Three members of the 2008 Yale baseball team — which finished the season 20-24-1 (9-10-1 Ivy) and second in the Rolfe Division — were selected in last week’s 47-round Major League Baseball first-player draft.
Catcher/outfielder and Second-Team All-Ivy performer Ryan Lavarnway ’09 was the only Bulldog taken on the draft’s first day. The World Series champion Boston Red Sox selected the 2007 NCAA leader in batting average and slugging percentage in the sixth round (202nd overall).
Two senior pitchers followed Lavarnway and will be given a chance to chase the dream of playing in the majors. The San Francisco Giants selected Starter Brian Irving ’08 in the 17th round (507th overall), and closer Steve Gilman ’08 was picked in the 36th round (1,093rd overall) by the Detroit Tigers.
According to the Yale Athletics Web site and Sports Illustrated, Lavarnway will forego his senior season and report to Fort Myers, Fla. to begin his professional career once his season-ending wrist injury heals. The University has assured him that he will be allowed to return at a later time to earn his degree.
Lavarnway leaves the program as arguably the school’s greatest slugger. The converted catcher set school records in home runs (14) and RBIs (55) in a season and home runs in a career (33).
Irving turned out to be the staff ace, compiling a 4-3 record to go with a 3.59 ERA and an Ivy-leading 59 strikeouts.
The Hamden, Conn., native’s first professional stint will begin when he reports to the Giants’ training facility in Scottsdale, Ariz. He will then play for either Rookie League Arizona Giants or the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes of the short-season Class A Northwest League.
2008 captain Gilman was a unanimous First Team All-Ivy selection. The converted closer averaged a strikeout an inning and allowed just three earned runs all season, posting a 1.00 ERA.
Gilman will either be assigned to the Gulf Coast Tigers — Detroit’s Rookie League team — or the Oneonta Tigers of the short-season Class A New York-Penn League.
A total of 25 Elis have been drafted during head coach John Stupor’s tenure over the past 16 years. Lefthanded pitcher and former captain Craig Breslow ’02, a reliever for the Minnesota Twins, is currently the only Eli in the majors.