Three Salukis got the call to the big leagues in this year’s MLB draft, and the jump to the professional ranks was too good to pass up for all of them.
First baseman Chris Serritella, left-handed pitcher Nathan Dorris and first baseman recruit Zach Stoner were picked in the MLB draft June 4-6 and have signed with the teams that drafted them.
Serritella was picked in the fourth round by the Philadelphia Phillies, Stoner was picked in the 12th round by the Chicago White Sox and Dorris was picked in the 17th round by the Chicago Cubs.
Serritella was drafted in the 31st round by the Kansas City Royals in the 2011 draft, despite a wrist injury that sidelined him for the entire 2011 season. He was a Louisville Slugger NCAA Division I All-American in 2012 after he hit .389 with 13 home runs and 61 RBIs. He led the Missouri Valley Conference in seven categories, including hits, home runs and total bases.
“His potential, his talent offensively, is unlimited,” coach Ken Henderson said. “He is so gifted. His hands are so good. I’ve been coaching 20-something years and he’s one of the top three or four (players) I’ve coached in terms of ability.”
Serritella’s career ended when the Salukis came to within one game of their first NCAA tournament appearance, but lost 8-6 to Creighton in the Missouri Valley Conference championship.
“We had a good run, and I’m glad I could be a part of it,” Serritella said.
Serritella said he didn’t think the Phillies were interested in him until about 20 minutes before the pick was made when they called him and asked if he would sign if they picked him. Serritella, a redshirt junior, had one year of eligibility left, but he signed with the Phillies shortly after the pick June 5.
Serritella said Monday he’s in Clearwater, Fla., practicing until he leaves for Williamsport, Pa. to play for the Phillies’ Single-A league affiliate.
Dorris signed with the Cubs Friday and said he is in Mesa, Ariz., for a physical, and then will either go to the Boise Hawks, the Cubs’ single-A affiliate in Boise, Idaho, or rookie ball with one of the Cubs’ three summer league teams.
In middle school, Dorris said one of his good friends would take him to Cubs games and he became a fan of the team because of it. The Marion native said he’s looking forward to the experience of playing at Wrigley Field one day.
Dorris was 7-4 with a 4.17 ERA in 16 appearances this season, 14 of them starts. He began the season as the Sunday starter, but fell out of the weekend rotation April 1 after a string of poor outings.
Dorris was in his first year with SIU after spending the previous two seasons at Rend Lake Community College. He was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 45th round out of Marion High School in 2009, but signed a letter of intent to play for Vanderbilt instead.
He spent one semester at Vanderbilt before leaving because of injuries. He said the coaches there wanted to redshirt him for his freshman year, but he felt like he could pitch despite the injuries.
Coach Ken Henderson said Dorris’ curveball was a big-league pitch, and he thought the 17th round was right around where Dorris would be selected. Dorris said his draft stock might have slid a little because teams weren’t sure if he would sign since he had one year of eligibility left with SIU.
Henderson said Stoner was in the same mold as Serritella, a first baseman with a power bat, but he said Stoner signed with the White Sox over the weekend. Henderson said he was disappointed that Stoner didn’t come to Carbondale, but the coaching staff is already working to replace him.