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Cal’s Johnson and Semien Debut in Major Leagues

Sep 5, 2013

BERKELEY – A pair of former California standouts on the Golden Bears’ 2011 College World Series squad – right-hander Erik Johnson and infielder Marcus Semien – shined in their Major League debuts for the Chicago White Sox Wednesday (Sept. 4) versus the New York Yankees.

The two Cal players, who had started the summer in Double A ball, performed well in a 6-5 loss to the Yankees. In his first Major League start, Johnson threw 6.0 innings with seven hits, five runs, three earned runs, three walks and a strikeout. Meanwhile, Semien started at third base for the White Sox and went 2-for-4 with an RBI, recording his first MLB assist when Derek Jeter grounded out to the former Bear shortstop.

Johnson  Johnson feature was drafted in the second round, and Semien Semien feature in the sixth round, by the White Sox following the 2011 collegiate season. The two Bears are now managed by Robin Ventura, who was one of the announcers for ESPN when Cal played Virginia in the College World Series. also featured the two Bears after Wednesday's debut  Click.

As a junior at Cal, Semien (whose father, Damien, was a wide receiver for the Bears in the early 90s) was a member of the NCAA Houston Regional All-Tournament team and finished that year starting all 61 games, batting .275 with 11 doubles, three triples, five home runs and 35 RBI.

In his junior campaign, Johnson went 7-4 with a 2.83 ERA and had 102 strikeouts in 105.0 innings, earning first-team All-Pac-10 honors.

“I am really proud and excited for Marcus and Erik on debuting in the Major Leagues,” said Cal coach David Esquer. “They were great players for us here who led us to the College World Series and have rocketed through the Minor Leagues. They are two great Cal alums who we are all proud of.”

Semien and Johnson join 13 other players – Xavier Nady, Mike Tonis, John Baker, Conor Jackson, Brian Horwitz, Brandon Morrow, Brennan Boesch, Allen Craig, Josh Satin, Tyson Ross, David Cooper, Brett Jackson and Jeff Kobernus – who have made it to the Big Leagues since Esquer began mentoring the Bears in 2000.

St. Louis first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig (2003-06) was a 2013 National All-Star earlier this summer and in 2011 helped lead the Cardinals to the World Series title. He is currently batting .315 with 29 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs and 97 RBI this season. Craig’s 97 RBI are third in the National League, and on Aug. 26 he hit his first Major League grand slam.