Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft Begins Thursday Night
June 3, 2014
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The annual Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft begins with live coverage on MLB Network this Thursday evening and will continue on Friday and Saturday afternoons. Villanova baseball players have had a long and successful history in the draft and the current Wildcats roster features a number of potential pro prospects who have drawn the eye of scouts and talent evaluators from a number of teams.
Since the inception of the First-Year Player Draft in 1965, Villanova players have been drafted 65 times. Head coach Joe Godri just completed his 13th season at the helm of the Wildcats program. During his tenure there have been 22 draft picks from Villanova (2002-13), including at least one pitcher being selected in 11 of the last 12 years. In addition, the Wildcats have had four players chosen in the top five rounds of the draft during Godri's time as head coach. A number of Villanova recruits over the years have also been drafted out of high school and gone on to successful professional careers.
Even before the 2014 collegiate season began professional scouts were already at work identifying the Wildcats potential prospects for the professional baseball ranks. Villanova held its annual Scout Day workout towards the end of the fall season and professional scouts were regularly in attendance at games during the spring season.
Junior right-handed pitchers JB Kole (Basking Ridge, N.J.) and Max Almonte (Long Beach, N.Y.), along with junior left-hander Josh Harris (Streamwood, Ill.) and senior outfielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) are among the current Wildcats who have been identified as possible prospects for the draft.
The first two rounds of the draft, along with compensation rounds, will be held on Thursday night starting at 7 p.m. and will be televised live on MLB Network. Coverage continues on MLB.com on Friday at 1 p.m. with rounds 3-10 of the draft, while rounds 11-40 can also be heard on MLB.com beginning on Saturday at 1 p.m.
There are currently five former Villanova players active in the minor leagues, including 2010 fifth round selection Matt Szczur (Iowa Cubs) and 2011 fourth round pick Kyle McMyne (Bakersfield Blaze). Also active are 2012 30th round pick Kyle Helisek (Palm Beach Cardinals), 2013 13th round selection Pat Young (San Jose Giants) and 2013 27th round pick Tyler Sciacca (Schaumburg Boomers).
A total of 55 former Wildcats have reached the major leagues over a period of time that dates from the late 19th century to the current era. Villanova's first major leaguer was Denny Mack, who made his debut in 1871 for Rochester of the American Association and played for 13 years. The most recent major leaguer is current Wildcats pitching coach Kevin Mulvey, who was the New York Mets top draft pick in 2006 and made MLB appearances with the Minnesota Twins (2009) and the Arizona Diamondbacks (2009, 2010).
Below is a look at the Villanova players who have been mentioned by talent evaluators as possible pro prospects during the draft.
On Kole: True power pitcher who has as strong an arm as any pitcher on the Villanova staff ... Fastball regularly reaches the mid 90's and features late movement ... Also throws a sharp slider ... Has demonstrated success in both the starting rotation and in the late innings out of the bullpen during his collegiate career.
2014 Season: Appeared in 13 games with six starts ... Tied for the team lead with four victories and finished the year 4-3 with a 5.12 ERA ... Logged 38 2/3 innings and had 36 strikeouts (8.4 strikeouts per nine innings) ... Allowed 40 hits and held opponents to a .267 batting average ... Gave up just one home run to 185 batters faced. ... In his three-year collegiate career owns a 5-5 record and two saves in 37 games, including eight starts ... Has pitched 70 1/3 innings with 64 strikeouts (8.2/nine innings).
On Almonte: Strong right-handed pitcher with a fastball that reaches the low to mid 90's consistently ... Uses his curveball and other secondary pitches effectively and early in the count to attack hitters ... Has been a stalwart in the weekend starting rotation for Villanova.
2014 Season: Started all 12 of his appearances and logged 58 1/3 innings ... Faced 288 batters and did not allow a single home run ... Pitched into the sixth inning or later seven times and allowed three earned runs or fewer eight times ... In his Wildcats career appeared in 35 games with 29 starts ... Career totals include 149 1/3 innings pitched, 84 strikeouts and four wins ... Allowed three earned runs or fewer 21 times in his 29 starts.
On Harris: Big left-handed pitcher with an above average fastball and excellent secondary pitches, including a curveball which he consistently throws for strikes ... Can command all of his pitches at any point in the count ... Works effectively to both sides of the plate and is a fierce competitor on the mound ... Has been the anchor of the Wildcats weekend starting rotation for the past two seasons.
2014 Season: Appeared in 15 games with a team-high 14 starts ... Tied for the team lead with four victories and also led the pitching staff with 74.0 innings pitched and 52 strikeouts ... Pitched into at least the sixth inning on seven occasions and went at least seven innings three times ... Allowed three earned runs or fewer nine times ... Went a season-high eight innings and was the winning pitcher in a 6-3 decision over BIG EAST regular season champion Creighton ... In three seasons at Villanova has appeared in 41 games with 28 starts and one complete game ... Has logged 180 2/3 innings with 122 strikeouts and 10 wins.
On Jones: Five-tool player with tremendous power and plus speed ... Shows power to all fields ... Consistent hitter and an excellent base runner ... Outstanding defensive outfielder with a strong and accurate throwing arm ... Excelled in both right field and center field during his collegiate career ... A fixture in the middle of the Villanova batting order and the team's top power threat.
2014 Season: One of four players on the team who started in all 50 games ... Batted .272 with a .388 on-base percentage and a .441 slugging percentage ... Led the BIG EAST with seven triples, a total which is also tied for the second most in a single season in school history ... Tied for the team lead with four home runs and five stolen bases, while also leading the team with 33 walks ... Second on the team with 35 runs scored and 86 total bases ... Also had seven doubles and 29 runs batted in ... Committed just one error in 122 chances (.992 fielding percentage) in center field and had three outfield assists ... Played in a total of 180 games with 162 starts during his collegiate career ... Was a .257 career hitter with 159 hits, 29 doubles, nine triples and 10 home runs ... Had 101 runs batted in and 89 runs scored while drawing 83 walks ... Had a career .355 on-base percentage and a .382 slugging percentage ... Career .985 fielding percentage with 10 outfield assists.