BIG EAST Sets Record with 41 Players Taken in MLB First-Year Player Draft

It was a banner year for the BIG EAST in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, as 14 more BIG EAST players were selected on Wednesday to bring the total to a record 40 BIG EAST players taken this year. The previous record was 35 set last year. Connecticut led all BIG EAST teams with 10 players drafted, while Pittsburgh had four players selected on the final day. For the first time in the history of the conference, three BIG EAST players were selected in the first round. Connecticut junior outfielder George Springer was taken 11th overall by the Houston Astros, while junior teammate Matt Barnes was picked 19th overall by the Boston Red Sox. St. John's junior shortstop Joe Panik was taken 29th overall by the San Francisco Giants. Springer and Barnes became the first pair of BIG EAST teammates to be selected in the first round of the MLB Draft since 1989 when Seton Hall's Maurice (Mo) Vaughn and Kevin Morton also accomplished the feat. After being taken 11th overall, Springer is the highest selection in the history of the Huskies and is tied for the second-highest selection in the history of the conference. Only Seton Hall's Jason Grilli was taken higher when he was selected fourth overall in 1997. West Virginia's Chris Enochs also was taken 11th in the 1997 draft. Springer is the 21st first-round pick in the history of the conference. Barnes, the 2011 BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year, led the league in ERA (1.70), opposing batting average (.177), strikeouts (111) and wins (11). The junior tied the conference record with eight wins in BIG EAST play. An All-BIG EAST First Team selection, Panik is the first St. John's player to be taken in the first round since Craig Hansen in 2005. Panik led the conference with a .398 batting average, while also ranking first in runs scored (60) and on-base percentage (.509). The junior had 183 assists while committing just 14 errors on 283 total chances at shortstop. Twenty-three players were taken on the second day. Connecticut had six players selected on the second day, including shortstop Nick Ahmed, who was the highest BIG EAST player drafted on day two with the 85th overall pick to the Atlanta Braves. USF also five players drafted including four pitchers in righthanders Kevin Quackenbush, Jim Moran and Randy Fontanez, and lefty Junior Carlin. Infielder Jonathan Koscso was selected in the 29th round by the Tampa Bay Rays Louisville had three players taken on day two, with righthander Tony Zych going in the fourth round to the Chicago Cubs, second baseman Ryan Wright selected in the fifth round by the Cincinnati Reds and righthander Derek Self taken in the 27th round by the Oakland Athletics. Pittsburgh had four players selected on the final day of the draft. First baseman David Chester was taken in the 33rd round by the Boston Red Sox, outfielder John Schultz was selected in the 34th round by the Florida Marlins, infielder Travis Whitmore was drafted in the 35th round by the San Diego Padres and the St. Louis Cardinals took righthander Corey Baker in the 39th round. Here is a look at the BIG EAST players taken in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft: Rd/Pk. Player, Position, School Team 1/11 George Springer, OF, Connecticut Houston Astros 1/19 Matt Barnes, RHP, Connecticut Boston Red Sox 1/29 Joe Panik, SS, St. John's San Francisco Giants 2/85 Nick Ahmed, SS, Connecticut Atlanta Braves 4/129 Tony Zych, RHP, Louisville Chicago Cubs 4/145 Kyle McMyne, RHP, Villanova Cincinnati Reds 5/175 Ryan Wright, 2B, Louisville Cincinnati Reds 7/217 Brian Dupra, RHP, Notre Dame Washington Nationals 7/231 Kevan Smith, C, Pittsburgh Chicago White Sox 7/237 Raymond Black, RHP, Pittsburgh San Francisco Giants 8/263 Kevin Quackenbush, RHP, USF San Diego Padres 17/519 John Andreoli, OF, Connecticut Chicago Cubs