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College Baseball: Local boys of summer

Players from UCI, OCC, Vanguard among area performers toiling on diamond.

June 18, 2010

While former UC Irvine baseball coach John Savage prepares his UCLA team for its College World Series opener today, Anteaters head man Mike Gillespie and his staff are following the development of players who will try to help UCI make a run at Omaha in 2011.

Gillespie said seven of the eight UCI players selected in the Major League draft last week have signed and departed for their minor league assignments, while All-American pitcher Danny Bibona is still negotiating with the St. Louis Cardinals. St. Louis, which selected Bibona in the 16th round of the 2009 draft, chose the two-time Big West Conference Pitcher of the Year in the eighth round last week (259th overall).

Seniors Francis Larson (Angels), Casey Stevenson (Yankees), Christian Bergman (Rockies) Jeff Cusick (Phillies), Ryan Fisher (Marlins), Eric Pettis (Phillies) and Kyle Necke (Twins) have begun their professional careers.

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Gillespie said UCI also lost incoming recruit Travis Garrett, a pitcher from Cypress Community College, who signed with the Blue Jays after being drafted in the 19th round.

Gillespie said recruits Andrew Thurman, Tyler Abbott and Jordan Alexander were also drafted, but are expected to play at UCI rather than sign pro contracts.

"That was a disappointment," Gillespie said of losing Garrett, who was projected to be the Anteaters' closer next season. "He got paid like a ninth-rounder and signed."

Gillespie said Sean Madigan, a redshirt junior outfielder who graduated, has not determined whether he will attend graduate school and play next season.

Those returning to play next season have begun summer assignments, including three Anteaters who are in the prestigious Cape Cod League in Massachusetts.

Matt Summers, who will be a junior next season, is with the Falmouth Commodores as a pitcher and outfielder.

Ronnie Shaeffer, a sophomore catcher-outfielder-designated hitter in 2010, is with the Orleans Firebirds. Gillespie said the plan is for Shaeffer to hone his catching skills and assume the full-time job behind the plate that Larson held the last two seasons.

Jordan Leyland, who had a breakout performance to make the all-regional team at the Los Angeles Regional in which the Anteaters were eliminated on June 6, earned a temporary contract from the Cotuit Ketteleers. Temporary players are given opportunities to fill in the roster spots taken by players competing in the College World Series.

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