After playing four positions over the past four years, and recording assists from three different positions this season, California senior Mitchell "El Gaucho" Kranson has been drafted in the ninth round, 273rd overall, by the Minnesota Twins. Kranson joins junior righty Alex Schick, who was drafted in the sixth round, as well as Chris Paul, Trevor Hildenberger and Michael Theofanopoulos as Minnesota draft picks out of Cal since 2014.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1643846-el-gaucho-s-last-ride Though Kranson spent much of this season at third base (44 games out of 52), he called every pitch of every game in the College Station Regional last year, and has worked out for several teams behind the dish since the season ended, including the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The first-team All-Pac-12 third baseman followed up his cult-hero ending to the 2015 season with a career year at the dish, hitting .333 (second on the team behind third-round pick and Pac-12 Player of the Year Brett Cumberland), with a .376 on-base percentage, playing and starting in 52 of 53 games with 38 runs scored, a team-high 71 hits, a team-best 15 doubles, five home runs, 36 RBIs, 101 total bases (second only to Cumberland), a .474 slugging percentage and 15 walks to 26 strikeouts. He grounded into just one double play all year, and led the team with 23 multi-hit games.
The 5-foot-9, 210-pounder has a bat that plays anywhere, but his stature may have been cause for teams to hold back.
While his frame is tough and durable, he doesn't athletically project anywhere. The best comp in that regard would be Allen Craig, but Allen Craig had the athleticism to play short, third and outfield, as well as the length to play first. Kranson is not long enough to play first (although he has, and done it well), quick but not fast and he doesn't have a wealth of experience behind the plate, having caught just two games this season (the Bears were 2-0 in those games) and 10 games in 2015 (with Cal going 7-3).
That said, while he may not be the biggest or the most athletic, he's deceptively quick, with sound footwork both in the outfield and at third. His receiving and game-calling are advanced, and he has very soft hands and a quiet body behind the plate. He has a quick, compact release with arm strength that's improved every season since he came in as a third baseman/catcher in 2013.
Kranson is an exceptional ball striker who pounces on mistakes, and was one of the five hardest hitters to strike out in college baseball in 2015 (just 10 Ks in 165 at-bats). Regardless of any concerns about position, Kranson is a professional hitter with a mature approach from the left side. He's flashed power, but he's definitely a gap-to-gap hitter at the next level.
Kranson finishes his career with a .288 batting average (169-for-586), 12 home runs, 63 strikeouts to 34 walks, 41 doubles and 79 RBIs.
Also on Thursday, the Miami Marlins drafted speedy junior center fielder Aaron Knapp in the eighth round (233rd overall). No word yet on whether he will leave early, though sources said during the season that he was leaning that direction. Knapp was rated by scouts as a 60 runner (out of 80), and stole 10 bases on 15 attempts, while playing a spotless center field. He has tremendous range in the outfield, and profiles as a top-of-the-lineup hitter if he can keep the ball on the ground. He tried for a more fly-ball oriented approach this season, and had his worst campaign as a collegian, hitting .251 with an on-base percentage of .302 (he had a .377 mark last season). In 2015, he stole 12 bases and hit four triples, while he led the Pac-12 in three-baggers this season, with seven.