PISCATAWAY, NJ – Rutgers second baseman Graig Badger (Union, NJ) signed a free agent contract with the Toronto Blue Jays and area scout Tommy Tanous this afternoon. Eligible to sign as a fifth-year senior prior to the draft on June 7, Badger will join former infield mate Vinny Esposito (Middletown, NJ) in the Blue Jays’ system, with the pair likely headed to Auburn of the NY-Penn League this summer.
“I am excited for the opportunity to play professional baseball,” said Badger. “Other teams have contacted me in the past few days, but the Blue Jays were the first to make an offer and I have a chance to play again this summer with Vinny (Esposito). Tommy Tanous was up front and honest through the whole process.”
Badger capped a stellar collegiate career with his best overall season in 2004. He has served as Rutgers’ leadoff hitter in each of the last three seasons and emerged as one of the country’s best. His .502 on-base percentage this season ranks first in the league and he reached base safely in all 53 games in 2004 – as well as 112 of the final 113 games in his career, dating back to the end of the 2002 season. As a junior in 2003, he set the single-season school mark for walks (56) and stolen bases (41) and finished his career as the school’s leader in walks (143) and second in stolen bases (83), two shy of the mark. He is a two-time First Team All-State selection and was Rutgers’ lone representative on the All-Tournament team at last year’s NCAA Tournament, when he reached base safely in 11 of 13 plate appearances.
This season, he established career highs in average (.364), hits (72), doubles (11), home runs (3) and on-base percentage. He ended his career with a .323 average and 193 hits, good for 10th on the career list. He is also fifth all-time in runs with 170 and first in walks with 143.
A two-time District II Academic pick, he is also eligible for Academic All-America honors, which will be announced in early June. He graduated from Rutgers in May with a degree in finance, accompanied by a minor in philosophy.