Top 5 MLB draft picks from the Pac-12 Conference

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1) Andrew Vaughn, California — No. 3 overall, round one pick to Chicago White Sox

Ah, yes. The Golden Bears’ golden child. The 2018 Golden Spikes Award winner and a 2019 Golden Spikes finalist, junior slugger Vaughn has made his presence known at Cal since the day he set foot on the diamond. Widely considered the best hitter in college baseball, Vaughn’s accomplishments are almost too numerous to list: He is tied for the second-most home runs in program history with 50, has a career batting average of .374 and is slugging .681. As the winner of the 2018 Pac-12 Player of the Year award and the first Bear to ever win the Golden Spikes Award as well as the first to be named the Perfect Game/Rawlings National Player of the Year, Vaughn is also the highest-drafted player to ever come out of Cal. He likely won’t spend much time with the farm team and could be playing under the lights of Guaranteed Rate Field in just a year or so, and the rising Sox team will allow Vaughn and his skill set ample playing time to show his stuff.

 

2) Michael Toglia, UCLA — No. 23 overall, round one pick to Colorado Rockies

Toglia, a 6’5” junior with a .319 batting average, is stacked. Currently ranked second in the NL West, Colorado had an impressive showing in last year’s postseason. Toglia will bring some solid defensive skills to the table that the Rockies can use to pad their offensive efficiency. With 58 RBI in both 2018 and 2019, he is also a threat at the plate — he became the only Bruin in 19 years to notch double-digit home runs in consecutive seasons, totaling 33 across his career. With the inclusion of what could potentially be a very potent bat from Toglia, the Rockies are well on their way to punching a ticket to October.

 

3) Korey Lee, California — No. 32 overall, round one pick to Houston Astros

With an uncanny bat for a catcher, Lee’s game possesses not only offensive prowess but sturdy defense as well. As the Bears’ catcher, Lee hit .338 and was tied with Andrew Vaughn for a team-leading 15 homers. More so than the previous draftees, Lee finds himself in the midst of an incredibly talented pool of baseball players, but if he can stick with the club, this will be a stellar opportunity for him. His niche position as catcher gives him a leg up on other players, and he can thrive in the outfield too if need be. If Lee gets the chance to play the prime spot of catcher for Houston, he’ll be joining the ranks of some of the best players in the league.

 

4) Adley Rutschman, Oregon State — No. 1 overall, round one pick to Baltimore Orioles

Rutschman had a season well worthy of the 2019 Pac-12 Player of the Year award — tallying a .411/.575/.751 slash line this year and earning 17 home runs, the junior catcher was absolutely integral to the blowout performance the Beavers displayed. Also a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, Rutschman has caught the eyes of many for his impeccable defensive and offensive skills, so it’s no wonder the suffering Orioles snatched him before anyone else could. But Baltimore, fifth in the NL East and dead last in the MLB, has problems so fundamental that even the Swiss Army knife that is Rutschman likely won’t be able to solve them in order to drag the team up from its current depths. Still, Rutschman is probably the team’s best hope at achieving radical positive change, though it won’t come easy for these O’s.

 

5) Hunter Bishop, Arizona State — No. 10 overall, round one pick to San Francisco Giants

The Giants are in desperate need of a makeover, and using Bishop as a catalyst for a rebuild is a step in the right direction. Bishop, a junior outfielder and member of the All-Pac-12 first team, has recorded an astronomical 76 hits and 63 RBI this season. His .342 batting average this year, paired with his ranking among the top 10 in the Pac-12 for every major offensive category, was enough to put him on the map, and naturally, the offensively encumbered Giants were drawn like a moth to the flame. Just like Rutschman, Bishop is joining an organization that needs a good deal of work before it’ll be in postseason shape, but it’s by recruiting talent like his that such a transformation might be possible. Bishop, who is from the Bay Area, will be returning home to don black and orange once again, just like he did as a kid when he (like the rest of us) worshipped Barry Bonds — this time, though, he’ll be playing on the same diamond that his childhood hero once did.

Emily Ohman covers softball. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @emilyohman34.