The 2016 MLB Draft was a big one for Cal Baseball as 7 Golden Bears (plus 2 more ex-Bears) were selected, including 2 Cal Bears (and 1 ex-Bear) being selected on the first day.
With a young roster that features many key players who are not draft eligible in 2017 (AKA ace Jared Horn and Andrew Vaughn), it is understandable that Cal Baseball’s involvement in the 2017 MLB Draft is less impressive. Two Cal Bears were drafted in the 40 rounds of the Rule IV draft this past week (Monday thru Wednesday).
No Bears was drafted on Monday (rounds 1 and 2). 1 Bear was drafted at the end of Tuesday (rounds 3-10). 1 Bear was drafted on Wednesday (rounds 11-40)
3B/OF Denis Karas - Round 10, pick 299 by the Miami Marlins
The Cal Baseball cleanup hitter in the 2017 season, Karas tied with teammate Andrew Vaughn for the most homerun hit in the Pac-12. The lone returning starter from the 2016 squad (Karas broke through and earned a starting spot in the last third of the 2016 season), the junior has played 93 games in the Blue and Gold to compile a collegiate career slash line of .262/.335/.490 (batting average/on base percentage/slugging percentage) to go with 17 home runs (12 came from 2017) and 56 RBI (37 came from 2017).
Out of high school, the Lafayette, CA native was drafted in the 24th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates but opted to come to Cal.
Karas will likely sign with the Fish and join the same organization as ex-teammate CF Aaron Knapp who was drafted by the Marlins last year.
2B/SS Preston Grand Pre - Round 24, pick 730 by the Los Angeles Dodgers
The starting SS since his freshman year, Preston Grand Pre also played some 2B for the Golden Bears in his 3 years in Berkeley. Supposed to be the one Cal Bears with the most experience in the lineup, Grand Pre’s 2017 season was delayed by a broken hand. Playing only in the 2nd half of the season, Grand Pre appeared in 24 games to put up a solid line of .325/.400/.425.
For his Cal career, Grand Pre is better known for his solid glove as the middle infielder always bat toward the bottom of the lineup.
According to the best source of Cal Baseball news, Ryan Gorcey, Grand Pre will turn pro and sign with the Dodgers.
Best of luck to Karas and Grand Pre in the next level.
Last year, late first round talent Jared Horn’s firm commitment to come to Cal meant that he was drafted late by the Milwaukee Brewers who could not sway Horn’s mind. Nonetheless, since all the top baseball prospects are going to be drafted by MLB teams, there are always high risk of baseball commits turning pro rather than coming to Cal. One recent Cal commit, Mike Soroka is shooting up the prospect list (top 100 right now, soon to be top 50) after spurning the Golden Bears to turn pro with the Atlanta Braves after being selected 28th overall in 2015. It would appear that no high profile Cal Baseball commit will be lost to the draft this year (although this could also be read as the Bears having a weak recruiting class that’s coming).
SS Darren Baker - Round 27 by the Washington Nationals
Famous for being the last 3 year old Bat Boy in MLB history, Cal commit Darren Baker was drafted by his father’s organization (father Dusty Baker is the current manager for the Washington Nationals) in the 27th round. Dusty answered a few questions about Darren and the 2017 MLB draft early in the week. He said that the recent Jesuit High School in Sacramento, CA graduate will go to college unless he’s drafted really high. Gorcey has confirmed that Baker should be coming to Berkeley in the fall.
Former Cal Bear
The top ex-Cal Golden Bears in the MLB prospect list right now is arguably Lucas Erceg with the Milwaukee Brewers. The former Cal Bears played for two seasons in Berkeley before having to transfer to Menlo College due to not being academically eligible to play in his junior season.
RHP Jeff Bain - Round 16, Pick 472 by the Arizona Diamondbacks
The former Cal starters transferred to Cal Poly Pomona after two years with the Golden Bears. He claimed that former pitching coach Mike Neu leaving the program to become the head coach at Pacific was the main reason for the change. As a freshman, Bain was huge for the Cal Bears on the squad that made the Texas A&M Regional. Bain filled in for Daulton Jefferies and went 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 23.1 innings late.
In his sophomore campaign at Cal, Bain struggled with his control. Against weaker competition in 2017, Bain compiled an 8-2 record with an ERA of 3.57. More importantly, he had 94 strikeouts to 27 walks in 111 innings.
Hat tip to Gorcey for pointing this out.