June 18, 2005
Former Notre Dame first baseman Matt Edwards (Mechanicsville, Va.) recently signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, reporting to a one-week training camp in Clearwater, Fla. Edwards – the 16th-round selection of the Philadelphia Phillies in the June 7 Major Leage Draft – is set to begin his professsional baseball career next week as a member of the Batavia (N.Y.) Muck Dogs in the single-A New York-Penn League.
Edwards – who had the option of returning for a fifth year of eligibility in 2006 – becomes the 41st player during the Paul Mainieri era at Notre Dame (’95-’05) to move on to professional baseball and is one of 16 former Irish players currently active in pro ball. The others include three Major Leaguers – pitchers Aaron Heilman (N.Y. Mets) and Brad Lidge (Houston Astros) and infielder Craig Counsell (Milwaukee Brewers) – plus triple-A pitchers Danny Tamayo (Omaha Royals) and Chris Michalak (LHP; Tucson Sidewinders/Diamondbacks affiliate) and three playing on the double-A level: outfielders Steve Stanley and Brian Stavisky (teammates on the A’s affiliate, Midland Rockhounds) and pitcher Christian Parker (Tulsa Drillers/Rockies).
Other Notre Dame players currently active in pro baseball include: 3B Matt Macri (Modesto Nuts/Rockies), RHP Chris Niesel (Lake County Captains/Indians), C Paul O’Toole (Daytona Cubs), 2B Steve Sollmann (Brevard County Manatees/Brewers), IF Brant Ust (Wilmington Blue Rocks/Red Sox), C Javi Sanchez (Beloit Snappers/Twins) and RHP Grant Johnson (Peoria Chiefs/Cubs).
Note: look for an statistical update on the ND players in pro ball later this summer (including photos, when available) … also see the June 4 game notes from the NCAA Regional (PDF) for stats of each ND alum at that time (via the following link: http://und.collegesports.com/sports/m-basebl/spec-rel/060405aaa.html).
The signing of Edwards officially ends the careers of Notre Dame’s 2002 freshman class that was ranked by Baseball America as the best recruiting class in the nation. Three of those players (Johnson, Macri and Niesel) signed pro contracts after their junior seasons in 2004 while Edwards joins pitchers John Axford, Scott Bickford and Tyler Jones and DH Brent Weiss as the members of that class whose careers concluded with the end of the ’05 season.
Edwards (political science) and his four 2005 classmates each graduated in May, maintaining the program’s stellar graduation rate. All 63 four-year players in the Mainieri era have graduated while the 11 who have signed after their junior season have returned to complete or near completion of their degree requirements.
Axford wa a 42nd-round pick by Cincinnati in the ’05 MLB draft and is hopeful of signing with the Reds later in the summer.
“One of my major goals when I came to Notre Dame was to get my degree,” said Edwards, who missed most of his freshman season in ’02 due to a broken leg suffered in the ninth game of the season.
“After the season ended, I talked with my parents and coach Mainieri and we decided that if I wanted to play pro ball this was the time to do it. My age played a lot into it and I probably would not have gone as high in next year’s draft.
“I want to thank the coaches for letting me come and play with the Notre Dame program. It was a great experience playing at Notre Dame and it has made me a better player. I know that it’s an experience that will help me through my years in pro ball, hopefully many years.”
Edwards was the first active Notre Dame baseball player to be selected by the Phillies, in the 41-year history of the MLB draft. Incoming shortstop Steve Verduzco was a 5th-round pick of the Phillies in 1991 before joining the Notre Dame program.
One of seven Notre Dame players ever to earn first team all-BIG EAST Conference honors in multiple seasons (’03 and ’05), Edwards ranks as one of the top power hitters and run producers in the program’s history – owning the 5th-most career RBI (195) in the ND record book while also ranking 6th in career home runs (34), 7th in doubles (51), 11th in hits (244) and walks (106), and 17th in batting average (.345).
Edwards finished as the BIG EAST leader in 2005 for overall RBI (68; 12th in ND history) and walks (46; 7th ND history) while ranking 2nd in home runs (14; 9th ND history) and total bases (147; 10th ND history), 3rd in hits (82), 4th in slugging pct. (.645) and OPS (1.112 on-base plus slugging), runs (60) and doubles (21; 7th ND history), 6th in on-base pct. (.467) and 11th in batting avg. (.353). He led Notre Dame in eight of those categories – slugging, home runs, RBI, runs, hits, doubles, walks and total bases – while also ranking 2nd on the team in batting avg. and on-base pct. and 5th in stolen bases (7). Edwards joined freshman 2B/3B Brett Lilley as the only Irish players to start all 63 games in ’05 (SS Greg Lopez was only other to play in all 63).
The only Notre Dame player since 1998 to hit three home runs in a game (vs. Western Michigan, on March 29, 2005), Edwards also joined former teammate Matt Macri as one of just three Notre Dame players ever to reach 80 hits and 40 walks in the same season (82 H, 46 BB, in ’05). He started his career with the Irish as a shortstop and was the starting third baseman for most of the ’03 season before playing mostly first base in ’04 and ’05.
An updated bio. capsule on Edwards follows below (also see preseason bio. for pre-2005 data, linked via the baseball roster page at und.com).
Matt Edwards Updated Career Bio. (2005 Senior, 1B/3B; Mechanicsville, VA/Lee-Davis HS; 6-2/225, Bats/Throws: Right) – became seventh ND player to earn 1st team all-BIG EAST honors in multiple seasons (’03 and ’05) … … first ND player to earn 1st team all-BIG EAST honors at 1B … finished as the BIG EAST leader in overall RBI (68) and walks (46) while ranking 2nd in home runs (14) and total bases (147), 3rd in hits (82), 4th in slugging pct. (.645), runs (60) and doubles (21), 6th in on-base pct. (.467) and 11th in batting avg. (.353) … his 1.112 OPS (on-base plus slugging) ranked 4th among all BIG EAST players … in conference games only, he finished 4th among BIG EAST players in doubles (8), 5th in RBI (20), 6th in walks (15) … finished as ND team leader in eight categories: slugging pct. (.634), home runs (14), RBI (68), runs (60), hits (82), doubles (21), walks (46) and total bases (147) … joined freshman 2B/3B Brett Lilley as only players to start all 63 games (SS Greg Lopez was only other to play in all 63) … also ranked 2nd on team in batting avg. (.353) and on-base pct. (.467) and 5th in stolen bases (7) … led team with 25 multiple-hit games (2 w/ 4 hits, 5 w/ 3 hits) and 17 multi-RBI games (1 w/ 5 RBI, 2 w/ 4 RBI, 6 w/ 3 RBI) … his other ’05 stats included 6 times hit-by-pitch, 36 strikeouts, a triple and 14 errors (.972 fielding pct.) … led team in 2-out RBI (22) and leadoff on-base pct.(.581) … also ranked 2nd on team in batting vs. both righthanded pitchers (.356) and LHPs (.345), plus 3rd in batting with runners on base (.362), in scoring position (.337) and with 2 outs (.320) … hit 3-for-8 with the bases loaded … delivered the RBI 63% of the time with a runner on 3rd and fewer than 2 outs (17-of-27) … named MVP of 2005 BIG EAST Tournament, after batting 5-for-13 with 4 RBI (5 R, HR, 2 2B, BB, 3 Ks, SB, E), including a 2-run HR and RBI double in the 11-4 title game vs. Pittsburgh … hit a combined .250 (11-for-44) in ’03-’05 NCAA Regional play (12 GS, 8 RBI, 2 HR, 5 R, 3B, 2 2B, 6 BB, 16 Ks) … ranked 2nd on team with .529 batting in final week of ’05 regular season (9-for-17, 5 RBI, 5 R, 2 2B, 7 BB, 2 Ks, SB, 2 Es) … hit .329 in ’05 BIG EAST regular-season games (20 RBI, 2 HR, 8 2B, 15 BB) … ranks 5th in ND history with 195 career RBI, 6th with 34 HRs, 7th with 51 doubles, 11th with 244 hits and 106 walks, and 17th with a .345 career batting avg. … his other career stats include 1,228 putouts (5th in ND history), 151 runs, 4 triples, 405 total bases, a .572 slugging pct., 20 HBP, 121 Ks, .438 on-base, 3 sac. bunts, 15-20 SB, 708 at-bats and a .976 fielding pct. in 195 GP (192 GS) … 4th ND player with 80-plus hits and 40-plus walks in same season (Matt Macri, in ’04, was first to do so since 1989) … had rare stretch of 12 straight games with at least one walk (21 total BB) from April 29-May 18, ultimately drawing 23 walks in final 15 games of regular season … posted his second 4-hit game of ’05 in regular-season finale, vs. West Virginia (RBI, R, 2B, SB) … ranked 3rd on ’05 team with +16 plate-discipline ratio (46 BB + 6 HBP – 36 Ks) … owns a .400 career batting avg. with 12 RBI in BIG EAST Tournament play (16-for-40, 2 HR, 3 2B, 6 BB) … ranked 3rd on ’05 team with .303 batting in all road games (35 RBI, 7 HR, 11 2B, 23 BB) plus team-best .420 in ’05 home games (33 RBI, 7 HR, 3B, 10 2B, 23 BB) … made 55 starts at 1B and 10 at 3B (plus a DH start) while batting in 3-hole for first 50 games, then in cleanup spot during final 13 games … has logged 86 consecutive starts with the Irish and has played in 186 of 189 games during the past three seasons (starting 184), since returning from broken leg that halted his freshman season early in ’02 … first ND player since ’98 to hit 3 HRs in a game (vs. Western Michigan on 3/29; 6 RBI, 2 IBB) … launched grand slam vs. Texas-San Antonio and homered next day vs. Southwest Missouri, as part of all-tournament performance at the 2005 Alamo City Irish Baseball Classic … had rare HR at 5th/3rd Bank Ballpark in Grand Rapids, vs. Michigan (3 BB, 3 R, SB) … delivered from cleanup spot in 21-1 win at Pittsburgh (2-for-4, 4 RBI, R, 2B, BB) and in 13-6 upset of #17 USC (2-for-3, R, 2 BB) … hit 4-for-4 vs. Toledo (3 RBI, 2 R, HR, SB) … homered in opener vs. Florida A&M (RBI, 4 R, 2B, BB, HBP) … his 8-for-17 Dayton series included HR in 10-2 win (2 RBI, 3 R) … added HRs at Evansville and in game-2 vs. Georgetown … his 5-for-11 series vs. UConn included HR to dead-center field in series finale … helped secure 7-7 tie in season finale vs. Villanova (3-for-5, 3 RBI, R, 2 2B, BB) … his other HR in ’05 came vs. Ball State.