Notre Dame junior Eric Jagielo needed his best poker face Thursday night. He knew in advance where he would be headed next week to sign his first professional contract, but wanted the friends and families who gathered with him in the Chicago suburbs to sweat it out a little while longer.
Eric Jagielo is the fifth-highest draft pick in Notre Dame's program history.
The New York Yankees picked Jagielo with the 26th choice in the opening round of the MLB Draft. Jagielo is the fifth-highest pick in Notre Dame’s history and the highest since A.J. Pollock went 17th overall to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009.
“We all watched in my living room. I knew some more information that they did. I definitely kept it a secret. I wanted them to be a little more surprised than me,” he said.
The junior third basemen has until July 15 to sign a deal with the Yankees, but expects to have a contract ironed out well before then. He said he’ll stay at home until the end of the draft when he’ll fly to New York to sign his contract. The MLB slotted the value of the 26th pick this year at $1.839 million. Given the Yankees reputation, and the fact that Jagielo was the first player they took, he is likely to receive at least that much when he signs.
He said it was important for him to find a place where he could jump into the action right away. He thinks he will land with one of the Yankees’ farm teams in Staten Island or Tampa, Fla. in the coming weeks.
“That was a goal of everything to have a fit where I can sign quickly and just get in the organization and start working my way up and trying to make it to the end goal, which is playing at Yankee Stadium,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to be too hard for me to fit right into their system. The parallels with Notre Dame, they just have such a rich history in baseball. There’s so much tradition there. It’s such a different standard when you’re a Yankee.”
Jagielo came up three hits short of a .400 batting average in his final season with the Irish. He would have become just the 10th player to pass that milestone in Notre Dame’s history. His. 388 average was the second-best in the Big East this year, one point behind teammate Trey Mancini.
Jagielo won the Big East Player of the Year Award thanks in part to his league-leading slugging percentage and on-base percentage as well as his nine home runs and 53 RBI. He was also a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist.
“Eric is one of the most talented hitters that I’ve ever been around,” Notre Dame head coach Mik Aoki said in a statement released by the school. “The talent was readily apparent when I saw him for the first time. What I’m probably most proud of is that he’s worked so diligently to make the most of that talent. His selection today is a testament to that talent and hard work.”
Jagielo was a mainstay in the middle of the Irish batting order for all three season he played under Aoki. The coach moved him into the three-hole a couple weeks after both arrived on campus for the 2011 season and he stayed there for the majority of his career.
Fellow junior Dan Slania was the next Notre Dame player off the board. The San Fransico Giants took him in the fifth round with the 162nd overall pick. Mancini is also a potential candidate to hear his name called at some point this weekend. Aoki said he ultimately leaves the decision of whether to forego a senior season up to the players and their family, but he does try to give them some advice.
“I think what I’ve always tried to be there and say, ‘Look, I’m a resource for you if you want and depending on where it is that you get drafted and the amount of money that they’re offering you here’s the pros and the cons,’” he said in an interview last week.
If Mancini is offered enough of a contract to push him into the pros a year early, Aoki’s lineup will look significantly different heading into the 2014 season. Mancini and Jagielo have been as steady as they come as all-conference power hitters during the past couple of seasons. The Irish don’t have a pair of bats waiting in the wings to step in and replace them.
“I think the last time I gave Jagielo the bunt sign was last year in the Big East tournament. I’m not sure that I’ve ever given Trey the bunt sign. That changes,” Aoki said.
The draft resumes Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. and can be seen on the MLB Network.
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