If all goes according to plan, the San Francisco Giants could have a serious Berkeley connection going at some point in the next few years. They drafted three players with Berkeley connections in Tuesday’s Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
With their third-round pick, the Giants took former Berkeley High player Julian Benavidez. Benavidez, a first baseman, has attended Diablo Valley College for the past two years.
The sixth round saw the Giants taking Cal senior David Cash with the 196th overall pick. Cash, a right-handed pitcher, was an honorable mention All-Pac-10 pick this season. He finished the 2001 season 10-3 with four saves and concluded his Cal career with a 23-7 overall record with six saves. His 23 wins is fifth on the Bears’ career win list and his six saves is seventh on the Cal career save list. Cash is also eighth on the school’s career strikeout list (198).
The Giants’ final Berkeley pick was Cal senior outfielder Rob Meyer. Meyer may have helped his draft status with a scorching postseason, going 6-for-12 with three home runs and seven RBI, and earning all-tournament honors. He was the Cal’s leading hitter this season with a .355 average and was honorable mention All-Pac-10.
Other members of the 2001 Bears who were selected included senior first baseman Clint Hoover (14th round by the Houston Astros), junior left-hander Jason Dennis (14th round by the Anaheim Angels), and junior right-hander Trevor Hutchinson (20th round by the New York Mets).
Hoover finished his Cal career fourth on the Bears’ all-time career RBI list (157), fifth on the career home run list (39) and eighth on the career doubles list (44). Dennis finished the 2001 season 5-3, including a 4-0 shutout of Stanford and a victory against Minnesota at the NCAA Tournament. Hutchinson was the Bears No. 1 starter this season, going 6-7 with a 3.85 ERA and 91 strikeouts in a team-high 114.6 innings.
Cal head coach David Esquer said there weren’t any big surprises among the seniors taken.
“I’m happy for all of them chance to go play pro ball,” he said. “I don’t think any of them are disappointed with where they were taken.”
Esquer said he fully expected the two junior hurlers, Dennis and Hutchinson, to sign with the teams that drafted them rather than return to Cal for another season.
“I can’t imagine they wouldn’t come to terms,” Esquer said. “With Trevor, I’m surprised he didn’t go higher. The Mets know what kind of talent they’ve got, I’d be surprised if they didn’t give him what he needs to sign with them.”
Esquer also has to deal with uncertainty surrounding three of his signees for next season.
Letter of intent signees Terry Jones, Tyler Adamczyk and Justin Nelson were all taken in the draft and could sign with their respective teams rather than play for Cal. Jones, a fourth round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies (110th pick), is a 6-2, 195 pound shortstop from Upland High School in Upland. Adamczyk is a 6-5, 180-pound right-handed pitcher/first baseman from Westlake Village who was drafted in the seventh round by the St. Louis Cardinals. Nelson is a 6-2, 210-pound left-handed outfielder/pitcher from Rancho Buena Vista High School in Vista who was drafted in the 20th round by the Anaheim Angels. Esquer said all three are still considering their options.
“I don’t think anything is very apparent with the high school kids,” Esquer said. “Jones is a concern, because he was drafted in a good position. But all these kids are aware of value of a college education.”
Esquer said that college coaches always have to consider the draft status of a recruit.
“Sometimes players are too good, and they end up getting a lot of money to go straight to the pros. But if you go after those guys, you know there’s a good chance you’re never going to see them,” he said.
“With other guys it can be a little bit of a crapshoot. You can be looking at a kid early, and they can blossom and become a top-five round talent. There’s always a risk involved, but you do your homework and try and get kids who value a college education.”