WASHINGTON -- Right-hander Aaron Nola certainly helped himself by going to college.
In 2011, Nola was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 22nd round of the baseball draft, but he decided to head to LSU, where his older brother, Austin, was an All-America shortstop.
On Thursday, the Philadelphia Phillies used No. 7 overall pick on Nola, who was the Southeastern Conference pitcher of the year this season.
The 6-foot-1 righty might reach the major leagues within two years, Phillies assistant general manager Marti Wolever said Thursday evening.
“I think it's a good pick for the Phillies,” said MLB Network analyst John Hart, the former general manager of the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians. “It's a safe pick.”
“He shut people down (in the SEC),” MLB.com contributor Jonathan Mayo said.
Nola went 11-1 with a 1.47 ERA in 16 starts this year. LSU's season ended Monday when it lost to Houston in an NCAA tournament regional.
His brother is now an infielder in the Miami Marlins' minor league system, and he was hitting .254 for Double-A Jacksonville through Wednesday.
Nola became the highest pick for the Phillies since they took right-handed pitcher Gavin Floyd at No. 4 overall out of a Maryland high school in 2001. Floyd, now with the Atlanta Braves, was in the majors by 2004.
The Phillies can only hope Nola, as a college player, can get to the majors in less time than it took Floyd.
If he signs quickly, he could begin his pro career in the short-season New York-Penn League with Williamsport, Pa. The New York-Penn League begins play June 13.
“It's been my dream to come to school here, and it's one of the best programs in the nation,” Nola said, according to LSU's athletic website. “Watching my brother for three years made me want to be here even more.”
The Phillies can certainly use some pitching sooner rather than later. They were swept in a three-game series that ended Thursday in Washington, giving up 19 runs to the Nationals in the three games.
Former Philadelphia outfielder and broadcaster Gary Matthews represented the Phillies at the draft, along with broadcaster Chris Wheeler.
Phillies draft LSU right-hander at No. 7 overall
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