Nine More Players Answer Call to Arms, Fill Out Minutemen Roster

By: Ryan Zimmerman

Whiting, Ind. – Just two days away from their first ever Midwest Collegiate League game, the MCL Minutemen roster is starting to take shape. Nine more players are set to suit up for manager Jack Murphy’s squad, bolstering the team’s hopes for a championship in their inaugural campaign. 

Ryan Howe (Mount Prospect, Ill./Purdue) will take charge in the middle of the Minutemen infield following a truncated sophomore season at Purdue. He saw significant playing time as a freshman in 2019, playing in 48 games with 40 starts, registering two home runs and 16 runs batted in and posting an 11-game hit streak. Howe’s true talents came to light on defense, committing just two errors in 161 chances for a .988 fielding percentage, earning Purdue Defensive Player of the Year honors. He played in nine games in 2020 before the rest of the season was canceled.

Brennan Brogni (Flagstaff, Ariz./Illinois-Springfield) becomes the third Illinois-Springfield player to join the Minutemen. He was a part last year’s Prairie Stars team that reached the Super Regional round of the NCAA Division II Baseball Championship. After redshirting in 2018, Brogni played in 33 games with 13 starts, registering an on-base percentage of .414.  He appeared in seven games in a short 2020 season.

Matt Piento (Indian Head Park, Ill./Lewis) joins the Minutemen bullpen from nearby Lewis University. A Lyons Township graduate, the 6-foot-2 lefty is coming off a sophomore season where he made two appearances, striking out six batters in just 2 2/3 innings. 

Nick Huisman (Westmont, Ill./Lewis), an imposing 6-foot-7, 230-pound right-hander will look to be a shutdown reliever in the Midwest Collegiate League. A member of the Timothy Christian baseball team that reached the Super-Sectional round of the 2A Illinois State Baseball Tournament in 2018, he featured twice out of the Flyers bullpen as a redshirt-freshman in 2020. He did not allow an earned run, fanning two batters in two innings.

Mike Koszewski (Oak Brook, Ill./Cincinnati) adds to an impressive group of young players littered throughout the Minutemen roster. A two-way star at Montini Catholic High School, he helped the Broncos capture the 2019 Illinois 3A State Championship. He was named a 2019 Preseason Underclass All-American Honorable Mention as well as a 2020 Central Region Preseason All-American by Perfect Game, who also listed him as the 65th best overall recruit and 11th best outfielder in his class. He will continue his baseball career at the University of Cincinnati in the fall.

Jeremiah Williams (Calumet City, Ill./South Suburban) hopes to make an impact both on the mound and at the plate this summer after a short but productive sophomore season at South Suburban College. Having spent time as both a starting pitcher and a middle infielder, the Calumet City native batted .333 for the Bulldogs, registering an on-base plus slugging of .944.  Williams also logged the second-most innings, starting three games. He punched out 10 men in 14 innings, also notching one complete game.

Matt Blaney (Tinley Park, Ill./Illinois Wesleyan) toes the rubber for the Minutemen ahead of his second season at Illinois Wesleyan. A teammate of Jacob Frencl, Ryan McCoy, and Cade Turner at Lincoln-Way East, he spent his first collegiate season in the University of Texas-Dallas bullpen. He emerged as the team’s closer in 2019, compiling three saves, before transferring closer to home. He pitched four times for the Spartans in 2020 and allowed no runs in five innings, earning a 2-0 record.

Nic Vitiritti (Lansing, Ill./Carthage) is set to face collegiate level competition for the first time in the Midwest Collegiate League. A teammate of Ed Howard at Mount Carmel High School, he captained the Caravan to back-to-back IHSA Regional Championships as a junior and senior.  He did not see any action at Carthage College this past spring before his season was shut down.

Norman Standish (Highland, Ind./South Suburban) makes his return to the Midwest Collegiate League with the Minutemen having pitched for the 2018 league champion Northwest Indiana Oilmen. He was a key cog for their pitching staff down the stretch, maintaining a 1.74 earned run average and 1.16 walks/hits per innings pitched in five appearances. Standish both pitched and hit at South Suburban College in 2019. In limited at-bats, he drove in two runs while tossing 41 innings. He was the ace of the Bulldog staff, going 6-2 in 41 innings, striking out 39 batters and finishing one complete game.

Hugh Sullivan (Chicago, Ill./Spring Hill) dons the Minutemen uniform before he enrolls at Spring Hill College in the fall. A 2020 Perfect Game Central Region Preseason All-American Honorable Mention, he helped Marist High School reach the Super-Sectional round of the 4A Illinois State Baseball Tournament last spring. He was also named to the All-Tournament Team at the 2019 WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship.

The Minutemen begin their season this Saturday as they take on the Northwest Indiana Oilmen at Oil City Stadium at 6:10 p.m.  Tickets are available at nwioilmen.com.  If you cannot make it to the game, you can catch Brandon Vickrey and Ryan Zimmerman on the call on Facebook Live.        



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