GLENDALE — After working hard to prove themselves in summer collegiate leagues and with their respective college programs during the past 12 months, a group of homegrown baseball players will now wait to hear their name called in the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Crescenta Valley High grad Dustin Emmons, Glendale alumnus Jesse Meaux and Glendale Community College players Ryan Sherriff and Sako Chapjian will officially engage in the waiting game beginning at 4 p.m. PDT Monday, though none are projected to be first-round picks.
Rather on Tuesday, when the second through 30th rounds will unfold, if not Wednesday, when the remaining 31-50 will be played out, are more likely scenarios for the quartet to be selected.
Sherriff, the left-handed ace of the Vaqueros squad that advanced to the California Community College Athletic Assn. State Championships, was previously drafted as high as the 33rd round by the Washington Nationals in 2010. Glendale College Coach Chris Cicuto and Tony Riviera, Sherriff's coach on the California Collegiate League Glendale Angelenos, expect him to be snatched up promptly this year.
"I think Sherriff has a huge chance of getting an opportunity to be drafted in the first 20 rounds," Cicuto said. "I would even venture to say he could go a little earlier than 20th.
"I've known him for six months now and every month he's progressed. He's gone from a very good left-handed thrower to a guy who knows how to pitch."
Sherriff, who went 5-4 with a 2.45 earned-run average during the regular season with the Vaqueros this year, has a fastball that can hit the low 90s, accompanied by a changeup and breaking ball that Cicuto said he can throw for strikes, although he didn't have much occasion to do this year.
"We never really used it a lot because we didn't have to," Cicuto said. "When you're a left-hander throwing 91 and you're getting guys out, why change? Did that hurt his opportunity to show scouts? Maybe, but at the same time, a guy with a dominating fastball in and out, that's how you set up your breaking ball. He's going to be just fine."
Emmons and Meaux, senior pitchers who have just finished up playing careers at UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara, respectively, have also been drafted before.
"I've been drafted twice, thankfully, before, so I kind of know what to expect, I'm not in uncharted waters," said Emmons, who was taken with the 1,217th pick overall in the 40th round last year by the Florida Marlins after being tabbed by the Pittsburgh Pirates 1,299th overall in the 44th round out of high school in 2007. "I'm waiting for a call.
"It's a waiting game. You just wait and hopefully someone will give you a shot and we go from there."
Emmons said he believes Florida and Pittsburgh are still interested in him, but knows his bargaining power has waned now that his college eligibility is up.
"I've talked to a couple teams, but nothing major," said Emmons, who went 7-3 with a 6.00 ERA over nine starts and 18 appearances with the Highlanders his senior season. "Being a senior, you don't have as much leverage as I did last year as a junior and being able to come back and negotiate, but hopefully I'm on some people's radar and at the end of the day, I only need one team to give me a shot."
Meaux, who was drafted 1,341st overall in the 44th round by the Philadelphia Phillies last year, is in a similar situation after going 3-5 with a 3.70 earned-run average over 65 2/3 innings pitched, with 34 strikeouts and 14 walks in his final campaign with the Gauchos.
"I expect to go, I'm not sure what round," said Meaux, who played in the California Collegiate League last summer for the Santa Barbara Foresters, whose coaching staff includes a scout for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. "It's hard to tell, especially as a senior. I'm just looking for a chance to play and I'm excited about it.
"I've had a lot of contact with a lot of teams. They've all told me that senior signees don't get offered much money, but I understand that."
Meaux had some injury struggles down the stretch of the college season while dealing with a sore biceps tendon.
"It's a lot better now," Meaux said. "It's kind of a bummer that it happened when it did."
Chapjian, a Hoover graduate, has improved during his tenure as Glendale College's third baseman to the point where he has made himself into a legitimate MLB prospect, Cicuto said.
"I think Sako has a super chance because of his offensive abilities," Cicuto said. "Had Sako showed a little better defensively this year, he might have given himself a better shot, but it's like two different worlds. I've seen Sako mature for three years as a hitter and three years ago, I would have said no shot. Last year he kind of showed some signs of professional pop, hitting the ball out of the yard and this year his bat speed has increased so much. He's matured into a guy who knows how to
Chapjian, who batted .310 with six home runs and 36 runs batted in during the regular season before batting .314 with four homers and 13 RBIs in the playoffs, recently worked out for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves.
"He had a really good workout," Cicuto said. "He showed pop, showed his bat speed and I think the key to Sako is just finding a position. I think he could play the infield, but maybe [he could fill] a corner outfield spot."
Other possibilities could include Glendale College transfers Danny Casey and Kevin Dultz, who finished up senior seasons at Concordia and San Francisco State, respectively.