LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Six UCLA ballplayers have agreed to terms with their respective major league organizations and will forego their remaining college eligibility. In addition, three of UCLA’s incoming freshmen class signed to National Letters of Intent who were selected in June's MLB Draft, did not sign a professional contract prior to Friday's 2 pm PT deadline and will enroll at UCLA this fall.
Freshmen Scott Burke, Dominic Miroglio and Luke Persico were all selected in MLB's June Draft and will compete for the Bruins in 2013.
"We are very excited about the incoming freshmen class," said head coach John Savage. "Each of these players has the ability to come in and contribute right away."
Meanwhile, junior infielder Kevin Williams did not come to terms with the Miami Marlins after being selected by the club in the 29th round and will return to Westwood for his senior season.
Williams has played in 125 games in his UCLA career, hitting .258 while logging 49 runs, 11 doubles, three home runs and 39 RBI. This past season, Williams hit .227 with 12 RBI while batting at a .242 clip in the postseason with five RBI and a .364 slugging percentage. He enjoyed his finest season as a Bruin in 2012, batting .302 with 28 runs, six doubles, two home runs, 21 RBI and a .413 on-base percentage. Williams also played stellar defense at second base, committing just five errors that season.
Juniors Nick Vander Tuig (6th round – Giants), Zack Weiss (6th round – Reds), Pat Valaika (9th round – Rockies), Adam Plutko (11th round – Indians), Brenton Allen (20th round – Nationals) and Ryan Deeter (32nd round – Brewers) all signed professional contracts after leading the Bruins to their first NCAA Championship in program history this past season.
"The group of players that signed professional contracts out of our program have all made significant impacts throughout their careers," Savage said. "Adam Plutko, Nick Vander Tuig, Pat Valaika, Zack Weiss, Ryan Deeter, Brenton Allen and Cody Regis can all say they were a big part of the first National Championship team in UCLA history. We are very proud of all of these players and can't say enough about the contributions they have made to the program."
Vander Tuig enjoyed an outstanding season on the mound for the Bruins, serving as the team’s Saturday starter all year. The right-hander from Oakdale, Calif. posted a 14-4 record on the season with a 2.16 ERA. He led the Bruins with 93 strikeouts and allowed just 18 walks all season, eighth-fewest in the Pac-12. Vander Tuig’s 14 wins were also tied for the most in the conference and are second-most on UCLA’s all-time single season wins list. He also threw at least six innings in 17 of his 19 starts and finished his career tied for third with Alex Sanchez (1985-87) on UCLA’s all-time career wins list (27). In the postseason, Vander Tuig appeared in 10 career games, starting seven of them and posting a 6-2 record with a 2.13 ERA. In the 2013 postseason, he went 4-0 with a 1.65 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 27.1 innings pitched.
Weiss, a right-hander from Irvine, Calif., served primarily as UCLA's eighth inning setup man this season, owning a record of 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 43 relief appearances. Weiss' 43 appearances ranked second in the nation this season only to teammate David Berg's 51. In his career, Weiss posted a record of 10-7 with a 3.29 ERA in 82 appearances (22 starts). He will begin his minor league career in the Arizona Rookie League with the AZL Reds.
Valaika, a 2013 All-Pac-12 team honoree, became the first UCLA player to win Defensive Player of the Year honors from the Pac-12 this past season, while also being named to the Division I Rawlings Gold Glove team. The Valencia, Calif. native started every game at shortstop for the Bruins this year, committing only six errors in 277 chances. At the plate, Valaika batted .253, leading UCLA in doubles (14), triples (3), home runs (5), RBI (48), walks (33) and slugging percentage (.394). He finished second with 18 multi-hit games. Valaika was also one of 14 semifinalists up for the Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award and in his career recorded 107 RBI in 180 games played. He has already begun his professional career and is currently on assignment with the Tri-City Dust Devils of the Northwest League (Single-A, short season).
Plutko served as UCLA’s Friday starter all season, posting a 10-3 record with a 2.29 ERA. The junior from Glendora, Calif. logged 81 strikeouts in 124 innings pitched and allowed a .208 batting average against him, the fifth-lowest opposing average in the Pac-12. In the 2013 CWS, Plutko went 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA, earning Most Outstanding Player honors. Additionally, he finished his three-year career with 29 victories, good for second on UCLA’s all-time wins list, and 272 strikeouts, good for seventh on the all-time list. In eight career postseason starts, he went 7-0 with a 0.94 ERA and has the most wins (7), starts (8), lowest ERA (0.94) and most innings pitched (57.2) in UCLA postseason history.
Allen appeared in 43 games this season, starting 37 of them and batting at a .250 clip with 13 RBI and two home runs. He served primarily as the Bruins' left fielder in 2013, slugging .352 and drawing 13 walks while helping lead the UCLA offense to a surge in production during the second half of the season. In his three-year career, the Cerritos, Calif. native hit .258 in 68 games, scoring 23 runs and recording 15 RBI. Like Valaika, Allen has already started his professional career and is currently with the Auburn Doubledays of the New York-Penn League (Single-A, short season).
Deeter went 2-0 with a 4.24 ERA in 17.0 innings this season, making 21 relief appearances. Last season, he made 36 relief appearances, posting a record of 1-0 with a 0.89 ERA while recording 26 strikeouts and 18 walks in 30.1 innings. His 0.89 ERA in 2012 ranks second all-time on UCLA's single-season ERA list. In his career, Deeter logged a 2.68 ERA in 62 relief appearances. He will begin his pro career with the AZL Brewers of the Arizona Rookie League.
Burke is a right-hander from Glendora, Calif. who was chosen in the 31st round by the Houston Astros. He appeared in 12 games for Glendora High School in 2013, posting a record of 7-3 with a 2.32 ERA. In 60.1 innings pitched, Burke struck out 79 batters while walking just 19. As a junior in 2012, he went 3-2 with a 2.47 ERA in 28.1 innings pitched.
Persico was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the 37th round of this year’s draft. The outfielder from Stevenson Ranch, Calif. competed for the Milwaukee Brewers at the 2012 Area Code Games at Blair Field in Long Beach, Calif. He hit .267 with three home runs, 22 runs, 18 stolen bases and 12 RBI as a junior at Hart High School in the spring of 2012 before transferring to Great Oak High School.
Miroglio, a catcher from Oakland, Calif., was drafted by his hometown Oakland A’s in the 40th round of this year’s draft. He batted .421 during his senior year at Bishop O’Dowd High School, scoring 25 runs and recording 13 RBI and a .521 on-base percentage. Miroglio was also a 2012 All-Northern California CBCA selection after hitting .375 as a junior at Bishop O'Dowd with 13 runs, 12 RBI and a .444 OBP.
Also joining the Bruins this fall will be outfielders Kort Peterson and Brett Stephens and right-handed pitcher Grant Dyer. As a senior at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, Calif., Peterson hit .367 with 42 runs scored, five home runs, 22 RBI and 15 stolen bases. Stephens played football and baseball at Campolindo High School in Moraga, Calif., earning first-team ESPN All-State underclass honors in 2012 and leading Campolindo to three straight NCS Division II baseball titles (2010-12). Dyer hails from Laguna Niguel, Calif. and attended Dana Hills High School. He posted a 6-4 record in 12 appearances (11 starts) as a senior in 2013, logging a 1.24 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 62 innings pitched.