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November 9, 2011
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As the California football team took care of business on the gridiron last week against Washington State, several of the Bears' baseball commits took in the action from the AT&T Park seats, with the one exception being Cal's first commit -- Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley shortstop Max Dutto -- who has been the glue of the class much like his high school classmate Zach Kline has been for the 2012 football class.
"I actually couldn't go because I had to work, but we have our official visit this weekend," Dutto said. "We're going to the basketball game and the Oregon State game on Saturday."
On Wednesday, Dutto and the rest of the class will be inking their national letters of intent to play for head coach David Esquer, with Dutto doing so during a special ceremony at San Ramon Valley. A notable absence from the proceedings will be Wolves quarterback Kline, who has known Dutto since first grade. But, the two will reunite soon enough.
"My school is having a little ceremony for all of the kids that are able to sign a letter of intent tomorrow," Dutto said. "I'll be able to take a few pictures with Kline, though. I'm excited. It's a relief, too, because you can finally tell that it's real, that I'm going to be a Golden Bear."
As the first commit, Dutto helped to wrangle Concord (Calif.) De La Salle's Mitchell Kranson and Lafayette (Calif.) Acalanes corner outfielder Grant Diede, among others.
"It was pretty cool to be the recruiter for Cal, being the first guy to [commit], going down to Area Codes, I met a lot of the guys that committed," said Dutto. "I knew Kranson from a while back, because we've always been friends, competing against each other, but I met Cal Becker at Area Codes, and me and Grant Diede played on the same summer team, so it was really cool to see all these guys commit, guys that I know, and I think it'll be fun."
Last season, the Bears had two players from El Cerrito (Calif.) St. Mary's in Matt Flemer and Chicago White Sox sixth-round draft pick Marcus Semien and two from San Mateo (Calif.) Junipero Serra in Pac-10 Player of the Year Tony Renda and this year's likely closer Logan Scott. Of the five signees in this class, all of them have either played with or against one another, with two players -- Dutto (San Ramon Valley HS) and Kranson (Concord De La Salle) -- hailing from Danville.
"It's pretty cool to carry on that tradition of guys recruiting each other," Dutto said. "It's pretty sweet."
Kranson -- who is projected to switch from third base to catcher this season for the Spartans -- is ready to get Signing Day done with.
"I cannot wait to fax that in tomorrow," Kranson said. "We don't have anything at the school, but maybe in a month or so, we'll have this recognition assembly where they'll say that I signed a letter of intent, but nothing special at school tomorrow."
Kranson could very well wind up as the latest in a line of top-flight Cal backstops, following Charlie Cutler, Chadd Krist and sophomore Andrew Knapp, who's waiting in the wings behind the two-time All-Pac-10 returner in Krist. Lately, Kranson has been putting on the mask and shin guards with his De La Salle fall ball team.
"It kind of depends right now. I might catch. There's actually a good possibility that I'll catch, but it depends on how the other infielders do, Kranson said. "I think eventually, it'll be catcher. Right now, I enjoy third base more. I don't get as much time to practice catching with everything going on, but I think, right now, it's probably third base, but eventually, I want to catch."
Coming in with right-handed pitchers Becker and Ryan Mason -- who flipped from St. Mary's -- Kranson has a unique perspective on his new teammates, including recruited walk-on Jordan Talbot, a righty out of Aptos (Calif.) High.
"I've caught Cal, and I've faced Jordan Talbot, and he has some good stuff," Kranson said. "I think he's a walk-on. I've caught Cal a couple times, and I've actually hit off of him once. He's got an above-average fastball, with a pretty sharp curveball. I was lucky enough to hit a pretty good shot against him at Area Codes, and that's probably why I made the team."
As for the group official visit, the quintet will come into Berkeley on Friday to take in the season-opening basketball game against UC Irvine.
"Basketball game Friday night and football game Saturday," Kranson said. "I can't wait. Grant and I have talked about that for a while. All of our friends are going on all their officials to ASU and all the other ones, and we were just wondering when ours was going to be, and all of the sudden, I got a call out of the blue today from [assistant coach] Tony Arnerich, and, what do you know, it's this weekend."
In addition to the players on baseball scholarship, football recruit Zach Hoffpauir is also expected to join Cal on the diamond come spring of 2013, as will recruited walk-on Collin Monsour, a 6-foot-3 right-handed pitcher out of San Francisco St. Ignatius.
Read more on Kranson HERE.
Read more on Becker HERE.
Read more on Mason HERE.