Four former CSUN Baseball players get picked in MLB amateur draft

Alejandro Arpiza

Not every player who is taken in Major League Baseball’s amateur draft out of college or high school has the luxury of a multi-million dollar signing bonus staring him in the face.

Players such as former San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg, recipient of the 2009 Golden Spikes award — college baseball’s most valuable player — are the exception.

After being drafted first overall in this year’s draft, the right-hander signed an unprecedented four-year, $15.1 million contract with the Washington Nationals.

But the deal is a far cry for those awarded to collegiate and high school prospects taken by teams in the later rounds (there are 50 in total). Their contracts are nowhere close to those of players taken in the first or second round, where six- to seven-digit signing bonuses are the norm.

For two former CSUN baseball players, the transition from college ball to life in a major-league-associated minor league affiliate has not come with all the press or chat room clamoring that accompanied Strasburg.

Brian Slover, 21, was drafted in the eighth round by the Toronto Blue Jays in June, and soon after was sent off to the lowest level of the farm system — rookie ball. His professional dream has sent him to the team’s Rookie Gulf Coast League affiliate in Florida, where the 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pound reliever has posted a 1.04 ERA in eight games.

Former outfielder Richard Cates has made the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s 21st-round choice look promising. The 22-year-old right fielder has put up impressive numbers for the Orem (Utah) Owlz of the Pioneer League. Cates is batting .319 and has 34 RBI to go along with an on-base percentage of .415. More impressive, however, are his remarkable 53 hits in 45 games.

The big leagues are still a long ways away for these former Matadors. Yet, with the impressive numbers being put up in their first full season as professionals, perhaps the term “prospects” is accurately placed in these two cases.

Slover and Cates were not the only Matadors drafted. Former center fielder Jeff Pruitt, a Granada Hills native, was taken in the 23rd round by the Chicago Cubs; while pitcher Ryan McCarney was taken by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 33rd round.

No minor league statistics were available for Pruitt nor McCarney.