How did the 2017 Major League Baseball draft effect the 2018 UCLA baseball team? It’s certainly more complicated than adding up the number of players who were drafted.
Of the six UCLA players drafted over the last three days, three are guaranteed to leave and the other three are faced with decisions, some easier than others.
Of the six players from UCLA’s incoming recruiting class who were drafted, three were selected in the first six rounds, meaning they would be passing up some hefty signing bonuses were they to attend UCLA. A third was drafted in the 14th round, a fairly unpredictable range of the draft when it comes to signability. The final two were taken in the last two rounds of the draft, making it likely that at least they will attend UCLA.
Three of the current UCLA players drafted have already exhausted their college eligibility. Pitchers Scott Burke (Orioles, 20th round) and Moises Ceja (Rockies, 32nd round) and outfielder Brett Stephens (Rockies, 28th round) have no decisions to make.
Junior pitcher Griffin Canning, the Bruins’ No. 1 starter last season, was the Angels’ second-round pick, No. 47 overall. Were he to return to UCLA, he would be leaving behind an estimated signing bonus of $1.4 million. It’s fairly safe to say he’s not coming back.
Junior first baseman Sean Bouchard was the Rockies’ ninth-round pick, No. 266 overall. His estimated signing bonus is $143,400. He certainly has a more difficult decision to make than Canning.
The other current UCLA player drafted is in a more intriguing situation than the other two. Redshirt sophomore Nick Valaika has appeared in just 32 games in his three seasons at UCLA, but that didn’t stop the Pittsburgh Pirates from picking him in the 24th round on Wednesday.
He redshirted in 2016 and his 2017 season ended courtesy of a hand injury when he was hit by a pitch after starting the first 21 games of last season. Valaika also missed more of one of his high school seasons with because of injury. Does he return to UCLA in an attempt to drive up his stock, but also risk injury? It won’t be an easy decision, but he can consult his three older brothers, all of whom played (or are currently playing) pro baseball.
As for UCLA’s signees who were drafted… Pitcher/infielder Hunter Greene probably won’t do much thinking after he was selected with the second overall pick of the draft on Monday. He is in line for a $7.19 million signing bonus.
Pitcher/catcher Hagen Danner, who went 61st overall in the second round to the Blue Jays is in line for a $1.04 million signing bonus. Hard to turn that down and even more difficult to improve his draft position were he to play three years at UCLA.
Pitcher Jeremiah Estrada was the Cubs’ sixth-round pick, 195th overall, giving him an estimated signing bonus of $222,600. His decision isn’t the no-brainer Greene and Danner seem to be faced with, but it’s very possible he’ll sign with the Cubs.
In UCLA’s best-case scenario, it probably only loses Greene and Danner from its original 10-man recruiting class. Of the juniors, Canning seems a near certainty to sign anda return to UCLA seems unlikely for Bouchard.
UCLA-RELATED 2017 MLB DRAFT PICKS
Hunter Greene (First round, second overall, Reds) INF/RHP, Notre Dame HS
Griffin Canning (Second round, 47th overall, Angels) RHP, UCLA
Hagen Danner (2nd round, 61st overall, Blue Jays) RHP/C, Huntington Beach HS
Jeremiah Estrada (6th round, 195th overall, Cubs) RHP, Palm Desert HS
Sean Bouchard (9th round, 266th overall, Rockies) First Base, UCLA
Garrett Mitchell (14th round, 411 overall, Oakland A’s) OF, Orange Lutheran HS
Scott Burke (20th round, 608 overall, Orioles) RHP, UCLA
Nick Valaika (24th round, 718 overall, Pirates) INF, UCLA
Brett Stephens (28th round, 836 overall, Rockies) OF, UCLA
Moises Ceja (32nd round, 956 overall, Rockies) RHP, UCLA
Sam Glick (39th round, 1,178 overall, Orioles) LHP, El Toro HS
Chase Farrell (40th round, 1,201 overall, Astros) RHP, Valencia HS