NEW CASTLE, DE - Wilmington University baseball standouts Cody Holliday (Havre de Graces HS/Havre de Grace, MD) and Phil Aviola (St. Mark's HS/Newark, DE) have been selected in the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft. Holliday was selected by the New York Mets in the 18th round (554th overall) on Wednesday, June 10, while Aviola was tabbed in the 35th round (1,067th overall) by the Philadelphia Phillies. Holliday and Aviola are the only two players in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) to be drafted this season.
A National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) All-American Honorable Mention selection, Holliday, a senior outfielder, was named CACC and Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Player of the Year. He was first team All-Conference for the second straight season and was an American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), ECAC and NCBWA All-East Region selection.
"Playing professional baseball has been a lifelong dream of mine. As my collegiate career was starting to come to a close, I found myself wanting it to happen even more. Fortunately for me, we had a good year here at Wilmington and it all kind of worked out for me", stated Holliday. "I can't begin to thank my family, Coach Brian August, the rest of the coaching staff at Wilmington, and the administration as well. They put me in a position to succeed and supported me each and every step of the way. It is unbelievable, and I still do not know if I have taken it all in yet...that soon I will be getting paid to play the game I love so much."
This season Holliday led the Wildcats in hitting (.360), hits (76), doubles (18), home runs (7), RBI (52), total bases (121), slugging percentage (.573), on-base percentage (.458), and stolen bases (17). Holliday led the conference in hits, RBI, doubles, and total bases, while ranking second in runs, and third in home runs.
Aviola, a junior catcher/relief pitcher was a two-time CACC All-Tournament team selection. In his three years at Wilmington, Phil won two CACC tournament titles. The Phillies plan to use Aviola as a pitcher, as the hard-throwing right hander has shown promise out of the bullpen.
"This is truly a dream come true for me, to see all the hard work I have put into the game has finally paid off", stated Aviola. "The support I have gotten from my family and coaches from little league through college has helped me get to this point. I owe much of my success to Coach August, as he definitely has made me a much better all-around player. I can't begin to say how much of an honor it is to be drafted, especially to be a local kid going to the Phillies, a team I grew up watching and idolizing."
Holliday is just the third Wildcat, and the second from the baseball program, to earn All-American honors. The duo are the first players from Wilmington to be drafted by a professional team since the ‘Cats made the move to NCAA in the summer of 2004.
"I am so proud of both Cody and Phil", said Coach Brian August. "As for Cody, it could not have happened to a better guy. He deserves it with all of the hard work he put in day in and day out. He has all of the tools...above average speed, hits well, solid arm, and can field his position soundly. With Phil, even though he spent the majority of the time catching for us the last three years, I always knew he could pitch. He throws very hard, has a huge upside, and with work could develop into a formidable hurler."
Their efforts this season helped lead Wilmington (29-29/15-12 CACC) to the CACC Championship as the Wildcats upset the region's top seed, Dominican College, 5-4 in the title game. With the win, Wilmington earned the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA East Regional Tournament, where they finished in third place.
"Having these two student-athletes drafted is a huge accomplishment for our program and for the University as well", stated August. "Both Phil and Cody are fine examples of how hard work can pay off. I am extremely happy for the two of them and wish them the best of luck as they pursue their dream of making it to the next level."