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Friday, December 3, 2021

MLB Draft Preview: UC Davis

The 2008 baseball season ended for most of the UC Davis baseball team Sunday when it fell in the Stanford Regional elimination game to the host Cardinal.

But for a lucky seven, it’s far from over.

“Obviously, we’d like to keep them for another year, but that’s just a part of college baseball,” head coach Rex Peters said. “All of them have had great seasons and careers.”

Major League Baseball’s annual two-day amateur draft will begin tomorrow. Here’s a preview of the Aggies to look for on the draft tracker, in no particular order:

 

Jake Jefferies, junior catcher

2008 statistics: .387/.444/.524, 96 H, 20 2B, 4 HR, 54 RBI

There’s a reason the backstop from Merced, Calif. has received letters of draft interest from all 30 major league teams.

The Big West Conference Co-Player of the Year is a complete package for a catcher with excellent contact-hitting skills (11 strikeouts in 248 at-bats), solid defense behind the plate (nearly 40 percent of base stealers thrown out), and quality game-calling abilities (third-best ERA in the Big West).

Jefferies is expected to be the first Aggie off the draft board and could go as early as the late third to early fourth rounds.

 

Ryan Royster, senior center fielder

.336/.414/.525, 10 HR, 63 R, 13 SB

Having already gotten the shoulder tap from the Cleveland Indians in the 44th round last year, Royster is no stranger to the draft.

The fleet-footed leadoff man has guaranteed himself a higher selection this time around by demonstrating double-digit home run power in 2008 after showing none in his first three years at UC Davis.

 

Justin Fitzgerald, junior right-handed closer

15 SV, 3.24 ERA, 33.1 IP, 44 H, 5 BB, 35 K

His blown save and loss against Stanford on Sunday aside, the Aggies’ closer had a tremendous year in 2008. Fitzgerald broke the UC Davis all-time saves record with 19, including a conference-best 15 this year.

The Cloverdale, Calif. native, who is expected to be the first Aggie pitcher off the board, was a nightmare for opposing teams late in games all year long, helping UC Davis compile a staggering 29-2 record when leading after eight innings.

 

Brad McAtee, junior right-handed starting pitcher

8-5, 3.18 ERA, 102 IP, 106 H, 24 BB, 64 K

A Friday starter on most teams, the Poway, Calif. native established himself as one of the Big West’s premier Saturday starters, leading the Aggies in both wins and innings pitched this season.

The highlight of McAtee’s season came Apr. 26, when he defeated the eventual Big West Co-Champion Cal State Fullerton at Goodwin Field with an impressive seven-inning, one-run performance with seven strikeouts.

 

Bryan Evans, junior right-handed starting pitcher

3-3, 4.91 ERA, 80.2 IP, 102 H, 25 BB, 71 K

Despite pitching Sundays and earning his rotation spot several weeks into the season, the Mission Viejo, Calif. native will garner much draft attention, thanks to having what scouts consider the best stuff on his team.

Evans used his solid fastball and sharp curveball to lead the team in strikeouts, tallying nearly one per inning pitched.

 

Eddie Gamboa, senior right-handed starting pitcher

7-3, 2.61 ERA, 100 IP, 96 H, 14 BB, 66 K

After not playing in 2006 due to Tommy John surgery and coming primarily out of the bullpen in 2007, the Merced, Calif. native quickly lived up to his billing as the Aggies’ ace.

Gamboa’s terrific season culminated in a four-hit, complete-game win against Stanford on Sunday in the Aggies’ lone postseason victory.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder lives by his pinpoint control and deadly pickoff move, which turned a league-high nine base runners into sitting ducks this season.

 

Ryan Scoma, junior outfielder/designated hitter

.358/.408/.493, 16 2B, 3 HR, 52 RBI

The San Carlos, Calif. native made waves with the College of San Mateo in his first two collegiate seasons, and turned it into a huge splash with UC Davis this season.

Scoma finished sixth in the Big West in batting average, and joined Jefferies on the All-Conference First Team. He also proved to be a reliable staple of the Aggie lineup, driving in runs in all three of UC Davis’ postseason games.

 

Follow the Aggies in tomorrow’s draft on MLB.com and ESPN2 beginning at 11 a.m. PST.

 

RAY LIN can be reached at sports@californiaaggie.com.

 

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