06/10/13 — MLB Amateur Draft: Trojans' Escalante selected by Giants in 15th round

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MLB Amateur Draft: Trojans' Escalante selected by Giants in 15th round

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on June 10, 2013 1:47 PM

Everyone around the Mount Olive College baseball program was shocked when catcher Geno Escalante did not hear his name called in the Major League Baseball amateur draft in 2012.

Escalante had a 46-game hitting streak, led the team in almost every offensive category and was the Daktronics Southeast Regional Player of the Year as a junior. The Trojans' coaching staff was certain that their leading offensive weapon would get the call, but it never came.

One year later, Escalante was pleased to finally hear his name come off the board. The California native was selected in the 15th round by the San Francisco Giants on Saturday afternoon.

"To be honest, I wasn't even paying attention to the draft," Escalante said while waiting to catch a flight on Sunday. "I was on a little vacation with my girlfriend so I knew it was going on but I wasn't watching it."

Escalante found out about his selection via cell phone. A deluge of text messages from excited teammates followed shortly after.

"I had missed a meeting with my advisor so that is who actually called to tell me," Escalante said. "Pretty soon my phone started blowing up with guys saying congratulations."

The fact that Escalante was recognized by major league organizations was gratifying for both the player and his coaches.

"We were really amazed that he didn't get drafted last season," Mount Olive assistant coach Rob Watt said. "To go through 40 rounds and never see your name is tough, but to his credit, Geno used it as a sign that he needed to work hard during his senior year and he did that."

Escalante was told by scouts that he needed to improve his play defensively if he wanted to have a chance to make it on the next level. He took that advice to heart and worked on blocking balls and throwing out runners.

This season Escalante finished with a .997 fielding percentage and gunned down 11 of 30 base runners from behind the plate. The effort paid off with the NCAA Division II Defensive Player of the Year award, an accomplishment that cemented his draft stock with teams.

"To see a guy go from undrafted to the 15th round is a pretty huge jump," Watt said. "That shows that the big clubs took notice of how his game improved and they valued him as a prospect."

Escalante heads to Arizona this week to get a physical and begin practice with the rest of the Giants' draft class. His first assignment will likely be with San Francisco's Class A short-season team, Salem-Kaizer (Ore.) Volcanoes.

"I don't really know what they have in store for me," Escalante said. "After my physical in Arizona, there will be a few days of practice so the coaches can evaluate me and see where I fit best.

"If I had to guess, my first assignment would be short-season."

Salem-Kaizer opens its season June 14 against the Hillsboro (Ore.) Hops. Should Escalante be assigned to Class A full season, the Giants' affiliate is the Augusta (Ga.) Green Jackets of the South Atlantic League.