BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - LSU pitching ace Aaron Nola was selected seventh overall by the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft on Thursday.
"My heart has never beaten so fast in my life," said Nola. "I'm glad everything has been lifted off my shoulders, and I'm excited to go wherever they send me. It means so much to be a part of the Philadelphia Phillies organization. They have such a great history. Everyone knows Roy Halladay, one of the Phillies' great pitchers. I'm excited to work with the staff and meet a lot of new people."
The junior right-hander had a 30-6 career record in his three seasons with the Tigers, averaging 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
In 2014, Nola was 11-1 with a 1.47 ERA and ranked second in the nation in strikeouts with 134. He also led the SEC in innings pitched (116.1) and opponent batting average (.172).
"He had the best control of any pitcher I've been around," said LSU head coach Paul Mainieri. "On top of that, he had the intangibles. He had a little something extra that allowed him to raise his game to something a little extra when he needed to the most. He started 16 games this year and we won 15 of them. It's going to be impossible to replace a guy like that. I'm very proud of his career at LSU. He represented this team and this state with such class. I wish him well. He'll be playing in the big leagues very soon."
Nola was named SEC Pitcher of the Year two years in a row and was also named a First Team All-American twice. Nola is 3rd in LSU's history for strikeouts.
Nola was named one of three finalists for the 2014 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award and one of the five finalists for the 2014 Dick Howser Trophy.
"It was such a privilege to coach Aaron Nola," said Coach Mainieri. "He is as fine of a pitcher that I've coached in my 32 years. He was everything you wanted in a pitcher. You gave him the ball and he goes out and competes as hard as he can every night. The consistency of his performance from week to week can't be matched. He constantly met the challenges and got better. He gave you everything he had."
His older brother Austin Nola, a shortstop for the Tigers in 2012, signed with the Miami Marlins after his senior year and is currently playing with the Jacksonville Suns.
Both Austin and Aaron Nola, who was a signee from Catholic High at the time, were drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2011 draft, but opted to play a year together at LSU.
"I am so glad I had the opportunity to come to LSU," said Nola. "It had been a dream of mine. I got to play under the best coaching staff in the country. Alan Dunn is the best pitching coach in the country, and I can't thank them enough. I'm ready to take that next step now.
"I'm so grateful to the fans, coaches and my team. I thank everybody for making it so special. It has been such an unbelievable experience. I couldn't imagine going to any other school. I'm so glad I came to college to be a part of this program. My teammates have been so good to me. It has been a blessing to be at LSU."
This places Nola in select company right behind former Tiger pitchers Ben McDonald, who was the first overall selection by the Baltimore Orioles in 1989, and Kevin Gausman, who became Mainieri's highest selection in 32 years of coaching when he went in the first round to the Orioles in 2012.