St. Thomas Aquinas College senior shortstop Joseph Pena (Brooklyn, N.Y./The Perkiomen School) was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the 33rd (pick 983) round of the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday afternoon.
Pena becomes the second highest drafted Spartan in program history, only behind teammate Giovanni Dingcong (30th round/Oakland Athletics 2018) and one of the highest since Michael Sharpe was selected in the 35th round by the New York Mets in 2005. Overall he is the 5th Spartan to be selected in the first-year player draft and first since 2010 (Michael Aviles - 42nd round/Seattle Mariners). Former Spartan Brian Flynn was also taken in the 2002 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 40th round. In addition, John Muller signed with the Chicago Cubs as a nondrafted free agent in 2007.
Joey picked up numerous conference, regional and national honors for his work on the diamond this season. Pena was tabbed as an ECC First Team All-Conference selection, and received ABCA/Rawlings First Team and NCBWA 2nd Team All-Region honors.
During the 2018 season Joseph Pena hit .366 (71-for-194) with a home run, 37 RBIs and 50 runs scored. He also had 19 doubles, 6 triples and stole 37 bases in 54 games. Pena finished his career with a .354 batting average (280-for-792) with 7 homers, 114 RBIs and 190 runs scored in 217 games for St. Thomas Aquinas. He is also the college's career hits (280), runs (190) and on-base percentage (.490) leader, while also holding the single season (53 in 2017) and career (180) walks records. The four-time All-Conference pick and former All-American, finished his career ranked in the top-10 in ECC history with 280 hits (3rd), 190 runs (6th), 48 doubles (10th), 15 triples (5th), and stolen bases (98). He is also the ECC's all-time leader in walks with 180, which is 45 more than the current runner-up and former record holder. The Spartan shortstop was also a 3-time ECC Regular Season Batting Champion (2015, 2017, 2018).
"STAC welcomed me with open arms, giving me a chance to play at the collegiate level, which I was very thankful for" said Pena. "I have met some of my best friends and a lot of great people at this school. I don't think today would have been possible without the love and support from my STAC family. I am very blessed to have gotten drafted by the Oakland Athletics, and want to thank God for the opportunity and everyone who has been by my side every step of the way."
Joey's hard work and dedication on the field also carried over to the classroom, as Pena graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas College in May with a degree in Sports Management, highlighting the college's motto of student first and athlete second. The emphasis on academics and successful progress toward graduation were recognized by the East Coast Conference with the 2017-2018 Academic Success Rate Award, as the Spartans posted an 88 percent student-athlete graduation rate in the NCAA Academic Tracking System.