Titans News · MLB Draft: Twins select Eastlake High’s Keoni Cavaco in first round


San Diego County has produced 65 first-round picks — including five players who went with the first overall selection — in the draft’s 55-year history

San Diego County has produced 65 high school and/or college players who were first-round picks in the MLB Draft since it began in 1965.

Before Monday, La Costa Canyon High outfielder Mickey Moniak was the most recent first-rounder, going first overall in 2016 when he was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies. Moniak was the fifth local player since 2000 to be selected with the first pick. That 2000 draft class stands as the most loaded for San Diego-area athletes, with five local players chosen in the first round.

Cavaco, selected as a shortstop by Minnesota after playing there the second half of the season for the Titans, is the second player from Eastlake to be selected in the first round. He joins former first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who was selected first overall by the Marlins in 2000. Vista also has one previous first-rounder, with Shaun Boyd selected in 2000 by the Cardinals.

Titans third baseman committed to San Diego State but is expected to sign pro contract as MLB Draft’s 13th overall pick

David Gallegos had a feeling.

“He’s going right now,” the Eastlake High baseball coach said of Keoni Cavaco when the Minnesota Twins were on the board with the 13th pick of Monday’s MLB Draft.

Not 15 seconds later, Cavaco’s phone rang.

The Minnesota Twins were on the line.

Still, he had to wait for more than three minutes as the MLB Network went through what seemed like an endless stream of commercials.

Finally, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred made it official.

“Longest three minutes of my life,” a tearful Cavaco said after he had hugged family, friends, teammates and coaches.

Nearly 200 supporters roared their approval in a banquet room at Chula Vista Golf Course.

“The Twins have been on me all year, so I had an idea they might take me,” Cavaco said.

“I was confident.”

Cavaco, who was on no one’s radar after a good but unspectacular junior season, jumped into the national spotlight after a sensational workout before the season for the Angels.

The Mariners flew him to Seattle over the weekend, and he made stops in San Francisco, Oakland and for the Padres.

When the Giants skipped over him with the 10th pick, the Twins came into focus.

MLB.com had him rated as the 28th best prospect in the nation but had him going 15th to the Angels.

“I’ve trained so hard,” said Cavaco, the San Diego Section Player of the Year. “I’ve grown as a player and as a person because of the hard work.”

Gallegos said a midseason injury to Eastlake shortstop Marcelo Mayer actually helped Cavaco.

“We moved Kenoi to shortstop while Marcelo was out, and the scouts got to see just how athletic Keoni is,” Gallegos said. “He made plays all over the field.

“I’m so proud of him. He’s such a great kid, so humble.

“I’m happy for his family, our program, our school and the community because I know he’ll represent us all well.”

Cavaco said the Twins first will try him at shortstop.

“They liked my range and arm,” he said. “And that’s OK with me.”

Cavaco hit .433 with eight homers and 21 RBIs out of the leadoff spot for Eastlake, the Open Division champion.

“We were young, and we weren’t supposed to win it this season,” said Eastlake assistant coach Ramon Orozco. “But when your best player is a leader, the hardest working guy on the field, the rest of the guys fall in line.”

Cavaco scored 33 runs and had 16 stolen bases this season. He struck out just seven times in 113 plate appearances.

He was timed in a swift 3.9 seconds as a right-hand hitter to first base.

He pitched just 10 innings but had seven saves. And his fastball was clocked at 92-93 mph in the Open Division title game as he got the save, pitching the seventh inning in a 5-3 win over Poway.

Cavaco, who turned 18 Monday and graduates Thursday, has signed to play at San Diego State along with teammate Ricky Tibbett.

The Aztecs already have Casey Schmitt, Brian Leonhardt and Tre Brown from Eastlake, as well as Julian Escobedo, who figures to be drafted Wednesday.

“Those guys are like family,” Cavaco said. “But I don’t think we’ll be playing together.”

The recommended slot bonus for the 13th pick in the draft is $4,197,300.

He’s represented by Reynolds Sports Management out of Riverside, and Mark Reynolds, brother of former major leaguer and MLB Network commentator Harold Reynolds.

At the end of the first round, the Houston Astros took Cal catcher Korey Lee, who played at Vista High. Baseball America had Lee ranked No. 162, but the Astros made him the 32nd player taken. He hit .339 with 13 homers for the Bears and is considered a top-flight defender.

The third local player taken on the first day of the draft was outfielder Kyle Stowers of Stanford, who played at Christian High. He was taken by the Orioles with the 78th pick overall in the competitive balance second round.

john.maffei@sduniontribune.com

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