Six Bears Selected in MLB Amateur Draft

Photo: First baseman David Cooper was off the board halfway through the first round of the MLB Amateur Draft, as the Toronto Blue Jays nabbed the junior with the 17th overall pick.
Tollef Biggs/File
First baseman David Cooper was off the board halfway through the first round of the MLB Amateur Draft, as the Toronto Blue Jays nabbed the junior with the 17th overall pick.

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David Cooper Draft Response

Matt Kawahara speaks to David Cooper about the MLB Amateur Draft.

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Josh Satin Draft Response

Matt Kawahara speaks to Josh Satin about the MLB Amateur Draft.

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Tyson Ross Draft Response

Matt Kawahara speaks to Tyson Ross about the MLB Amateur Draft.

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Craig Bennigson Draft Response

Matt Kawahara speaks to Craig Bennigson about the MLB Amateur Draft.

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Fifty rounds the draft-eligible players of the Cal baseball team had to sit through last year. Through 50 rounds, the juniors and seniors of a team that had finished fourth in the Pac-10 and barely missed the cut for the NCAA tournament waited in vain, as no Bears players were selected in the MLB Amateur Draft.

This year, the wait was over by the 17th pick. Cal first baseman David Cooper was selected 17th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays last Thursday in the first day of the Draft, becoming the third-highest draft choice in school history and the first of six Bears players to be drafted.

"I knew Toronto was a team that was interested," Cooper said. "The board had to go the right way. I was sitting with my family and some close friends, so we were pretty excited. "It's just a dream come true. It's something that most kids have dreamed about since their T-ball days."

It was also a fitting if premature end to Cooper's two-year career at Cal, in which he led the Bears in home runs and RBI both years, was selected to the first-team All Pac-10 both years and was named a third-team All-American in 2008 by Collegiate Baseball Magazine.

Cooper was one of five Cal juniors taken over the two-day draft, joining starters Tyson Ross and Craig Bennigson, closer Matt Gorgen and catcher-turned-left-fielder Charlie Cutler. Second baseman Josh Satin, who led the team with a .388 average in what was a kind of renaissance season for him, was the lone senior.

Ross, an Oakland native who grew up loving the Oakland Athletics, said before the draft that his hometown team would be his dream destination. He was drafted by the A's with the 58th overall pick.

"It was awesome, man," Ross said. "I was just shocked. I grew up loving the A's and I always wanted to play for them. And just to have that opportunity, it was a little too much to handle."

It was the first of two feel-good stories for the Bears, as Satin, one of the players who endured the painful 2007 draft and spent the offseason reworking himself into an offensive force, was drafted in the third round by the New York Mets.

"This year I had more confidence that I was going to get picked because I had a lot better year," Satin said. "But it was still pretty stressful, waiting to see what was going to happen.

"I was looking at the list, and I was like, oh that's me. I was surprised, but it was the best feeling ever."

On the second day of the Draft, Bennigson was selected in the ninth round by the Colorado Rockies, Cutler was taken in the 14th round by the St. Louis Cardinals and Gorgen went in the 16th round to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Of the six, Cooper was the only one who said that he was close to reaching a deal, predicting that he would be making the transition soon to short-season A-ball in the New York-Penn League.

Out of the rest of the juniors, Ross and Cutler have decided to leave Cal for the professional ranks. Gorgen hinted several weeks ago that he would not be back for his senior year, while Bennigson said that he would have his decision made by early this week.

Contact Matt Kawahara at [email protected]

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