SIU wins opener against Tennessee Tech

SIU starter Chad Whitmer pitches in the third inning in the first game of the series against Tennessee Tech on April 22. Whitmer was selected in baseball's amateur draft on Tuesday, with the 302nd selection in the 10th round, by the Yankees. 

Southern Illinois University pitcher Chad Whitmer was selected by the New York Yankees organization Tuesday in the Major League Baseball Draft.

The Yankees chose Whitmer in the 10th round with the 302nd overall pick. The 6-foot-3 right-handed hurler was 6-3 with a 3.46 ERA this past season.

“We certainly expected Chad to get an opportunity, but had no idea when or what round,” said SIU head coach Ken Henderson. “The draft has changed so much over the years that it’s kind of hard to predict. We’re certainly proud of and happy for him. It’s good for our program, and to go in the 10th round, that’s pretty good stuff. I’m thrilled for him.”

As a senior, Whitmer was a second team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection. He led the league in strikeouts during the regular season with 89.

“If you’re a baseball fan and you love the history, that is certainly the most prestigious franchise,” Henderson said. “It’s exciting for me as a baseball guy because it’s the Yankees. But those guys just want an opportunity, and I think Chad would have been thrilled to be drafted by anybody.”

Whitmer pitched all four years for the Salukis. As a freshman, he was strictly a relief pitcher. He was a reliever for most of his sophomore year as well.

“His strength is he can flat pitch, and when I say that I mean he can throw three pitches for strikes, and he has great command and a great feel for pitching,” Henderson said. “As a freshman, I don’t think anybody had any idea how good he could be. We thought he could be good, but you really don’t know. He started later in his sophomore year because of an injury.”

Four of Whitmer’s 18 appearances as a sophomore were starts on the mound.

“We stuck him into our Friday night spot because we didn’t want to mess up our Saturday and Sunday rotation,” Henderson said. “He was outstanding, and he was much better as a starter than he was as a reliever. It was just kind of an emergency and a last minute thing, but I think he started every weekend from that point forward.”

Whitmer was a full-time starting pitcher as a junior and finished 7-4 with 2.77 ERA. He earned a second team All-MVC selection during that season as well.

“He just took off in that role, and we kept him in that Friday spot where you’re matched up against everybody’s best,” Henderson said. “We’re going to miss him because of his consistency and the stability he brought to that staff. I’m very happy he got this opportunity because he deserves it. He worked his rear end off. He did so many things well, and it’s great to see him rewarded.”

The draft concludes Wednesday with rounds 11-40.

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