SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – On the second day of the 2019 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, UC Santa Barbara set a program record with five selections in the first eight rounds on Tuesday. Santa Barbara also tied for the second most selections in the country through the first 10 rounds, behind only UCLA and Arkansas' six.
Right-handed closer Chris Lincoln was the first Gaucho off the board, selected in the fifth round (143rd overall) by the San Diego Padres, while lefty starter Ben Brecht also went in the fifth round (158th overall) to the Tampa Bay Rays. Junior catcher Eric Yang was taken in the seventh round (204th overall) by the Cincinnati Reds and junior outfielder Armani Smith was selected two picks later (206th overall) by the San Francisco Giants. Rounding out the five selections on day two was senior outfielder Tevin Mitchell, taken in the eighth round (231st overall) by the Miami Marlins.
Lincoln, a 13th round selection by the Toronto Blue Jays out of high school in 2016, boosted his stock to the fifth round after a successful career in the blue and gold. After spending his sophomore season as a starter, the Moreno Valley, Calif. native was converted to a closer in 2019 and thrived. Lincoln landed on the Big West Second Team after leading the conference with 13 saves, just one away from tying the UCSB single-season record, and his 14 career saves is just two shy of the all-time mark. Lincoln wrapped up his junior campaign with a 4-1 record to go with a 3.57 ERA and the flamethrower struck out 40 in 35.1 innings pitched.
Brecht joined Lincoln as a fifth round selection, going to the Rays after a sensational junior campaign where he served as the Friday starter and ace of the staff. The Wilmette, Ill. native posted a 10-2 record with a 4.10 ERA while his 101 strikeouts led the conference. A Second Team All-Big West selection, Brecht started a team-high 16 games, and his 10 wins rank fifth all-time in UCSB single-season history. Brecht's season began with an impressive outing in the season-opener at LMU on February 16 when he struck out five batters in five innings while allowing just two runs. At Tulane on Mar. 8, he struck out a career-high 11 in 7.1 innings. The southpaw struck out 52 batters in six straight starts from Feb. 22 to Mar. 29 where he had at least seven in every game. Against Missouri State on Mar. 22, he hit double digit strikeouts again with 10 K's in 5.2 innings. In what was then the biggest game of the year, Brecht delivered with eight strikeouts in 7.2 solid innings of three-hit ball and allowed just one run in a 4-1 win over No. 15 UC Irvine on Apr. 12.
The first position player to go for UCSB was none other than Big West Field Player of the Year, Collegiate Baseball All-American, and Buster Posey National Catcher of the Year Finalist, Yang. The West Hills, Calif. native led the team with a .368 batting average (77-for-209) to go along with seven home runs and 45 RBIs. Yang played in all 56 games for Santa Barbara, starting 46 behind the dish and 10 at designated hitter, while leading the Gauchos (45-11) to its 12th NCAA Regional appearance in program history. He also led the team with 25 multi-hit games and finished with a slash line of .368/.479/.545. Defensively, Yang was exceptional. He threw out 10 runners trying to steal in 30 attempts for a 33.3 caught stealing percentage and recorded a .993 fielding percentage. In addition to his numerous accolades, Yang was also named Big West Athlete of the Week (Apr. 1) after hitting .500 (7-for-14) with a home run and six RBIs to lead UCSB to a series win at Cal State Fullerton.
Taken two spots after Yang in the seventh round was junior right fielder Smith, who was drafted by the Giants after a breakout season that saw him bat .323 with 11 home runs and 45 RBIs. A 35th round selection in 2016 by the Cleveland Indians, Smith made a name for himself with the Gauchos, tallying 19 home runs and 98 RBIs in his three-year career. In 2019, the Martinez, Calif. native started in all 56 games, with 55 of them coming in right field. He produced 37 extra-base hits with a team-high 18 doubles and eight triples, falling one triple shy of the UCSB single-season record. He finished with 16 multi-RBI games, 22 multi-hit games and slashed .323/.393/.631 en route to All-Big West First Team accolades and earned Big West Athlete of the Week (May 6) after hitting a game-winning two-run single in the 9th inning at CSUN.
Rounding out the record of five selections on day two was senior left fielder Mitchell, who also enjoyed a breakout campaign to earn a selection by the Marlins in the eighth round. The Clovis, Calif. native and four-year letterwinner became an everyday starter in 2019 and did not dissapoint. The All-Big West Honorable Mention selection tied for the conference lead with 20 stolen bases and hit .277 with five home runs and 37 RBI. Mitchell spent much of the season as the leadoff hitter and slashed .277/.373/.451. One of his best performances of the season came at Tulane on Mar. 10 when he went 2-for-3 with six RBIs and a grand slam in a 16-6 rout at Tulane.
The final day of the MLB Draft will take place tomorrow, Jun. 5, covering rounds 11-40 beginning at 9:00 a.m. on MLB.com.
UCSB's 2019 Major League Baseball Draftees on Day 2
|Name||Position||Round||Overall Selection||Team||Key Stats|
|Chris Lincoln||RHP||5||143||San Diego Padres||4-1, 3.57 ERA, 35.1 IP, 40 K, 13 SV in 2019|
|Ben Brecht||LHP||5||158||Tampa Bay Rays||Career: 17-6, 4.30 ERA, 194.2 IP, 188 K|
|Eric Yang||C||7||204||Cincinnati Reds||.368 AVG, 7 HR, 48 R, 45 RBI in 2019|
|Armani Smith||OF||7||206||San Francisco Giants||Career: .282 AVG, 19 HR, 98 RBI in 155 G|
|Tevin Mitchell||OF||8||231||Miami Marlins||.277 AVG, 5 HR, 37 RBI, 20 SB in 2019|