Irvine, Calif. – The Orange County Riptide will send six players to the MLB Youth Academy in Compton, Calif. on July 14 to compete in the California Collegiate League (CCL) Showcase Game presented by ABDG. Players Dwight Allen (Georgia), Eric Bigani (UNLV), Kyle Booker (Tennessee), Davis Diaz (Vanderbilt), Andrew Pogue (Illinois) and Tony Robie (Texas State) will represent the CCL South Division in a game televised to a national audience on Bally Sports TV (formerly Fox Sports) at 7 PM pacific time.
The six OC Riptide players selected for the CCL Showcase Game represent not only the Riptide but their individual colleges and conferences. Three players (Allen, Booker, Diaz) represent the South Eastern Conference (SEC), while Bigani represents the Mountain West Conference, Pogue the Big 10 and Robie from the Sun Belt Conference. Performance while at college, while playing for the Riptide and overall projectability into professional baseball accounted for a player’s selection to play in the CCL Showcase Game.
A closer look at each OC Riptide player in the CCL Showcase Game:
Dwight Allen – University of Georgia
Allen, from Milton, Ga., redshirted his freshman year at Georgia. After spending a summer in California, Allen looks poised to take over a top of the order spot and roam the outfield in Athens in 2022. The speedy Allen leads the Riptide in stolen bases by a wide margin with 13 on the season. Allen also sits tied atop two other offensive categories with the Riptide; 14 runs scored (Austin Kryszczuk) and 14 walks (Reed Spenrath).
The 6′ 1″, 190 lb. Allen bats and throws right handed and rest assured, many MLB scouts in attendance at the CCL Showcase game will take note of Allen’s talents for future draft consideration.
Eric Bigani – UNLV
Bigani, from Yorba Linda, Calif., played for the OC Riptide in 2019 and Bigani played two years at Cypress College before transferring to UNLV. While at UNLV, Bigani batted .317 and slugged four home runs and finished the season a semifinalist for the ‘21 Buster Posey National Collegiate Catcher of the Year Award. In addition to that award, Bigani earned a spot on the 2020 All-Mountain West team.
In 2021 with the OC Riptide, Bigani is batting .328 with 14 RBI and has hit safely in 12 of 15 games played with the Riptide this summer. Bigani enjoyed a 7-game hit streak from June 10-24. Bigani takes pride in taking the Junior College route to eventually end up at a Division 1 college. Playing at Cypress College for head coach Anthony Hutting toughened him as a baseball player and helped him become the catcher he is today. Bigani cites seeing friends go to bigger schools as difficult but the process of playing JuCo has improved his game.
Many MLB scouts expect Bigani to sign an MLB free agent contract following the CCL Showcase Game.
Kyle Booker – University of Tennessee
Another SEC outfielder making his presence known in the CCL Showcase Game, Kyle Booker, arrived in Orange County late but has made a huge impact since joining the Riptide. Booker’s first game for the Riptide came on June 29th vs. the San Luis Obispo Blues. Booker arrived late because he traveled with his Tennessee Volunteer teammates to the College World Series in Omaha. In 2021, Booker started in 12 games for the Vols batting .310 in 58 at-bats for Head Coach Tony Vitello.
With the Riptide, Booker immediately found himself batting in the top of the order, usually in the lead-off spot. In eight games for the Riptide, Booker boasts a .395 batting average with 15 hits in 38 at-bats. Defensively, Booker has yet to record an error playing Left Field primarily.
Davis Diaz – Vanderbilt University
The youngest Riptide player on the 2021 squad, Davis Diaz finds himself in a highly advantageous spot. Recently drafted in the 13th round of the 2021 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondback, Diaz can choose to turn pro and take a lucrative professional contract or he can choose to keep his commitment and start his college career at Vanderbilt this fall.
A recent graduate of Acalanes High School, Diaz starred while playing for USA Baseball on the 12U national team. Diaz led Team USA with a .571 average, .700 on-base percentage and eight steals. In high school, Diaz batted .406 his senior year of high school and while with the Riptide, has shown no drop-off adjusting to hitting college pitching. Diaz currently hits .256 in 43 at bats, 11 hits, 9 runs, 6 RBIs, 1 stolen base.
Andrew Pogue – Illinois
Having a top-end of the rotation guy in your line-up will always help a team win and Andrew Pogue from the University of Illinois has done just that. In six appearances including a start, Pogue boasts a 1.93 ERA in 14 innings pitched. His 14 strikeouts rank tied for second on the Riptide with Noah Owen, who recently was selected in the 14th round by the Chicago White Sox in the 2021 MLB draft.
Pogue did not play much for the Illini in 2021, making six appearances and pitching 5 2/3rd innings. His appearances for Illinois came in March through May facing Big 10 opponents Ohio State, Michigan State, Northwestern, Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan.
Tony Robie – Texas State
Tony Robie arrived in Orange County with a long, flowing mane of hair but has since cut it shorter. Long or short hair, Robie has shown that he can put up zeroes and get opponents out with his right arm. The 6′ 4″, 185 lbs. righty leads the Riptide in innings pitched (19), strikeouts (21) and Saves (3). Despite classified as a starter, Robie often times comes in to close games the day before his regularly scheduled day to start.
Robie arrived at Texas State in the fall of 2019 and due to the COVID-19 pandemic shortened season, will be a sophomore in 2022. Appearing in 13 games for the Bobcats, Robie started six on the rubber and recorded 26 strikeouts in 2021.
Individual CCL team managers nominated players for consideration but the final selection for those playing in the CCL Showcase Game presented by ABDG came down to the CCL Showcase Selection Committee. Angels radio broadcaster, Trent Rush, veteran baseball announcer, Wes Clements, and reporter Anna Connelly, will broadcast the game live on Bally Sports.