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5 Cal Baseball Bears (and 4 commits) selected in 2018 MLB Draft

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All 5 drafted Bears are juniors.

The top of the lineup for Cal Baseball may look very differently next year, with only Andrew Vaughn (3rd from left) expected to be back.
Cal Baseball Twitter

Despite missing out on the NCAA postseason, Cal Baseball had a pretty decent team in 2018 that went 32-22 and 16-14 in Pac-12 for 5th place out of 11 teams (Colorado is the lone Pac-12 school without baseball). Part of that success was due to a solid group of upperclassmen in several juniors leading the way, in addition to sophomore phenom Andrew Vaughn (a Golden Spike finalist that you can vote for with this link). Not too surprisingly, these draft eligible juniors all heard their names called earlier this week in the three day long 2018 MLB Draft.

Out of all 5 Cal Bears that earned Pac-12 team selections, only Andrew Vaughn (far left) may be back on the Cal Baseball team next year.

Here are the Golden Bears who hear their name called during the 40 rounds of 2018 MLB Draft (this past Monday through Wednesday).

Round 2B - Pick 71st - RHP/CF Tanner Dodson to the Tampa Bay Rays

Round 4 - Pick 114th - RHP Aaron Shortridge to the Pittsburgh Pirates

Round 15 - Pick 444th - OF Jonah Davis to the Pittsburgh Pirates

Round 16 - Pick 468th - C Tyrus Greene to the Chicago White Sox

Round 26 - Pick 605 - RHP Joey Matulovich to the Milwaukee Brewers

It is not guaranteed that all 5 players will turn pro. MLB teams have a set amount allotted for each player drafted at a certain position. Guys that are drafted in the first two days like Dodson and Shortridge are in line to receive around $0.5 Million or more in signing bonuses. That number is significantly lower for guys taken on the 3rd day.

Day 1 selection:

The lone Cal Bear to be drafted in Day 1 was CF/closer Tanner Dodson. Check out more about Dodson in my previous post here. With a fastball that has been clocked at 98 mph, Dodson is probably going to be used more as a pitcher than a hitter. Tampa Bay Rays does have a track record of trying to develop a two-way player in their last year’s high 1st round pick in Brendan McKay from Louisville. Dodson also plays a very good centerfield, but he lacked the power that one would prefer from a hitter. As a pitcher, Dodson set a new Cal record for saves in a season with 11 in 2018, often going multiple innings to shut the opposition down. Dodson has started for the Bears in his freshman and sophomore seasons. He does need to develop more of a strikeout pitch though.

Day 2 selection:

On Day 2, Cal “Sunday starter” Aaron Shortridge was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 4th round. Shortridge really improved his draft stock in this junior year. He also became the most reliable Cal pitcher down the stretch for the Bears, often tossing many extra innings after the pen has been spent on Friday and Saturday. Shortridge earned the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week honor to close out the regular season.

Day 3 selections:

On the 3rd day, juniors OF Jonah Davis, C Tyrus Greene, and RHP Joey Matulovich all heard their names called.

Davis was the clear 2nd best offensive player behind Andrew Vaughn for the Golden Bears. Davis slashed a very healthy 0.321/0.446/0.606 line that would typically make him the top Bears if there wasn’t a superhuman on the team in Andrew Vaughn. All those percentages are 2nd best on the team behind Vaughn. Davis hit 14 homers, which would have led the team in 2017. Davis is a 15th round pick by the Pirates. I actually think that he can improve his stock to be a 2nd day draftee if he returns to Berkeley. One can argue that Vaughn only had his success with Davis providing protection. Other can argue that Davis only got good pitches to hit because he’s often up with guys on base already.

One of the guy who was on base in front of Vaughn and Davis (and Dodson) in 2018 is catcher Tyrus Greene. The 2nd generation Cal baseball player also hit a healthy 0.320/0.414/0.393 line. Yes, his power output was limited. Nonetheless, that’s some good hitting skill for a catcher (if he can stick there); Greene has had some defensive woes. Still, the Chicago White Sox believed that he is worthy of a 16th round pick. I also believe that Greene can benefit from another productive year in college.

The last guy to be drafted in 2018 from Cal Baseball was RHP Joey Matulovich. Matulovich had some starts early in the year, but became one of the more reliable reliever for Mike Neu. He was selected in the 20th round (remember, the draft is 40 round long) by the Milwaukee Brewers. Matulovich struck out 45 in 46.2 IP but also issued 25 walks (2nd on the team behind only starter Jared Horn) with a 3.47 ERA. He has a mid-90 fastball with some life. Given how pitchers may blow out their arm at any point, I would think that Matulovich should take the money and turn pro.

Cal commits drafted:

Not all of the recruits end up making their way to Berkeley. While he would have been draft eligible again this year had he come to Cal, Mike Soroka turned pro when he was drafted in the 1st round by the Atlanta Braves. The now 20 year old Canadian made his MLB debut earlier this year and is poised to be a big part of the upstart Braves team in 2018. Clearly, turning pro was the right decision for Soroka. We shall see how many of the players listed below will take that path.

I have not really tracked all the Cal commits for baseball, but Shotgun Spratling Twitter account seems to do a pretty good job of tracking these draftees.

Ryan Gorcey, of course, also compiled a list of Cal signees:

The rest of Pipkin’s class that’s expected to sign today consists of right-handed pitcher commit Sean Sullivan (a former Oregon State commit), Salinas (Calif.) Palma, San Jose (Calif.) Bellarmine Prep pitcher Joey Ammirato, Sacramento (Calif.) McClatchy righty Jack Hinrichsen, 6-foot-6 right-handerGrant Holman, former Pacific signee Hance Smith, right-hander Lucas Gather, big-hitting corner outfielder/pitcher Garret Nielsen (6-4, 225 out of El Cajon Christian), Salinas (Calif.) Palma righty Sam Stoutenborough (who chose Cal over ASU, Cal Poly and TCU), Walnut Creek (Calif.) Northgate right-handed pitcher Ian Villers (6-foot-4, 230 pounds, 2.62 ERA in 2017), JuCo transfer Damon Treadwell, and Cal legacy Mitchell Scott, a righty out of San Mateo (Calif.) Serra.

Day 2 selection:

Cal Saturday starter Jared Horn was a 2nd day selection out of high school. What was interesting was that Horn was getting late 1st round pick hype but teams refrained from drafting him because his strong desire to come to Cal.

Pipkin was getting some late 1st round/2nd round hype as well. Consequently, he may not turn pro despite the possibility of earning more than $100,000 as a 9th round pick. Gorcey’s link above mentions as mid-90’s fastball. With two third of the rotation and two reliable relief arms gone, Cal head coach Mike Neu is probably hoping to have Pipkin in the Cal rotation in 2019. We shall see if he signs with the Phillies.

Day 3 selections:

Three more Golden Bears commits heard their names called on the 3rd day. 1st baseman Ian Villers by the San Diego Padres in the 19th round, outfielder Ryan Holgate by the Minnesota Twins in the 32nd round, and RHP Sam Stoutenborough in the 40th round near the very end of the draft were the players who heard their name called.

I would think that all 3 of them will fulfill their Cal commitment. It’s good to know that some of the freshmen next year are getting some love from the scouts. Bears will certainly have play time available, particularly depending on how many of the 5 juniors do turn pro.

One last thing, after seeing how Oregon State’s Nick Madrigal was selected 4th overall by the White Sox despite his height of 5’7”, I think the odds of Andrew Vaughn being a high draft pick is better than I might have anticipated given Vaughn is around 6 foot tall (if that high). Nonetheless, playing only 1st base instead of the middle of the infield will be held against him. I think Vaughn is possibly a late first round compensation pick right now (around the same place that former Cal Pac-12 Player of the Year, Brett Cumberland was selected).

Still, when you look at the 4 Golden Spike Awards finalist this year:

You have Andrew Vaughn, top overall pick by the Detroit Tigers of RHP Casey Mize from Auburn, 18th overall pick (some had believed him to be a top 10 talent) by the Kansas City Royals in Brady Singer, and the 79th overall pick (1st pick of the 3rd round) by the Detroit Tigers of middle infielder Kody Clemens (son of Roger). Vaughn’s college success projects him to be a first day pick in the 2019 MLB draft.