There has been a game of hide-and-seek going on this week between major league baseball and junior college players.
The major leagues held their January amateur draft Tuesday, which traditionally involves January high school graduates, junior college players and players who have dropped out of four-year colleges. For the first time in the 21-year history of the draft, however, none of the selections were released to the media.
The names will be announced some time next week, but without a listing of the rounds in which players were chosen.
The change was reportedly made to frustrate agents and recruiters from four-year schools, who in the past have looked through the list to find their own prospects. Baseball franchises complained that they would spend a lot of money scouting high school talent, only to lose the players to four-year schools.
The schools would call players chosen in the first couple of rounds and offer them full scholarships.
Under the new rules, however, the selected players are also having a hard time figuring out what’s going on.
“They wouldn’t tell me anything besides the fact that I was drafted,” said Pierce College pitcher Fred Riscen, who was chosen by the Montreal Expos. “They said they didn’t want anyone to know. I don’t even remember the guy’s name.”
Teammate Leo Clouser, a pitcher-outfielder, was also selected by the Expos.
“They didn’t say much to me, either,” Clouser said. “He said he couldn’t. I don’t remember the guy’s name.”
Clouser added that he isn’t bothered by the fact that he doesn’t know his draft round.
“I’m not frustrated by it, and I don’t think they’re trying to hide us,” he said. “If we play well, the major universities are going to notice us anyway.”
Players chosen in the draft, which concludes today, must first finish their season of play before signing a contract. With the announcement of draft choices coming next week, the four-year colleges therefore still have plenty of time to locate the better players in the Valley area.
“To not know who has been drafted at this point doesn’t have an immediate effect on us,” Cal State Northridge Coach Terry Craven said. “There’s a very, very small percentage of players who transfer from a junior college to a four-year school at this time of year.
“There’s kind of an understanding between the universities and the junior colleges that we will not raid their schools.”
Craven did say, however, that it can help to know when a player was chosen.
“If a guy you’ve been thinking about is drafted, it does make you more inclined to go after him,” he said. “But sometimes a guy who is drafted fairly high goes on and doesn’t do anything, while someone who is drafted low or not at all goes on to do well.”
There has also been speculation that this will be the last January draft.
“The January draft seems to be such an insignificant draft,” said George Genovese, a scout for the San Francisco Giants. “It would be far simpler to have just one draft in June. The players drafted in January can’t sign until after the JC season is over, and that’s just two or three weeks before the June draft.”
College of the Canyons had three players picked on Tuesday: pitcher Frank Halcovich, catcher Pete Kuld and outfielder Chris Cota.
Halcovich, a choice of the Kansas City Royals, was the best-known player chosen from the Valley.
The sophomore pitcher was the Mountain Valley Conference player of the year last season and was named the state’s co-player of the year.
He said he was happy with the selection, but indicated that he may not sign when his season is over in May.
“It feels good to be drafted,” he said. “I’m looking for a substantial amount of money to sign, but if I don’t get it, I’ve got a lot of schools that are interested in me.”
He says that he has already been contacted by 30 to 35 universities, including national powers Arizona, Cal State Fullerton and Oklahoma.
Kuld and Cota were both chosen by the Chicago White Sox.
Moorpark shortstop Bob Cabello appeared to be the exception in the draft. He said that California Angels scout Kevin Malone told him he was taken in the sixth round.
Bob Hernandez, a pitcher who played last season for Valley College, was chosen by the New York Mets in the first round of the secondary phase of the draft, which is reserved for players who were previously selected.