Graceffo Selected in Fifth Round of MLB Draft


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Graceffo was the first Wildcat drafted since 2017.

Matthew Ryan, Staff Writer

It was always a dream of Gordon Graceffo’s to become an MLB draftee, and on July 12th, that goal became a reality as the St. Louis Cardinals selected him in the 5th round with the 151st overall pick.

“It was definitely surreal… It was crazy getting to hear your name picked, and then everything goes numb. I’m kind of still in shock,” Graceffo said in a phone interview the day after he was drafted.

Before arriving at Villanova, Graceffo played high school ball at Cranford HS in Cranford, New Jersey, where he had an illustrious career. The right-handed pitcher had a career 2.25 ERA at Cranford, and was given numerous awards for his outstanding play. Getting drafted was always a goal of Graceffo’s, but it wasn’t until he got to Villanova when he began thinking about it as ‘a serious thing.’

“Me and [Coach Kevin] Mulvey kind of sat down and we were talking about my role in the upcoming season and things like that, and he kind of put the idea in my head that if I kept working, got bigger, stronger, worked on my craft, that it was a possibility… I took his advice, never looked back, and it ended up happening.”

Graceffo became the first Wildcat drafted since 2017 and the first Villanova player to be drafted in the first five rounds since 2011. Graceffo’s teammate Jimmy Kingsbury was also drafted this year, 504th overall by the Seattle Mariners.

In his first year as a Wildcat, Graceffo sported a 4.88 ERA, pitching both as a starter and out of the bullpen. He saw a drastic improvement in his numbers during his sophomore year, which was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That year Graceffo pitched four games, all starts, and held a 4-0 record with a 1.42 ERA on the season. Following his stellar play in the short season, the draft was on Graceffo’s radar, and he had a ‘pretty good idea’ that he would be selected.

As a junior, scouts reached out to the 6’4”, 220-pound pitcher, asking when he would start and where he would be, and when it came to winter break, things started to heat up; Graceffo started having more Zoom meetings, teams would see him throw, and he went to private workouts.

Graceffo shined in his third season on a 21-14 Wildcats squad, being selected to the All-Big East Second Team with a 1.54 ERA, holding opponents to a mere .221 batting average. In 11 starts, Graceffo had a 7-2 record, including two complete games, giving up no earned runs in both.

During his time at Villanova, Graceffo has gotten the support of his coaches and teammates. He had role models on the squad, mentioning Tyler Arella and Kingsbury and got a lot of help from pitching coach Jabin Weaver. Graceffo also tried to be a role model for the younger players on his squad.

“Literally the whole team has been behind me since I was there… That whole team has been so supportive and so encouraging throughout this whole process,” Graceffo said.

Graceffo valued his time at Villanova on and off the field.

“It was just a great experience at that level, playing against some great competition, playing for some great coaches and with some great teammates,” he said. “That setting, it teaches you how to deal with people… There’s nobody better than the people at Villanova.”

Following the 2021 collegiate season, Graceffo played ball in the Cape Cod League for the Bourne Braves, where he started three games, pitching 13 innings and only giving up one earned run. Graceffo had nothing but great things to say about his squad and the experience.

Prior to the draft, Graceffo went to St. Louis, which he ‘loved,’ for a workout that went well, and he felt good about where he stood with the ball club. When it came time for the draft, Graceffo was told by numerous teams that if he were available in the fifth round, they would draft him, and according to Graceffo, ‘the Cardinals were just the first one to pull the trigger.’ He enjoyed getting drafted at his house with his family and agent before throwing a get-together with more people after he was selected.

Graceffo intends to sign his contract with the Cardinals, and while his playing days at ‘Nova have come to an end, he is thankful for his time on the Main Line.

“It was amazing. It was one of the best decisions of my life coming to Villanova. Coach Mulvey, Coach [Eddie] Brown and Coach Weaver helped me so much throughout the process. They helped me grow so much as a player and as a person, and I met some lifelong friends there. It was an amazing experience.”