06/15/2015 9:33 AM -
June 13, 2015 – Now in its sixth season, the Midwest Collegiate League has quickly accomplished its goal of aiding collegiate ballplayers in their climb to the professional ranks.
That was evidenced by the 2015 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, as nine former Midwest Collegiate League players were selected. The league has now had 19 players drafted over the last two years and at least 26 in its six-year history.
The first MCL name called in this year’s draft was former DuPage County Hounds infielder Paul DeJong. He was selected in the fourth round by the St. Louis Cardinals out of Illinois State. As a redshirt junior this season, DeJong posted a .333 batting average with 15 doubles and 14 home runs for the Redbirds.
DeJong batted .295 in 24 games for the 2012 Hounds, before returning to the team in 2013 to hit .287 with one home run and 16 RBIs in 32 games.
The next former Midwest Collegiate League player taken was also an ex-Hound, as Ryan Hinchley was chosen by the Chicago White Sox in the ninth round. He limited opposing batters to a .195 average while recording 50 strikeouts over 37 innings this spring at UIC. He led the Flames in both appearances (27) and saves (10).
Hinchley spent two seasons as a member of the Hounds pitching staff, appearing in seven games and making three starts in 2013 before compiling a 2.80 ERA in 2014.
Former Southland Vikings Kevin Kaczmarski was taken in the ninth round by the New York Mets. The Evansville outfielder led all Division-I players in batting average (.465) and triples (nine) this year as a senior.
Hinchley’s UIC teammate – former Southland Vikings slugger Jeff Boehm – was picked in the 13th round by the Los Angeles Angels. Boehm, just a year removed from notching season and All-Star Game Most Valuable Player honors in the MCL, earned his selection by leading the Flames in batting average (.374), home runs (14) and RBIs (67) this season. Boehm batted .375 for the league-champion Vikings a year ago.
The next ex-MCL player to get the call was Kurt Hoekstra, an infielder at Western Michigan who was taken by the Atlanta Braves in the 21st round. Hoekstra played for the 2013 Rockford Foresters. He had a banner junior year for the Broncos, leading the team in batting average (.322), at-bats (214), runs (39), hits (69), triples (3), total bases (105), slugging percentage (.491) and multi-hit games (23). Hoekstra posted a .284 average and stole eight bases in 30 games for the 2013 Foresters.
In the 24th round, Holy Cross’s Jacob Lanning was picked by the Atlanta Braves. Lanning was a member of the 2012 Rockford Foresters. Lanning was a two-way player for the Saints as a senior this spring, leading the team in batting average (.475), while also boasting the best ERA on the staff at 1.96. He went 9-2 in 11 starts and struck out 80 while walking 21.
The Colorado Rockies selected North Dakota’s Tyler Follis in the 28th round. Follis was the leading hitter on the 2012 Illinois Lincolns, batting .346 while driving in 14. The talented shortstop broke North Dakota’s single season (76) and career (240) records for total hits this year as a senior.
Former Chicago Zephyrs pitcher Josh DeGraaf was picked by the Toronto Blue Jays out of Taylor University in the 31st round. DeGraaf pitched in five games for the 2013 Zephyrs, recording a microscopic 0.38 ERA. He went 8-2 and heaved eight complete games for Taylor during his final collegiate season. He limited opponents to a .218 batting average and posted a 1.80 ERA.
Luke Harrison, who pitched for the 2012 DeKalb County Liners, was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 35th round. He pitched the first no-hitter in Midwest Collegiate League history in 2012, a game that stands as one of only two no-hitters in league history. Harrison was the top reliever on Indiana’s staff this spring, compiling a 2.02 ERA and 4-2 record for the Hoosiers.