Pitcher Grant Holman First Current Cal Player Taken in MLB Draft
Cal pitcher Grant Holman became the first current Golden Bears player to be taken in the 2021 Major League Baseball draft when he was selected in the sixth round by the Oakland A’s on Monday.
(Cal commit Carson Williams, a shortstop at Torrey Pines High School in San Diego, was taken in the first round of the MLB draft on Sunday.)
Cal pitchers Sean Sullivan and Ian Villers were taken two rounds later than Holman on Monday, with Sullivan going to the Pirates with 223rd overall pick and Villers picked by the Giants with 236th overall selection.
And Cal second baseman Darren Baker was taken by the Washington Nationals in the 10th round, which was the final round of selections on Monday, with 10 more rounds Tuesday. Baker was the 293rd overall draft pick.
No Cal players were drafted on on the final day of the draft on Tuesday, when rounds 11 through 20 were held. Cal infielder Quentin Selma was not drafted.
Here is a list of the number of players drafted from each Pac-12 school, followed by details on the four Cal players drafted:
Arizona State: 5
Oregon State: 4
Washington State: 3
--Colorado does not have a baseball team.
Holman’s success and playing time were limited by arm injuries during the 2021 season, but the A’s scouts presumably have seen plenty of Holman, who was the 188th overall pick in the draft.
The 6-foot-6 Holman, who was a junior this past season, was rated the 138th-best prospect in the draft by MLB.com.
He is slotted to earn about $255,000 in a signing bonus if he signs by August 1, but he could decide to return to Cal for another season and hope he can improve his draft status for 2022 with an injury-free, productive season.
Holman made just 10 starts this past season and finished with a 1-3 record an a 3.83 earned-run average.
In past seasons Holman was also a position player on the days he did not pitch, but he did not get any at-bats for the Golden Bears in 2021.
Holman has the chance to have a legitimate four-pitch mix, all coming from a strong, durable build that points to a potential starting-pitching profile. He touched 97 miles per hour as a reliever in the San Diego Collegiate League over the summer, and was regularly hitting 96 in bullpens this fall for Cal, throwing his fastball for heavy riding life. He already had a live slider and a splitter he uses as his off-speed offering and added a slower 12-to-6 curve that looks like it could a usable offering as well. All of Holman pitches have a lot of action, and he has a feel to find the stroke zone with all of them. But not a lot of track record yet given his split focus, but he is a college arm with some serious upside, one who could climb boards in a hurry.
Here is what the San Jose Mercury News said about the A's selection of Holman:
Local kid Holman, 21, is a 6-foot-6, 250-pound right-handed pitcher who the A’s see as having starter potential. He was a two-way player at Cal before switching primarily to pitcher in 2021..
“We strongly believe he’s a starting pitcher, his athleticism allows him to repeat his delivery,” Eric Kubota, A's director of scouting, said.
Here is what Cal coach Mike Neu said last month about Holman:
He’s a little bit of a wild card. He came in (to the season) has one of highest-profile players, but he had the setback. He had a chance to be a first-rounder, but he never got a chance to get into a full rhythm. He can run it up there 96, 97 (miles per hour).
Sullivan, who was taken by Pittsburgh, is slotted to earn a signing bonus of about $193,000. He went 4-5 with a 3.68 for Cal this past season.
Here is how MLB.com analyzed Sullivan, who was a junior this season:
At 6-foot-1, Sullivan isn't the biggest right-hander in the world, but he's athletic and has a legitimate four-pitch mix. He mostly pitches with a 90-to-91-mile-per-hour fastball, and he can reach back for 94 or 95 when he needs to. It has small sinking life down in the zone, and he can get it to ride when he throws it up. He throws his low-80s slider more than his upper-70s curve, with former showing good lateral sweep with depth and has a chance to be an out pitch, and the latter occasionally missing bats, but needing some tightening. His changeup features two-plan sink and also misses bats, while it does a good job of getting groundball outs as well. Sullivan works fast and competes well on the mound, and should be able to continue throwing strikes as he progresses. He might not have the highest ceiling in the world, but college performers who have a chance to be a No. 4-type starter tend to come off the board on Day 2.
Villers, a right-hander taken by San Francisco, is slotted to earn about $176,000 in a signing bonus. He was used mostly in relief this past season for Cal, although he did make five starts. In 29 appearances, he went 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA. He gave up just one earned run over his final seven appearances covering 6 1/3 innings this past season as a junior.
Cal coach Mike Neu on Villers before the draft:
He was one of the highest prospects coming into Cal. He can get it up to 95, 96, 97 (mph). The way he pitched at the end of the season was impressive.
Baker, a Washington draft pick, is slotted to get about $147,000 in a signing bonus. He was a senior this past season, when he was named to the all-Pac-12 squad. The son of Astros manager Dusty Baker, Darren Baker is an excellent fielder who can get on base and steal a base.
Baker led the Bears in both batting average (.327) and on-base percentage (.402). Baker also had 28 steals in 34 attempts this season.
Cal coach Mike Neu on Baker before the draft:
Four-year starter, ultra-consistent. Versatile, could play the outfield. This was his best season, and I think scouts saw that trajectory. It think top five, six, seven rounds.
Nonetheless we still remember Darren Baker most for his episode in the 2002 World Series when J.T. Snow saved the 3-year-old Baker from getting run over at home plate:
Cover photo of Grant Holman by Robert Edwards, KLC Fotos
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