UCSB’s Gardner goes to Indians in third round

UCSB junior pitcher Joe Gardner, who was an All-Big West First Team selection, was picked in the third round by the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday during the first day of Major League Baseball’s amateur draft.

Gardner, who went 7-1 with a 3.40 ERA for the Gauchos, was picked 94th overall. It is the highest a UCSB player has been drafted since Chris Valaika was taken 84th overall by the Cincinnati Reds in 2006.

Gardner was also the first player selected from the Big West, a conference that had two nationally-seeded teams in this year’s playoffs and has had at least one team in the College World Series eight of the past 11 years.

“I’m pretty excited,” Gardner said. “It all started from day one when I got here. I just did all the little things and all that hard work paid off.

“I was watching the draft online and I figured when they said ‘Joseph’ they were calling Joseph Kelly from UCR. I was so excited but I think my family was more excited than I was. My dad took the day off from work to watch the draft.”

Gardner led the Gauchos in wins, ERA and strikeouts in his lone season at UCSB. The Fremont, Calif. native was named the Big West Pitcher of the Week after his May 8 complete-game, two-hit shutout over Long Beach State.

“We are very excited about what the future holds for Joe Gardner and his upcoming career with the Cleveland Indians,” said UCSB’s pitching coach Tom Myers, who recruited Gardner and coached him last year for the Kenai Peninsula Oilers of the Alaskan Summer League.

“Joe was a difference-maker from the moment he joined our program at UCSB. Not only did he have an outstanding year, he was a pleasure to coach and a tremendous teammate.”