Third baseman is committed to SDSU but ready to be a pro
So Saturday night at San Diego State, a group of scouts had Brian Leonhardt cornered, quizzing the Aztecs first baseman about former Eastlake High teammate Keoni Cavaco.
“I was honest with them,” Leonhardt said. “Keoni isn’t the most naturally gifted player.
“But he works so hard, puts in the time to improve his game.
“Honestly, no one works harder than Keoni.
“And he was a great teammate. I don’t see how anyone could go wrong picking him.
“He’s committed to San Diego State, but I don’t know if we’ll ever see him in an Aztecs uniform.”
Cavaco has drawn as many as 30 scouts to Eastlake games. Regional and national crosscheckers, even general managers, have made the trip to San Diego to see him.
“I have a great option in San Diego State, but I want to go out and play,” Cavaco said. “I’d like to get my career started.
“I think I’m ready to go out and play professionally.”
The consensus is the Titans third baseman will get that chance, and he will be the first player from San Diego taken when the MLB Draft starts Monday.
MLB.com has projected Cavaco as high as the 15th pick of the first round to the Angels.
Other draft sites see it this way:
FanGraphs — 22nd, Tampa Bay
Bleacher Report — 22nd, Tampa Bay
SB Nation — 26th, Arizona
Prospect Watch — 28th, Milwaukee
247Sports — 29th, Oakland
MLB Network — 33rd, Arizona
Baseball America, the bible of the MLB Draft, has Cavaco ranked as the 37th-best player in the draft, but admits he could go much higher, saying:
“The biggest pop-up player of the 2019 class. Scouts see huge raw power. Plus throwing arm and above-average defender. Impressive athlete. Less track record and history than many other prep hitters, but he stands out in a down year in Southern California.”
This season, batting in the leadoff spot for Eastlake — the San Diego Section Open Division champion — the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Cavaco hit .433 with eight homers, 13 doubles, 33 runs scored and 16 steals.
He also appeared in nine games as a pitcher, recording seven saves and an 0.67 ERA.
He has been timed in a swift 3.9 seconds from home to first. And his fastball was clocked at 91-92 mph Saturday night as he closed out the title game against Poway.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have three first-round picks, and many think Cavaco will end up in Arizona.
Left-handed pitcher/first baseman Spencer Jones of La Costa Canyon was projected as a first-round pick before the season, but he fractured his elbow early in the year. And while he returned to action late in the season, it was as a hitter, not a pitcher.
Baseball America calls him “the top two-way player in his class with more upside as a pitcher” and has him ranked No. 81 in the country, which translates to a third-round pick.
He has signed to play at Vanderbilt and third-round money — about $750,000 — might not be enough to lure him away from college.
However, the Miami Marlins chose strong-armed Georgia catcher Will Banfield with the 69th pick last year and paid him $1.8 million — twice the slot value — to keep him from going to Vanderbilt.
On its website, 247Sports has Jones going 35th overall to the Marlins.
Ramona third baseman/pitcher Derek Diamond, who has signed to play at Ole Miss, could be drafted about the 10th round. But he was bothered by shoulder problems during the season and rarely pitched.
Power-hitting outfielder Kyle Stowers, who played at Christian High, hit .299 with seven homers, 16 doubles and 33 RBIs at Stanford. Baseball America has him ranked No. 107 in the nation.
Catcher Korey Lee (Vista/Cal), left-hander Ken Waldichuk (University City/Saint Mary’s) and right-hander Connor Lunn (Cathedral Catholic/USC) could all go before the 10th round.
San Diego State, USD, UC San Diego and Point Loma Nazarene figure to get several players drafted, but only USD pitchers Chris Murphy, San Diego State pitcher Logan Boyer, Point Loma Nazarene outfielder Micah Pries, San Diego State outfielder Julian Escobedo and UC San Diego pitcher Ted Stuka are projected to go in the top 10 rounds.
Monday: Rounds one and two starting at 4 p.m.
Tuesday: Rounds 3-10 starting at 10 a.m.
Wednesday: Rounds 11-40 starting at 9 a.m.