June 8, 2006

Wednesday’s second and final day of the Major League draft saw two more Notre Dame baseball players be selected by big-league teams, bringing the total to five Irish players who were picked in the 2006 MLB draft (one shy of the ND program’s record). Senior lefthanded pitcher Tom Thornton (Middleboro, Mass.) was the 21st-round selection of the Detroit Tigers while the Toronto Blue Jays drafted another Notre Dame senior, shortstop Greg Lopez, in the 33rd round. The 2006 draft marked the first time that three Notre Dame pitchers (also juniors Jeff Samardzija and Jeff Manship) have been selected in the same draft while the three senior draft picks (also first basemen Craig Cooper) matched the most in the program’s history. Samardzija was the 5th-round selection of the Chicago Cubs and Manship went in the 14th round to the Minnesota Twins while Cooper was picked in the 7th round by the San Diego Padres.

(Note: Updated bio. capsules on each of the draft picks will be posted on und.com later today, as will quotes from some of the recent draftees … also see the below releases for bio. info. on soem of the draftees, in addition to the pre-NCAA Tournament notes: http://und.cstv.com/sports/m-basebl/spec-rel/060206aab.html … http://und.cstv.com/sports/m-basebl/spec-rel/060606aag.html … http://und.cstv.com/sports/m-basebl/spec-rel/060106aac.html … photos of the draft picks will be added to this release later today).

SUPER SENIORS – This marks just the fourth time in Notre Dame history (but third time this decade) that three seniors have been selected in the MLB draft … also of note is the fact that none of the three (Cooper, Thornton and Lopez) had been drafted at any time previously in their baseball careers … the other seasons with three senior draft picks are as follows:

* 1993 – LHP Chris Michalak (12th round, A’s); RHP David Sinnes (19th round, Blue Jays); OF Eric Danapilis (23rd round, Tigers)
* 2001 – RHP Aaron Heilman (1st round, Mets); RHP Danny Tamayo (10th round, Royals); SS Alex Porzel (13th round, Red Sox)
* 2002 – CF Steve Stanley (2nd round, A’s); 3B/C Andrew Bushey (15th round, Rockies); C Paul O’Toole (21st round, cubs)

TALENTED THREE-MAN ROTATION – Each member of ND’s typical three-man rotation during the 2006 season was selected in the MLB draft … that marked the first time in the program’s history (dating back to the start of the draft, in 1965) that three Irish pitchers have been selected in the same Major League draft.

MAINIERI-ERA YIELDS 36 DRAFTED PLAYERS – The 12-year Paul Mainieri era at Notre Dame now has produced 36 players who have been selected in the Major League draft (counting each player once, with seven being drafted twice during their ND careers) … there also have been 12 previous Mainieri-era players who went on to pro ball as free-agent signees (TBA for ’06) … the drafting of Jeff Samardzija and Craig Cooper means that 18 players in the Mainieri era have been picked in the first 10 rounds while Samardzija is the program’s eighth player to be selected in the 1st-5th rounds.

FIVE PICKS AMONG MOST IN ND HISTORY – The only other Notre Dame teams that have produced five or more draft picks have been in 2001 and 2004:

2001 (6) – RHP Aaron Heilman (1st round, Mets); RHP Danny Tamayo (10th round, Royals); SS Alec Porzel (13th round, Red Sox); RF Brian Stavisky (33rd round, Cubs); C Paul O’Toole (48th round, Giants); CF Steve Stanley (50th round, Marlins) … Stavisky, O’Toole and Stanley all returned for the 2002 College World Series season
2004 (5) – RHP Grant Johnson (2nd round, Cubs); 3B Matt Macri (5th round, Rockies); RHP Chris Niesel (9th round, Indians); 2B Steve Sollmann (10th round, Brewers); C Javi Sanchez (14th round, Twins)
Note: technically, the 1996 team had five players drafted but the fifth player (Mike Amrhein) was taken in the 99th round (that was before they cut it back to the current 50 rounds)

RARE PITCHER/POSITION PLAYER COMBO – The only time that ND has had a pitcher AND position player drafted higher than Jeff Samardzija and Craig Cooper (i.e. both before 7th round) was in 2004: RHP Grant Johnson (2nd, Cubs) and 3B Matt Macri (5th, Rockies) … there were only 22 teams (out of nearly 300 in Division I) that had at least one pitcher and one position player picked in the ’06 draft before Cooper went to the Padres (listed in order): Texas, TCU, Long Beach State, Miami, California, USC, Oregon State, Rice, Georgia Tech, Arizona State, Fresno State, San Diego State, Texas Tech, Virginia Commonwealth, Mississippi, Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Indiana State, UC Riverside and Southern Illinois.

THREE DAY-1 PICKS -Samardzija-Cooper-Manship going 5-7-14 marked the 13th time that 3-plus ND players have been picked in the same draft … it is just the sixth time in Notre Dame history (fourth time in the past six years) that 3-plus players have been selected in the first 15 rounds … others include:
1965 (3) – C Ken Plesha (1st round, White Sox); LHP Ed Lupton (8th round, Senators); and LHP Dan McGinn (12th round, Cardinals)
1992 (3) – RHP Pat Leahy (6th round, Marlins); SS Craig Counsell (11th round, Rockies); LHP Chris Michalak (15th round; A’s)
2001 (3) – RHP Aaron Heilman (1st round, Mets); RHP Danny Tamayo (10th round, Royals); SS Alec Porzel (13th round, Red Sox)
2002 (3) – CF Steve Stanley (2nd round, A’s); OF Brian Stavisky (6th round, A’s); 3B/C Andrew Bushey (15th round, Rockies)
2004 (5) – RHP Grant Johnson (2nd round, Cubs); 3B Matt Macri (5th round, Rockies); RHP Chris Niesel (9th round, Indians); 2B Steve Sollmann (10th round, Brewers); C Javi Sanchez (14th round, Twins)

MORE WITH FOUR – The addition of Thornton marked the sixth season (also 1992, ’96, 2001, ’02 and ’04) that 4-plus ND players had been drafted … the 2004 group listed in the above note (5) is the only time in ND history that four or more ND players have been drafted in the first 20 rounds while the 2002 draft class matches the 2006 with four picks in the first 21 rounds (Stanley, Stavisky, Bushey and C Paul O’Toole, in the 21st round to the Cubs) … thus, only the foursome of Johnson-Macri-Niesel-Sollmann has been drafted quicker than Samardzija-Cooper-Manship-Thornton.

LONE PADRE – The 41 previous Major League drafts had seen Notre Dame players (including incoming signees who ended up playing for the Irish) picked in the draft or signed as free agent a total of 120 times … despite that high number of draftees/signees, none of the Irish players had been drafted or signed by the San Diego Padres until senior 1B Craig Cooper became their 7th-round pick in this week’s 2006 draft … all 30 of the current Major League teams now have drafted or signed at least one Notre Dame player (see list below).

CUBS TOP LIST – Notre Dame players (including the incoming signees who joined the Irish) now have been drafted or signed as a free agents a total of 125 times and the Cubs have drafted/signed the most ND players from that group (11) … next on the list are the Dodgers (10), followed by the White Sox (9), Blue Jays (8), Tigers (8), Twins (7), Expos (5) and A’s (5) … in addition to having a player drafted/signed by the Padres for the first time, Notre Dame also had players picked by four of the top-six on the above list (Cubs, Blue Jays, Tigers and Twins) … teams that have drafted/signed an ND player (or incoming player/not including those who signed) four times include the Reds, Red Sox, Indians, Astros, Giants, Marlins and Yankees while those with three include the Rangers, Angels, Rockies, Mariners and Diamondbacks … the Braves, Pirates, Brewers, Phillies, Mets and Royals each have drafted/signed two ND players (the Cardinals, Orioles, Padres and old Washington Senators one each, plus one “co-op” free-agent signee).

CUBBY BEARS – Jeff Samardzija is the 11th different ND player (or incoming player who did not sign professionally) who has been drafted or signed a free-agent contract with the Chicago Cubs (all since 1996) … the others include the following: C Bob Lisanti (1996; free agent); C Mike Amrhein (1997; 10th round); 1B Jeff Felker (2000; free agent); RHP John Corbin (2000; free agent); OF Brian Stavisky (2001; 33rd round; draft-eligible sophomore/returned to ND); RHP Chris Niesel (2001; 46th round; HS senior); C Paul O’Toole (2002; 21st round); RHP Ryan Kalita (2003; 17th round); RHP Matt Laird (2003; free agent); and RHP Grant Johnson (2004; 2nd round).

TIGER TOWN – Tom Thornton becomes the eighth ND player/incoming player to be drafted/signed by the Detroit Tigers … the others: SS Pat Pesavento (1989; 17th round); OF Eric Danapilis (1993; 23rd round); CF Scott Sollmann (1996; 7th round); 1B/C George Restovich (1996; 17th round); IF Brant Ust (1999; 6th round); LHP Tim Kalita (1999; 7th round); and OF Kris Billmaier (2003; free agent).

SOARING WITH THE JAYS – Greg Lopez is the eighth associated with the Irish to be signed/drafted by the Toronoto Blue Jays, joining: SS Pat Pesavento (1988; 11th round; returned to ND); RHP Pat Leahy (1989; 16th round; HS senior); RHP Larry Mohs (1993; 11th round; HS senior); RHP David Sinnes (1993; 19th round); OF Allen Greene (1995; 52nd round; HS senior); C Jeff Wagner (1998; 50th round; returned to ND); and RHP Scott Cavey (2000; 23rd round).

TWIN KILLINGS – Jeff Manship follows six previous ND players who were Minnesota Twins drat picks or signees: RHP Robert Bentley (1966; 30th round; returned to ND); SS Joe Theismann (1971; 39th round; did not sign/played in NFL); 1B Dan Leatherman (1998; free agent); RHP Aaron Heilman (2000; supplemental round between 1st and 2nd; returned to ND); IF/RHP Matt Macri (2001; 17th round; HS senior); and C Javi Sanchez (2004; 14th round).