NEW YORK, NY - Iona College baseball graduate IF/OF Chris Burke was selected by the San Diego Padres as the 555th pick in the 18th round of the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft this afternoon. Burke becomes the 24th Iona player to be selected in the draft since its inception in 1965.
The last Iona player drafted was former catcher and current pitching coach James LaSala 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.
Iona has had four players appear in a major league game, all pitchers including current St. Louis Cardinals' closer 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. Iona's first ever major leaguer was RHP Vito Valentinetti, a five-year veteran that played for five different teams from 1954-1959.
Burke was named the 2012 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference player of the year on May 23. Burke contended for both overall and conference games triple crown this season hitting .351 with 11 home runs and 50 RBI in 53 games played and .409 with five home runs and 26 RBI in 23 MAAC contests. Overall, he finished fourth in hitting, second in RBI and second in home runs among MAAC performers. His 72 hits, 44 runs scored, 20 doubles, 127 total bases led the league while his .620 slugging percentage was second and 23 stolen bases ranked fourth.
In MAAC contests, Burke led the league in hitting by 34 points, and finished second in home runs and RBI. His 38 hits (five more than Rider's Adam Wayman), 10 doubles, 63 total bases, and .677 slugging percentage (90 points higher than Niagara's Ryan McCauley) were all conference bests.
In the Iona single season record book this year, Burke's performance ranked second in hits and at bats, third in games played, fourth in RBI, fifth in doubles, seventh in stolen bases, ninth in home runs, and 14th in runs scored.
Burke completed a remarkable career in the Top 10 in virtually every offensive category. He is Iona's all-time leading hits man (226) and ranks second in games played (188), at bats (689), runs batted in (138), and stolen bases (52). Burke is third in doubles (47) and home runs (31), fourth in runs scored (137), ninth in slugging percentage (.540) and 10th in bases on balls (73). His .328 career batting average ranks 14th in school history.
Burke is the first Iona performer to earn the award since Wil Pikolycky in 2000.