June 7, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame senior righthander Scott Cavey (Omaha, Neb.) was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 23rd round of the Major League First-Year Draft, following second and final-day selections on Tuesday.
Irish senior lefthanded-hitting first baseman Jeff Felker (Ellicott City, Md.) was not drafted but is scheduled to report to Mesa, Ariz., on Friday, June 9. Felker then is expected to sign a free-agent contract with the Chicago Cubs franchise and reportedly will begin playing next week with the Eugene, Ore., Emeralds of the Northwest League.
Cavey becomes the 50th Notre Dame baseball player to be selected in the Major League Draft, since its inception in 1965. Notre Dame players have been drafted a total of 65 times while 21 others have signed on as free agents after their Irish player career came to an end.
During the six-year tenure of Notre Dame head coach Paul Mainieri, a total of 32 players have been drafted or signed free-agent contracts. That number includes individuals who were Irish players at the time or who began their Notre Dame career the following fall (it does not include five other recent ND signees who were lost to the draft).
Irish junior righthander Aaron Heilman was selected with the 31st overall pick by the Minnesota Twins during Monday’s first day of selections while Notre Dame signee Bob Keppel (also a righthanded pitcher) was tabbed five picks later, by the New York Mets with the 36th overall pick.
CAVEY NOTES: Cavey turned in a stellar career at Notre Dame-particularly during his final two seasons-but often was overshadowed by higher-touted teammates on the Irish staff, including three-time All-American Heilman and 1998 first-rounder Brad Lidge (Houston, 17th pick) … the 6-5, 200-pound righthander posted a deceiving 4.58 ERA in 2000 but ranked third on the team in victories (6-3) … he also ranked 2nd on the staff in strikeouts (61, 17 of them “looking”), 3rd in innings pitched (70.2), games started (12) and low opponent leadoff on-base pct. (.342), 4th in low walks per nine innings (2.80) and 5th in low opponent batting avg. (.265) … his other 2000 stats included two relief appearances, two combined shutouts, 74 hits allowed, 22 walks, 24 extra-base hits allowed (19 doubles, four HRs), five wild pitches, four hit batters, one pickoff and 9-for-11 stolen bases against … Cavey earned three BIG EAST pitcher-of-the-week awards in his career (two in 2000), with his biggest of 2000 coming in the 8-5 game vs. nationally-ranked Wake Forest, in the Metrodome, at Minnesota’s Hormel Foods Classic on March 3 (6 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 4 BB, 7 Ks) … Cavey’s .790 career winning pct. (15-4) ranks among the best at Notre Dame in recent memory … as a junior, he posted a dominating 10-1, complete-game win at Rutgers (7 IP, 22 BF, 74 pitches, 2 H, 0 BBs, 2 Ks, 10 groundouts) … his career stats include a 4.20 ERA in 49 appearances (27 starts), with 138 Ks, 41 BB and 176 hits allowed in 165 IP (he averaged just 2.24 BBs/9 IP for his career) … he averaged 5.7 IP in his 12 starts during the 2000 season, with the following nine-inning averages as a starter: 7.7 Ks, 2.7 BB, 8.6 hits and 8.7 groundouts.
FELKER NOTES: Felker was one of five players named the 2000 NCAA Starkville Regional all-tournament team and finished third among Notre Dame everyday players with a .307 season batting average (70-for-228) … serving as the Irish cleanup hitter for much of the season, the 6-5, 190-pound lefthander ranked 2nd on the team in RBI (51), doubles (21, 6th-most in ND history) and sacrifice flies (7), 3rd in total bases (114), 4th in hits (70) , home runs (7) and at-bats (228), and 5th in slugging pct. (.500), runs scored (42), batting avg. with two outs (.291) and batting avg. with runners on base (.339) … he appeared in 60 of 64 games (all starts), with the Irish struggling in each of the four games that he missed (2-2) … his other 2000 stats included one triple, 14 walks, 29 strikeouts, a .340 on-base pct., one time hit-by-pitch and 2-of-5 stolen bases … Felker finished his career ranked 4th at ND in career games played (228), 3rd in starts (220, 2nd among three or four-year players, behind Craig Counsell’s 233 from `89-’92), 4th in at-bats (792), 6th in hits (246, moving past former classmate Brant Ust’s 243 total), 10th in triples (9), 3rd in doubles (59, two shy of the record held by `93 grad. Eric Danapilis) and 10th in times hit-by-pitch (16) … Felker amassed 1,411 putouts during his career, with his 524 putouts in 2000 ranking 3rd in ND history (his 393 in ’97 rank 8th and his 377 in ’99 rank 10th) … his other career statistics included a .311 batting average, 155 RBI, 148 runs scored, 23 home runs, 56 walks, 122 Ks and 15 stolen bases in 20 attempts (8-for-8 in ’97) … his ninth-inning, game-ending home run gave the Irish an emotional 9-8 win over St. John’s late in the 2000 season while another solo shot from the lanky lefthander forged an early 1-1 tie vs. Mississippi State in the NCAA regional title game (MSU won 10-9, on a home run in the 9th).
COMMON TEAM: Seven Notre Dame players have been drafted by Toronto (all since ’88), making the Blue Jays the third-most frequent team that has drafted Irish players or signed them as free agents (trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers, with nine, and the Chicago White Sox, with eight) … SS Pat Pesavento was selected by Toronto in the 11th round of the ’88 draft but returned to ND for his senior season (he was a 17th-round pick of Detroit in ’89) … RHP Pat Leahy was a 16th-round pick by the Blue Jays in ’89 before pursuing his career at ND (he went on to be a sixth-round pick by Florida in ’92) … another high school RHP, Larry Mohs, was an 11th-round pick of Toronto in ’93 before opting to join the Irish while the Blue Jays also drafted ND senior RHP David Sinnes in the 19th round of the ’93 draft … SS Allen Greene was a 52nd-round Toronto pick in ’95 before pursuing his career as an outfielder at ND (he later was a 9th-round pick of the N.Y. Yankees, in ’98). … finally, Toronto selected Irish catcher Jeff Wagner in the 50th round of the ’98 draft (he returned for his senior season and was a 21st-round pick of Anaheim in ’99) … Felker is just the third Irish player to be drafted or signed as a free agent by the Cubs (all in the last five years), with the others including catchers Bob Lisanti (free agent, ’96) and Mike Amrhein (10th rd, ’97).
DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD: If Notre Dame loses Heilman or Keppel to the draft, it will not be the first time that an Irish player-or a prospective one-has pursued his pro career with collegiate eligibility remaining … in fact, during the first five years of the Mainieri era, eight Irish players have been lost to the draft prior to their senior season while five ND signees have opted to ink professional contracts … the recent ND players who have left before their senior seasons include: OF Ryan Topham (4th rd, ’95, Chicago White Sox), RHP Garrett Carlson (free agent, ’95, Chicago White Sox), RHP Christian Parker (4th rd, ’96, Montreal), OF Scott Sollmann (7th rd, ’96, Detroit), RHP Brad Lidge (1st rd, ’98, Houston), OF Allen Greene (9th rd, ’98, N.Y. Yankees), SS Brant Ust (6th rd, ’99, Detroit) and LHP Tim Kalita (7th rd, ’99, Detroit) … the five recent ND signees who opted for an immediate pro career include: RHP Ryan Dempster (3rd rd, ’95, Texas), 1B A.J. Zapp (1st rd, ’96, Atlanta), OF Michael Restovich (2nd rd, ’97, Minnesota), C Camron Hahn (2nd rd, ’97, Houston) and RHP Pat O’Brien (36th rd , ’99, Pittsburgh).