Baseball COVID-19 Lakewood Long Beach State

Long Beach State Dirtbags Part Of Abbreviated MLB Draft

The world of baseball has been changing quickly this month. The breakdown of economic return to play talks between MLB owners and the players association started the ball rolling, and the draft last week maintained the unprecedented momentum.

A shortened five-round draft and an overall cut of slotted salary levels created a record run on college players. The first seven selections were all college players for the first time ever. Now the shrinking minor leagues have to find homes for more qualified talent.

Long Beach State’s Adam Seminaris and Leonard “LJ” Jones were both selected in the fifth and final round on Thursday. They are the 25th and 26th Dirtbags taken in the draft since 2000.

Based on discussions with a few local scouts, Seminaris had a feeling he’d be selected in the shortened draft this year. But he was surprised it was the hometown Los Angeles Angels with the 141st overall pick.

“It’s pretty cool because it’s about a 20 minute drive to Angel Stadium from my house,” Seminaris said. “My mom brought out all the pictures of me and my brother at Angels games wearing our uniforms— you know, the little $30 ones that you get at Dick’s or something like that— so that was cool.”

Seminaris was at his parents house in Chino Hills with his immediate family on Thursday during the draft. The left-handed pitcher got a few calls during the second round, but they didn’t get far enough to talk about money.

“When the fifth round started my phone started jumping off the hook,” Seminaris said.

The buzz around the junior left-handed pitcher comes from a solid summer in the 2019 Cape Cod League, and three dominant starts for LBSU earlier this year. Seminars struck out 35 batters with a 1.23 ERA in four games. He said last month that he knew he’d sign with any team to pick him, and the decreased slot value of this year’s draft wasn’t going to change his decision.

“From day one, it was never really about the money for me,” Seminaris said. “I just want the opportunity to go play professional baseball.”

Jones basically said the exact same thing after the St. Louis Cardinals took the first baseman with the 152nd overall selection. According to Jones and Seminaris, all of the prospects knew coming into the shortened draft that money would be tight, and slot minimums would be dropped.

“I’m pretty happy with what I took,” Jones said. “Honestly, it didn’t really matter to me because it’s just a blessing to get called out of 150 players in five rounds… either way it was an honor.”

Jones said he was surprised to get so much draft attention after missing time with the Dirtbags. He sat out his sophomore season due to injury, but came back strong this season by collecting a hit in 12 of the 14 games played.

Both Seminaris and Jones don’t know what the next step is considering the COVID-19 concerns. Jones even said he might have to do interviews and physicals via Zoom calls.

“It’s a waiting game,” Seminaries said.

The two draftees gives the Dirtbags two picks in the top five rounds of the MLB draft for the first time since the 2010 draft. It also leaves LBSU as the only Big West program with multiple players picked in the 2020 MLB draft.

Lakewood High ace Ricky Tiedemann was ranked a Top 100 prospect overall coming into the draft, but wasn’t selected because of the cut to salaries and signing bonuses.

“I didn’t really hear a lot during the draft because every high school guy was getting under slotted because they didn’t have a lot of money this year,” Tiedemann said. “So every time (a team) called me I’d be way under slot. They weren’t offering as much as I knew I was worth.”

Tiedemann, who is committee to attend San Diego State University, said the left-handed pitcher is considering a season with Long Beach City College in order to re-enter the draft next year.

“Getting started earlier is going to help me,” Tiedemann said. “I know that I have more leverage now than I will if I attend a university and go for three years and then get drafted.”

Tiedemann’s older brother, Tai, is a pitcher in the Texas Rangers organization. Last season he played for the Class A Advanced affiliate Down East Wood Ducks. Tai, 24, said he was happy his brother held strong to his value, and that he’s enjoyed being at home working out with him.

“I’ve been feeling really good just doing my workouts here and throwing live against hitters in the cages,” Tai said. “If (there isn’t a season) and we just have a (spring training) camp then I just got to make sure that I perform at camp, even if it’s just scrimmages against our own guys. Hopefully it just leads into a full season next year and I could pick up where I left off.”

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.