Three Waves Selected in MLB Draft

Top: Pepperdine pitcher Cole Cook was selected in the fifth round of the MLB Draft by the Cleveland Indians. Bottom: Pepperdine pitcher Matt Bywater was selected in the seventh round of the MLB Draft by the Baltimore Orioles. Photos courtesy of Jeff Golden

Pepperdine baseball has made waves, as three of its starting pitchers were recently selected in the 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Right-handed pitcher Cole Cook, a redshirt sophomore, was the first Wave selected when his name was called by the Cleveland Indians in the fifth round (150th overall pick). Cook was the highest draft pick for Pepperdine since 2008. In 2009, Cole’s first collegiate season, he led the team in wins and innings pitched, and earned a position on the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American team and All-West Coast Conference Freshman Team. This season, Cook had a 5-6 record, a 2.93 ERA and led the team in strikeouts and innings pitched. He was named to the 2010 All-WCC First Team. “Cole was an amazing pitcher for us,” Steve Rodriguez, head coach of Pepperdine’s baseball team, said. “He is a tremendous athlete and a very smart kid.”

Left-handed pitcher Matt Bywater, a junior, was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the seventh round (208th overall pick). In 2008, he was named to the All-WCC Freshman Team. In 2009, he earned a position on the All-WCC First Team. This season, Bywater was once again selected to the All-WCC First Team after posting a record of 6-5 with a 2.40 ERA and an NCAA-best four shutouts. Bywater was also the WCC Pitcher of the Week four times.

“Matt was the ace of our staff,” Rodriguez said. “Everyone expected him to go higher in the draft.”

Fifth-year senior Robert Dickmann, a left-handed pitcher, was chosen by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 36th round (1,091 overall). Dickmann missed most of the 2009 season with an injury but he did not give up. He served as the color commentator for the broadcast of several Pepperdine baseball games last year, and returned this season to lead the team in wins, going 8-4 with a 4.44 ERA. He was named the WCC Pitcher of the Week the final week of the season and was selected to the All-WCC Honorable Mention squad.

“Talk about a great story,” Rodriguez said. “After transferring from UCLA and coming here, he battled a couple of injuries and turned into a tremendous athlete and a great leader for us. He is one of those kids who you hope gets everything he deserves because of the great work ethic and personality he has.”

Instead of following the results of the MLB Draft, Dickmann was in Palm Springs playing golf with his father and brother. His mother called from home screaming when the Rays announced the selection. “I did not want to be home and pacing around back-and-forth,” Dickmann said. “When my mom called me, I was really excited. I had a big sigh of relief, like, ‘finally.’”

Since Cook and Bywater still have collegiate eligibility, they have the option of returning to Pepperdine next season. Dickmann does not. “I am not sure how you replace them,” Rodriguez said. “But, we have some high school kids that we recruited that are tremendous athletes and will hopefully fill in the blanks for us, and we have some sophomores who pitched quite a few innings for us this year that will have to step into those roles.”

Three high school athletes who committed to play at Pepperdine-Cody Buckel, Scott Frazier, and William Swanner-were also selected in the MLB Draft.

In addition to becoming better baseball players at Pepperdine, Rodriguez said that Cook, Bywater and Dickmann have become better people.

“I am most proud of the fact that we produce tremendous people,” Rodriguez said. “They do a lot of community service, give back and are proud to be Pepperdine Waves. I explain to them that if they are the same person when they leave here as when they arrived, then I did not do my job. My job is to help them grow and become men on and off the field.”