June 05, 2012 8:30 pm •
SAN DIEGO —- Nolan Gannon and River Stevens didn’t hesitate when asked about their plans.
Both intend to turn down college scholarships to sign with the major league teams that selected them on the second day of baseball’s amateur draft Tuesday.
Gannon, a hard-throwing right-hander from Santa Fe Christian School, was picked in the fourth round by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Stevens, who starred at Mission Hills High and played a season at Palomar College before transferring to Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, was drafted in the ninth round by the Padres.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Gannon, who has signed to play at San Diego State. “I definitely will sign with the Rays. They’re my favorite team, and I want to begin my professional career.”
Gannon played for Tampa Bay’s scout team and is close with Rays scout Jake Wilson, a former Ramona standout who used to scout for the Padres.
Gannon finished his senior season at SFC with a 9-2 record and a 0.82 ERA. He had 127 strikeouts, including 15 in a CIF San Diego Section Division IV title game win over Madison.
“With a championship, getting drafted and graduation, what a sequence of events,” Gannon said.
With draft picks slotted this year, Gannon is in line for a signing bonus just short of $400,000.
Stevens led all California junior colleges in hitting, batting .447 with three home runs, 27 RBIs and 14 stolen bases at Hancock.
“This has been a great day,” said Stevens, who has a scholarship to Cal State Fullerton. “I can’t stop smiling.
“There was some interest from the Cubs and Blue Jays, but the Padres called in the sixth round and asked if I’d sign if I was taken in the top-10 rounds.
“I have a college scholarship, but I’d really like to sign. The Padres are my team, so getting a chance to play professional baseball for my hometown team would be the best of both worlds.”
Jaron Madison, the Padres’ director of scouting, said Stevens profiles as a second baseman.
“River stood out in our workout last week,” Madison said. “We all liked him. He has great energy, good instincts, great hands.
“And he has a knack of getting the barrel of the bat on the ball.”
Ramona shortstop Jackson Willeford, who has a scholarship to Arizona, was drafted later than he had hoped, going to the Royals in the 12th round.
San Pasqual lefty Kevin Grendall, who had 20 strikeouts in a game this season, was picked in the 11th round by the Orioles. Grendall has a scholarship to UC Irvine.
Hard-throwing right-hander Alex Muren, a Ramona graduate who plays at Cal State Northridge, was taken in the 11th round by the Twins.