Nursing broken leg, outfielder joins five more Gauchos taken on draft’s final day
Tommy Jew couldn’t do much pacing on Wednesday afternoon as he followed the Major League Baseball Draft – he is immobile after breaking his leg in UCSB’s final game of the season at Stanford last Saturday.
But his mind was mind was working overtime, not knowing if his injury would keep him from an opportunity in professional baseball.
“For myself, I just didn’t want my hard work to go to waste,” said Jew from his family home in the Bay Area. “It’s just a broken leg, my biggest fear was that teams wouldn’t have faith in me. Thankfully, one did.”
That team would be the St. Louis Cardinals, picking UCSB’s centerfielder in the 13th round, the 395th pick overall – and one of 10 Gaucho draft picks this year, tying a school record.
He admitted it was cool to hear his name called – and he knew the Cardinals were interested after a trio of text messages on Tuesday – but it took a while to sink in.
“The more texts and notifications I got on my phone, the cooler it became,” Jew said.
Jew’s recovery timeline from successful surgery to the broken leg is estimated around six months, although Jew says that he and the Cardinals doctors can choose to move that period backward or forward.
It’ll take the next six to eight weeks to let the bone heal, and then it’ll be upon Jew and his doctors to begin conditioning.
In thinking back to last Saturday, Jew says that he remembers nearly everything, from hustling down the first-base line for an infield single, the distinct sound of the leg breaking, to the doctors tending to him on the field and ultimately the ambulance ride.
He admitted that his mind was flooded with a plethora of thoughts.
“I had a lot of questions, like ‘Why now?’ and ‘Why me?'” Jew explained. “I thought, ‘Why my leg?’ ‘Why couldn’t it be a little bruised foot or a sprained ankle?’ I didn’t want to let my team down in such a big game, that’s why I was hustling so hard in the first place. But, in that moment, there’s nothing you can really answer.”
He has heard from nearly all of his teammates, even moments after the Gauchos were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament.
“Four years of being in this program, I got some great guys around me, great coaches, too,” Jew said. “You play for yourself and hope to do your best. But, ultimately, you are playing for the team. I would have played with a broken leg if it meant helping my team.”
His teammates also received the MLB call on Wednesday, with hurler Jack Dashwood going to the Los Angeles Angels in the 12th round (No. 361), Thomas Rowan in the 20th round to the Miami Marlins (No. 591), Shea Barry to the Houston Astros in the 22nd round (No. 676) and Andrew Martinez to the Baltimore Orioles in the 24th round (No. 708).
Two juniors that were not drafted were McClain O’Connor and Conner Dand, both of whom will return to the program in the fall.
And while UCSB coach Andrew Checketts prides himself on getting ballplayers ready for the next step, it never hurts to have guys coming back.
“After doing this for awhile, you anticipate losing everybody. And there were enough pro scouts that talked to us about both of them,” Checketts said. “But, now, McClain comes back as our starting shortstop, and with Marcos (Castanon), (Christian) Kirtley and Kyle (Johnson), we have our infield coming back. And then we add back a great arm in the bullpen in Conner (Dand).”
The 10 total UCSB draft picks ranked fourth in the nation for colleges, while the eight in the top 20 rounds ranked second. The 10 picks were most since having the same amount in 2015.
“Good company to be in, obviously,” Checketts said. “It speaks to the development piece of it, the environment we have here.
“The last time we had 10 picks, we went to the World Series the next year. Let’s hope that’s a good omen.”
Foresters tally 18 picks
It was another day for the Santa Barbara Foresters, with 10 more players chosen in the draft, including:
• John McMillon, 11th round, Tigers
• Garrett Gayle, 12th round, Astros
• Logan Allen, 14th round, Rays
• Ryan Reynolds, 14th round, Cubs
• Cameron Warren, 22nd round, Reds
• Dane Acker, 23rd round, Diamondbacks
• Zach Humphreys, 26th round, Brewers
• Utah Jones, 29th round, Mariners
• Chase Illig, 29th round, Yankees
• Jake Eissler, 38th round, Indians
The Foresters had eight players chosen over the first two days of the draft.