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By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian
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By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian
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By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian
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By John Harte / Special to The Californian
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By Casey Christie / The Californian
BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer email@example.com
It's pro baseball careers for all five Cal State Bakersfield players selected in Major League Baseball's first-year player draft earlier this month.
Senior pitchers Scott Brattvet, Jeff McKenzie and Chuck Buchanan and juniors Cael Brockmeyer, a catcher, and shortstop Tyler Shryock will all be signed to contracts by the end of the week.
Shryock and McKenzie, both selected by the Chicago White Sox, had physicals on Tuesday and are expected to sign contracts today.
Shryock said they will be roommates with the Great Falls (Mont.) Voyagers of the Rookie classification Pioneer League.
The Voyagers' opening night is Thursday against the Billings (Mont.) Mustangs, which is Brattvet's new team.
Brattvet, a right-hander, said Tuesday he signed his contract on Sunday. An eighth-round pick by the Cincinnati Reds, the highest selection ever for a CSUB baseball player, Brattvet accepted a $15,000 signing bonus, according to Baseball America.
Brockmeyer, taken in the 16th round by the Chicago Cubs, has signed and has been assigned to the Boise (Idaho) Hawks of the Class A short-season Northwest League.
Buchanan, a left-hander taken in the 18th round by the Atlanta Braves, said he will sign his contract on Friday. He's been assigned to the Danville (Va.) Braves of the Rookie classification Appalachian League.
"I just got to Billings," Brattvet said Tuesday night. He said the Reds' organization plans on a tight limit to the number of innings he'll throw this summer.
Brattvet was 9-1 with a 2.55 ERA in 98-2/3 innings for CSUB this season.
"They said that since I had a lot of innings, I'll get a few spot starts, going three or four innings, and I'll come out of the bullpen," said Brattvet, who's from the Mission Viejo area in South Orange County.
"It's fun. It's a grind. It's going to be a grind playing every day," Brattvet said. "It's what I've wanted to do for a long time. I'm ready."
Shryock, a 12th-round pick by the White Sox, was the Player of the Year in the Western Athletic Conference. He batted .357 with a WAC-leading 89 hits, and was a solid defender.
Shryock, from Tehachapi, had one year of eligibility remaining and could have returned to CSUB.
"I was leaning toward signing," Shryock said. "Cal State made it hard to leave, with the coaching, the players and the community. ... This is exciting, a dream come true. I'm feeling blessed and just thankful."
McKenzie, a left-hander who was the White Sox's 28th-round pick, was the WAC Pitcher of the Year. He went 13-2 with a 1.88 ERA.
"They told me I'd be a relief pitcher and throw maybe 25 innings this summer," said McKenzie, who's from El Dorado Hills near Sacramento. "That's a change of pace. I've used to being the Friday guy. But this is a dream come true. It probably won't hit me until we play games. I'm trying to enjoy every moment and trying to take it all in."
Buchanan, who had Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery 14 months ago, was 3-3 in 12 games with a 4.39 ERA in 41 innings for the Roadrunners this season.
"They indicated I won't be pitching too much," said Buchanan, who's from Las Vegas. "I'll be out of the bullpen to start and they'll probably try me in different areas.
"In terms of usage this summer, probably not that much. ... It's usually 22 to 24 months to fully recover (from Tommy John surgery). ...
"This has been fun. It's only going to get better."
Brockmeyer, a Vineyard Haven, Mass., native, could not be reached for comment. He batted .330 for CSUB this season and led the Roadrunners with four home runs and 51 RBIs.
CSUB coach Bill Kernen said he was disappointed that Shryock and Brockmeyer decided to sign instead of returning for their senior years.
"I have two different feelings," Kernen said. "On a personal level, of course I'm happy for them. It's a dream to be drafted and have a chance to play professional baseball. There won't be a bigger fan of them than I am.
"As a professional, I thought it was not a good idea to sign as a junior if you're drafted beyond the 10th round. You're not a priority with the organization and you're not getting very much money.
"If both would have come back they would've been dominant baseball players and likely drafted in the top five rounds. Then you are a priority and the money's good."
CSUB went 37-22 overall and shared the regular-season WAC title at 18-9.
"We've had several guys do that and it's one of those things that keeps us from being an elite program," Kernen said. "Last year LSU had nine guys drafted, and six said they would forego the opportunity to play pro ball because they wanted to go to Omaha (for the College World Series).
"If you don't get your seniors back, it's very difficult to take the next step."
Kernen said Mylz Jones, who had a sensational freshman season playing third base, will move to shortstop, his natural position. He added CSUB will be looking for catching and first base recruits. It helps that Frank Martinez returns at catcher where he played extensively the last half of last season.