June 16, 2005
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Outfielder Matt Wilkerson, UC Santa Barbara's all-time home run leader, has signed a free agent contract with the St. Louis Cardinals organization.
Wilkerson was a Second Team All-Big West selection in 2005 when he had his best all-around season as a Gaucho. He was second on the team in batting at .318, but he led the team in home runs (13), RBI (51), hits (69), runs scored (47), and stolen bases (nine). His 13 home runs tied for the ninth highest total in UCSB history, and his final home run of the season, a game-winning shot at Cal State Northridge in the second to last game, gave him 42 career home runs, a new school record. Additionally, Wilkerson was almost flawless in right field, where he committed just one error in 120 chances. He was also the only player on the team to start all 56 games.
Not only did Wilkerson finish his career as UCSB's all-time home run leader, but he also finished ranked fourth in RBI (186), eighth in hits (243), eighth in run scored (167), fifth in at bats (825), fifth in games played (216), sixth in total bases (417), and first in stolen base percentage (28-of-30, 93.3%).
"It kind of falls under the category of better late than never," said UCSB head coach Bob Brontsema, referring to the fact that Wilkerson was not taken in last week's Major League Baseball Draft. "My greatest hope is that Matt gets the opportunity he deserves to prove himself. The Cardinals move players along and they are a good organization for him."
Wilkerson will be assigned to New Jersey of the New York-Penn League. Among his opponents will be his longtime teammate, Chris Malec. Malec, a 16th round draft choice of the New York Yankees, has been assigned to the Staten Island Yankees of the New York-Penn League.