Seven Bears taken in MLB Draft

In the incredible rush of winning the Houston Regional on Monday, this week’s MLB Draft found a way to fade into the background.

Nonetheless, through the course of the Draft’s 50 rounds, seven Cal baseball players had their lives changed in another new way.

Righty pitcher Erik Johnson led the bunch, selected in the second round by the Chicago White Sox. Johnson — the hardest-thrower on the Cal staff — is in the midst of a career year. His ERA, generally around the 4.00 mark, dropped to 2.91 this season. Johnson is averaging exactly one strikeout per inning.

That wasn’t the end of the White Sox phone calls to Bears, though. The Sox took shortstop Marcus Semien in the sixth round and catcher Chadd Krist seven rounds later. Semien had a down year offensively, but likely helped his stock with a solid year at short. A year after making 20 errors, Semien made just 11. His teammate Krist had a breakout year at the plate, hitting .344 and leading the Pac-10 with 25 doubles.

The second time wasn’t the charm for pitcher Dixon Anderson, who dropped from being drafted in the sixth round last year to the ninth round this year. The Nationals pick up a player who struggled in the last month and who walked 22 while allowing 66 hits in 67 total innings pitched. But Anderson has plenty of potential — at 6-foot-6 with a plus fastball, he probably hasn’t hit his ceiling yet.

Two more pitchers were picked in the 18th and 19th rounds. The Houston Astros took senior Kevin Miller, followed by closer Matt Flemer by the Kansas City Royals. Miller, who has had a Cal career blemished by injuries, certainly showed flashes of brilliance. He got the attention of the nation his freshman year, going  his first 44 innings without giving up a run, but injuries hampered the next two seasons. Miller got back to form this year, striking out 84 in 79 innings.

Flemer thrived as Cal’s closer, posting a 2.14 ERA and five saves on the season. He walked just eight batters in 26 appearances out of the bullpen.

Rounding out Cal’s class of draftees is senior outfielder Austin Booker. After playing sporadically throughout his career, Booker finally had a full season on the field for the Bears and caught the attention of the Oakland A’s, who selected him in the 33rd round. Booker batted .313 with nine stolen bases this year.

Katie Dowd covers baseball.