Baseball: Phil Bickford turns down Blue Jays, will play for CS Fullerton

Oaks Christian pitcher has hit 97 mph on radar gun

Pitcher Phil Bickford from Westlake Village Oaks Christian, drafted No. 10 by the Toronto Blue Jays, failed to reach agreement before Friday’s signing deadline and will enroll at Cal State Fullerton in the fall.

Asked if he were ready to do a cartwheel, Fullerton Coach Rick Vanderhook said, “I would if I could, except I’m driving.”

Bickford, who was throwing 96 mph this spring, will join a starting rotation that could rival the best in college baseball. Sophomores Justin Garza (12-0, 2.03 ERA) and Thomas Eshelman (12-3, 1.48) and junior Grahamm Wiest (9-3, 3.27) all return from a team that lost to UCLA in a Super Regional.


“I think our guys are pretty good, and it adds another guy who’s pretty good,” Vanderhook said.

Vanderhook said Bickford indicated to him that he and his family decided to take the college option.

“I think they just want to go the school route,” he said. “There’s two different ways to do it, out of high school or college. I think they want Phil to go to school and develop and get an education and start to be who he is as a person. A lot people do it, but not many drafted in the first round. I don’t think it’s the wrong way to go.”

Bickford was the only first-round pick not to be signed.