Matt Jensen is ready to leave. Mason Radeke’s situation is little murkier.
Though both Cal Poly baseball players wanted to be selected sooner, both Jensen and Radeke were taken on Wednesday’s third and final day of the MLB Draft, with the option to return for their senior seasons still on the table.
Jensen, a former freshman All-America infielder who batted only .209 while battling a wrist injury this season, said he will take his last final exam today, return home to Fresno on Friday and report on Saturday to Arizona, where the Diamondbacks made him a 31st-round selection (934th overall).
“The Cal Poly program has treated me well over the years,” said the former Clovis East High standout, “and with that said, I wanted to go pro. I let coach (Larry) Lee know where I was mentally and what I wanted to do. I think he was on board.”
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Jensen said he has six more academic quarters left before he can graduate, and decided going into the draft that he would sign as long as he commanded a signing bonus of at least $75,000 and could get the rest of his education paid for by a Major League club.Mustangs supporters might have wanted to see more after a flash of freshman brilliance and three injury-plagued seasons, but Jensen is ready for a fresh start.
“I think I’ve done everything I could do at Cal Poly,” Jensen said. “It might not have been a successful last two years, but I put my heart and soul in the program. With the injuries and everything, it’s time for me to move on.
“If I would have come back to Cal Poly for my senior year, it would have been great, but I think after not signing out of high school and playing for three years here, I mentally knew where I stood.”
Radeke, Cal Poly’s ace this past season and one of the most successful starters in the Big West Conference, was taken in the 35th round, 1,058th overall, by the Cleveland Indians.
With an 8-4 record, a 3.07 ERA and the second-most strikeouts in the conference (95) in 992⁄3 innings, Radeke stood to be taken much higher.
But after missing half of his freshman season with academic troubles and sitting out all but four starts of his sophomore season with elbow soreness, Radeke hasn’t built up an overabundance of information on his résumé.
He was drafted in the 41st round coming out of Santa Barbara High in 2008.
Another season at the college level could help him gain more footing for next year’s draft, and Cal Poly could desperately use the pitching help after losing closer Jeff Johnson (who was picked in the 10th round by the Indians), Frankie Reed (taken in the 27th round by the Florida Marlins) and Steven Fischback (who went undrafted).
Radeke could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Jensen was selected in the 11th round by the Seattle Mariners coming out of high school in 2008. He opted to come to Cal Poly rather than accept a six-figure signing bonus and quickly became one of the team’s top hitters.
Before a collision with a baserunner resulted in him breaking his clavicle and prematurely ending his first collegiate season, Jensen hit .375. He was the Big West Freshman of the Year and an all-Big West first-team selection. He hit .270 and missed the last 19 games of his sophomore season after a freak knee dislocation while fielding a ball in practice.
Jensen’s bad luck continued when he started the 2011 season with a wrist injury that he was never fully able to recover from. Despite his fallen draft stock, Jensen said he had no regrets about coming to San Luis Obispo.
“I wouldn’t have traded one thing,” Jensen said. “Being coached by coach Lee for three years, he taught me some things that are priceless, and being at Cal Poly is priceless.
“I got three years of schooling. It was a no-lose situation for me coming out of high school. Top-notch school. Top-notch coaching. And I just didn’t think I was mentally prepared to go to pro ball.”
Jensen played primarily at second base during his Cal Poly career until injuries to teammates forced him to first base this season. He said he will go to the Diamondbacks organization with the generic title of infielder.
Where he is slotted could depend on his upcoming physical. He said his wrist is fully healthy now, but it was a troublesome injury for most of the season.
“Throughout the season, I was just doing what I could,” Jensen said. “My wrist pretty much bothered me much of the time. I just wanted to play through it. Right now, I’m healthy. I’m strong.
“It’s just hard because there’s so many muscles and tendons and ligaments in your wrist. The approach was different at the plate because you knew where your weakness was and you wanted to defend your weakness because that’s where everyone throws you.”
Former Cuesta College ace Richie Mirowski, who just finished his senior year at Oklahoma Baptist, was also drafted. Mirowski was taken by the Washington Nationals in the 45th round, 1,357th overall.