FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
NORMAL, Ill. – Illinois State has signed seven baseball student-athletes to National Letters of Intent, including four of Prep Baseball Report’s top-25 players in the state of Illinois, the Redbirds’ coaching staff announced Wednesday. Illinois State’s four signees in the top-25 are more than any other university.
The Redbirds signed three pitchers – Joe Claver (Downers Grove, Ill.), Johnny Lieske (Machesney Park, Ill.) and Dan Savas (Rosemont, Ill.) – two infielders – Bryan Huff (Bloomington, Ill.) and Brock Stewart (Normal, Ill.) – a catcher – Mike Hollenbeck (Joliet, Ill.) – and an outfielder – Eric Aguilera(Cary, Ill.). Lieske is the top pitcher and No. 2 prospect in the state according to Prep Baseball Report and is joined by Hollenbeck (16), Claver (17) and Stewart (23) in the publication’s top-25 rankings.
"This class is another important step in the building of our program," Illinois State head coach Mark Kingston said. "Coaches (Bo) Durkac, (Billy) Mohl, and (Mike) Current worked extremely hard in putting this group together. These student-athletes had many choices for their future and spoke volumes with their decision to attend Illinois State. With the help of our great academic and strength training staff, our goal is to promote what a tremendous place Illinois State is for college baseball. The quality of this group will continue the development of a very successful program. We can’t wait to start working with them."
The Redbirds landed the state’s top right-handed pitcher (Lieske) and top left-handed pitcher (Claver) according to Prep Baseball Report, and the second-best catcher in the state (Hollenbeck) according to PBR and Perfect Game Cross Checker, another talent evaluation web site. Illinois State has three players (Hollenbeck, Lieske and Stewart) ranked among top-500 in country by Perfect Game Cross Checker.
Huff and Stewart add a local flair to the class as Bloomington-Normal natives. Stewart’s connections to ISU run deep. His father, Jeff, coached the Redbirds from 1989-2002, and hired Kingston as an assistant coach during the record-setting 1999 campaign. Stewart’s older brother Jake also spent time on the Redbirds’ roster.
Aguilera and Huff are junior college transfers from Heartland Community College in Normal, Ill. The duo helped HCC to a school record 42-9-1 mark last season and will join former Hawks and current Redbirds Josh Colon, Cory Stonelake and Ty Wiesemeyer when they arrive on campus next fall.
This year’s Redbirds will begin the 2010 season at the Austin Peay Baseball Invitational Feb. 19-21. The full 2010 schedule is expected to be released soon.