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Six Pro Bruins set to take the stage when MLB returns in July

The MLB is back — and your former Bruins will headline several teams

College World Series - Game One Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Major League Baseball is returning. With it are six former UCLA Bruins including some team’s headline players.

Before we get to the former Bruins, here’s what we know about the MLB’s return, as documented by our very own McCovey Chronicles: MLB announces 60-game regular season.

So, in a shortened season, here’s who is returning to the diamond and also hails from UCLA:

Brandon Crawford, SS, San Francisco Giants
Gerrit Cole, SP, New York Yankees
Trevor Bauer, SP, Cincinnati Reds
Griffin Canning, SP, Los Angeles Angels
Pat Valaika, SS, Baltimore Orioles
Adam Plutko, RP, Cleveland Indians

Cole is the headliner here after he signed his massive contract that stands as the fourth-largest contract in MLB history. His nine-year, $324,000,000 contract with the New York Yankees was signed earlier this year and picked apart by pundits that saw them go as far as averaging out his cash per pitch.

Still, he finally gets to don the Pinstripes after he starred at UCLA from 2009-2011. He put forth a 21-20 career record with five complete games to his credit. He struck out 376 batters and posted an ERA below 3.50 in each of his seasons with the Bruins.

Cole was selected first overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2011 draft and made his much-anticipated debut in 2013 with the Pirates. After leading the Pirates in wins in multiple years, he then led the Houston Astros to the playoffs and World Series with a combined record of 35-10 over the past two seasons in Houston. He signs on with the Yankees and will make his New York debut this summer.

Bauer went third overall in the very same draft, selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks. After posting a career record of 34-8 with the Bruins, Bauer struck out 460 batters in his time at UCLA and even posted two season’s worth of ERA under 3.00 including his final year with the Bruins that saw him start 16 games, pitch 10 complete games and have an ERA of just 1.25.

He made his debut with the Diamondbacks in 2012, moved on to the Cleveland Indians from 2013-2019 and eventually moved a bit south in Ohio to the Reds during the 2019 season. He’s currently signed to a one-year, $17,500,000 deal with the Reds for this year.

Crawford is also an owner of a massive contract in the majors after he starred with the Bruins from 2006-2008. He started all 179 games over those three seasons and hit over .300 in each. He finished his career with 44 doubles, 13 triples and helped lead the Bruins to the NCAA Tournament in each of his three seasons.

He was drafted by San Francisco Giants in the fourth round of the 2008 draft and made his debut in spectacular fashion in 2011 with a grand slam as his first hit. He’s currently signed on a six-year, $75,000,000 deal with the Giants.

Canning played for UCLA from 2015-2017 and posted a career record of 19-13 as a starting pitcher and struck out 301 batters over his time with the Bruins. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the second round of the 2017 draft and made his debut with the team in 2019. He currently has a career 5-6 record and an ERA of 4.58 with 96 MLB strikeouts.

Plutko played for UCLA and starred during the 2013 national championship run in which he was named College World Series Most Outstanding Player for his efforts. He was drafted in the 11th round of the 2013 draft and made his debut with the Indians after they purchased his contract in 2016. He’s starred for the Columbus Clippers during his minor league days, even posting a no-hitter. In the majors, he’s compiled a 11-10 record with 141 career strikeouts to date.

Valaika played for UCLA from 2011-2013 and was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the ninth round of the 2013 draft. He made his pro debut in 2016 and has a career mark of 17 home runs and 51 RBI to date.

The Majors are back. The Bruins are back. Let’s get ready for some baseball!