June 10, 2009
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - On the second day of Major League Baseball's draft, five UC Santa Barbara baseball players were selected.
A day after pitcher Joe Gardner was taken in the third round by the Cleveland Indians, several Gauchos heard their names called, bringing the total number of UCSB players taken this year to six.
Gardner was also the first player selected from the Big West, a conference that had two nationally-seeded teams in this year's playoffs and has had at least one team in the College World Series eight of the past 11 years. The six players chosen in the first two days ranks the Gauchos second among Big West schools.
The draft will conclude on Thursday. Following the 2008 season, UCSB had seven players drafted. The most Gauchos selected in recent history was after the 2001 season when nine players were drafted.
"This is a real exciting day for these guys," UCSB head coach Bob Brontsema said. "It's a nice accomplishment for the program to see these guys get rewarded with what they've been dreaming of for a long time."
Junior infielder Ryan Cavan was the first UCSB player picked on Wednesday, going to the San Francisco Giants in the 16th round (477 overall). Cavan was an All-Big West Honorable Mention selection following a season in which he hit .341 and led the team with his .435 on-base percentage. Oftentimes the Gauchos' cleanup hitter, Cavan had four home runs, 36 RBI and had a slugging percentage of .509.
UCSB's leading hitter, Matt Valaika, was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 20th round, 599 overall, after hitting a team-high .343 with a .545 slugging percentage. The Reds selected the junior second baseman just three years after taking his brother, former Gaucho standout Chris Valaika, in the third round of the 2006 draft. Matt Valaika was an All-Big West Honorable Mention choice and finished second on the team with 45 RBI.
Left-handed pitcher Mario Hollands heard his name called in the 24th round when the Minnesota Twins selected the sophomore at 732 overall. Hollands finished his 2009 campaign by going 6-6 with a 4.74 ERA and led the team by throwing 89.1 innings.
Senior outfielder Brian Gump, an All-Big West Honorable Mention pick, was chosen shortly thereafter when the Philadelphia Phillies took him with the 797 pick in the 26th round. The outfielder batted .308 with a team-best eight home runs, 59 runs scored and 22 stolen bases. It was the second year that the Westminster, Calif. native was taken after being chosen in the 46th round last year by the New York Mets.
Third baseman Robby Cummings rounded out the half-dozen Gauchos chosen when the Chicago White Sox grabbed him in the 28th round (853 overall). Cummings, a Chicago native, was tied for second on the Gauchos with seven home runs while he knocked in 38 runs.
Thursday will be the final day of the draft when the last 20 rounds will be conducted. There is a strong possibility that more Gauchos will hear their names called.
"Some guys are still out there," Brontsema said. "Tomorrow, there is certainly a legitimate shot of some more guys getting picked in the final 20 rounds. Now, as always, we sit back and find out what pieces are left of the puzzle for next year."