Darren Baker was supposed to celebrate during the 2020 MLB Draft.
Going into his junior season at Cal, Baker was expected to be called somewhere in the top 10 rounds. But with the draft being shortened from 40 rounds to five this year, Baker, like many other hopeful prospects, didn't have his name called. Instead of signing an undrafted free-agent contract for up to $20,000, Baker posted a tweet Friday of four bear emojis, indicating he will return to Cal for his senior season.
🐻🐻🐻🐻— Darren Baker (@DarrenBaker_2) June 12, 2020
Baker confirmed to The Athletic's Andrew Baggarly that he will be staying in college for one more season.
“I was extremely disappointed yesterday, along with many players," Baker said to Baggarly. "But things happen for a reason. There are always some positives in every situation, and I couldn’t be more excited to head back to school.”
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Baker, who became famous at just three years old when he was the Giants' batboy in the 2002 World Series as his father, Dusty, managed the team, had high expectations going into his junior year. He hit .306 and stole 21 bases as a sophomore, and then really impressed scouts in the Cape Cod League.
The 21-year-old second baseman hit .347 with 12 stolen bases for the Wareham Gatemen and was named an All-Star for the most prestigious college summer league in the country.
But Cal struggled before the season was shut down due to the coronavirus. They were just 5-11, and Baker was batting .286. He did lead the team in hits (18) and runs scored (15). It certainly wasn't the start he hoped for, though.
With the season cut short, Baker proved once again he's a leader at a young age. Baker announced on April 1 he donated 100 meals through Feeding America to help those in need during the pandemic.
Cal coach Mike Neu told NBC Sports Bay Area before the season that Baker is a "big-time leader." That clearly includes on and off the field.
While it wasn't what Baker hoped for, he has another shot to lead the Bears and another shot to prove himself to scouts before next year's draft.