I'm looking at the draft mostly as a comparison among the Western Conferences. Looking at the first round the one thing that really jumps out at me is how California had such a bad year yet had one first round pick and two second rounders. The rest of the team must have been really bad. In any event the Pac-10 wins the first three rounds (the first day) don't you think? They had ten players chosen. Only the Big West and the Western Athletic Conference - with two each - were close. I included Fresno State's Tanner Scheppers for historical interest. If you remember he was injured two years ago during the championship season but decided not to return to the Bulldogs for his final season. I thought that was the wrong decision but what do I know? He becomes a compensatory choice in the first round as his stock did rise as he had hoped. I want you to think how Fresno State would have done this past year if they would have had him as well as all the injured pitchers for the full season. Scary, isn't it?
The list below shows the number of draft picks the five western D-1A baseball conferences garnered through the full 50 rounds.
- Pac- 10 - 58
- Big West - 46
- WCC - 24
- MWC - 20
- WAC - 18
- SEC - 78
- Big 12 - 53
I had previously crowned the Pac-10 as the best baseball conference of the bunch with the West Coast Conference and the WAC dragging in the rear. The Pac-10 continues to show who's boss by thoroughly dominating the numbers in the draft. The Pac-10 has 58 draft choices, with the Big West Conference a distant second with 46. The WAC had 18 with Max Peterson, Kyle Bellows, Ryan Shopshire, Trevor Gibson, and David Berner being the five chosen from San Jose State to lead the league. Fresno State had three (four if you count Scheppers) as did New Mexico State. Nevada, Louisiana Tech, and Sacramento State had two picks each. Hawai'i had a single pick. The WAC site had only 17 picks but didn't include Hawai'i's Vince Catricala as a tenth round pick. Have I made an error here? Another oddity is Nevada's Colin Kaepernick. He was chosen by the Chicago Cubs but didn't play for the Wolf Pack in baseball this year. He's the quarterback for the Wolfpack football team.
Has he played since high school? I'm thinking he hasn't but the bigs sometimes make strange choices in the lower rounds as things really get thin. Some surprises were those not chosen. Leading the way in my book was La Tech's Devon Dageford, whom I've heard is probably returning to the Bulldogs next year even if he had been chosen. Another is NMSU's Bryan Marquez. I have no idea what those exclusions mean. I have been impressed with Dageford all year and figured him to go high and he ends up not being chosen at all. Curious. The Spartans' own Jacob Bruns is another as he had a very impressive senior season - being near the top in batting most of the year.
How does the WAC shape up? As I said above, the Spartans did well but the league as a whole fared poorly with only 18 players drafted. The Pac-10 and the Big West had 58 and 46 respectively to lead the western conferences, and the WAC was last. The Mountain West and West Coast were not much better at 20 and 24 picks. To give an idea of how that compares with the rest of the D-1A conferences I looked up the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 to see how they did. The SEC had 78 picks and the Big 12 had 53. That's a huge difference. The Pac-10 had three teams in the NCAA tournament and the Big12 had eight of their ten teams chosen. I see a disparity here if you want to use draft picks as a gauge. I know it's only one measuring stick but the Big 12 had far too many teams in the NCAA tournament and I think most of you readers agree with that. More to come.
Don Starks is the Baseball Editor of Inside Sparta. You may contact Don with any questions, comments, or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org
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