It's every ballplayer's dream to get drafted by a major-league baseball team and the dream came true for six Redwood Empire products on Friday.
College juniors Justin Fitzgerald and Matt Fitts, who played together on the same Cardinal Newman High team, were picked by the Giants and A's, respectively.
Four players who helped lead Sonoma State to the NCAA Division II World Series and the school's best record -- pitchers Travis Babin, Kevin Asselin and Matt Means, and catcher Konrad Thieme -- were also selected.
Fitzgerald, UC Davis' closer this season, and Fitts, who went 13-0 and helped Lewis-Clark State College win a second consecutive NAIA national championship, were somewhat disappointed at their positions in the draft.
Fitzgerald was taken by the Giants in the 11th round, the 327th player selected. Fitts was chosen by the A's in the 16th round, the 484th player.
From talking to team officials before the draft, both thought they might get picked somewhere in the top six rounds.
"This morning there seemed to be quite a bit of interest just from the number of phone calls I got," said Fitzgerald before being tabbed by the Giants. The teams were sizing up Fitzgerald's signability, what kind of signing bonus he wanted. The round a player is selected doesn't necessarily dictate how much the drafting club will offer, although there are draft "slots," that major league teams use to compare offers.
"I couldn't be happier," said Fitzgerald about landing with the Giants, his favorite team growing up in Santa Rosa. Fitzgerald figures to sign and start his pro career at Keizer, Oregon in the short-season Northwest League. The Giants also indicated he may remain a reliever or switch to starting. He's looking forward to pitching to the Giants' No. 1 pick and No. 5 overall, Florida State catcher Buster Posey.
Fitzgerald thanked his late grandfather, John Fitzgerald, for his pitching ability. John Fitzgerald, the legendary coach at Cardinal Newman, played pro ball with the Pirates and Cardinals and even played on a Pirates' farm club in Santa Rosa over 50 years ago.
Fitts felt his asking price might have scared off some teams, but was pleasantly surprised getting picked by the A's, not a club known for liberal finances.
"They will say, 'We'll give you this much,' when they want to find out if you'll sign," Fitts said.
A's scouting director Eric Kubota said it was Fitts' background that made him attractive to the organization.
"He's a polished college pitcher and he comes from a very good program at Lewis-Clark State that has produced a lot of good professionals," Kubota said.
Both Fitzgerald and Fitts could play another year of college ball, but both said they'll most likely turn pro this summer.
Kubota said Fitts would probably start at Vancouver in the Northwest League, short-season Class A.
Babin, chosen by the Mets 494th in the 16th round, seems the perfect college player for the draft. He's a converted third baseman who found success as a hard-throwing reliever. He's only pitched for two years, which would hint of a fresh arm.
"It's an incredible honor," Babin said of getting drafted. "I was expecting to go as high as I did."
Babin also has another year of college eligibility, so he has an option if he decides the Mets' offer isn't enough.