Giants select Bruso in 16th round |

Giants select Bruso in 16th round

Steve Yingling, Tribune Sports Editor

Blood runs thicker than lifelong team loyalty.

For 45 years, Paul Bruso has bled Dodger blue, but all it took to make him bleed Giant orange was San Francisco’s selection of his son Greg Bruso in the Major League Baseball Draft on Tuesday.

San Francisco selected the 1998 South Tahoe High grad in the 16th round. The 6-foot-2 Bruso was the draft’s 487th pick and the ninth pitcher taken by the Giants.

“I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, so I’ve been a Dodger fan since I was 7 or 8 years old. They come second now. Orange and black, that’s the colors, right?” said Paul Bruso, who owns Ernie’s Coffee Shop in South Lake Tahoe.

Greg, 22, was told prior to the draft that he could be taken as early as the sixth through 10th rounds by his favorite club.

“I’m a diehard Giants fan, that’s the team I wanted to play for, and I’m excited to get the chance,” he said. “(Dad’s) been liking the Giants a little more each year. Now, he finally has a good reason to


The Giants worked out Bruso privately a week before the draft and the Dodgers had scouts present at his games throughout his senior season at UC Davis.

Still, Bruso was a little uneasy about his draft chances as he attended both of his classes on Tuesday.

“Sometimes people think they are going to be drafted high and they wind up being taken really late,” Bruso said. “I didn’t want to be too confident going into it, but I knew in the back of my head

something good was going to come out of it.”

The drafting of a Tahoe baseball player warmed the hearts of Bruso’s former mentors back home.

“It’s such an honor for this town. What more could you ask for to have a Tahoe boy drafted by the Giants?” said Ray Fernsten, who coached Bruso in Little League camps, Babe Ruth All-Stars and at South Tahoe High. “It makes me feel good that he’s going to get his chance.”

Paul Bruso tried to sneak in some errands early in the afternoon, figuring his son would be selected

later in the day. But the call came sooner than he expected.

Consequently, his wife, Judy, rushed down to Raley’s to deliver the news.

“We’re thrilled. It’s a big day, boy,” Paul Bruso said. “I’m just really happy that he got the opportunity. Now, it’s his to do what he can, and I think he’s going to make the most of it.”

Fernsten chuckled as he retold the story of his first encounter with Bruso at a Little League baseball

camp. Then 10 years old, Bruso was participating in a drill for outfielders, who were required to

field a hit and then fire a throw into a piece of plywood, which was supported by a garbage can at home plate.

“This little blond kid knocked over the garbage can and the plywood,” Fernsten said.

Considering the numbers Bruso put up in Northern California this spring, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a West Coast team took him.

Bruso concluded his four years of eligibility at UC Davis with a career-best 10-4 record, 1.94 earned run average, 11 complete games, three shutouts and 100 strikeouts.

As a result, he was selected second-team All-American, California Collegiate Athletic Association Pitcher of the Year and American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings West Region Pitcher of the Year.

Before Tuesday, Jordan Romero was the last area player taken in the draft. Romero, a 1994 pitcher for South Tahoe High, was selected in the 15th round by the Baltimore Orioles in the 1997 draft. Romero is now pitching for the Sioux City Explorers in the independent Northern League.

Like Romero, Bruso embraces being a role model to aspiring Lake Tahoe ballplayers.

“This is good for the town of Tahoe. Just because it snows all the time and just because it’s hard to play baseball doesn’t mean you can’t play baseball,” Bruso said.

Bruso’s Davis teammate Luke Steidlmayer was chosen by the San Diego Padres in the eighth round.

Bruso was supposed to receive a phone call from Giant officials late Tuesday night to give him his minor league assignment. Possibilities included rookie ball in Arizona, extended Class A ball in San Jose or a short Class A season in Salem, Ore.