When the Midwest Collegiate League was founded in 2010, one of the goals of the league was to help players in their quest to reach professional baseball. Now in its fifth season, the MCL has successfully achieved that goal.
Seven different MCL players have gone on to be drafted by major league organizations with several others participating in independent leagues across the country. One former MCL player reached the ultimate goal when left-handed pitcher Tony Cingrani made his big league debut with the Cincinnati Reds on Sept. 9, 2012.
Cingrani stepped on a big league diamond just two years after playing in the MCL as a member of the Illinois Jayhawks in 2010.
Cingrani is currently in his third year with the Reds and holds a 9-6 record with a 2.98 ERA in 32 career appearances. He went 7-4 with a 2.92 ERA as a member of the Reds’ starting rotation in 2013.
Cingrani, only 24 years old, has made a rapid ascension to the major league level. He played collegiately at Rice University and South Suburban College after graduating from Lincoln Way Central High School in New Lenox, Ill.
In addition to the Reds, the Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox are all among the major league teams that have drafted former Midwest Collegiate League players.
Former Southland Viking Danny Lietz was selected by the Blue Jays in the fifth round of the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Lietz, a left-handed pitcher, played his college ball at Heartland Community College after a standout high school career at Homewood-Flossmoor.
Lietz’s slider and changeup are both considered potential major league pitches. He appeared in 12 games and made six starts with the Golf Coast League Blue Jays, compiling a 2-3 record and 4.75 ERA.
Another former Southland Viking was selected in the 2013 MLB Draft when the Cardinals picked Justin Ringo in the 28th round. Ringo, a first baseman out of Stanford University, played in 53 games with the Cardinals Rookie League affiliate last season. The former Midwest Collegiate League MVP hit .300 with six home runs and 34 RBIs with the Johnson City Cardinals.
Corey Ray’s entrance into a professional organization came while he was an active member of the Southland Vikings. Ray, who clubbed .328 in 17 games with Southland in 2013, was drafted by the Mariners in the 33rd round. The Simeon High School graduate elected to forgo an early start to his professional career and instead took an offer to play collegiately at Louisville. Ray is a left-handed hitting outfielder that was rated as the No. 4 player in Illinois by Prep Baseball Report.
Elliot Armstrong was selected by the Atlanta Braves out of high school in the 39th round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft. He was one of the best offensive players in the MCL in 2012, batting .389 with four home runs and 25 RBIs.
Dontrell Rush of the Southland Vikings was selected by the White Sox in the 48th round. He was picked while playing with the Vikings immediately following his senior season at Harlan High School in Chicago, where he led his team to a Chicago Public League championship.
Former Vikings’ left-handed pitcher John Williams was drafted by the Twins in the seventh round. Williams has played professionally with the Elizabethon Twins of the Appalachian League and the Beloit Snappers of the Midwest League.
Drew Provence, Billy Miller and Kevin Franchetti are among the players who have gone on to play professionally in independent leagues following their time in the MCL. Miller, who was a key member of the inaugural Northwest Indiana Oilmen team in 2012, is now playing with the Joliet Slammers of the Frontier League.
Franchetti, an Oilman catcher in 2012, played with the Normal CornBelters of the Frontier League last season. Provence, who played for the DeKalb County Liners in 2012, currently pitches for the CornBelters.
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