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June 11, 2012

Ivy League Sends 14 Baseball Players to Major League Baseball

Portions courtesy of Columbia Sports Information/Media Relations, Dartmouth Athletics Communications, Harvard, Penn and Princeton Athletic Communications and Yale Sports Publicity

Story updated after teams signed undrafted free agents

SECAUCUS, N.J. – Fourteen Ivy League baseball players representing Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Princeton and Yale were drafted or signed by Major League Baseball teams. The League saw 13 players get drafted in the MLB First-Year Draft, while another was signed as an undrafted free agent.

10th Round, 316th pick, Pittsburgh Pirates – Pat Ludwig (Yale, Sr., RHP)
11th Round, 352nd pick, Cincinnati Reds – Nolan Becker (Yale, Jr., LHP)

A pair of Yale hurlers were the first Ivies to be drafted, as Pat Ludwig (Okemos, Mich.) went to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 10th round and Nolan Becker (New York) was taken by the Cincinnati Reds in the 11th round.

Ludwig and Becker represent the 32nd and 33rd players, respectively, to move on to the professional ranks during head coach John Stuper's tenure at Yale. Their selection represents the eighth straight year in which a Yale player was selected in the draft.

Ludwig was the highest selected Yale player since the Boston Red Sox drafted catcher Ryan Lavarnway in the sixth round (202nd overall pick) in the 2008 Draft. In the 47-year history of the draft (1965), Ludwig is the seventh Yale player to be selected inside of the first 10 rounds. Becker was the eighth-highest selection to come from Yale in the draft's history.

Ludwig, who earned All-Ivy Second Team honors, led the League in strikeouts and strikeouts looking and was third in ERA, third in innings pitched and seventh in opposing batting average (.256). Becker took home All-Ivy Honorable Mention recognition after going 2-4 in 12 appearances and nine starts. He led the Bulldogs in opposing batting average, holding hitters to a stellar .238 average, which was second among Ivy League leaders. His 16 strikeouts in the final game against Brown marked a season-high for the Ivy League.

13th Round, 410th pick, New York Mets – Matt Bowman (Princeton, Jr., RHP)

Princeton hurler Matt Bowman (Chevy Chase, Md.) went next, going to the Mets in the 13th round. In 2012 Bowman split time between the mound and shortstop, earning All-Ivy Honorable Mention accolades at both positions. On the rubber, he went 4-2 with a 4.66 ERA. In nine starts over 56 innings of work, he boasted a pair of shutout victories and three complete games, while tallying 58 strikeouts and giving up only 17 walks. At the plate, Bowman batted .308 with 41 hits, 26 runs, 15 RBI, a pair of doubles, a triple and a home run in 33 starts.

14th Round, 429th pick, Houston Astros – Joe Sclafani (Dartmouth, Sr., SS)

Dartmouth shortstop Joe Sclafani (Palm City, Fla.) is the eighth Big Green player taken in the draft in the last seven years and 28th player overall chosen out of Dartmouth.

Sclafani earned All-Ivy honors all four years at Dartmouth, including first team accolades three times. The switch hitter is one of just 22 players in conference history to earn a spot on the All-Ivy First team three times. This spring he hit .288 while leading the team with 13 doubles, three triples, 32 runs scored and 27 walks, as well as two homers and 24 RBI from the leadoff slot in the lineup. In the field, he led the League's shortstops with a .955 fielding percentage and helped turn 22 of the team's 28 double plays.

Sclafani finished his career with his name littered among the all-time leaders at Dartmouth as well as the Ivy League. He recorded 220 hits (2nd at Dartmouth, 5th for Ivy), 19 triples (1st, 1st), 163 runs scored (2nd, 3rd), 100 walks (1st, 5th), 331 total bases (3rd, tied for 5th), 172 games played (1st, 11th) and 675 at-bats (1st, 2nd). One of the 30 players across the nation chosen as a Lowe's Senior CLASS Award candidate, Sclafani also was named to the watch list for the 2012 Brooks Wallace Award, given to the top shortstop in the country.

15th Round, 461st pick, Seattle Mariners – Dario Pizzano (Columbia, Jr., OF)

Columbia junior outfielder Dario Pizzano (Saugus, Mich.) is the 15th Columbia player to be selected in the amateur draft since it began in 1965 and the first since 2004 when Fernando Perez (seventh round, Tampa Bay Rays) and Jessen Grant (43rd round, St. Louis Cardinals) were drafted.

In 2012, Pizzano was selected as the Ivy League Player of the Year and was a unanimous first-team All-Ivy League honoree. He batted .360 during the season with four home runs, 16 doubles and 36 runs batted in. He drew 31 walks and struck out just 16 times during the season.

A three-time first team All-Ivy League outfielder, Pizzano was the Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Year in 2010 and is tied for the program record in home runs with 25, matched by former Major Leaguer Gene Larkin '84. During his three years at Columbia, Pizzano has batted .364 in 133 games. He ranks among Columbia's top ten in career batting average, slugging percentage (.647), on-base percentage (.448), doubles (43), home runs (25), runs batted in (108) and total bases (293).

15th Round, 469th pick, Oakland Athletics – Vince Voiro (Penn, Sr., RHP)

For the second time in two years, Vince Voiro (Cherry Hill, N.J.) heard his named called during the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, this time from the Oakland Athletics in the 15th Round.

Voiro was the 469th overall selection in 2012, a big jump from his 47th Round selection by the San Diego Padres (1,433 overall) in the 2011 Draft. Voiro finished his senior year with a 2.45 ERA and a 5-3 record over eight starts for the Red and Blue. Voiro led the Quakers in wins, ERA, innings (66.0), and strikeouts (59) on his way to honorable mention All-Ivy status.

Voiro is the ninth Penn selection by a Major League Baseball organization since 1991, and he becomes the first player since Ben Krantz (2003) to be chosen as high as the 15th Round. Last season, in addition to Voiro's selection by the Padres, Paul Cusick was chosen by the Philadelphia Phillies (29th Round), making this the first time since 2003-04 that Penn has had players chosen in consecutive MLB First-Year Player Drafts.

21st Round, 657th pick, Los Angeles Angels – Pat Lowery (Columbia, Sr., RHP)

Pat Lowery (Oakdale, Conn.) is the second Columbia player to be drafted in as many days, joining Pizzano. Lowery becomes the 16th Columbia player to be drafted since the inception of the amateur draft in 1965. Columbia also had two players drafted in the 2004 MLB Draft.

A first-team All-Ivy starting pitcher in 2012, Lowery had an outstanding senior season and earned his second All-Ivy first team honor. Lowery was the Ivy League Pitcher of the Year as a sophomore in 2010.

The ace of Columbia's pitching staff, Lowery posted a 3-1 record and a 1.80 earned run average in five starts during Ivy League play. His ERA of 2.35 was the lowest among Ivy League pitchers all season. Lowery totaled 46 strikeouts in 53 2/3 innings pitched and struck out 30 batters in 30.0 innings during league play. Opponents batted just .241 against the 6-5 right-hander and hit one home run against him all season.

23rd Round, 705th pick, San Diego Padres – Chris O'Dowd (Dartmouth, Jr., C)

Dartmouth catcher Chris O'Dowd (Cherry Hills Village, Colo.) joined Sclafani to give Dartmouth two picks in the same draft for the first time since 2008 when outfielder Damon Wright and left-hander Russell Young were taken in the 25th and 28th rounds, respectively.

O'Dowd became the second Big Green player taken in the draft this year, the ninth in the last seven years and 29th player overall chosen out of Dartmouth. The Big Green have had at least one player taken in the draft in each of the past five years, and head coach Bob Whalen has now had 17 players picked during his 23-year tenure.

A switch-hitting backstop with good speed, O'Dowd overcame a slow start to his 2012 campaign by hitting .300 over the final 17 games with a .417 on-base percentage, 18 runs and 12 RBIs. The son of Colorado Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd finished the season batting .239 with seven doubles, a triple and one home run while leading the team with eight stolen bases in nine attempts. For his career, he sports a .315 average in 116 games with 27 doubles, six triples, 14 home runs, 107 runs scored, 64 RBIs and 60 walks to account for his .408 on-base percentage and .505 slugging percentage. O'Dowd was an All-New England first-team pick as a sophomore and the Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Year in 2010.

31st Round, 965th pick, Milwaukee Brewers – Brent Suter (Harvard, Sr., LHP)
32nd Round, 970th pick, Minnesota Twins – Andrew Ferreira (Harvard, So., LHP)

Brent Suter (Cincinnati) led Harvard with 53.2 innings on the mound this year, scattering 52 hits for a career-best .359 batting average against while striking out 45 against just 15 walks. The former first-team All-Ivy selection finished his Harvard career with 11 victories on the mound with 192 strikeouts in 195.1 innings against just 54 walks.

A draft-eligible sophomore, Andrew Ferreira (Rehoboth, Mass.) allowed just 20 hits in 27.1 innings this season (.196 average) and struck out 35 batters although he also walked 28. Left-handed hitters were just 4-for-29 against Ferreira (.138) with one team removing its left-handed leadoff hitter mid-count against Ferreira in a late-inning situation this spring.  

33rd Round, 1,017th pick, Los Angeles Angels – Sam Mulroy (Princeton, Sr., C)

Sam Mulroy (Bethesda, Md.) showcased his versatility in 2012, playing behind the plate, in center field and at third base. A two-time All-Ivy First-Team selection, Mulroy led the Princeton offense with a .351 average, tallying 52 hits, 37 runs, 32 RBI, eight home runs, eight doubles and a triple. Mulroy, who is tied for second all-time in the Princeton record book with 25 home runs, also had a .990 fielding percentage.

37th Round, 1,144th pick, Detroit Tigers – Charlie Neil (Yale, Sr., OF)

Charlie Neil (Dallas) was a four-year starter for the Bulldogs and a four-year letterwinner in both baseball and soccer. He is the 34th player to move on to the professional ranks during Coach Stuper's tenure as Yale's head coach. The selection of Neil, Ludwig and Becker in the 2012 draft represents the eighth straight year in which a Yale player was selected in the draft.

In his four years with the Bulldogs, Neil made a total of 155 appearances with 144 starts for the baseball team, including 45 appearances, all starts, in his senior season. He closed out his senior season with a .224 batting average and a .297 on-base percentage, with 33 hits, including four doubles and two triples. His 18 RBI was tied for second-most on the team.

38th Round, 1,160th pick, New York Mets – Jeff Reynolds (Harvard, Sr., INF)

Jeff Reynolds (St. Petersburg, Fla.) turned in another typical spring at the plate for the Crimson. He matched his career .333 batting average and led Harvard in games started (42), at bats (162), hits (54), extra base hits (17) and runs batted in (24). Reynolds also hit .355 against righties. He batted over .300 all four seasons at Harvard, while starting 140 games. He amassed 177 hits in those games with 37 doubles, four triples and eight homers and 76 RBI.

Undrafted Free Agent, Arizona Diamondbacks - Brian Billigen (Cornell, Sr., OF)

Cornell senior Brian Billigen has signed a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks and will report to the team's minor-league camp Saturday in Phoenix.
 
Billigen was pivotal in leading the Big Red to its first League title since 1977 and its second-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament. He led the team in batting average (.361), triples (3), stolen bases (13) and RBI (40), leading to his second All-Ivy second team selection. In the team's postseason run, Billigen went 8-for-20 in five games with a team-high five RBI, including a two-run home run in the Big Red's NCAA Chapel Hill Regional opener against North Carolina. His career totals rank in the top 10 in program history in numerous categories, including total bases (295, second), home runs (20, T-third), triples (14, T-third), slugging percentage (.561, fourth), batting average (.337, sixth), stolen bases (38, sixth), hits (177, sixth) and RBI (106, seventh).