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June 7, 2013Left-handed hitting third baseman Eric Jagielo was selected by the New York Yankees with the 26th pick of the first round during Thursday night's Major League Baseball draft.
Jagielo, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior from Downers Grove, Ill., started all 170 games he played for the Irish and was a fixture in the No. 3 hole since his freshman season.
After clubbing 18 home runs his first two years with the Irish (13 in 2012) and hitting a combined .291 (.310 in '12), Jagielo took his game to another level in 2013, hitting .388 with nine home runs and 53 RBI to go along with a .633 slugging percentage and .500 on-base percentage.
In three seasons, he hit at a .321 clip with 201 hits, 47 doubles, 27 home runs and 124 RBI. His slugging percentage went from .418 as a freshman to .546 as a sophomore to .633 this past season while his on-base percentage also improved from .368 to .399 to .500.
"I'm having a great night," said Jagielo late Thursday when contacted at his home in Downers Grove. "I'm with my family and friends to celebrate all that it has come to and what else is in the future."
Irish teammates Charlie Markson and Ricky Palmer were part of the contingent gathered with Jagielo as they awaited his first-round selection. Mock drafts had him projected to New York with the 26th pick as the Yankees look for a long-term solution at third base.
"It's unbelievable to be selected by an organization like the Yankees," Jagielo said. "They have such great tradition, which is a great parallel with Notre Dame's tradition and rich history of winning.
"That was the first thing that went through my head when they picked me. To be a part of a top organization again, it's one of the same feelings you have at Notre Dame. You know that when you go on the field, you're going to have a target on your back and everyone will want to beat you."
Jagielo, a 50th round pick by the Chicago Cubs coming out of Downers Grove North High School, signed instead with the Irish, where he immediately began a path to stardom.
"I just came to college and figured I could only go up from there," Jagielo said. "I didn't have any goals in mind or what I thought could happen. I just wanted to go out (to Notre Dame) and get the best education I could. Fortunately, it led me to this spot."
Jagielo - who is expected to begin the process of finishing his Notre Dame management counseling degree in the Mendoza College of Business during the off-season - said he and his agent, Mark Rodgers, expect to have a deal with the Yankees finalized by next week. He also said he thought he'd be in uniform for the Single A Staten Island Yankees of the New York-Penn League.
"I've talked the scouting director in the organization and I've talked to (special assignment scout) Jim Hendry," Jagielo said. "They told me I'm hopefully there third baseman of the future. Hopefully I can work out a few things at third base to get to the defensive skill level they want me to and move up the system."
Make no mistake, Jagielo was tabbed for his hitting prowess, not his glove.
"That's the thing that's going to carry me to the next level, and hopefully I can adjust as quick or quicker than I did to college pitching," Jagielo said. "I'll just try to soak in all the information from the coaches and the players that have been a part of it, and then try to pick their brains and just go from there.
"Hopefully, I'll move up quickly. That's my plan. My next goal is to try to do something for the big league organization."
Irish head coach Mik Aoki was prepared for Jagielo's departure from the Irish.
"Eric is one of the most talented hitters that I've ever been around," Aoki said. "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 (Thursday) is a testament to that talent and hard work.
"Most importantly, though, he is a person of great character and integrity. He will represent himself, his family, the University of Notre Dame and his organization in an exemplary manner in what I hope will be a long, successful professional baseball career."
The draft continues Friday with rounds three through 10. Junior first baseman Trey Mancini and junior right-handed closer Dan Slania are potential draft picks for the Irish. Rounds 11 through 40 come Saturday when senior righthander Adam Norton and senior second baseman Frank DeSico hope to be drafted.
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