June 5, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State senior right-handed pitcher Tony Bucciferro was selected in the 14th round (No. 441 overall) of the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.
Bucciferro is the highest drafted Spartan pitcher since Josh Axelson was selected in the fifth round by St. Louis in 2000.
"I've been wanting this for my whole life," said Bucciferro. "I didn't know if it would ever come. Seeing my name up there was just unbelievable. I'm just so happy that it all worked out."
In addition to Bucciferro, junior third baseman Torsten Boss (eighth round, No. 252 overall) and red-shirt junior Ryan Jones (13th round, No. 418 overall) were selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday, giving MSU three picks in the top-15 rounds in the draft for the first time since 1987 and just the fourth time in school history (1969, 1972).
"It all happened so fast," Bucciferro said on the final frantic rounds of the second day of the draft in which names appear rapidly on the official MLB draft tracker. "I heard from a team that said they were going to take me near the 10th round, but then it didn't happen. Then I got really nervous. I was sitting around with my family and we were down because we thought we were going with this certain pick, and all of a sudden I get this call from the White Sox. I went to my computer and the White Sox were like four picks away. Right when the team before the White Sox was drafting, we were waiting for the White Sox because it was going so fast, and I get a phone call. I pick up my phone, and then my dad yelled. It was just crazy.
"It was an absolute roller coaster - up and down all day. I would get excited, and then I would go right back down. Some of the teams that were talking to me I thought were going to get me. The White Sox weren't talking to me as much as some other teams, so I had no idea. Then it just happened. It's a good experience, but I don't want to go through that again."
Voted a captain by his teammates, Bucciferro closed his career as the school's all-time leader in innings pitched (372.1) and starts (55), and he also ranks second in strikeouts (273) and tied for third in wins (26).
"Tony is an outstanding competitor who knows how to pitch," said Michigan State head coach Jake Boss. "He's not going to light up the radar gun at 96 mph, but he'll be upper 80s to low 90s and the ball moves all over the place out of his hand. He throws three pitches for strikes. With hitters having wood bats in their hands, there's no question he's going to be able to get guys out."
A two-time All-Big Ten selection (first team in 2011; third team in 2012), Bucciferro finished his career by leading the Big Ten in strikeouts with 94 this season, marking the fifth most in MSU single-season history. He also led the conference with a school-record 111.1 innings pitched, and ranked ninth in the league in ERA (3.07) and 10th in opposing batting average (.250).
The Joliet, Ill., native was one of only three conference pitchers to win Big Ten Pitcher of the Week at least twice this season. He was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week after allowing only one hit in six shutout innings in the win over No. 11 St. John's on Opening Day, and also garnered Big Ten Co-Pitcher of the Week accolades for the third time in his career after throwing a five-hit, complete game shutout in the 6-0 win over Iowa on May 11. It marked his fourth career complete game shutout.
Bucciferro garnered Big Ten All-Tournament Team honors after he allowed just two runs in eight innings in MSU's opening round win over Nebraska.
Bucciferro was named to the 25-man Cape Cod All-League Team after an impressive summer season pitching for the Brewster Whitecaps in 2011, ranking fourth in the Cape Cod League with a 1.90 ERA. He was named to the all-star team and pitched a scoreless inning during the all-star game on July 29 at Fenway Park.
A first-team All-Big Ten selection as the No. 2 starter in the rotation as a junior in 2011, Bucciferro collected an 8-3 record with a 3.38 ERA and ranked among the Big Ten leaders in wins (tied for second with 8), strikeouts (third with 66), starts (tied for third with 15), innings pitched (fourth with 101.1) and opposing batting average (seventh at .258). He struck out nine in throwing a three-hit, complete-game shutout over Northwestern on May 20; the win clinched a share of the Big Ten regular-season championship for MSU.
As the No. 3 starter in the rotation in 2010, Bucciferro compiled a 7-5 record, including a team-best two shutouts. He was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team in 2009 after going 5-2 on the mound with a staff-low 3.55 ERA.
"Going to Michigan State put me in this opportunity to get drafted," said Bucciferro. "Without playing four years at Michigan State I wouldn't be close to where I am now. It made my individual dream come true. I don't know where I would be if I didn't go to MSU. I've had success and I've had failure, and being able to cope with both are just lessons that I couldn't have learned anywhere else. I'm so grateful for everything everyone has done for me with the program. My coaches and my teammates have done so much for me to help me get to this point.
"Now it's time to start a new chapter and represent Michigan State at the next level. I'm excited. I'll be back to hang out with the guys next fall, and hopefully I've helped some of the younger guys out. I hope that many of them will enjoy the same experience that I just had today."
The MLB Draft resumes Wednesday at noon with rounds 16-40. Follow live at www.mlb.com.