June 6, 2012
In the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft today left-handed pitcher Kyle Helisek (Cranberry Township, Pa.) was chosen by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 30th round. He is the first Villanova player ever to be drafted by the Cardinals and the team's 63rd draft pick all-time.
Helisek was one of the most durable pitchers in school history and in his four years pitching for the Wildcats was a fixture in the starting rotation each year. He concluded his collegiate career ranked sixth in school history in innings pitched and graduated from Villanova last month.
"This is an exciting day for Kyle and for the Wildcats program," Villanova head coach Joe Godri said. "Kyle was an integral player for us and I am thrilled that he will have the chance to begin his professional career with the Cardinals. Kyle pitched a number of big games for us and he is ready for this opportunity."
Over the past four years Helisek pitched in 55 games for the Wildcats, making 45 starts and logging 270 1/3 innings pitched. His career totals included two complete games, 11 wins, one save and 148 strikeouts. As a senior this season he started 12 of his 15 appearances and had three wins while striking out 40 batters in 66.0 innings.
Helisek finished his senior season on a strong note, holding opponents to a .220 batting average against him over his final four starts. In those four starts Helisek pitched 22 2/3 innings and allowed 18 hits with 15 strikeouts. He began the stretch by throwing 5 2/3 innings of three-hit ball with just one earned run allowed at USF on April 27 and pitched Villanova to a 3-2 win in the opener of a three-game series.
Professional teams that evaluated Helisek during his career, and especially this season, saw a polished left-handed pitcher with good velocity and above average secondary pitches. Helisek also fields his position extremely well and had 14 career pickoffs.
"Kyle has the pitches he needs to succeed at the next level," Godri said. "He is durable, consistent and for a left-handed pitcher like him the sky is the limit. I am very confident that if Kyle continues to build on his potential he will be around in the pro ranks for a long time."
This year continues an impressive tradition that the Wildcats have had with the First-Year Player Draft and Helisek is the 55th player to be chosen from the Villanova program. These 55 players have been selected 63 times in the draft and 34 of those picks have been used on pitchers. With the selection of Helisek this season the Wildcats have had at least one draft pick in 10 of the last 11 years and 20 total picks in this span.
In addition to developing professional players within its program Villanova has also attracted professional caliber talent at the scholastic levels. This season, as in past years, the Wildcats had an incoming player selected in the draft.
Villanova currently has six former players active in the professional ranks, including Jordan Ellis (Philadelphia Phillies), Mike Francisco (Milwaukee Brewers), Mike Loree (Long Island Ducks), Kyle McMyne (Cincinnati Reds), Brian Streilein (Houston Astros) and Matt Szczur (Chicago Cubs).