06/11/2018 8:24 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 11, 2018 – The 28th round of the 2018 Major League Baseball Draft featured a Northwest Indiana Oilmen flavor.
One player from the team’s past and one from the club’s present received the call in the same round, as Chicago native and Simeon graduate Marshawn Taylor (2016 Oilmen) was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of Grambling State, while Tinley Park native Jake Plastiak (2018 Oilmen) was picked by the San Diego Padres out of Andrew High School.
The moment was a long time coming for Taylor, a shortstop whose baseball career has featured its fair share of obstacles.
“It was exciting,” he said. “I was sitting on my front porch and got a text saying that I’d been picked. Right when I read the text message, I got the official call that I’d been selected. It was a great feeling not only for me, but for my mom and dad, who have been with me through the baseball process since I was 4 years old.”
That process included a rocky start to his college baseball career, as he was let go by Eastern Illinois after hitting .164 as a freshman in 2014 and .252 as a sophomore in 2015. He landed on his feet at Grambling State, where he sat out the 2016 season before thriving the past two years.
Taylor burst onto the Grambling State scene in 2017, earning Southwestern Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Hitter of the Year and Newcomer of the Year. A two-time All-SWAC First Team selection, Taylor batted a team-best .404 and drove in 44 while starting all 52 games this past season. He ranked fifth nationally in hits per game and seventh nationally in batting average.
“Being released by my first school was all the motivation I needed,” Taylor said. “I knew I had to show everybody what I could do. That put a chip on my shoulder and made me go out and compete to play to the best of my ability. I thank them for doing that because it made me open my eyes to what I had to do to get better.”
Taylor played in 19 games with the 2016 Oilmen, hitting .260 and driving in 11 runs.
“I had fun during my time with the Oilmen,” he said. “I went out there and had a chance to work on my game. I got a lot of reps and worked on things I felt like I needed to work on going into that season. My time with the Oilmen was a great experience.”
That summer allowed him the chance to reunite for what he thought would be one final season with high school teammate and close friend Bo Fletcher, but Fletcher eventually came to Grambling State as a graduate transfer in 2018 for one final tour with Taylor.
“When he found out I was joining the Oilmen that summer, it was like old times again,” Taylor said. “It was extremely fun having him by my side. I’ve been playing with him since I was 9 years old. I was able to play with one of my best friends. When I was down, he would pick me up. He knew me well and knew what I needed to do to get out of a slump.”
Taylor has signed and spent several days training in Scottsdale, Ariz. He has now reported to Hillsboro, Ore., where he is set to join the Hillsboro Hops, the Class-A Short Season affiliate of the Diamondbacks.
Plastiak, also a shortstop, is weighing his options as he can either sign with the Padres or head to Wichita State to play his college ball. For now, he’s a member of the Oilmen and is off to a good start this summer, as he’s 5-for-14 with a home run and six RBIs.
“Getting drafted was surreal,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it; it still hasn’t really sunk in. Either way I go, whether it’s college or pro ball, it’s a win-win situation. This summer, I want to work on being a little bit more consistent with my hitting and fielding. When I go to either college or pro ball, I want to be able to do both on a consistent basis.”
The selection came as a pleasant surprise to Plastiak as well as his friends and family.
“Everyone has been surprised and obviously they’ve been happy,” he said. “I’ve been getting a lot of congratulations. When I first got the news and it went on Twitter, my phone blew up for three straight hours. I was in my living room and my dad was listening to it in the kitchen. He was wondering if guys from my fall team were going to get drafted. He heard my name and came over and said, ‘Dude, you just got drafted.’”
Plastiak was the only current MCL player selected, while eight former players from the league were also picked this season. The total number of players from the league drafted in its nine-year history is up to 72, while the number of Oilmen selected also continues to grow.
Taylor joins Enrique Zamora, Craig Dedelow (twice) and Donivan Williams as Oilmen players who have been selected during or after their Oilmen careers. Plastiak joins Taylor (also drafted out of high school), Brandon Murray and Larry Crisler as Oilmen players who were drafted before their NWI debuts.
Numerous other Oilmen have gone on to play professionally in both affiliated and independent ball. Most noteworthy of that group is Bishop Noll graduate Matt Pobereyko, who spent two seasons with the Oilmen and holds the MCL record for career saves. He currently owns a 2.11 ERA and has four saves and two wins in 15 games at Class-A Advanced St. Lucie (Fla.) in the Mets organization. Dedelow is having great success in the White Sox organization, where he’s hitting .288 with four home runs and 32 RBIs at Class-A Kannapolis this season.