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UCLA baseball sees 3 players, 2 recruits picked in 2022 MLB Draft

Rising junior right-hander Max Rajcic delivers a pitch. Rajcic was the highest-drafted active Bruin after being selected in the sixth round of the 2022 MLB Draft. (Olivia Simons/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Joseph Crosby

July 20, 2022 2:47 p.m.

This post was updated July 24 at 10:39 p.m.

Three active Bruins may be donning new uniforms next season.

UCLA baseball rising junior right-hander Max Rajcic, rising senior infielder/outfielder Michael Curialle and rising senior right-hander Jared Karros were all selected in the 2022 MLB Draft, which took place Sunday through Tuesday. Rajcic and Curialle were both picked by the St. Louis Cardinals in the sixth and 12th rounds, respectively, while Karros was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 16th round.

Rajcic anchored a Bruin pitching staff that suffered from numerous injuries before he succumbed to one himself, preventing him from pitching in the inaugural Pac-12 tournament. However, he returned for the NCAA Auburn Regional and was charged with the loss in UCLA’s opening-round defeat at the hands of Florida State.

Despite only having completed his sophomore season with the Bruins, Rajcic was eligible for the draft since he will turn 21 soon enough after the draft to qualify. In his freshman campaign in 2021, Rajcic recorded seven saves before moving to the starting rotation in 2022. During his time with the blue and gold, the hurler has been selected to the Pac-12 All-Conference Team twice and logged a 2.83 career ERA.

Curialle, on the other hand, shined on offense with his .319 batting average and .874 on-base plus slugging, which ranked first and third, respectively, on the team among qualified hitters. Defensively, the former Freshman All-American made starts at six positions across the diamond, two more than any other Bruin.

(Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)
Rising senior infielder/outfielder Michael Curialle gets ready for a pitch. Curialle led the Bruins in batting average this season. (Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)

After suffering a back injury during the 2021 season, Karros did not pitch for the Bruins in 2022. Over two seasons, the 2021 Opening Day starter has tallied a 3.51 ERA in 41 innings pitched, striking out 48 batters.

Alongside the trio of current players in Rajcic, Curialle and Karros, a pair of incoming UCLA freshmen were also drafted. Right-hander JR Ritchie was selected Sunday by the Atlanta Braves in Competitive Balance Round A, while the Chicago Cubs selected shortstop Christopher Paciolla in the third round Monday.

Among the 2022 recruiting class, Ritchie was nationally ranked as the No. 6 right-handed pitcher and No. 28 overall player. Paciolla, on the other hand, ranked as the No. 6 shortstop in California and placed nationally as the No. 310 player.

Prior to the draft, Ritchie, Paciolla, Rajcic and Curialle all appeared on MLB’s Top 250 Draft Prospects list, settling in at No. 47, No. 166, No. 172 and No. 247, respectively.

All five players will have until Aug. 1 to decide whether they want to sign with the team that drafted them or continue to pursue collegiate baseball.

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Joseph Crosby | Assistant Sports editor
Crosby is currently an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, men's water polo and women's water polo beats. He was previously a contributor on the baseball and women's golf beats.
Crosby is currently an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, men's water polo and women's water polo beats. He was previously a contributor on the baseball and women's golf beats.
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