Nov. 25, 2009
By Jason Clay
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois head baseball coach Dan Callahan announced Wednesday that the Salukis have signed 10 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent to play baseball and attend school beginning in the fall of 2010.
The Salukis inked nine high school athletes and one from the junior college ranks. Of the 10 signees, six are pitchers (one left-hander and five right-handers), two are infielders and there is one catcher and one outfielder in the class.
"I feel very good about this recruiting class," Callahan said. "We have signed guys who will help us fill some needs immediately, some of whom I feel will not only be quality contributors right now, but will also turn themselves into athletes who will compete beyond the college level.
"They all come very highly recommended as far as being good workers and fine citizens, and most of them represent themselves well in the classroom, too. This is a physical class, as well. They are good sized kids and I think with the close supervision of our strength coaches, they will become even more advanced than where they are right now.
"I also want to commend coaches (associate head coach Ken) Henderson and (assistant coach Tim) Dixon on this recruiting class. I have not been able to be on the road much this past year. I am pleased with their efforts and ultimate signing of these young men"
Dustin Huff, a catcher from Lincoln Trail College, is the lone junior college player signed in the class. He will help fill an immediate need behind the plate for the Salukis.
Saluki pitching coach Tim Dixon said that going after a number of quality pitchers in the class was important and feels that they found the right type of student-athletes to come in and be successful.
"We think all of these guys have a chance to have a significant impact as freshmen," Dixon said. "They're all going to be guys who are fun to watch and fun to coach."
Seven of the 10 signees hail from the state of Illinois while the other three come from Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Below are the 10 Saluki signees with information and quotes on each player...
6-2 205 R/R OF
Harrisburg, Ill./Harrisburg HS
Dowdy is a two-time, first-team all-conference outfielder and he played in the 2009 North-South State All-Star game. He is coming off a junior season in which he hit .453 with three home runs and he also swiped 28 bases while leading Harrisburg High School to a 29-5 record. In the past two seasons, Dowdy has been a part of the Harrisburg ball club that has posted a 60-8 record. As a sophomore, Dowdy hit .393 with one home run and 17 doubles while stealing 15 bases. He was plotted as the fourth-best outfielder in the state buy the Illinois Prep Baseball Report and the 42nd top recruit overall. In addition to playing baseball, Dowdy also earned two first team all-conference accolades as a linebacker for the football team, where he served as their leading tackler in 2008 and 2009.
Associate Head Coach Ken Henderson on Kollin Dowdy:
"Kollin has a great combination of power and speed. He is a big kid who is obviously very athletic, as he played linebacker on a good high school football team. He is a tough kid and is a great sign for us. To keep a Southern Illinois kid with his ability at home is huge."
Harrisburg coach Jay Thompson on Kollin Dowdy:
"He's a big kid - 6-2, 205 pounds - and a tremendous outfielder. A lot of people said he was the best defensive outfielder they saw this summer. He's a great power hitter. He's also a 3.60 GPA student."
6-5 200 LHP
Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic HS
Dray composed a 3-3 record on the mound in seven starts with a 3.22 ERA. He threw 37 innings and struck out 48 batters while walking 22. Dray threw one complete game and also had one save for Boylan Catholic High School in 2009.
Saluki Pitching Coach Tim Dixon on Tyler Dray:
"Tyler has a ton of upside. He's got a loose arm and hasn't even come close to reaching his potential. We are expecting great things from him, as he will be fun to work with and watch progress."
Boylan Catholic coach Chris Rozanski on Tyler Dray:
"Tyler is a tall, lean left-hander with a fastball in the mid-80's, a good change and an excellent curve. He constantly works on his craft with several individuals. Tyler is also working to improve his strength and conditioning for this season and beyond. Tyler will compete on the mound and is often scheduled to pitch against our strongest opposition."
6-2 193 R/R IF
Elk Grove, Ill./Elk Grove HS
The Illinois Prep Baseball Report ranked Duschinsky as the 36th-best player in the state of Illinois. He was voted all-area in 2009 after his junior season at Elk Grove High School. Duschinsky also plays basketball in high school and is a member of the National Honor Society.
Associate Head Coach Ken Henderson on Donny Duschinsky:
"Donny is a big, strong kid who is very athletic as evidenced by the fact that even though he'll probably play third for us, he is a good high school shortstop. He also plays basketball at a high level and is a good all-around athlete. He has good arm strength, possesses good defensive actions and has the capabilities to hit in the middle of our lineup."
Elk Grove coach Terry Benya on Donny Duschinky:
"Donny Duschinsky has been the only player in my 10 years as head coach who has never played a game of baseball under the varsity level. That is quite a rare accomplishment given how tough the Mid Suburban League Conference is."
"Donny possess great physical tools that are obvious the second you see him. He has great presence, passion, intelligence, and feel for the game of baseball. He has the ability to provide punch to the lineup at SIU and be a great defender on the left side of the infield."
"Donny is a great sign for Southern Illinois. He has a great size, power, arm, and defensive skills. He has the kind of physical tools where he will continue to get better as a player at Southern."
6-2 180 RHP
Greenville, Ill./Greenville HS
Eaton struck out 76 batters while posting an 8-1 record on the mound with a 1.08 ERA in 2009. He led Greenville High School to a 24-10 record last season and helped the Comets capture the conference and regional championships.
Saluki Pitching Coach Tim Dixon on Todd Eaton:
"Todd Eaton is a very good athlete. He is a three-sport star, playing basketball, football and baseball. When I saw him throw he possessed good arm strength and once he focuses on just baseball, he is going to excel on the mound. His athletic ability gives him tremendous upside and he's got a loose arm."
Greenville coach Todd Hutchinson on Todd Eaton:
"Todd has tremendous talent, but what sets him apart from the pack is his effort and work ethic. He is one of the best three-sport athletes I have coached in the 17 years I have been at Greenville High School."
6-2 205 R/R C
West Chester, Ohio/Lincoln Trail College/Lakota West HS
Huff started his college career as a quarterback at Murray State, before transferring to Lincoln Trail College. After not playing baseball for a year and a half, Huff returned to the diamond and hit .265 in his first year at Lincoln Trail. He threw out 50 percent of the base runners who attempted to steal on him.
Associate Head Coach Ken Henderson on Dustin Huff:
"For us, probably the No. 1 priority in this recruiting class was finding the right catcher. We had to have somebody who we thought could come in and handle a young, but talented pitching staff. I think we got one of the best around. His physical skills are far above any others we saw in this area. He hasn't been catching that long, but he has tremendous arm strength. He is a big, physical kid and the more he catches the better he is going to get. He is going to have a great two years for us."
Lincoln Trail College coach Mitch Hannahs on Dustin Huff:
"Dustin Huff has great potential. He has only been catching since his senior year of high school and continues to improve at a very rapid pace. Combined with his overall athletic ability, it is scary to imagine how good this young man will become. As good as he is on the field, he is even better off of it. Dustin Huff is a quality young man."
6-2 180 RHP/OF
Villa Park, Ill./Willowbrook HS
Monette hit .375 and drove in 25 runs in 2009 at Willowbrook High School. He had eight extra-base hits (five doubles and three triples) and also stole 13 bases. On the mound, he recorded a 4-1 record with a 2.75 ERA. Monette also recorded three saves on the year. He was ranked No. 22 by the Illinois Prep Baseball Report.
Saluki Pitching Coach Tim Dixon on Brian Monette:
"Brian is a really good athlete and is a potential two-way guy for us. He's got bat speed and has the athletic ability to play in the outfield. On the mound he is loose and somewhat raw, but in a good way. He is going to be a very good athlete and has tremendous upside, with a lot of room to grow."
Willowbrook coach Steve Gilliam on Brian Monette:
"Brian is extremely athletic and as he gets stronger, he'll compete at a higher and higher level. He's the type of kid that can do anything you ask of him of because of his athleticism. He did everything for us, playing in the outfield, pitching and he batted in the middle of our lineup."
6-3 160 RHP
Grayslake, Ill./Grayslake Central HS
Murphy led Grayslake Central High School to a third place finish at state in 2009 by winning both of his starts in the playoffs. He had a 4-3 overall record as a junior with a 1.55 ERA and had 44 strikeouts against just 10 walks. Murphy was voted the Rookie of the Year by his teammates and coaches as a junior. He compiled a 1-1 record on the mound as a sophomore. Along with playing baseball, Murphy will have played four years of basketball. Murphy will be joining his former high school teammate, Aaron Snyder, a freshman right-handed pitcher with the Salukis.
Head coach Dan Callahan on Matt Murphy:
"Murph has a very loose arm. The day I saw him he pounded the strike zone and did it with a very quick arm. I feel his best years are down the road, and ultimately we feel he will be versatile enough to become our closer, a fine set-up guy or even a starter."
Grayslake coach Troy Whalen on Matt Murphy:
"Matt is an unbelievable competitor with excellent mound presence. He knows what it takes to compete and has an outstanding work ethic. He can throw three different pitches for strikes and has command of both sides of the plate. He attacks hitters from the first pitch and that speaks to his competitiveness."
6-4 210 RHP
Pittsburgh, Penn./Mt. Lebanon HS
Slavonic has been pitching at the varsity level since his freshman season and he has struck out 85 batters in his first three seasons - an average 28 per season. As a sophomore, he finished with a 5-2 record with 41 strikeouts, and in his junior season he was voted to the all-section team. He is also an honor roll student.
Saluki Pitching Coach Tim Dixon on Peter Slavonic:
"Peter is a big kid who has a very good breaking ball and throws a lot of strikes. Again, he is another guy with a lot of potential."
Mt. Lebanon coach Patt McCloskey on Peter Slavonic:
"Pete Slavonic has been an impact pitcher for the Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils since his freshman year when he immediately became the anchor of our staff. He has total command of three pitches, and he's been a great competitor throughout his high school career. He has an extremely high ceiling, and I expect him to have an outstanding college career."
6-5 230 RHP
Marion, Ill./Marion High School
Waldrop was ranked as the 21st-best baseball prospect in the state of Illinois by the Prep Baseball Report and the 10th-best right-handed pitcher. He has posted a 7-1 record and struck out 73 batters in 53 innings of work in his two seasons pitching at Marion High School. He finished his junior campaign with a 4-0 record and a 1.48 ERA while receiving first team all-conference accolades. As a sophomore, Waldrop posted a 3-1 record with a 2.72 ERA. He has played varsity basketball and baseball since his freshman year. His father, Kevin, was a pitcher for the Salukis and won games in both the NCAA Midwest Regional and College World Series for SIU in 1977.
Saluki Pitching Coach Tim Dixon on Bryan Waldrop:
"Bryan is another big-bodied guy who has good arm strength. I think once he gets on a baseball-specific weight and conditioning program and really locks in on just baseball, he is going to be a special one. He's got a high ceiling. Bryan is a local guy and has a chance to do some good things right in his own backyard. We're ecstatic we can keep Bryan close to home."
Marion coach Marty Manfredo on Bryan Waldrop:
"Bryan has a huge upside to him. His father pitched at SIU in the late 70s, so he's got a great bloodline. He throws in the mid to upper 80s, but can hit 90 on the radar gun and has a nice curveball. Bryan is one of those kids who has a really high-ceiling and I think he'll be a great addition to SIU's pitching staff."
5-10 170 L/R IF
Malden, Mo./Bernie HS
Welch has led Bernie High School to three district finals, a district championship in 2009 and a 52-18 record in the first three seasons of his prep career. He is a three-time all-district and all-conference selection and was all-state as a freshman and a junior. Welch has hit above .460 in each of his three seasons, with a .571 batting average coming in 2009. He added nine home runs, scored 40 runs and had 22 extra base hits as a junior. For his career, Welch has hit 21 home runs and scored 84 runs. He is a four-year letterwinner in basketball, where he led Bernie High School to the 2008-09 district championship, finishing with a 27-4 record. That year in basketball he was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year as well as being selected to the all-district and all-conference teams.
Associate Head Coach Ken Henderson on Jake Welch:
"Jake might be the most exciting player we signed. He has tremendous speed, plays hard and is very energetic. Jake is going to be a good hitter at this level, as he already has a good swing and great hands. He is aggressive and one of those guys who is disruptive to other teams because of how hard he plays. He has good defensive skills and is going to be fun for our fans to watch over the next four years."
Bernie High School Athletic Director/Assistant Baseball Coach Brad Botsch on Jake Welch:
"Jake has five-tool capabilities. He has the potential to excel in all facets of the game and I think his biggest asset could be his outstanding speed."
"Jake is well-deserving of his athletic scholarship to play at SIU. He has worked hard to make himself an elite baseball player and has earned the chance to play at the next level through his tireless work ethic. Jake will be a great addition to SIU's baseball program, and I look for him to really excel there. It's an honor to have coached such a talented player."