It’s no big surprise that junior Tanner Dodson is the first Cal Baseball player to hear his name called in the 2018 MLB Draft. It was a mild surprise that Dodson does hear his name called on the first day when there are only 78 picks between the two rounds of picks and two rounds of compensation picks for teams that lost players during the free agency.
Toward the end of Day 1, Dodson heard his named called as the 71st overall pick (a Competitive Balance Round B pick) by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Cal fans know that Tanner Dodson is the Cal Bears’ own version of Shohei Ohtani in 2018. The starting centerfielder for the Bears is also the Cal closer. Dodson has started games for the Bears earlier in his career with 9 in 2016 and 7 in 2017, but became the closer in his junior year. Dodson has 11 saves (many of the multiple inning variety) in 19 appearances on the mound.
With a fastball that has been clocked as fast as 98 mph, Dodson is projected as a better pitcher than hitter. At the plate, Dodson is often the 2nd or 3rd hitter in the order for head coach Mike Neu. He slashed a 0.320/0.384/0.386 line in 2018 with several clutch singles to win games for the Golden Bears team that went 32-22 (but didn’t make the postseason field of 64). Dodson is a finalist for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year award for his fine junior season.
While the Tampa Bay Rays is developing their own two-way player in their first round pick of Brendan McKay from Louisville last year, they will probably have Dodson focusing on pitching only. It would be neat if Dodson is offered the chance to be a two-way player though.
It is a good bet that Dodson will forgo his senior year and turn pro.
Check back on Thursday when we will have a full recap of all the Cal Bears that are drafted in the three day long 2018 MLB Draft.