July 13, 2009
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Big West Conference was rated as the sixth-best baseball conference in 2009, according to a recent NCAA release on the season's final Ratings Percentage Index numbers.
The Big West is a conference that had two nationally-ranked teams in the NCAA postseason and has featured at least one team in the College World Series in eight of the past 11 seasons. It finished sixth out of 31 conferences nationally in the final RPI ratings. Five Big West schools finished with RPI's in the top-100 in the nation, including UC Santa Barbara.
UC Santa Barbara's baseball team led the conference by having the most players drafted with nine, including pitcher Joe Gardner, who was picked 94th overall by the Cleveland Indians - the highest Big West player chosen in the June amateur draft.
A total of 10 Gauchos have been associated with major league teams after Zach Samuels signed a free agent contract with the Detroit Tigers. Eight of those players have signed, leaving junior Matt Valaika and sophomore Mario Hollands as the Gauchos who could return to lead UCSB in 2010.
"Year in and year out the Big West has proven to be one of the best conferences in the country for college baseball," said assistant coach Tom Myers. "Big West representation in the Regionals and the College World Series continues to grow and the amount of players being selected by Major League Baseball annually is an indication of the strength of our conference. Over the past two seasons the UCSB baseball program has had 17 players offered MLB contracts. To have the highest player selected in our conference and 10 players offered contracts by major league teams shows the type of player development that takes place in the UCSB baseball program."
Currently Valaika and Hollands lead numerous UCSB baseball players that are scattered across the country in various summer ball leagues. Follow them by clicking here.
Earlier this year UCSB Athletics unveiled the BE Great initiative. BE Great is dedicated to maximizing leadership ability, strong on-campus interaction, and general welfare for all 450 student-athletes and Intercollegiate Athletics staff at UC Santa Barbara. BE Great also focuses on personal and career development, diversity, and social awareness, along with ensuring academic success. UCSB has a 92% student-athlete graduation rate.