RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Felician University junior right-handed pitchers Matt Blandino (Bristol, Conn./Bristol Central) and Brennan Price (Middlesex, N.J./Middlesex) were chosen in the 2016 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Saturday. They were the fourth and fifth players to be drafted from Felician in the 17-year history of the Golden Falcon program.
Saturday was the third and final day of the draft, with rounds 11-40 scheduled. Blandino was chosen in the 19th round, a Felician record, by the Cincinnati Reds. He was the 558th overall selection. Fewer than three hours later, Price was picked by the Milwaukee Brewers in round No. 29 (player No. 861).
Both Blandino and Price were true juniors in 2016 and in their first draft-eligible season of college baseball. They join Andre Randolph (2003) and Jerry Vasto and Scott De Jong (2014) as Felician athletes 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://felicianathletics.com/sports/bsb/archive/pros.
"Saturday capped off a really good year for Felician baseball," said Golden Falcon 13th-year head coach Chris Langan. "I'm very happy for both Matt and Brennan, and more importantly for their families and teammates who get to share in this occasion. I think these picks help show our growth as a program."
In 2016, Blandino and Price helped lead Felician (34-21, 16-4 CACC) to regular-season and tournament championships in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference and to its second NCAA Tournament appearance. Blandino, in his first year as a Golden Falcon, set program single-season records for starts (14), innings (100 2/3) and strikeouts (97). He had a 9-4 record and an earned-run average of 2.32, and yielded 79 hits and 16 walks.
"Matt is a strike-thrower and huge competitor," Langan said. "He works fast and always has the defense ready to back him. I think his sinker will allow him to move up the ranks in pro ball and allow him to either start or relieve."
Blandino, who led the CACC in wins and strikeouts, was named the conference Pitcher of the Year, and was a first-team Division II All-East Region selection by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association and the D-II Conference Commissioners Association. He was drafted by the Reds in the 33rd round out of high school in 2013, and transferred to Felician after two seasons at Division-I Central Connecticut State University.
"(Saturday) was an exciting day," Blandino said. "I've learned a lot about the game of baseball over the last three years, and I feel like I'm more ready to be a professional than I was out of high school. Hopefully things will fall into place because I'm ready to go."
Price pitched regularly for the first-time in 2016, logging 44 1/3 innings. He was 3-3 with a 5.48 ERA and a .242 opponent batting average, giving up 40 hits and striking out 42 batters. He is a three-time all-CACC and two-time all-region performer as a position player.
"It will take me a little while to get used to not hitting every day, but it's still baseball, I'll still be around it, and it will still be fun," Price said. "Playing professional baseball has been a dream of mine since I was five years old, but honestly, it hasn't sunk in yet. Everything is so surreal right now. The calls and texts from people who have supported me along the way have been wonderful. I'm just very, very happy."
In three years, Price garnered 141 hits, including 47 for extra-bases, and 105 RBI while playing first base and designated hitter for Felician. But, with a 6-foot-9, 265-pound frame and a fastball in the low-to-mid 90 mile-per-hour range, it was his potential to develop as a power pitcher that grabbed the attention of professional scouts.
"Brennan has literally been pitching for just a little more than a year," Langan said. "I think he will develop rather quickly and might touch 100 miles per hour. Aside from his big body, he has big heart and ability."