The season may be over, but there has been plenty of news surrounding Cal baseball that will have impacts next season and beyond. So let’s break it all down with some goodbyes and some hellos.
Wishing a fond farewell to:
Marcus Semien and Erik Johnson
Pitching coach Dan Hubbs
Hubbs has left Cal for the same position at USC, his alma mater. It should never be a surprise when someone returns to coach where they played, particularly when that school has as much history as USC. Still, Hubbs had been a member of Cal’s coaching staff for all 12 years of Esquer’s tenure. This news has inspired speculation on Esquer’s own contract situation, but without any specific knowledge I won’t be making any uneducated guesses.
Losing Hubbs is a blow for Cal. He had a proven recent track record of producing talented high draft picks who eventually made it to the majors. Brandon Morrow and Tyson Ross (and hopefully Erik Johnson) are both seeing differing levels of major league success and Cal’s pitching staff certainly carried the team for long stretches this year.
Semien and Johnson have both signed contracts with the Chicago White Bear Sox. Johnson is a high enough draft pick to warrant brief news coverage, but I found out that Semien signed by discovering that he’s been playing for the Kannapolis (NC) Intimidators, Chicago’s low A minor league affiliate. He’s already .311 over 11 games (as of last night) and has impressed the White Sox with his defense.
Johnson’s decision to sign was a foregone conclusion – he wasn’t going to be able to improve his draft stock meaningfully with another year in college and teams very rarely draft players that high that carry a risk of rejecting a pro contract. Some may have held out hope that Semien would return for his senior season. With his departure Cal fans will look forward to watching Derek Campbell try to reprise his post-season breakout performance. Campbell will likely take over a full time spot in the middle infield with Tony Renda.
Still no news on draft picks Chadd Krist, Matt Flemer and Dixon Anderson, three more Bears with another year of eligibility. Each have until August 15th to sign a pro contract. For what it’s worth, Ryan Gorcey of bearterritory.net, who is probably the most connected journalist to the team, tweeted this recently:
Don't be shocked if #cal gets draftees closer Matt Flemer and catcher Chadd Krist back in 2012. #mlbdraft #collegebaseball
As for Semien and Johnson: Both will be fondly remembered for their roles in getting Cal to Omaha. Johnson had a rough go at times in the playoffs, but he gritted out a tough 6 inning performance against Dallas Baptist and was Cal’s best pitcher throughout the regular season. Semien’s stellar defense at shortstop was a key to Cal’s improved 2011 defense, and he had a brilliant Houston regional performance at the plate. Add it all up and perhaps Marcus has permanently claimed the title of ‘Greatest Semien Ever To Attend Cal.’
Ryan Gorcey also recently tweeted that Louie Lechich was set to transfer to San Diego (University of, I assume. Gorcey didn’t specify). The coaching staff had spoken highly of Lechich’s talent both as a pitcher and a centerfielder, and Lechich appeared to have promise in both positions, occasionally contributing in big spots as a freshman. He would have likely had a larger role next year, so he’s a tough talent to lose. We wish him the best just north of the border.
Hello, and welcome to Cal
RHP Michael Jordan
The coaching staff has been put in an almost impossible position trying to recruit for 2012, but Cal has managed to pull in some talent, starting with pseudo-transfer Michael Jordan out of Long Beach St./Murrieta Valley. Jordan presumably is yet to even set foot on campus at LBSU after signing his national letter of intent, so he’ll likely have to sit out a year. Evidently he received his release, thus allowing the transfer. Edit: Jordan was given his release from Pepperdine and is already on campus, so hooray!
Interestingly, I would wager that Cal is an extremely attractive option for prospective transfers. Cal has lost some talent to the pros, and they won’t be bringing in much in terms of high school talent until 2013. If you’re a talented collegiate looking for a change of scenery, the opportunity to contribute immediately, and an excellent education, may I humbly suggest you give Berkeley a look?
As for Jordan, he’s a solid recruit – the 25th best in California, according to Perfect Game USA, with a low 90s fastball and curve. If/when Justin Jones departs after next season he might be a weekend starter candidate.
Hopefully news of more recruits/transfers will be coming in. Baseball's early signing day is November 12th, so we'll see what kind of recruiting class the coaching staff can pull out of a hat. Ideally David Esquer's contract situation will get resolved quickly, one way or another, so that the program can try to recover as much as possible from its near death experience.