06/05/12 8:18 PM ET
Mariners draft Rutgers DB-turned-3B
By Josh Liebeskind / MLB.com
Kivlehan may very well play under those same lights one day -- as a Major Leaguer. The four-year football letterman turned third baseman at Rutgers was taken in the fourth round (131st overall) of the First-Year Player Draft by the Mariners on Tuesday.
"Honestly, I didn't really have any expectations, I didn't really know what to think," Kivlehan said via a phone call. "I was hoping to go in the top 10 [rounds]. That was the goal, but I wasn't expecting to go in the second round, or the ninth round or 10th round. ... I knew teams were interested, but they didn't really tell me how interested they were. I really didn't know anything.
"I've had talks with [the Mariners]. They were probably the team I talked to the most throughout. They probably [reached out] to me the most out of any team in the league."
Despite being out of the sport since high school, Kivlehan erupted onto the collegiate baseball scene this season, hitting .392 with 14 home runs and 50 RBIs. A slow start to the year gave way to a torrid offensive pace once Big East play began. Kivlehan hit .410 with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs during conference games, becoming the first player to win the Big East's triple crown on his way to being named its Player of the Year.
With numbers as impressive as Kivlehan's, it's hard to remember that he resumed playing just a few months ago.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder was a successful high school baseball player, hitting a record 23 home runs for St. Joseph's in Montvale, N.J. There was interest from collegiate baseball programs, but when Rutgers offered him a chance to play football, he couldn't pass.
"At the time I just felt like football was what I loved. I loved both, but I felt like I had to make a decision, and I felt like I was getting more looks for football," Kivlehan said. "All my friends played football, so kind of pressured from them to play football. I wanted to play big-time [Division I] football and when that opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it."
So off to the football field for the Scarlet Knights went Kivlehan, who recorded 43 tackles in his four-year career. He was still on the football team when a high school friend convinced him to try his hand at baseball, again.
"He was telling me, 'You should still play, you can play,' " Kivlehan recounted. "I told him -- because his older brother played at Rutgers, he was a pitcher -- I said, 'If your older brother talks to the coaches, tell me, I'll do it.' "
And the rest, as they say, is history. Well, except for his professional career, which Kivlehan said he is excited to embark on.
"I definitely need to work on everything," he said. "Only being back in the game for a couple months now, I'm still very raw in probably every aspect. I'm sure once I get down there, they'll critique everything and fix everything that needs to be fixed. I'm in this to learn and do everything they need to do."
Josh Liebeskind is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.