Cardinals take OSU ace, ex-Grizzly Gaviglio in fifth round

Sam Gaviglio passed on his last opportunity to play professional baseball.

Three years later — and 35 rounds better — he's much more likely to sign on the dotted line this time around.

The Oregon State Beavers ace and former Ashland High Grizzly was selected in the fifth round (170th overall) of the Major League Baseball first-year player draft Tuesday, becoming the second Ashland native in as many years to hear his name called in the fifth round after Ian Kendall was taken 161st overall by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010.

In 2008, Gaviglio was taken in the 40th round by the Rays but opted to play for Oregon State, where he has evolved into one of the best pitchers in program history. He was named the Corvallis Regional Most Outstanding Player after throwing a five-hitter against Creighton on Saturday.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound junior right-hander is 12-2 with a 1.87 ERA this season.

"I thought I was going to go to a couple of other teams before (being drafted) and those kind of fell through, then St. Louis stuck with me," said Gaviglio, whose fastball has been clocked in the low 90s. "It's great. Now I'll see what happens in the next month or so."

Gaviglio was one of six Beavers to be selected Tuesday. Four Oregon State recruits have also been picked, including Southridge left-handed pitcher Jace Fry, who was selected by the Oakland A's in the ninth round.

Gaviglio followed the draft online with his brother Gus, another former Ashland all-star pitcher. Sam Gaviglio's draft stock probably improved after his stellar start this season, which included a 412/3 consecutive scoreless innings streak, but he isn't sure if the Cardinals project him as a starter, a middle reliever or a closer at the next level.

"They haven't really told me a whole lot," Gaviglio said. "They just watched a couple games and thought that I looked good and I fell in a position that they liked."

Players who choose to sign contracts receive a minor league salary — which is considerably less than the average major league salary — plus a signing bonus. The signing bonus is negotiable, but is usually close to the same slot as in the previous year's draft.

In 2010, the 170th player selected received a $142,200 signing bonus.

"I'm not really sure (if I'll sign) at this point," Gaviglio said. "I don't know. Obviously, playing professional baseball is my dream, so we'll just have to wait and see."

The ninth-ranked Beavers play third-ranked Vanderbilt in the super regionals this weekend, and Gaviglio is expected to start one of the first two games of the best-of-three series.

Gaviglio ranked third on the team in innings pitched during a so-so junior year at Ashland before taking off as a senior, going 13-0 with a sub-0.60 ERA. He culminated his run at Ashland with a five-hitter against Thurston in the Class 5A championship game — the Grizzlies won 4-3 to claim their only state title.

Gaviglio picked up where he left off as a freshman at Oregon State, emerging as the surprise staff ace and going 10-1 with a 2.73 ERA. His sophomore year wasn't as successful as he battled a nagging hamstring injury, but this season has been his best yet.

After Gaviglio opened with two shutouts in his first five starts, including a one-hitter against Long Beach State, Oregon State coach Pat Casey, who has led the Beavers to two College World Series titles, said Gaviglio ranks among the best pitchers ever at OSU.

"Any time anybody throws the way (Gaviglio) has thrown, I'm shocked — I don't care what level it is," Casey said. "It's unbelievably impressive. He's been razor sharp. I don't know if I've ever seen anybody throw as well as he has for as long as he has."

Joe Zavala is sports editor of the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 541-776-4469, or email jzavala@dailytidings.com

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