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Santa Clarita MLB draft watch

Wide range of local prospects for this week's draft

Posted: June 5, 2013 9:52 p.m.
Updated: June 5, 2013 9:52 p.m.
College of the Canyons player Trey Williams (42) is rated as the Santa Clarita Valley’s top prospect in the MLB First-Year Player Draft, according to Baseball America. College of the Canyons player Trey Williams (42) is rated as the Santa Clarita Valley’s top prospect in the MLB First-Year Player Draft, according to Baseball America.
College of the Canyons player Trey Williams (42) is rated as the Santa Clarita Valley’s top prospect in the MLB First-Year Player Draft, according to Baseball America.

As the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft arrives tonight, there’s not much certainty when it comes to Santa Clarita Valley prospects.

Two guys may go early. A number of guys may go late. College juniors could return to school. High schoolers could skip college all together.

That said, one thing is certain — Trey Williams is again considered the SCV’s top draft prospect.

Williams — who hit .333 with six home runs and 24 RBIs for College of the Canyons this season — is the No. 276th draft prospect by Baseball America.

After being projected to go in the first round for much of last year as a senior at Valencia High, Williams fell to the 11th round and elected to play a year at COC to improve his draft stock.

The third baseman won’t know until today or Friday whether the extra season paid off, but if COC head coach Chris Cota’s sources are right, it definitely did.

The first two rounds of the draft take place today with rounds three through 10 to follow on Friday and rounds 11 through 40 to wrap it up on Saturday.

“I’m hearing (Trey may go) in the top six or seven rounds, and it could be anywhere as high as the second or third round,” Cota said.

But Cota also offered a disclaimer.

“You hear a lot of things, (but) everything changes come draft day,” he said.

Williams might not be Cota’s only player drafted.

COC shortstop Chad De La Guerra (batted .295 with three home runs and 30 RBIs this year), a North Carolina State commit, has a chance to go in the later rounds, as does Cal State Northridge’s Cal Vogelsang, who is a West Ranch High graduate.

Vogelsang hit .316 this year as a senior.

Another SCV product who may join Williams in the top 10 rounds is UCLA shortstop Pat Valaika.

The Hart High alumnus won the defensive player of the year award in the Pac-12 this season and is the 448th ranked prospect by Baseball America.

The MLB draft isn’t anything new to the Valaika family though, as both of Pat’s older brothers preceded him — Chris a third-round pick in 2006 and Matt a 34th-rounder in 2010.

Pat, a junior, is projected anywhere from the fifth to the 15th round, but regardless of the round, he’d extend Hart’s 12-year-streak of producing a draftee.

The Master’s College has a few juniors of its own receiving interest.

Right-handers Cody Harris (3.05 ERA, 27 strikeouts, 20 2/3 innings) and James Scott (7-5, 3.10 ERA) — a teammate of Valaika’s at Hart — both have low-90s fastballs, sharp breaking balls and could be drafted anywhere from the 10th round on. They’re both relatively inexperienced on the mound as well.

“They’re converted position players, but scouts are interested because they’re in such great physical condition, can throw 90 plus and their statures are such great pitchers’ profiles,” said TMC head coach Monte Brooks.

UC Irvine’s Kyle Hooper — a Saugus graduate — certainly has a= pitcher’s profile.

The 6-foot-5-inch right-hander received a medical redshirt in 2012 after a stress fracture cut his junior season short. He was already on draft radars when the injury occurred and may have still been drafted had he not told teams he wanted to return to Irvine and give his junior season another go.

This year, Hooper (a 28th round pick in 2009) was 1-3 with a 5.45 ERA; and if he’s drafted again it would likely be in the later rounds.

But he, like most of the aforementioned players, can return to college for another season if he chooses.

There are a few SCV draft prospects, however, who haven’t been to college yet.

Valencia High’s J.D. Busfield (7-2, 1.60 ERA, 64 strikeouts), a Loyola Marymount commit, has received interest and could go in the later rounds.

“I think J.D. has a pretty good opportunity (to be drafted) with his arm, his size and how he competed this year and transformed himself,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder.

Another possibility is Saugus catcher Nick Warren, who hit .405 with three home runs and 14 RBIs this season. But if he’s drafted, it may be less for his hitting and more for his ability behind the plate.

“Nick plays a premium position, has a strong throwing arm and a body that has room to grow. He’s a good catch and throw guy,” said Saugus head coach John Maggiora.

Warren — a Fresno State commit — threw out 13 of the 20 baserunners who attempted to steal on him this year.

One baserunner he didn’t throw out was Golden Valley’s Billy Fredrick (.283 average, one home run, seven RBIs).

Fredrick, who was one-for-one in steal attempts against Warren this year and led the Foothill League with 16 thefts, has drawn attention from scouts on and off all year.

But if the draft doesn’t work out, the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos are waiting.

And they won’t be the only ones waiting.

In fact, the next few days will be characterized by waiting. Coaches, parents and players alike, all waiting to see how the 2013 draft unfolds and what that means for their futures.

The draft kicks off today at 4 p.m. with rounds one and two. Rounds three through 10 are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Friday, with rounds 11-40 starting at 10 a.m. Saturday.


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