Mariners select Elizabeth Forward grad Altavilla in 5th round
Dan Altavilla said thanks, but no thanks when the Seattle Mariners made an early morning call even before the third round of the Major League Baseball Draft started.
The Elizabeth Forward graduate and Mercyhurst junior right-hander told the Kansas City Royals the same thing.
It may have deterred the Royals, but not the Mariners.
The Mariners selected Altavilla in the fifth round (141st overall) of Friday's draft, making him the first player with WPIAL ties selected and the highest draft choice from Elizabeth Forward since Ralph Adams was taken with the third overall pick in 1983.
“When they said my name, it was such an exciting moment that it was almost breathtaking,” Altavilla said. “It was a great moment when I saw my name.”
Altavilla became the ninth player drafted from Elizabeth Forward and second in six years. J.J. Hoover was drafted in the 10th round by the Braves in 2008 and now is a reliever for the Reds.
“I am very proud of Danny,” Elizabeth Forward coach Frank Champ said. “He has always worked so hard to be the best that he can be, and I am so happy for him and his family. He is such a humble and respectful person, and he's going to have one heck of a career.”
Altavilla had stellar career at EF going 11-1 his senior year with a 0.57 ERA and 119 strikeouts in leading the Warriors to a 23-1 record and a WPIAL championship.
After spending a season in the bullpen at Mercyhurst, Altavilla went 5-5 his sophomore year before a stellar junior season that saw him be named the NCAA Division II Pitcher of the Year and an All-American as he went 9-1 for Mercyhurst.
Altavilla had five shutouts and a 1.23 ERA in 12 starts as he struck out 129 in 80 1⁄3 innings.
“This couldn't happen to a more deserving person,” Mercyhurst manager Joe Spano said. “Dan is one of the hardest-working athletes I have ever coached. He is a terrific teammate, a terrific pitcher, a terrific student ... he's the total package. I couldn't be happier.”
Altavilla was projected to be drafted somewhere in the seventh round so when he got a couple calls before Friday's draft even started, it surprised him.
“It is kind of overwhelming when you get a call like that when you just wake up,” Altavilla said. “You are like, ‘Holy cow this is happening so fast.' ”
The Mariners said they would draft him in the third round if he made a verbal agreement to sign. The Royals did, as well.
“It was so overwhelming at that point that we kind of held off at that point,” Altavilla said.
“We wanted to see what else was out there.”
Seattle contacted Altavilla again at the start of the fourth, but he heard nothing heading into the fifth.
“I was kind of anxious then,” Altavilla said. “They never really strayed away from me.”
Altavilla, who has been labeled as a reliever in the pros, likely will be sent to play short season Class A ball with Everett AquaSox.
“Right now, my goal is to be a starter,” Altavilla said. “I will do whatever is best for the Seattle Mariners organization.”