Illinois MiLB Recap

By Matt Huck
Area Scout

With most minor league seasons wrapped up we will take a look back at how some former Illinois High School players fared in pro ball.

Louisville Trio Complete First Pro Season

A trio of Illinois High School products in Louisville’s 2013 Recruiting Class were taken in the first 62 picks of this past June's Draft in Corey Ray, Zack Burdi, and Nick Solak.

Corey RayFormer Simeon standout Corey Ray (2013) was drafted fifth overall by the Milwaukee Brewers. After signing, Ray was assigned to High-A Brevard County in the Florida State League where he hit .247 with five home runs over 231 at bats. Ray finished the season with Low-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers for their brief three game playoff run.

RHP Zack Burdi (Downers Grove South, 2013) possessed theZack Burdi best fastball in the draft and is widely regarded to be the fastest to the MLB in the 2016 Draft. The White Sox made the local product the 26th overall pick this past June. Burdi threw 38 innings in his first season of pro ball across four levels, finishing up at Triple-A. Reports out of the minors had Burdi up to 104 mph with his fastball. In 26 minor league appearances, all out of the pen, Burdi had a .174 opponents batting average while striking out 51 and walking 20. He will have to cut down on the walks, but has a solid chance to start the 2017 season in the Chicago bullpen. 

Rounding out the list of Louisville picks is 2B Nick Solak (Naperville North, 2013) went in the 2nd round (62nd overall) to the New York Yankees. Solak was an on base machine in his three years at Louisville accumulating a career .442 OBP and walking more than he struck out. His ability to handle the bat and plate discipline showed in his first season of pro ball hitting .321 with a .421 OBP, good for fourth and tied for second in the New York-Penn League. 

2016 High School Drafts

The 2016 Draft saw 16 Illinois High School players taken, with only three of them signing. Jack Suwinski, Jean Casanova, and Kevin Malisheski chose to forgo college commitments to sign.

Jack SuwinskiOF Jack Suwinski (Taft) was the first Illinois high school player taken this past June going in the 15th round to the San Diego Padres. Suwinski agreed to an over slot deal in order to pass on his commitment to Indiana. Suwinski made his debut on July 13th for Rookie League AZL Padres. He hit .241 on the year in 108 at bats. Suwinski will be in Arizona for Instructional League. 

RHP Jean Casanova (Waukegan) did not take the conventional route to pro ball, which sees many kids on the circuit for a few years before being drafted. Casanova was a true pop up guy this spring showing advanced feel for his three-pitch mix and running his fastball up to 89 mph. Casanova was taken in the 35th round by the Texas Rangers and quickly signed, making his pro debut June 24th. He spent the entire season in Rookie Ball with the Arizona League Rangers finishing with 25.2 innings pitched over 14 games mostly in relief. Casanova limited opposing hitters to a .196 average racking up 32 strikeouts while walking 15.

RHP Kevin Malisheski (Wauconda) is another player with an interesting story leading toKevin Malisheski the draft. Malisheski saw his stock trending upward last summer but his season was put in doubt when he tore his ACL in his first football game of the year. He came back to make a few starts at the end of the high school season working 88-90 and topping out at 91 mph with fringy secondaries. His athleticism and fastball lead the Dodgers to buy him out of his commitment to Illinois State. In 14 innings out of the pen for the AZL Dodgers Malisheski struck out 18 while walking just 4 and working to a 3.86 ERA.

Orioles Land Two College Arms

University of Illinois ace Cody Sedlock (Rock Island Alleman, 2013) went 27th overall to the Baltimore Orioles following a big season for the Illini. Sedlock made his MiLB debut on July 9th with the Aberdeen IrionBirds of the New York-Penn League. He worked in nine games throwing three innings each start with five days between each start. In his 27 innings of work he held opponents to a .158 batting average while striking out 25 and walking 13. 

John A. Logan College RHP Matthias Dietz (Sandburg, 2014) went in the second round (69th overall) to the O’s. Dietz struggled in his first season of pro ball with the Aberdeen IronBirds of the New York-Penn League. Dietz went 0-3 with a 4.82 ERA in seven starts.

Three 2011 Grads Head to the Arizona Fall League

Paul DeJong, Phil Maton, and Joe Filomeno are former Illinois High School prospects from the Class of 2011 and will be participating in the prestigious Arizona Fall League.

3B Paul DeJong (Antioch, 2011) was drafted in the 4th round out of Illinois State in 2015 by the St. Louis Cardinals. DeJong spent this past season with the Double-A Springfield Cardinals where he hit .260 with 22 home runs. DeJong will be playing for the Glendale Desert Dogs.

Phil MatonRHP Phil Maton (Chatham-Glenwood, 2011) had a solid season out of the pen in the Padres system. Maton worked 51.2 innings while striking out 78 and holding opponents to a .173 average across three levels. He finished the season with Triple-A El Paso after spending most of the season at High-A Lake Elsinore. Maton will be pitching for the Peoria Javelinas.

Joey FilomenoLHP Joe Filomeno (St. Rita, 2011) put up big numbers in the Rangers system this year. In 56.2 innings pitched he held opponents to a .176 batting average while striking out 69. His walk total was high at 38 but finished with a 3-0 record and a 1.75 ERA across two levels, mostly at Double-A Frisco. Filomeno will be pitching for the Surprise Saguaros.

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