How have our Illini players done this summer? Part 2

A couple days we saw how a few of our former Illini are doing this summer in the minor leagues.  Today, it’s time to take a look at the Illinois Draftee Class of 2015 and see how they are faring in their first year in the pros. 

 

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Tyler Jay

Drafted 2015

Current organization: Minnesota Twins

After Tyler Jay’s superb season for the Big Ten champs, he was promptly drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Twins and signed with a nice signing bonus.  He spent the season with the Fort Myers Miracle in the Class A Advanced Florida State League.  While his ERA isn’t what it was in the Big Ten (4.70), he’s showing signs of his potential by striking out 20 batters in 15 1/3 innings. 

Tyler Jay’s MLB Bio

 

Kevin Duchene

Drafted 2015

Current organization: Oakland Athletics

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After a quick look at Kevin Duchene in the Arizona League, the A’s brought him up to the Class A New York-Penn Short League where he played for the Vermont Lake Monsters.  Overall, Kevin started seven games and appeared in three more with a 0-3 record.  For the season, his ERA had been hovering around 4.00 till his last appearance when he got hit hard.  Now it stands at 4.26.  Get that win, Kevin!

Kevin Duchene’s MiLB.com Bio

 

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David Kerian

Drafted 2015

Current organization: Washington Nationals

Since his Big Ten Player of the Year season for the Illini, David Kerian hasn’t stopped hitting.  Washington must see the potential that we did as he has been getting plenty of playing time for the Auburn Doubledays in the Class A Short Season NY-Penn League.  For the year, he’s hitting .245 in 159 at-bats with 18 rbis and 22 runs. 

David is picking it up, too.  In his last 10 games, he’s hit .323 with eight runs. 

David Kerian’s MiLB.com Bio

 

Drasen Johnson

Drafted 2015

Current organization: Colorado Rockies

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The durable starter for the Illini ended up playing for the Boise Hawks in the Class A Short Season Northwest League.  So far, Drasen has had good stuff with a 2.81 ERA in 13 games and 4 starts.  With a few more innings, Drasen would be fourth in ERA in the NWL.  He’s got a 1-3 record but honestly, I think he’s used to that hard luck role. 

Drasen Johnson’s MiLB.com Bio

 

 

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Ryan Nagle

Drafted 2015

Current organization: Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates have taken a chance on drafting junior Ryan Nagle.  So far this year, he’s at least getting his ABs in for the West Virginia Black Bears in the Class A Short Season NY-Penn League.  In fact, he made a considerable impression on the Bucs organization by hitting in five of his first six games including a triple in his very first at-bat.  Overall in 92 at-bats this season, Ryan is hitting .239 with 14 rbis and five doubles for the Black Bears. 

Ryan Nagle’s MiLB.com Bio

 

 

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Rob McDonnell

Drafted 2015

Current organization: Los Angeles Dodgers

Rob McDonnell was drafted by the Dodgers and he’s spent the year with the Ogden Raptors in the Pioneer League.  Father Dan McDonnell says that the first couple weeks were rough (5.14 season ERA) but Rob has settled down.  His current stats bear that out.  Rob has got a winning record at 3-2 and has struck out 34 batters in 28 innings. 

Rob McDonnell’s MiLB.com Bio

 

 

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John Kravetz

Signed 2015

Current organization: Toronto Blue Jays

John Kravetz has been moved around a lot in 2015.  Surprisingly, John was not drafted in 2015 but signed by the Blue Jays as a free agent.  He started out with GCL Blue Jays in the Gulf Coast League then moved to the Bluefield Blue Jays in the Appalachian League.  For one game in between though, John saw an appearance in the Jay’s Class A Advanced Dunedin Blue Jays.  For the record, John Kravetz pitched a scoreless 1 1/3 innings in that game so I hope he made an impression. 

For the year, John’s ERA is 4.03 with a 2-3 record and 18 Ks in 22 1/3 innings. 

John Kravetz’s MiLB.com Bio

 

The Illini are making themselves known!  It’s the first year so there’s always work to be done.  The one thing that all seven of these players have in common is that they know how to play on a winning team.  That kind of experience is invaluable and I am sure not lost on minor league managers and GMs.

Good luck, guys!

Next up:  I’ll take a look at some of the highlights from our current Illini and their performances in their respective summer leagues. 


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How have our Illini players done this summer? Part 1

Well, it’s almost September already.  Summer leagues have wrapped up their seasons, minor leagues are almost done and believe it or not the Cubs haven’t given up the NL Central in the MLB. 

Over the next week or so, I thought I’d take a look at how some of the former and current Illini have done in Summer of ‘15 in their respective baseball ventures. 

Let’s start at the top with those Illini baseball players drafted in past years.

 

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Tanner Roark

Drafted 2008

Current organization: Washington Nationals

After a breakout season in 2014 (15-10, 2.85 ERA) for the Washington Nationals, Roark is having an up and down 2015 year.  He started out in the pen, was put in the rotation in late May then relegated back to the pen again after six starts.  All in all, he hasn’t done too bad and the season isn’t over yet.  He has a 4-4 record and 4.54 ERA but most importantly he still exhibits the control that he is known for (18 walks in 79 1/3 innings).  From the beginning of the season, Roark has accepted his role with grace which most likely endears him to Manager Matt Williams. 

Tanner Roark’s MLB Bio

 

Ronnie Muck

Drafted 2014

Current organization: Los Angeles Angels

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The durable reliever drafted last year started out with Burlington in the Class A Midwest League.  He kept opposing hitters baffled as he sported a 1.93 ERA while going 2-2.  He made the jump to Advanced A and went to Inland Empire 66ers in the California League.  While his ERA has gone up a little (that’s expected at a higher level), he’s actually not doing too bad either.  He’s 3-0 with a 4.67 ERA with 41 Ks in 34 2/3 innings.

Ronnie Muck’s MiLB.com Bio

 

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Kyle Hudson

Drafted 2008

Current organization: Los Angeles Dodgers

As mentioned recently, our own volunteer coach Kyle Hudson was picked up by the Dodger organization.  He was used in a purely base running role for the AZL Dodgers in the Arizona League and Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in the California League.  Combined, he scored 7 runs and stole 11 bases.  I can only guess that the Dodger organization placed him because of his leadership and coaching talents (because we all know he has those). 

Kyle Hudson’s MiLB.com Bio

 

Matt Milroy

Drafted 2012

Current organization: Miami Marlins

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Pitcher Matt Milroy has had a solid year in the Class A Advanced Florida State League with the Jupiter Hammerheads.  The Marlins seem to be transitioning Matt to a reliever role; he started just one game this year.  So far, that is working well.  With a 6-2 record and a nice 3.09 ERA, Matt has struck out 77 opposing batters in 58 1/3 innings. He seems to be hot as of late… he’s 2-1 with a 2.60 ERA in his last 10 games. 

Matt Milroy’s MiLB.com Bio

 

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Kevin Johnson

Drafted 2013

Current organization: Oakland Athletics

Kevin finally saw some action in 2015 after the A’s activated him from the disabled list.  It’s been a long road for Mr. Johnson.  Now with the Beloit Snappers in the Class A Midwest League, the starting pitcher is beginning to get his innings in.  Kevin appeared in 31 games and started 7 games.  With a 2-6 record, he sported a 4.79 ERA for the Snappers. 

Kevin Johnson’s MiLB.com Bio

I’ll pick up later in the week with those Illini in the minors who were just drafted in 2015.  We’ll see then how they’ve fared in their first year in the pros. 


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Hello and goodbye: It’s the beginning of the school year

Today is the first day of classes at the University of Illinois.  Students are getting into the swing of things here in Champaign-Urbana and that includes the returning Illinois baseball players as well as the incoming freshman.  Study hard, guys! 

While there will be some new players joining the team, there are a couple of transitional announcements.   

IMG_2317-002Kyle Hudson’s status as Illinois’ volunteer coach is still not officially declared.  His bio is still listed on the Coaches roster but he had been taken on by the Los Angeles Dodgers to play in their organization this summer.  The Dodgers were focusing on speed and there’s no one better than Hud to increase the running game.  He finished out the season with the Dodgers’ Single A Advanced team Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.  Good luck, Kyle!  If you find your way back here next year, we’d love to have you again! 

IMG_6618-001While touching base with the Illinois baseball office this August, I found out that Matt Wille who was the Assistant Sports Information Director, is no longer with the team and has found a position in the public sector.  Matt was such an asset for Illinois baseball and will be missed.  While an SID doesn’t make headlines, what they do is so critical to the success of an athletic organization.  Matt was my contact person and I’ve enjoyed working with him throughout the years.  Good luck, Matt!

Practice will be commencing soon for the team.  It won’t be long before the Orange and Blue World Series! 


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Adam Christ to become assistant coach for Illinois baseball

I’ve come back from vacation and whoa, Illinois Baseball now has a new assistant coach!  That’s right, the University of Illinois has hired Adam Christ, formerly of Minnesota State, to work with the position players and serve as third base coach.

Christ (FYI, it’s pronounced like “list”) has spent seven years with the Minnesota State Mavericks.  He must have done something right.  In his time there, the Mavericks went an impressive 306-86.  That included seven NCAA tournament appearances and four outright Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference titles.

Adam Christ Bio

Hometown: Waseca, MN

Playing Experience:  University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Iowa State, Des Moines Area Community College

Coaching Experience:  2012-15 Associate Head Coach, Minnesota State, 2009-11 Assistant Coach, Minnesota State

 

Christ will mostly take on the coaching duties left by the departure of Spencer Allen who recently left to take on head coaching position at Northwestern.  He joins head coach Dan Hartleb, assistant coach Drew Dickinson and volunteer coach Kyle Hudson.

Welcome to the Fighting Illini, Adam Christ!

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Every Illinois baseball season has its highlights and positive footnotes but this past year was an exceptional one.  The interns at FightingIllini.com took the time to document pretty much all of the awards, records, and highlights of the 2015 Illinois baseball season.  Be forewarned, it’s a long list!!

2015 @ILLINIBASEBALL SEASON REVIEW

Again, fantastic year by each and every one of the players!


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High Five! Coach Hartleb gets extension till 2020

Coach HartlebThe wait is finally over.  Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb will be back as head coach with the Illinois baseball team for the 2015-16 season. 

Pending UI Board of Trustees approval, Hartleb received a five-year extension which will keep him on the team through the 2020 season.  Fighting Illini Director of Athletics Mike Thomas announced the decision on Wednesday:

“I’m excited about where Dan and his staff have our baseball program, which is on top of the Big Ten and among the nation’s best.  Dan is committed to developing our student-athletes into fine young men, on and off the field, and sets a great example with his tireless work in the community. We all look forward to the future of Fighting Illini Baseball under Dan’s leadership.”

Smart move and probably one of the least stressful matters that Mike Thomas has had to deal with as of late. 

I’m sure I’m not the only Fighting Illini baseball fan that breathed a sigh of relief when I heard this.  To say that Hartleb had a banner season in 2015 would be a definite understatement.  Under his care, Illinois won a school-record 50 games and advanced to the Super Regionals for the first time.  For his effort, Hartleb was named Big Ten Coach of the Year. 

Since his stock was so high, the idea that Dan Hartleb might take to greener pastures did cross my mind especially since much of the 2015 talent on Illinois’ team had graduated or been drafted.  Fortunately, for Illinois baseball fans, Dan Hartleb is here to stay, at least for another five years. 


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Chris Robinson is picking up the bat again for Team Canada

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Chris Robinson speaking at the 2014 Hot Stove Banquet

Long time Illini baseball fans will remember Chris Robinson.  He was the star catcher for Illinois from 2003-2005 and was drafted at a then-high 3rd round by the Tigers.  Between minor league stints with the Tigers and Cubs, Robbie would take his turn playing for Team Canada and was consistently a outstanding performer for them. 

Well, he’s back at it again. 

 

Robinson has come out of retirement to play for Team Canada for this year’s Pan-Am Games.  As the story goes, Canada’s director of Baseball national teams was looking for a replacement catcher and well, Robbie, 31 years old with two children, was convinced to join the team once again. 

Alexis Brudnicki of the Canadian Baseball Network has the full story.  

Good luck to Chris this summer!  For those who want in-depth details on Team Canada’s progress and more info on how Robbie is doing, I encourage you to check out Alexis on Twitter @baseballexis.


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FightingIllini.com unveils new web design

If you go to FightingIllini.com today, don’t be surprised to see some changes.  The entire website went through an overhaul with a site redesign.   

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Change is hard, even for an IT person like myself.  Sometimes it  takes some getting used to where information is on a website especially one that you visit on a regular basis.  I’m keeping that in mind as I navigate the new design. 

Overall, I like the new design.  I haven’t completely explored the entire Illini baseball site but there are components that I like and some that I can live with.  As an IT person on campus, I knew this design was coming and what style it was going to emulate so I wasn’t completely taken by surprise.  The new design emphasizes social media and high level of graphics and media without giving up accessibility standards. 

The new site continues to be mobile friendly, of course.  I’m sure a good percentage of their traffic has been coming from mobile users for a few years now.

Never fear, you can still access the Illinois baseball schedule, players’ stats and roster just like you could in the past. 

What are your thoughts?  Love it?  Hate it?


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Jay, Hartleb complement Illini Team of the Year award

It’s only appropriate that after a record breaking season that the Illinois baseball team end the season with another sweep.  This time though, they swept the end-of-year Illini athletic awards. 

Dike Eddleman Athlete of the Year

Along with track and field’s Stephanie Richartz who won top female Illini athlete, reliever Tyler Jay received the 2014-15 Dike Eddleman Award for the top male athlete.  Baseball fans know all about Jay.  He was the all the talk among the media.  His 1.08 ERA was third in the nation was helped by a 27 inning scoreless streak.  He set a school record with 14 saves.  All that helped to a Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Award plus a third round pick by the Minnesota Twins, the highest that any Illini has ever been chosen

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Illinois Coach of the Year 

Coach Dan Hartleb accomplished so much this year.  He won his 300th win.  He won 50 games in one season and the Big Ten championship with an incredible 21-1 record. He took the Illini as far as the Super Regionals… on his home turf. 

Hartleb had some stiff competition too.  It’s been a banner year for Illini sports with track and field, golf, gymnastics and tennis having great seasons.  However, no one had taken their team so far in one year than Coach Hartleb did.  With that, he took the Big Ten Coach of Year award and some memories he won’t soon forget. 

Fighting Illini Team of the Year

All that adds up the crowning achievement… Illinois baseball was named the Fighting Illini Team of the Year.  The accolades for the Big Ten Champs are just too long to list but here’s a short list.  They took the Big Ten Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year and Coach of the Year,  Their nine players drafted in 2015 nearly doubled the existing record.  A 27 game winning streak kept fans coming to the park.  With a 50-10-1 overall record and a 21-1 conference record, the team won their first NCAA Regional Championship and earned a Super Regional bid. 

In short, their pitching, hitting and fielding all clicked.  They played as a team and it showed and they were rewarded for it.

Congratulations to all in the program!!


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Summer leagues are in full swing! Which teams are the Illini playing?

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Mark Skonieczny is batting .341 for the Lake Erie Monarchs this summer

Now that the Illinois baseball season is over, the baseball players get to go home and have fun all summer, right?  Not necessarily.  They’re probably having fun but they are all honing their skills at collegiate baseball leagues around the country. 

Where are they?  Straight from the Fighting Illini program, here is the list of players along with the teams and leagues they are playing with this year. 

 

Player 2015 Team League
Nick Blackburn Wisconsin Rapids Northwoods
Anthony Drago Lombard Chicago
Jason Goldstein Madison Northwoods
Ryan Haff Lombard Chicago
Doug Hayes Waterloo Northwoods
Matt James Waterloo Northwoods
Zack Kolakowski Hutchinson Monarchs Kansas
Andrew Mamlic Lombard Chicago
Pat McInerney Kenosha Northwoods
Ryan Nagle Waterloo Northwoods
Charlie Naso Waterloo Northwoods
JD Nielsen Kenosha Northwoods
Ryne Roper Rochester Northwoods
Dan Rowbottom Springfield Sliders Prospect
Cody Sedlock Bourne Braves Cape Cod
Quinten Sefcik Terre Haute Rex Prospect
Mark Skonieczny Lake Erie Great Lakes
Adam Walton Rochester Northwoods

 

Here are links to the summer collegiate leagues

Cape Cod Baseball League | Chicago Suburban Baseball League | Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League | Kansas Collegiate Baseball League | Northwoods League | Prospect League

As usual, the Illini is maintaining a good relationship with the Northwoods League.  Ten Illini are playing in that league to the north which is one of the biggest leagues of its kind.  The Waterloo Bucks alone have four Illinois players.

A couple Illini have traveled far to play this summer.  Pitcher Cody Sedlock is in Bourne, Massachusetts to play for the Bourne Braves in the Cape Cod Baseball League.  Zack Kolakowski went the other direction.  He’s playing shortstop for the Hutchison Monarchs in the Kansas Collegiate Baseball League. 

Good luck to all this summer!!


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Coach Spencer Allen hired away by Wildcats

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Big news on the coaching front this week.  Coach Spencer Allen after one year as assistant coach with Illinois, has accepted a head coach position at Big Ten rival  Northwestern.  It’s a big move up for Coach Allen.  All Illini fans I’ve talked to say they will miss him but think it is fantastic opportunity for him. 

Illinois grew so much in the last year.  There were a lot of factors that went into that and Coach Allen had a lot to do with that.  Illinois’ offense thrived under him and Illini players all related to his on-the-field excitement. 

Allen will have big shoes to fill.  Wildcat Coach Paul Stevens retired after 31 years and is the winningest coach in NU history.  No doubt, the Wildcats saw that Allen gained a lot of experience in the Fighting Illini’s run for the College World Series.  They’ll be getting a quality coach in Spencer Allen. 

Good luck, Spencer!! 

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In addition to the record nine draft picks, the 2015 Illinois team can add one more player to the list who will be going to the pros.  John Kravetz was signed as a free agent by the Toronto Blue Jays on the day after the draft was over.

As for those players who were drafted, keep an eye on the MLB Signing and Bonus Tracker to see when our guys get signed.  

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And while Tyler Jay is off to bigger and better things, he still has a couple items to wrap up here.  Such as winning the National College Baseball Hall of Fame’s National Pitcher of the Year Award.  Right now, he is a finalist with two others.  One of the other finalists is Carson Fulmer of Vanderbilt who pitched (and won) on Saturday night’s game of the Super Regional in Champaign.

Good luck, Tyler!


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