While the UCLA baseball team may have their focus on the postseason and next weekend's Super Regionals as they try to make it to Omaha for the College World Series, there is also something else going on -- the MLB Draft. Beginning today and continuing through Wednesday, the pro clubs will select high school and college kids and as one of the premier programs in the country, UCLA will have a lot of their guys involved.
The biggest Bruin involved is a commit who UCLA is just hoping makes it to campus, but it is a little bit complicated. Lucas Giolito, a big right-hander who has touched 100 mph, was expected to be a top three overall pick and possibly the number one pick in the draft, but he injured his elbow and only made three starts this spring. That caused his stock to drop, but also complicating things are his money demands. With his demanding a lot of money, some teams could be scared off and pass on drafting him. He might still go in the top 10 and most still have him in the top 15, but if he gets out of the first round then he can really fall because it's going to be tough to find enough money for him in the later rounds.
Another pitching commit, Max Fried, looks like a guaranteed top 10 pick. As a lanky left-hander with room to fill out, odds are he goes high, gets a good chunk of change and never makes it onto campus.
Hunter Virant, James Kaprielian, Cody Poteet and Felipe Perez are four more UCLA pitching commits who can be drafted high. They won't be drafted as high as the first two and won't be first round picks, but they shouldn't be picked too long after. All four are considered tough signs, though, so the Bruins have a good chance with the four of them.
In terms of position player recruits, UCLA will have their eyes on Daniel Robertson, their highest-ranked position player recruit. A highly touted infielder, Robertson has an outside chance of jumping into the first round and will be tough to get to campus. Ty Moore is a big-time hitter who the Bruins would love to get in school, but could lose to the pros and Aaron Porter has implications for both UCLA baseball and football. Darrell Miller Jr. is another guy that the Bruins will rally have to keep track of because despite not being the highest ranked of players, Miller is a catcher and UCLA has a gaping hole there next season.
The reason that the Bruins have a gaping hole there is because Tyler Heineman is likely to be drafted and signed. Trevor Brown could also go, leaving the Bruins with potentially zero returning catchers. Beau Amaral, Scott Griggs, Cody Keefer and Cody Regis should all hear their names called at some point too. Only Brown and Regis seem to have a decent chance of returning.
The highest drafted Bruin will certainly be Jeff Gelalich. The junior has had a monster season for UCLA and the scouts love what he brings to the table. While he looks like a likely second or third round pick, there are rumors that he could jump as high as the first compensation round.
There isn't as much mystery in the UCLA juniors as there are in the recruits. Most, if not all of them will sign and be playing pro ball next year, but that's not true of the recruits. Despite having a slew of potential high picks, UCLA has a bunch of guys who are considered tough signs, partly because the idea of going to UCLA is so appealing. The signing deadline isn't until next month so the Bruins won't know who will be on campus next season until then, but this is step one.
The first round and first compensation round of the MLB Draft is televised live on MLB Network beginning at 4 pm PT. The rest of it can be followed along online at MLB.com.
Today is a big deal for the UCLA baseball program, but it is an even bigger deal for the players. While we would selfishly like every player to pass on the pros and play in Westwood as much as possible, a bunch of kids' dreams are on the line tonight and those dreams include pro ball. Hopefully they decide that UCLA betters their chances of achieving those dreams, but really all we can do on this day is wish all of the guys, recuits and current Bruins, the best of luck and hope that whatever they choose ends up being the best for them.