Oakley’s Freedom High School senior Kyren Paris is living out one of the best weeks of his life.
The star baseball shortstop is set to graduate at the end of this week, and Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Los Angeles Angels are hoping he’ll pursue a professional baseball career right away.
The Angels drafted the 17-year-old Paris with the 55th pick of the MLB draft this week.
Paris did not respond to requests for comment.
“Kyren is a very special young man, at an incredibly young age,” said Angels Scouting Director Matt Swanson in statements published on the team’s website. “He is just an awesome athlete; a high-end shortstop. I think, long-term, he has a lot of offensive upside to come into as he grows and matures, but I think when you can capture just a young talent like that, it is pretty exciting.”
The 6-foot, 167-pound infielder, who doesn’t turn 18 until November, entered the draft as one of the better shortstop prospects, and the 50th best overall player, according to MLB.com.
Paris hit .312 with 83 hits, 34 RBIs and 71 runs, in 91 games over four seasons for the Falcons, according to Maxpreps.com, and is known as a standout defensive player.
He’s committed to play for the University of California, Berkeley, but could opt out to join the Angels organization. His early draft selection — in the second of 40 rounds — means a lucrative Angels signing offer could be on the table, worth up to $1.3 million.
Paris’ magical draft moment was broadcast on MLB’s national television network. Jonathan Mayo, MLB Network draft analyst, said on the broadcast that Paris has a lot of potential.
“Paris has a sound, right-handed swing and employs a line-drive, all-fields approach,” his MLB.com profile reads. “He’s not very physical right now, but has some quickness to his bat and deceptive strength that could develop into 12-15 home run power. He’ll flash some plus run times and is aggressive on the bases. Paris shows smooth actions and soft hands at shortstop. He has a solid arm and good instincts that enable him to make plays. If he doesn’t provide enough offense to make it as a regular, he has the athleticism and tools to play a variety of positions in a utility role.”
“There is more strength there than you would think,” Mayo said. “He’s going to have to add some strength. The bat is the question. He’s pretty fluid on defense; he can run pretty well.”
Freedom’s head baseball coach, Ken Evanson, who coached Paris for three seasons, said he can attest to Paris’ standout skills.
“He’s one of the hardest workers we have had,” Evanson said. “There are a lot of things that stand out about him. He’s fast, a great defensive player, he has a great arm, he has hitting tools, great baseball IQ, great jumps on the bases. He’s one of those guys that immediately sticks out.”
Paris is the third Freedom player drafted by an MLB franchise. Chris Bodishbaugh, who last played in 2015, was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 38th round in 2003, and spent a short time in the lower levels of the minor leagues and played in independent leagues, but never reached the majors, according to baseball-reference.com.
Fellow Freedom alum Joe Navilhon first played college ball for the University of Southern California and was then drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 21st round in 2016. He’s currently playing for the Detroit Tigers’ Double A Minor League affiliate, the Erie Seawolves, working toward reaching the major leagues.
“It’s always exciting to see our athletes get the opportunity to compete in the collegiate or professional ranks,” said Freedom Athletic Director Steve Amaro. “Our goal in athletics is to maximize the potential of all our athletes, and help students strengthen character attributes of trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. In each of these areas, Kyren has gone above and beyond, and I am confident he will impact whichever organization he chooses to work for with these values. I look forward to hearing about all he does in the next stage of baseball.”
Other East County prospects likely to be drafted include Liberty High alum Connor Blair, a right-fielder for the University of Washington, and former Heritage standout Kevin Milam, who played for St Mary’s College. Neither had been drafted as of press time.