RUTHERFORD, N.J. – After having one player drafted during the first 14 years of its baseball program, Felician College saw two of its student-athletes selected in the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Saturday.
Saturday was the third and final day of the draft, with rounds 11-40 scheduled. Felician left-handed pitcher Jerry Vasto (Atlantic Highlands, N.J./Henry Hudson Regional) was chosen in the 24th Round (No. 713 overall) by the Colorado Rockies. Fewer than two hours later, Golden Falcon corner infielder Scott De Jong (North Haledon, N.J./Eastern Christian) was plucked by the Los Angeles Dodgers in Round No. 32 (player No. 969).
By Saturday night, both players had signed their first professional contract, forgoing college eligibility in the process. Vasto was a redshirt junior in 2014, and De Jong a redshirt sophomore. They join Andre Randolph (47th Round, New York Yankees, 2003) as Felician players to be selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft. A complete list of former Golden Falcons to sign pro baseball contracts can be viewed at http://www.felicianathletics.com/sports/bsb/archive/pros.
"I'm very happy and excited for Jerry and Scott – they are both prime examples of hard work and determination paying off," said 11th-year Felician head coach Chris Langan. "I'm very happy for their families as well as the Felician Baseball family. The Rockies and the Dodgers have each acquired a quality young man, and I want to wish them both lots of luck on the start of their pro careers."
In 2014, Vasto and De Jong helped lead Felician (30-20, 15-5 CACC) to its first Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference championship and its first NCAA Tournament appearance. After posting a 6-3 record, a save, an earned-run average of 1.84 and a school-record 79 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings, Vasto was elected the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Pitcher of the Year, was a Consensus First-Team All-Region Selection, and was named a National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association Honorable-Mention All-American.
"I'm excited, but it really hasn't sunk in yet," Vasto said on Sunday. "Every kid that plays baseball dreams of this, but it wasn't until last year that I really thought it could happen. When I got the phone call, I was really pumped, and then the rest of the day was filled with texts and tweets saying congratulations. (Former teammate) Vic Monteagudo was in spring training with the Rockies this year, and he said they will make me better and I will enjoy the experience."
Vasto has been assigned to the Tri-City Dust Devils of Pasco, Wash., the Rockies' short-season Class A affiliate in the Northwest League.
De Jong batted .374 with seven home runs and 51 runs batted in this season for Felician. All three totals were the most by a Golden Falcon since the switch to wood bats in 2008, and he led NCAA Division II East Region in RBI. He was voted first-team All-CACC, first-team All-Region, and the New Jersey Collegiate Baseball Association Division II/III Player of the Year. De Jong played mostly first base in his two years with Felician, but also started a smattering of games at third base.
"This is a dream come true – there's no other way to say it," De Jong said. "After starting the day full of anxiety, when I finally got the news, I don't think I've ever been that happy before. Especially to be taken by a big name like the Dodgers – it's just amazing. I can't thank the coaching staff at Felician enough. I've known Chris Langan since I was 11 years old, and his brother, Steve, was my first hitting coach. I'm so grateful for all they've done for me."
De Jong expects to begin his professional career at the Dodgers' extended spring training program in Glendale, Ariz.