(From left to right) COC baseball players JC Cloney, Colton Burns and Cole Kleszcz.
The College of the Canyons baseball program was well represented at the 2017 Major League Baseball first-year player draft, with a Cougar contingent that included former players JC Cloney and Colton Burns, along with freshman center fielder Cole Kleszcz.
Cloney, who played two seasons at COC before accepting a scholarship to the University of Arizona, was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the ninth round (270th pick).
A graduate of nearby West Ranch High School, Cloney pitched for Canyons in 2014 and 2015.
As a freshman the lefty earned Western State Conference (WSC) Pitcher of the Year honors after posting a 7-3 record and 2.36 ERA. He also finished second in the state with 89 strikeouts. Cloney was again named All-WSC as a sophomore after going 7-4 with a 2.40 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 2015.
At Arizona, Cloney made headlines by tossing a shutout vs. Coastal Carolina in game one of the 2016 College World Series Finals. He finished the season with an 8-4 record and 2.45 ERA. As a senior, Cloney was the ace of the Wildcat staff with a 3.11 ERA and 7-2 record in 15 appearances.
Burns, who starred at second base for the Cougars in 2015 and 2016 before transferring to University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 18th round (526th pick).
The Valencia High School grad earned a pair of All-WSC First Team selections at COC, finishing his Cougar career with 100 hits and a .386 career batting average.
As a junior at UCSB, Burns lead the Gauchos with a .308 batting average, .422 on-base percentage, and 32 walks from the leadoff spot.
Kleszcz was the final Cougar to be selected, going to the Cleveland Indians in the 40th round (1,212th pick).
Kleszcz, who also graduated from Valencia, finished the 2017 season with a state-best 18 home runs, while also leading the Cougars with a .410 batting average, 60 runs, 46 RBIs and .495 on-base percentage. The leadoff hitter also drew 25 walks and clubbed 20 doubles while playing in all 42 games.
Those numbers earned him WSC, East Divisions Player of the Year Honors.
Kleszcz was also recently named to the 2017 American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/ Rawlings Pacific Association Division (PAD) All-American First Team; the ABCA/PAD Southern California All-Region First Team; and the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association (CCCBCA) Southern California All-State Team.
In addition, the freshman slugger was named the CCCBCA Southern California ‘Big Stick’ Award winner as the top offensive player in the region.