NEW YORK, NY - Iona College baseball rising junior RHP Mariano Rivera was selected by the New York Yankees as the 872nd pick in the 29th round of the 2014 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft this afternoon. Rivera is the 25th Iona player to be selected in the draft since its inception in 1965.
Rivera - the son of the future Hall of Famer with the same name - is not the first Gael to be selected by the Yankees. Former catcher and Iona pitching coach James LaSala went in 2006. LaSala was selected as the 1,331th pick (44th round) by the New York Yankees. He played two seasons in the organization appearing in 27 games behind the plate and at first base. LaSala most notably served as Roger Clemens' bullpen catcher in Tampa during his heavily publicized media workout after resigning with the Yankees in 2007.
Former Iona IF/OF standout Chris Burke was the last player to be selected in the MLB Draft. He was the San Diego Padres as the 555th pick in the 18th round two years ago.
Iona has had four players appear in a major league game, all pitchers including current St. Louis Cardinals' reliever Jason Motte. Motte recorded the final out to lead the Cardinals to a 2011 World Series championship. LHP Mike Bertotti appeared in 28 games for the Chicago White Sox from 1995-97. Kansas City Royals' Hall of Fame starter RHP Dennis Leonard is the most prolific major league performer having appeared in 312 games and 302 starts from 1974-86. Leonard won 20 games in three seasons, 1977, 1978 and 1980 and was the first Iona performer to appear in a World Series game. The Gaels' first ever major leaguer was RHP Vito Valentinetti, a five-year veteran that played for five different teams from 1954-1959.
Rivera has played two seasons for the Maroon & Gold since enrolling in the spring of 2012. As a red shirt freshman in 2013, Rivera served as Iona's primary weekday starter, tossing 11 contests and 36 innings pitched. As a sophomore in 2014, Rivera emerged as the Gaels top weekend starter earning two wins while making 12 starts. He struck out 50 batters in 70 innings pitched.
He is currently pitching his summer ball with sophomore teammate Matt Byrne in the NECBL with the Laconia Muskrats.