In the year leading up to the June 7, 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, Oakdale High graduate and UCLA junior Nick Vander Tuig spoke with officials from every MLB club.
With speculations on his draft position and future franchise in limbo, Vander Tuig followed the first few rounds with keen anticipation.
When the refreshed browser on his phone revealed the 192nd pick of the sixth round, Vander Tuig suddenly discovered he was a member of the San Francisco Giants.
“The Giants have been my favorite team since I was eight years old,” Vander Tuig said on Monday. “I had no idea they would draft me.
“I was just shocked and happy at the same time.”
With the selection, the Giants earn contract rights to a 6 foot, 3 inch 195-pound junior who set the NCAA ablaze this season with a sterling 12-4 record (team high) on the mound. He sports a 2.37 earned-run average with 81 strikeouts (team high) in 114 innings (team high).
And Vander Tuig’s latest outing was spectacular. He struck out four in six-and-a-third shutout innings to lead UCLA to a 3-0 victory over Cal State Fullerton in the NCAA Super Regional on June 8. The win lifted UCLA to their third College World Series appearance in Omaha in four years.
“I have been playing college baseball for three years, and I know not many people get to say they went to Omaha two years in a row,” Vander Tuig said. “It’s surreal, and it hit me more this year than it did last year.”
Vander Tuig’s last two treks gives Oakdale graduates an appearance in the College World Series for three straight years. Justin Jones did it in 2011 for Cal. It was a year after Oakdale grad Boone Whiting was selected in the 18th round of the MLB draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Whiting, also an inspiring success story, is currently 3-1 with the AAA Memphis Redbirds with a sharp 2.84 ERA. He recorded his last win with a five-inning gem on June 4.
Vander Tuig, Jones and Whiting represent some serious active prestige for Oakdale coach Hondo Arpoika and Mustang pitching coach Nate Gregory.
“What these guys have been able to do is very impressive,” Arpoika said on Monday. “For Nick, it’s a great deal because he is such a hard worker.
“It’s an honor to have a guy with that perseverance and character represent Oakdale. I’m extremely proud of him.”
Vander Tuig said he still has close bonds with his Oakdale coaches, and said it was really cool to see his alma matter go on to become a baseball powerhouse, as well prolific in other sports.
“I’m really close with Hondo and Nate Gregory, and when I come home every year, I hang out with them,” Vander Tuig said. “Coach Arpoika went out with a bang (winning his fourth straight section title in his last season), and now it’s coach Gregory’s turn to continue the legacy.”
Vander Tuig has his own legacy to continue, and another stage of it begins with the College World Series on June 15 or 16.Vander Tuig won a section title for Oakdale as a sophomore and ultimately missed his senior year to undergo Tommy John surgery.