The 2012 Major League Baseball Draft concluded Wednesday and three Notre Dame products punched their professional tickets.
Irish junior catcher Joe Hudson was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the sixth round Tuesday to become the highest drafted ND player at that position since Ken Plesha was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the first round of the 1965 draft. Hudson, a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award and a second-team All-Big East Conference selection this season, led Notre Dame in hitting with a .332 batting average. He started 57 games in 2012 — the most by an Irish catcher since Paul O’Toole manned the plate in 65 games in 2002. Hudson finished with 39 runs, 14 doubles, a triple, six home runs and 39 RBI.
Hudson threw out 19 of 50 base runners for the Irish, which only allowed 32 stolen bases all season (best in the Big East). He was the 10th college catcher selected.
Senior right-handed pitcher Will Hudgins was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 22nd round Wednesday. A direct reflection of the kind of development players receive at Notre Dame, Hudgins is the 39th Irish player in the last 15 years to be selected despite going undrafted out of high school.
The All-Big East second team honoree made 63 appearances out of the bullpen over his first three years at Notre Dame. Hudgins went 5-3 with a conference-best 2.06 ERA as a weekend starter in his senior season. It was the first time an Irish pitcher concluded the season near the 2.00 mark since David Phelps, now with the New York Yankees, who posted a 1.88 ERA in 2007. Hudgins punched out 90 batters and walked 24 in 96.1 total innings. Opposing batters hit for a collective average of .233.
Hudgins led the Big East in fewest earned runs allowed (22) and finished tied for fourth in strikeouts, and made it to the seventh inning in over half of his 15 starts. Hudgins allowed one earned run or less in 10 of his last 14 outings and two earned runs or less in 12 of his 15 starts on the year.
Senior left-handed pitcher Steve Sabatino was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 26th round Wednesday, making it the 15th time in the last 18 years that Notre Dame produced three or more draft picks in a single year.
After missing the entire 2011 season following Tommy John surgery, Sabatino appeared in 27 games this past season and worked 35.2 innings en route to 34 strikeouts. He went 0-1 with a 5.05 ERA and limited his opposition to a .248 batting average.
Sabatino registered a 0.73 ERA in Big East play and limited his foes to a .163 batting average in 13 appearances.