Two members of the Cal Poly baseball team heard their names called Tuesday, when the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft held rounds three through 10.
The Cleveland Indians selected second baseman Mark Mathias in the third round — 93rd overall — early in the second day.
“I’m more relieved than anything,” said Mathias, who was anticipating hearing his name in either Monday’s second round or Tuesday’s third. “It has probably been the longest two days of my life. I didn’t really get too much sleep (Monday) night.
“I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to pursue my dream.”
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Later in the day, first baseman/designated hitter Brian Mundell was drafted in the seventh round (197th overall) by the Colorado Rockies. The left-handed power hitter was enjoying lunch at Charlie’s Place with his family when his name scrolled across the livestream draft show they were watching on an iPad.
Mathias, who could return for his senior season with the Mustangs, said he is “100 percent” planning on signing a professional contract and entering the Indians farm system. Mundell also has another year of eligibility with Cal Poly, but said he, too, will likely forgo his final year.
“If everything works out correctly and nothing unexpected happens,” he said, “I’ll be signing.”
The 2014 Big West Field Player of the Year and a USA Baseball Collegiate National Team member, Mathias sat down and spoke with Cleveland representatives for an hour and a half about two weeks before the draft.
“Another in that group of college middle infielders that can really hit,” draft analyst Jonathan Mayo said of Mathias on the MLB Network. “We put a 55 grade on his hit tool. Average runner, he’s an OK fielder. He’s gotten bigger and stronger, which slowed him down a bit but made him a better all-around hitter and gave people a little more confidence that it will translate to the pro game.”
On Mundell, who hit 11 home runs as a freshman but then just nine over the next two seasons, Mayo said: “He’s got power. He’s a big guy, the approach isn’t great, but the raw power is what will attract teams to him. Thinking of him maybe hitting in Coors Field would excite the Rockies I’m sure. He’s limited athletically; lack of position hurt him.”
Mundell was recruited as a catcher by Cal Poly, but primarily spent his time as the designated hitter — a position that does not exist on the National League Rockies.
“I see it as a new challenge,” Mundell said. “Obviously, my hitting is the part of my game they are most interested in, but I know I have to go out there and prove them and prove everyone that I have the ability to play the field and play it well.”
Mathias enjoyed a breakout season as a leadoff hitter on the historic 2014 Cal Poly team, leading the Big West with a .410 conference average and .386 overall. That earned him a spot on Team USA, where he was one of two players to start all 28 games, hitting .263 with 15 runs, 10 RBI and seven doubles.
“Team USA was the biggest thing that’s happened in my career by far,” Mathias said. “It’s definitely the thing that bumped me up so high as a prospect.”
Mathias underwent labrum surgery following his Team USA stint but missed only seven games in 2015 before returning to hit .356 with 28 RBI and three triples.
“My arm is way better than it was before the surgery,” he said.
Mundell also missed a seven-game stretch early this year with a hamstring injury, and the 6-3, 230-pounder returned to hit a career-best .282 but with a career-worst 34 RBI as the Mustangs missed the postseason for the first time in his three years.
“This past year, I just learned that we’re playing a game where you’re not always going to have success,” Mundell said. “The first two years, we had a lot of success and high points, and this year there were low points. That’s part of the game, and we learned we had to work through those situations as a team and come together as players to work together.”
Mathias anticipates being sent to Low-A Mahoning Valley in Niles, Ohio, for his first assignment. He’d be the second Cal Poly player currently in the Indians system, joining outfielder David Armendariz, who plays for Class A Lake County.
Mathias said wherever his professional journey begins is fine with him.
“As long as I’m playing ball, I don’t care how bad the traveling is,” said Mathias, who joined Mundell in thanking and crediting Cal Poly coaches Larry Lee, Teddy Warrecker and Thomas Eager as well as their Mustang teammates. “As long as I’m not digging holes for a construction company or doing some kind of hard labor; I’m playing the game I love for a job, which is pretty cool.”