baseball draftees sign professional contracts
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NORMAL -- When Illinois State
junior pitchers Kitt Kopach and Dan Frega were drafted in the 12th
round of Major League Baseball's first-year player draft last week [article],
neither was exactly sure what his immediate next step would be.
However, after a week of talking with the teams that drafted them
and having conversations with coaches, friends and family, both have
decided to leave college baseball and have signed contracts with
their respective teams to pursue their professional baseball
Kopach was selected by the Chicago Cubs with the 359th pick
overall. The Darien native will travel to the Cubs' spring training
facility in Mesa, Ariz., for a week before departing for Boise,
Idaho, to play for the Boise Hawks of the Northwest League in the
Class A short season. Despite a 3-9 record in 2006, Kopach posted a
team-low 4.17 earned run average and was second on the team with 59
strikeouts. The hard-throwing right-hander is excited about this
opportunity with his hometown team and looks forward to getting
"The decision to sign was tough one, but after talking
with my family and with representatives from the Cubs, it is the
right decision for me to make at this time," said Kopach. "I'm
extremely excited to be moving on to the next level and see how I
fare at the professional level. I'm just going to continue to work
hard once I get to Arizona and then try to make the best of my
opportunities from there."
The Cleveland Indians selected
Frega with the 371st pick overall. The 6-foot, 5-inch
right-hander was 1-4 with a 5.60 earned run average in 2006 and was
named a Missouri Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete. The Lombard
native will travel to Niles, Ohio, to play for the Mahoning Valley
Scrappers of the New York-Penn League in the Class A short season.
Frega knew the Indians were interested in him but was surprised to
see his name called in the 12th round.
"Cleveland was one of the teams that showed a lot of interest in
me, so I thought they might be the one to draft me," said Frega. "I
always expected to play professional baseball, but when I got the
real call it was kind of surreal. I'm just excited to get the chance
to play with a great organization in Cleveland and am looking
forward to getting to work."
[to top of second column]
Kopach and Frega are the eighth and ninth Redbird pitchers,
respectively, to be selected in the draft since 2003. ISU head coach
Jim Brownlee owes that success to his staff and the hard work of his
"Our pitching coach, Seth Kenny, has done a tremendous job with
both of these players in their three years here, as well as all of
our other players who have been drafted since 2003," said Brownlee.
"When Kopach came here as a freshman, he was a two-way player and
had very little pitching experience. Coach Kenny worked with Kitt
and really developed his game on the mound.
"Both of these players have a tremendous upside, and I truly
believe their best days are ahead of them. They both have very
strong arms, great work ethics, and pitching against wooden bats
should really help their confidence and deflate their elevated
numbers from this season. We would have liked to have both of them
come back for their senior seasons, but this is a tremendous
opportunity for both of them and we certainly wish them the best of
State University news release provided by Mike Williams]