids would be unlikely enough to sign most college juniors anyhow.

Dylan Tonneson



Established himself as the Bears' regular catcher early last season and ended up being a key component in Cal's NCAA regional run...improved defensively through the year and showed the ability to hit for both power and average...had impressive power numbers at California High School in San Ramon...was also a standout tight end and defensive lineman in football.

Honestly, Dylan's inclusion on this list surprised me a bit.  He's not a bad player, with decent power, but he's going to have to develop into one heck of a defensive catcher if he wants to make the majors some day.

Yasser Clor



A sophomore right-hander who was a 15th round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox out of high school...had to sit out 2007 after originally signing a letter of intent with UNLV and did not compete for Cal last in contention to be one of the Bears' top middle relievers...throws in the high 80s to low 90s with a curveball, slider and change-up.

Teams must still see the potential that caused the White Sox to select Clor in the 15th round in 2006, because I'm not sure what they would want with a college pitcher who had an ERA of 7.71.  I haven't seen him play, though, so couldn't really judge him; maybe he just wants (lot of) polish.