BY KEITH IDEC
The Yankees passed on drafting a star pitcher from Bergen County on Thursday night, but they chose one Friday.
A day after declining to select St. Joseph lefty Rob Kaminsky with the 26th overall pick in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft, the Yankees took Emerson’s David Palladino in the fifth round.
Palladino, a 6-foot-9, 255-pound right-hander who was The Record Pitcher of the Year in 2011, was the 164th overall pick.
“It’s a phenomenal day, a dream come true,” Palladino said. “I’m a diehard Yankees fan. To get drafted by the team I grew up watching and going to see as a little kid, it’s crazy.
“I was sitting in my kitchen. I had my laptop out. I had a couple of my friends over and my family was there. We were sitting there, watching it, as the phone calls came in. It was an intense moment. When we got the call, we went crazy. We were throwing things. We were all excited.”
Palladino pitched this past season for Howard College, a Division I junior college power in Texas. He went 7-3, posted a 2.18 ERA and recorded 99 strikeouts in 70¤ innings.
The Dodgers drafted Palladino in the 13th round out of Emerson in 2011, but he opted to attend South Carolina Upstate rather than sign with the Dodgers. He suffered a tear to the patella tendon in his left knee midway through his freshman season and had surgery 13 months ago.
Palladino, 20, later transferred to Howard. He since has committed to pitch for LSU next season, but Palladino could walk away from a scholarship to one of the best Division I programs in the country to sign with the Yankees and start his professional career this summer.
“We’re going to start negotiating, go from there and see where it takes us,” said Palladino, whose fastball regularly reaches 92-93 mph and has been clocked as high as 96.
“This has been a dream since I was a little kid, playing T-ball. If everything’s right, I’m going to want to sign and start my professional career.”
Segedin is on the disabled list, but the third baseman/outfielder had been enjoying a good season this spring for Class AA Trenton. He batted .338 through Trenton’s first 18 games, and has three homers and 18 RBI.
This, however, has been the year of the pitcher in Bergen County.
Before the Yankees drafted Palladino, the Cardinals chose Kaminsky, The Record Pitcher of the Year in 2012, with the 28th overall pick in the first round. Kaminsky became the first Bergen County player directly drafted out of high school in the first round and just the 12th player from New Jersey taken right out of high school in the first round since the first MLB draft in 1965.
“I follow Rob Kaminsky,” Palladino said. “He’s a great kid, he’s got great character and he’s one of most humble baseball players I’ve ever met. The kid is going to be very successful.”