July 2, 2009
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Eight 2009 UC Santa Barbara baseball players have signed contracts with major league teams and many have already reported to their minor league clubs.
Third-round draft pick Joe Gardner, chosen 94th overall by the Cleveland Indians, has signed a contract. Gardner, who was an All-Big West First Team selection, was the highest-drafted player in the Big West, a conference that had two nationally-ranked teams in the NCAA postseason and has featured at least one team in the College World Series in eight of the past 11 seasons. UCSB led the Big West with nine total draftees.
Ryan Cavan (16th round, San Francisco Giants), Brian Gump (26th round, Philadelphia Phillies), Robby Cummings (28th round, Chicago White Sox), Shane Carlson (32nd round, Cincinnati Reds), Forrest Cannon (34th round, Cincinnati Reds), Eric Oliver (36th round, Los Angeles Angels) and Zach Samuels (free agent contract, Detroit Tigers) have all signed contracts.
All but Gardner and Samuels have begun their professional careers with their minor league teams. Follow all of their progress in the minors by clicking here under the Gauchos in the Pros tab on the right side of the page.
"Its really good to have these players sign because one of the things we tell our guys when they get here is that we have three goals - that we want to play for a championship, that they graduate and to give them an opportunity to go on and play professionally. It's all intertwined," UCSB head coach Bob Brontsema said. "It's nice that most of these guys are graduating and at the same time they're also getting a chance to play professionally."
Two Gauchos who have not yet signed - and therefore might return to UCSB - are junior infielder Matt Valaika and sophomore pitcher Mario Hollands. Valaika is currently starring for the Santa Barbara Foresters - follow him by clicking here - while Hollands is playing for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in the Cape Cod League. Follow Hollands by clicking here.
Valaika, an All-Big West Honorable Mention selection, led the Gauchos with a .343 batting average and .545 slugging percentage this past season and was chosen in the 20th round by the Cincinnati Reds. Hollands, the Gauchos' Saturday starter, was 6-6 with a 4.74 ERA and was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 24th round. Both players are currently playing summer league baseball. They have until August 17 to sign with their respective clubs.
"It's a strong case of them coming back and we eagerly await the deadline to come and go," Brontsema said.
Earlier this year UCSB Athletics unveiled the BE Great initiative. BE Great is dedicated to maximizing leadership ability, strong on-campus interaction, and general welfare for all 450 student-athletes and Intercollegiate Athletics staff at UC Santa Barbara. BE Great also focuses on personal and career development, diversity, and social awareness, along with ensuring academic success. UCSB has a 92% student-athlete graduation rate.