Relief pitchers David Berg, Jake Ehret become final Bruins taken in MLB draft

A pair of relief pitchers capped the MLB draft for UCLA on Saturday, becoming the third and fourth Bruins taken this year.

Star closer David Berg went to the Texas Rangers in the 17th round as the 516th overall pick, 91 selections after teammate Jake Ehret was drafted in the 14th round by the Cincinnati Reds. Lightly recruited out of Bishop Amat High, Berg made 101 appearances in his first two seasons at UCLA — setting an NCAA single-season record with 24 saves during the team’s 2013 national championship run. He also became the first reliever to win Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year.

Limited by strained bicep for part of his junior season, Berg still finished with a 1.50 ERA and 11 saves. Ehret had a 2.25 ERA in 20 innings as a righty setup man.

UCLA signee Griffin Canning, another right-handed pitcher, was drafted in the 38th round by the Colorado Rockies.

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Catcher Shane Zeile drafted No. 160 overall as Tigers’ fifth-round pick

UCLA catcher Shane Zeile was taken in the fifth round of the MLB draft on Friday, becoming the first current Bruin off the board.

The junior went No. 160 overall to the Detroit Tigers after leading UCLA in nearly every hitting category, including a .324 batting average and 28 RBI. A former infielder, the All-Pac-12 selection successfully converted to catcher and started 105 games behind home plate over the last two seasons. Continue reading

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How much will the MLB draft hurt UCLA baseball’s recruiting class?

Each June, living rooms across the country erupt as college baseball programs groan.

The MLB draft pushes scores of teens toward their pro dreams, but also guts the recruiting classes UCLA has suffered its share of the burden, losing five recruits last year — including a pair of 11th-round selections.

The blows are coming earlier this time, which at least makes for less guesswork on the part of the coaches. Lefty Brady Aiken was as good as gone even before he officially became the No. 1 overall pick on Thursday, as the UCLA signee was already a consensus top-three prospect. The first high school pitcher selected first since 1991 is in line to sign for just shy of $8 million, and the Astros certainly wouldn’t have risked the top pick without confidence they could ink him.

The same likely goes for righty Grant Hockin out of La Verne’s Damien High, who was picked 61st overall by the Cleveland Indians. Continue reading

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Three Bruins taken in Day 2 of MLB Draft

RHP Nick Vander Tuig — San Francisco Giants, 6th round, No. 192
RHP Zack Weiss — Cincinnati Reds, 6th round, No. 195
SS Pat Valaika — Colorado Rockies, 9th round, No. 259

The big surprise was the absence of Adam Plutko, a three-time all-conference pitcher who nevertheless slipped past 10 rounds. He went off the board early today, going No. 321 overall to the Cleveland Indians. If he signs, he’ll join former teammate and Golden Spikes winner Trevor Bauer.

Bruin signees Dom Nunez — a third baseman out of Elk Grove — and righty pitcher Dustin Driver were taken No. 169 overall by the Rockies and No. 221 overall by the Athletics, respectively. Steven Farinaro went to the Cardinals in the 11th round (No. 335).

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Yankees draft UCLA signee Gosuke Katoh in second round

Rancho Bernardo’s Gosuke Katoh was drafted by the New York Yankees in the second round yesterday, 66th overall. An All-American second baseman, he doesn’t carry a big bat but is lauded for his defensive skills.

From what he told the Pomerado News, it’s unlikely that he’ll end up in blue and gold:

“I was sitting on the couch waiting around and I wasn’t expecting my name to be called, but then my advisor gave me a quick call and told me I was going to get picked in two picks and it was the Yankees,” Katoh said of the moment leading up to his selection. “I couldn’t talk for a minute because I was really shocked and I didn’t believe him at first. I then put the phone down and looked up at the TV and they said ‘with the 66th pick, the Yankees select Gosuke Katoh’ and I couldn’t believe it.”

Katoh, who signed a scholarship to UCLA earlier this year, seems to have his heart set on joining the Yankees instead of the Bruins. The signing bonus where Katoh was taken is usually around $780,000.

“If everything works out like it should with no road bumps, then I should be a Yankee by next week,” he said.

Of course, a Yankees draftee opting for UCLA isn’t unprecedented.

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