The final round of eight of the College World Series kicks off this weekend, and while all but one of the teams will end up going home without the hardware, a few of the members of their teams will likely one day be going with a million-dollar bonus. Here’s who has some helium for the 2012 MLB draft, broken down by team. Here’s part five…
California Golden Bears
Virginia’s CWS opponent, California has had an exhausting, exhilarating ride of a season. They began the season under the assumption that this season would be the last for the program, which was being axed for budget reasons. Somehow they managed to get off to a great start, using their “elimination” as motivation. Near the mid-way point of the season it was announced that former players and alumni had raised enough money to keep the program going. And the players aren’t the only ones who are glad. Scouts for next year’s draft won’t have to travel all over the place looking for guys who used to play for Cal, putting a huge smile on their face. Speaking of smiles, if you’re looking for a good one, check out the video below.
Cal’s top draft prospect for 2012 is 2B Tony Renda, the 2011 Pac-10 Player of the Year. Renda had a sensational season for the Bears, taking on the role of team leader, despite having sophomore status. He paced the squad with a .335 average, 85 hits, 112 total bases and nine steals. He also scored 37 runs and drove in 42. He was also an integral part of one of the best defensive units in the Pac-10. Renda made nine errors, good for a .967 fielding percentage.
Renda isn’t likely to be a first-round guy, but he should most certainly improve upon his standing from the 2009 draft, when he was selected by the Dodgers in the 42nd-round. Renda spurned their offer to head to Cal, where he made an immediate impact as a freshman, winning Pac-10 First-Team honors after hitting .373 with 21 doubles, four triples, three HR and 37 RBI. He also swiped 13 bases.
After Renda, the next top guy is floppy-haired LHP Justin Jones. Jones will be searching for his tenth victory of the season in the CWS, and if he gets it, he would have posted back-to-back ten win campaigns. As a freshman, Jones made an immediate impact, going 10-6 with a 4.22 ERA in 18 games (15 starts). He tossed two complete-games, and joined Renda on the Freshman All-American Team.
This season, Jones stepped up his game, posting a 2.93 ERA, tossing three complete-games, and finishing first on the team with 119.2 innings. He also led the Bears with four pick-offs.
The scouting report on Jones isn’t anything special, but he controls his high 80s fastball very well. His curveball and changeup both have slightly above-average potential. That was enough to get him tabbed in the seventh-round out of high-school by the White Sox.
With both Dixon Anderson and Erik Johnson moving on after this season, the role of staff ace will fall to Jones next year, and with a strong campaign, he could force his way into sandwich-round discussions.
RHP Logan Scott is another intriguing option. After making only three appearances as a freshman, Scott was utilized often this season, making 23 appearances, including one start. He finished with a 2.89 ERA and 29:9 K:BB ratio in 43.2 innings. Despite having ideal size (6-4, 216 lbs) Scott doesn’t have premium stuff (mid-to-high 80s fastball), but he does have two average offerings in a changeup and a curveball.
1B Devon Rodriguez might get a call late on draft day. He has posted .288 and .289 averages over the past two years and only has a combined eight home runs, but he does have some raw power in his bat, and his defense is slightly above-average. He made only four errors this season in 532 chances.
OF Vince Bruno has some good speed and showed a great approach at the plate (18 BB, 18 K) in his first season after transferring from Los Medanos JC.