New York, N.Y. - Four members of the Western Athletic Conference champion San Jose State University baseball team were selected on the second day of the 2009 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday, June 10.
Leading the way was shortstop Kyle Bellows, a San Jose native out of Santa Teresa High School, who was chosen early on in the day at No. 125 in the fourth round by the Cleveland Indians. The first three rounds were held on Tuesday, June 9, from Studio 42 in Secaucus, N.J., with rounds four through 30 conducted via conference call from MLB Headquarters in New York on Wednesday.
Following Bellows were left-handed starting pitchers David Berner (Rd. 14, 431) and Max Peterson (Rd. 18, 543), who went to the Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics organizations, respectively. Berner is out of Santa Clara, Calif., West Valley College and Santa Clara High School, while Peterson is a San Diego, Calif., native from San Diego Mesa College and Westview High School.
Senior right-hander Trevor Gibson was chosen by the Colorado Rockies in the 25th round, No. 751 overall.
Bellows hit a career-high .389 and led the WAC with 93 hits in his 2009 junior campaign, completing the season as the Spartans’ career leader in runs and RBI. He was a first-team All-WAC and WAC All-Tournament selection, and was one of 15 semifinalists for the Brooks Wallace Award, given to the nation’s premier shortstop.
“I have mixed emotions,” remarked San Jose State head coach Sam Piraro. “Number one, I’m extremely happy for Kyle, because I think that’s a great honor to be picked that high. Certainly, he’s earned the right to be in that company. His performance speaks for itself, as a fine defensive shortstop who can hit. Those are commodities that are very valuable to professional baseball. When you’re in that kind of company, certainly we run the risk of losing Kyle in the draft. When you possibly lose a guy like that, it’s going to effect your program, but more importantly, you miss the relationship of having that interaction on a day-to-day basis, and that’s what I’ll miss, if in fact he does go on to professional baseball.”
“It feels really good,” said Bellows, who was not following the draft on-line this morning at the time his name was called, opting instead to wait for the Indians’ phone call a short time later to learn of his selection. “It’s like a pretty large weight lifted off my shoulder. I couldn’t have gotten to this point without the guidance of Coach Piraro, Coach Pritchard, Coach Markovich my freshman year, Coach Kunis, Coach Strauss, Coach Yocke, and all my other coaches who helped give me this opportunity to become a professional baseball player. I thank them all, and thank the San Jose State baseball program for turning me into what I am today.
“I was kind of surprised,” he added about being the Indians’ fourth-round choice. “I was expecting sixth or seventh round, and am really happy that I was picked that early.”
Berner led the WAC as a senior this past season in ERA (3.20), opposing batting average (.240) and strikeouts (84). The first-team All-WAC honoree was second in the league with 95.2 innings pitched, and finished with a 7-2 win-loss mark. He compiled three complete games, including a three-hit shutout in the Spartans’ February 20 opener, among his 13 appearances, all starts.
“It’s a great honor for Dave, because Dave worked extremely hard during his two years here, to get into that situation,” said Piraro. “He made real improvement between his junior year and senior year. He developed into a first-class pitcher, battled through adversity, and has the qualifications to fall under the definition of a pitcher. He has the ability to change speeds, has command of three pitches, is a great competitor, and certainly deserves a chance to go out in the world of professional baseball. (The selection) is well-deserved.”
“I’m excited, and I can’t wait (to get going),” exclaimed Berner. “This is an opportunity I’ve been looking for, to continue playing baseball at the highest level. I feel like I’m prepared. San Jose State has prepared me for this both mentally and physically. I can’t wait to get out and throw.
“I didn’t know where I’d go, but figured it would be somewhere in the 20s (rounds),” continued Berner, who was at home with his parents, brother and sister, following the draft on-line when an Astros representative texted him to alert him that they would select him with their next pick. “I was pretty confident that I would get drafted, but was surprised to go in the 14th round to a team I hadn’t talked to as much (leading up to the draft). The Astros are a great organization. I was surprised, but I couldn’t be happier.”
Peterson’s junior year ended with a 7-1 record and 4.55 ERA, tied for the sixth-best in the conference. He struck out 62 over 65.1 innings pitched and 15 appearances, 13 of them starts.
“Professional scouts see a lot of potential (in Max),” remarked Piraro. “He’s a left-handed young man with good size and a good, explosive fastball. He’s got some seasoning yet to do, and I’m sure in Max’s case, he’s going to decide what’s in his best interest. We look forward to meeting with Max and trying to help him in this decision-making process, but he earned the right to be drafted by a major-league franchise.”
“It’s an honor,” said Peterson, who followed the draft on-line from his home in San Diego, and was actually on the phone with another club when he saw his name pop up on the computer screen as Oakland’s latest selection. “Not many get this opportunity, to follow what they have been doing since age four. I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time in this game, and this is a dream come true. I’m just glad that I’ve been given this opportunity.”
Gibson made 19 appearances in relief as a senior and was 3-1 with a 4.72 ERA and two saves, striking out 30 over 34.1 frames. The native of Elk Grove, Calif., was a second-year transfer out of Cosumnes River College.
“There’s a lot of upside with Trevor,” said Piraro. “He didn’t start pitching until very late in his career, so I think that professional organizations have recognized the fact that there’s some upside to him. He has a real good arm, he’s athletic, and they feel they can do some things with him. Trevor’s a very hard worker and has a nice ceiling ahead of him.”
“It’s great,” said Gibson. “This is a childhood dream for me. I’ve been waiting my whole life for it, and I can’t wait to start playing.
“I talked to quite a few teams, but was a little surprised that I was picked today. I thought I might go in the later rounds tomorrow. I wasn’t too sure, but I was thrilled that it happened today. It was kind of stressful.”
The Spartans now have 10 draft selections since 2005. Bellows is their highest draftee since Matt Durkin was the second-round pick, No. 44 overall, of the New York Mets in 2004. Anthony Contreras, now in the San Diego Padres organization, was the ninth-round selection of the San Francisco Giants the following year, No. 282 overall. Bellows and Peterson are also the first Spartan juniors chosen since Brandon Fromm (Round 41, Seattle) in 2006. Durkin was also a junior in 2004.
The Spartan foursome is among 14 WAC affiliates chosen over the first 30 rounds. San Jose State and Fresno State have each had four selections. Hawai’i and New Mexico State have both had two, with Sacramento State and Louisiana Tech at one apiece.
All drafted players have until August 17 to sign a contract with the teams that selected them.
A total of 921 picks have been made thus far. The third and final day of the MLB First-Year Player Draft will feature rounds 31 through 50, again via conference call on Thursday, June 11. Pick-by-pick audio coverage can be accessed at MLB.com.