Four Angelenos, a Vaquero, former Falcon selected in final day of MLB draft

Things finally got moving for a handful of baseball players with local ties on the final day of the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft on Saturday.

While the wait was longer than hoped for a quartet of players who’ve spent time with three different local teams, they all realized their long-time dreams when they were drafted between the 13th and 32nd rounds.

A trio of current Glendale Angelenos — Jimmy Bosco, Aaron Brown and Keaton Leach, who also spent this past regular season at Glendale Community College — were drafted Saturday, while former Crescenta Valley High standout Lonnie Kauppila, Jr. also saw his name on the big board.

Randall Fant, who played with the Angelenos in their debut season in 2011, was also drafted by the Houston Astros in 29th round by the Houston Astros at 857th overall. The left-handed pitcher spent the past year at the University of Arkansas.

Both Bosco and Kauppila confirmed they’re headed to next level after being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals and Seattle Mariners in the 13th and 16th rounds, respectively. Brown and Leach, who were picked up by the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs in the 30th and 32nd rounds, respectively, said they’re going to take some time before making any decisions.

Bosco’s wait to hear his name called was under a hour Saturday, as he was received a phone call from the Cardinals several minutes before he was selected by them at 395th overall.

“I am really excited, really happy that it was the St. Louis Cardinals, a good organization from top to bottom,” Bosco said. “They were good about scouting me and I am happy with how they’ve treated me.”

Kauppila had anxiously been waiting to hear his name called the past two days after anticipating being drafted between the fourth and eighth rounds.

“He is a little disappointed about that, but he’s happy to go on to the next journey,” said Kauppila’s dad Lonnie Kauppila Sr. “It’s a good opportunity, the [Mariners] aren’t very good and he has an opportunity to move up quickly if he does well.”

Kauppila, who was selected 477th, intends to sign his contract Monday and complete his mandatory physical Thursday or Friday after he finishes the academic year at Stanford University Wednesday.

Kauppila improved on his draft stock over the past three years, despite tearing his anterior-cruciate ligament and missing two months of his 2012 season, after he was picked by the Oakland Athletics in 44th round in 2010.

The shortstop, who started his high school career at Crescenta Valley before transferring to Burbank High as a junior, got back on the diamond in January before being named an All-Pacific-12 Conference honorable mention this season.

He helped Stanford post a 32-22 (16-14 in conference) record by batting .271 (36 for 133) with 20 runs scored and 16 runs batted in. Known more for his defense according to a MLB scouting report, Kauppila maintained a .957 fielding percentage in 2013.

Ultimately, Kauppila wound up in the right place. Not only will he have a chance to move through the Mariners minor league system quickly, but he can do so with his best friend and Stanford teammate Austin Wilson.

“It’s going to be good because they’re best friends and it’s kind of ironic,” Kauppila Sr. said. “They met in high school and now they’re going together. It will be a good journey.”

Coming out of Jesuit High in Granite Bay, Bosco spent time at three different colleges, including University of California and Arkansas, before finally settling in at Menlo College. The outfielder went on to be named the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics West Group Player of the Year.

The junior batted .426 and led the NAIA West Group in home runs (15), slugging percentage (.805) and runs batted in (56). Menlo went 34-18 this season with the offense led by Bosco, who then came on board with the Angelenos — a summer collegiate wood bat team.

Bosco is now headed out of state, deciding to forgo his senior season and join the Cardinals. He’ll sign his contract in a week or two.

“There’s nothing official set yet,” Bosco said. “They know that I want to get out there and start playing for them as soon as possible.”

While Brown had hoped to be drafted earlier, he watched the draft all the way through and was excited to hear his name called.

“It was a great day, it’s fun to get picked up by a team and hopefully get to start your pro career,” said Brown, who was taken 891st overall.

Before that can happen, Brown said there will be some negotiating to see if the Indians “can meet his number.”

The sophomore left-handed pitcher and outfielder at Pepperdine University batted .313 (15 for 48) with a .479 slugging percentage.

The Chatsworth High graduate played in 25 of 51 games this season due to injury with all 12 of his starts coming when he was pitching. He posted a 6-3 record and 4.95 earned-run average through 72 2/3 innings. He struck out 49 batters and walked 31, while also logging a complete game.

The draft may not have played out as Brown hoped, but it was hard to be upset when he did hear his name called.

“It’s fun to have your name called and you get that feeling that it’s your turn to move on,” Brown said

Unlike Brown, Leach had been watching the draft all Saturday but started to lose his patience.

“I hadn’t seen my name called, so I stopped watching,” said Leach, who was taken 948th overall in the 32nd round. “Right when I stopped watching was when my name got called. I heard my name over the speakers at my house on and my parents rushed over and started hugging me.”

The 6-foot-2 relief pitcher was a key member of a stacked Vaqueros bullpen this season. The South Pasadena High graduate posted a 5-1 record and a save through 41 1/3 innings this season. He posted a 2.61 earned-run average and 23-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but most importantly developed as a person and a player.

“This is definitely a big goal of mine to eventually play in the major leagues and I’m really enjoying the moment right now,” Leach said. “It’s pretty surreal to hear my name called by the Cubs.”

While the former Tiger said spending a year at Glendale Community College was the “best choice” for him, he’s uncertain on what’s next for him.

“I have no answer for that, to be honest,” Leach said on whether he’ll sign with the Cubs. “It’s so early and I am really just enjoying the moment and soaking it in.”

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