Jays scoop up CV grad

GLENDALE — Right around 3:30 p.m. PDT on Tuesday, Bryan Longpre’s flight from California to Florida landed.

With his arrival, Longpre took a step toward his ultimate destination of Toronto, as the Crescenta Valley High graduate is set to sign a free-agent contract with the Toronto Blue Jays organization today.

“It didn’t really sink in ‘til I was leaving on the flight,” said Longpre, a 2005 CV graduate who just finished his senior year playing for Cal State Northridge. “I’m so excited, I’m so happy.”

Longpre, 22, received a call from Blue Jays area scout Tim Rooney on Monday he said, and Rooney offered him an opportunity to play for the Toronto organization.

“I told him I’ve been waiting 22 years for this phone call,” Longpre said. “It’s a dream come true.”

It’s a dream come true and a story full of twists and turns.

As a senior at CV, Longpre was 6-0 as a pitcher, but was known mostly as a shortstop with a good glove and a solid bat. Trevor Bell, currently with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and Dustin Emmons, who was just drafted by the Florida Marlins, were atop the Falcons’ formidable rotation.

“I didn’t get a whole lot of love out of high school,” said Longpre in terms of college offers. “No one really wanted me out of high school. I didn’t know if I was gonna ever play baseball again.”

Thus, Longpre walked on at San Diego State.

That endeavor didn’t pan out so he sat out an entire season before moving on to Grossmont College, where he played for two seasons before moving to CSUN to play under Coach Steve Rousey.

“I’m thrilled to death,” said Rousey of Longpre’s opportunity. “He’s a talented guy and he’s still very young in terms of pitching years.”

After his junior year at CSUN, Longpre was especially impressive playing in a collegiate, wood-bat summer league for the Palm Springs Power in which he went 3-0 with four saves, allowing no earned runs in 30 innings.

His senior season saw him go 2-1 out of the pen for CSUN, tallying a 4.54 earned-run average with 27 strikeouts to 12 walks.

With the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft taking place June 7-9, Longpre felt he had drawn interest having talked to a number of scouts. But the draft came and went without his name scrolling across the computer.

“It was stressful,” he said. “I watched every single pick and it was a heartbreaker.”

But that’s all changed now.

Rousey, for one, believes with the youth and talent in Longpre’s right arm, along with his intangibles, that the Blue Jays got a steal.

“He’s a little raw, he’s not polished yet, but all the tangible and intangible tools are there, he just needs time,” said Rousey, detailing that Longpre has a plus-curveball, a change-up with good potential and a solid fastball that ranges from 88 to 93 mph that needs work on location. “I think the Blue Jays made a really good move cause he’s got a good arm. He’s just gotta get some experience. The tools are there for him to be a real Cinderella story.”

In addition to signing his contract today, Longpre will also take a physical. Provided that all goes well, he’ll begin practice with Toronto’s rookie ball squad, the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays. Their season is set to start on June 21.

For now, he’s still taking in the thrill of the up-and-down journey that’s brought him to the starting point of becoming a Blue Jay.

“It makes me think about the whole road leading up to this point, it’s been a roller coaster of emotions,” he said. “I’ve been knocked down a few times, but I kept getting back up.

“A lot of people never even thought I’d play in college and I’m sure even more never thought I’d play in the pros and now here I am.”