Local players gearing up for MLB draft

Evaluations have just about been wrapped up by numerous scouts employed by all 30 Major League Baseball franchises.

Looking to find the next wave of talent and further stockpile the farm system takes precedent with the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Draft set to take place Thursday through Saturday.

The first two rounds will be held Thursday, with the third through 10th rounds taking place Friday and the final 30 rounds on Saturday. There's a chance a couple of former area standout players might be selected, likely on Friday or Saturday.

"It's all about needs and how they are evaluated," Glendale Community College baseball Coach Chris Cicuto said. "The draft can be a funny thing.

"You could have guys who are projected to go in the first 10 rounds get picked in the 15th round or even the other way around."

Among those who might be targeted in the draft or sign as a free agent with an organization following the draft might include former Glendale Community College pitcher Spencer Jack and infielder Ruben Padilla and former St. Francis High infielder/designated hitter Mark Saatzer.

Jack just completed an impressive season for the University of Kentucky, which advanced to the NCAA Louisville Regional Final before being ousted by Louisville on Sunday. Jack, a 6-foot-3 right-hander, finished 4-1 with a tidy 1.16 earned-run average and four saves in 26 appearances. In 38 2/3 innings, Jack struck out 31 and limited batters to a .204 average in helping the Wildcats finish 37-25.

"He had an amazing year," Cicuto said. "He came to Kentucky as a bullpen guy and helped solidify the stopper spot.

"I haven't talked to any of the scouts in that part of the country, but he's gotten better and better. He improved his change-up here and he developed a good slider at Kentucky."

Padilla, a senior at Chico State, batted .316 (68 for 215) with 10 doubles and 25 runs batted in. The Wildcats finished 43-15 and advanced to the NCAA Division II World Series in North Carolina.

"There's always a chance he might get some interest," Cicuto said. "Maybe he gets signed as a free agent [later in the summer]."

Glendale college sophomore Keaton Leach was drafted by the Chicago Cubs last year in the 32nd round.

Saatzer, a former All-Area and All-Mission League honoree, recently concluded his senior season at Chapman University in Orange County. The infielder batted .400 (64 for 160) with six home runs and a team-leading 36 runs batted in. Saatzer also collected six doubles, three triples and scored 44 runs for the Panthers.

Saatzer was selected to the All-West Region second team by the American Baseball Coaches Assn.

"He had a great season," St. Francis Coach Aaron Milam said. "Who knows if he gets drafted.

"He might get a look as a free agent or go to an independent team."


Follow Charles Rich on Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich.

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