Six Trojans were taken Tuesday in day two of the 2011 MLB Draft, with junior first baseman Ricky Oropesa headlining the selections as the third round pick (116th overall) of the San Francisco Giants.
A preseason all-American, Oropesa was considered a potential first round pick at the beginning of the season, but didn’t show quite enough consistency. He led the Trojans in batting average and RBI’s this season, and is currently tied for fifth on USC’s all-time home run list with 40.
MLB.com says Oropesa “stands out based on one tool: power… the left-handed hitter has plus raw power, perhaps as much as anyone out west.”
He was drafted in the 24th round by the Boston Red Sox out of high school, but opted to play college ball. While Oropesa is a junior and could opt to come back to school, it is considered extremely likely he will sign with the Giants.
Junior pitcher Austin Wood was the next Trojan taken, going to the Los Angeles Angels in the sixth round. The righty was joined by his teammate just two rounds later, when the Angels drafted senior right-hander Logan Odom with their eight-round selection.
Wood was drafted by the in the fourth round last year by the Tampa Bay Rays out of community college, and occasionally flashed the “stuff” that made him such a pick. He tossed eight strong innings against both No. 11 Stanford and No. 2 Oregon State, but his season was marred by inconsistency. The Trojan’s Saturday starter finished with a 5-7 record and a 5.61 ERA. He is expected to sign.
Odom was questionable to even be drafted at the start of the season, but was the Trojan’s most consistent starter throughout. The senior finished with a 5-6 record and 3.94 ERA, and an amazing .234 opponents batting average.
Junior pitcher Chad Smith was taken by the Detroit Tigers in the 17th round. Smith was dominant as the Trojan’s closer throughout the first half off the season, posting a 2.66 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 20.1 innings before injuring his elbow in late-April. Smith had Tommy John Surgery in May and missed the remainder of the season. His decision to sign could be the most difficult of the selected Trojans. He was taken above-slot, but could go even higher next year if he pitches as well as he did for a full season.
Senior second baseman Joe De Pinto went to the Chicago White Sox in the 21st round, and was followed just six picks later by redshirt-junior pitcher Andrew Triggs, who was taken by the Giants. De Pinto was a four-year starter at USC, as well as a captain this year. By his standards, he had a trying year at the plate. But the captain fought his way to a .300 average and a team-leading .409 on-base percentage.
Triggs was the Trojan’s Friday starter the past two seasons and is a prototypical power pitcher, with 72 strikeouts in 90.2 innings this season. He rebounded from a slow start to the season and went 3-1 with a 1.66 ERA is his final six starts to finish with a 5-4 with a 3.87 ERA.
“Sometimes (Triggs) forgets how good he is,” says former big-league pitcher and USC pitching coach Tom House.
Triggs has the most leverage of all the Trojans picks in terms of signing. As a redshirt-junior he has already graduated, but still holds a year of eligibility under his belt.