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Several locals have name called in MLB draft

Former Corona del Mar baseball player JT Schwartz, a first baseman, was drafted in the fourth round by the New York Mets.
Former Corona del Mar baseball player JT Schwartz, a first baseman at UCLA, was drafted in the fourth round by the New York Mets.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Local standouts are set to realize the dream of playing professional baseball after hearing their names called in the Major League Baseball draft this week.

The collection of draftees from the area include two former Corona del Mar High School players in JT Schwartz and Chazz Martinez. Also in that group was Eric Silva, a UCLA-committed pitcher who previously played for Laguna Beach.

Schwartz, a four-year varsity player with the Sea Kings, came off the board in the fourth round (111th overall), going to the New York Mets.

Following his selection, Schwartz described the moment of being drafted as “surreal” and something that he and his family had worked for for a long time. The journey included a position change.

In high school, Schwartz was a shortstop, but in college, he made the transition to first base. As a redshirt sophomore, Schwartz hit .396 with 45 runs batted in and 44 runs scored over 44 games.

He added 12 doubles, one triple and eight home runs. Schwartz was the Pac-12 Conference batting champion and was named an All-American last season.

UCLA had 10 selections in the draft, which went from five rounds in 2020 following the coronavirus pandemic-impacted season to 20 rounds this year.

“I’ve talked to a lot of guys,” Schwartz said of celebrating the moment with teammates who got drafted.

“I just think everyone is really happy for each other, especially at UCLA. It’s a group that’s been together for pretty much two-plus years with a COVID year, and we had a lot of guys return that probably normally wouldn’t have returned this year. The group that we had was pretty tight.”

Corona del Mar's Chazz Martinez pitches against Beckman in a Pacific Coast League game.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Martinez went to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 12th round (343rd overall). The left-handed pitcher carried a 4.50 earned run average over 38 innings for Orange Coast College this season, striking out 44 in that span.

A two-way player, Martinez also hit .279 with eight home runs, a double and a triple. He scored 20 runs and drove in 19.

Former CdM coach John Emme, who coached Schwartz and Martinez through their senior season with the program in 2018, said the draft was a “tearjerker” for him.

Long Beach State and Aliso Niguel alumnus Connor Kokx was taken by the Cleveland Indians with pick No. 366 (12th round).

The outfielder is the son of former CdM assistant Aaron Kokx, who was on Emme’s coaching staff when the Sea Kings won the CIF Southern Section Division IV title in 1999.

Emme said that the prodigious power of Schwartz and Martinez used to dictate when they could hold practice.

“When those guys were on the team, [we had to] schedule batting practice at a time when the lacrosse team wasn’t on the field, or we would have killed someone,” Emme said.

“They literally would just drop bombs. It was fun to watch. It made you a little nervous as a coach.”

Silva, who played for JSerra this past season, was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the fourth round (115th overall). The ace right-hander helped the Lions claim the Trinity League and the CIF State Southern California Regional Division I titles.

JSerra also reached the CIF Division 1 championship game, which Studio City Harvard-Westlake won 3-0.

Golden West College left-handed pitcher Ricky Tiedemann was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the third round (91st overall).

Noah Owen, a right-handed pitcher for the Rustlers, went to the Chicago White Sox in the 14th round (425th overall).

Tiedemann posted a 3.55 ERA with 60 strikeouts across 38 innings. Owen threw a team-high 40 innings in his seven appearances for Golden West. He had 49 strikeouts with just seven walks to go with a 3.15 ERA.

UC Irvine right-handers Trenton Denholm (Cleveland, 426th pick), Peter Van Loon (Baltimore Orioles, 467th pick) and Troy Taylor (Seattle, 594th pick), an incoming recruit from Cypress College, were taken in the draft.

Anteaters catcher Dillon Tatum (Minnesota Twins, 609th pick) was also selected.

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