Several area players are expected to go high in MLB draft

Eric Sondheimer
Contact ReporterVarsity Times Insider
MLB draft should garner several area players in early rounds

Major League Baseball begins its three-day amateur draft Monday, and Southern California products should find their way to prominence.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have the first selection, followed by the Houston Astros and the Colorado Rockies. The Dodgers pick No. 24 and the Angels No. 26.

The first area player to be chosen is expected to be Dillon Tate, a right-hander from UC Santa Barbara who has been lighting up radar guns. Tate, who played at Claremont High, has a fastball that is routinely clocked in the mid- to high-90s mph. He had a record of 8-5 with 111 strikeouts in 103 1/3 innings this season.

After Tate, next up is likely to be UCLA's ace right-hander James Kaprielian, who had a record of 10-4 with an earned-run average of 2.03 and 114 strikeouts in 106 2/3 innings. He played in high school for Irvine Beckman.

Among high school players, San Clemente pitcher Kolby Allard, Long Beach Wilson catcher Chris Betts, Corona pitcher Tristan Beck and San Dimas pitcher Peter Lambert are contenders to be selected in the first two rounds.

One intriguing part of this year's draft is seeing where players previously selected but unsigned end up being taken.

Phil Bickford was the 10th overall pick in the 2013 draft out of Westlake Village Oaks Christian, but chose to play for Cal State Fullerton. However, the right-hander left the Titans after one season and played this year for College of Southern Nevada, for whom he had a 9-1 record, 1.45 ERA and 166 strikeouts in 86 2/3 innings.

Another top prospect to watch is Brady Aiken, who signed with UCLA when he was starring for San Diego Cathedral High and became the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft by the Astros. He failed to come to terms, enrolled at IMG Academy in Florida, then had surgery for a torn ulnar ligament in his left elbow. Another former unsigned Astros pick, Jacob Nix from Los Alamitos, is also available.

Cody Ponce, 6-5 and 235 pounds, had a 5-3 record and 1.44 ERA for Division II Broncos Cal Poly Pomona this season after being rated as the No. 3 overall prospect in the Cape Cod summer league in 2014.

Times staff writer Mike Hiserman contributed to this report.

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