Ian Walters wows with the Miners


Sophia Rogers | [email protected]

Ian Walters leaps for the baseball during the game against the Evansville Indiana Otters Sept. 2, 2021, in Marion, Ill. “Wherever you’re at[…]you wanna win[…]you wanna do your best every single day and have the best possible outcome you can have,” Walters said.Sophia Rogers | [email protected]

Soon after graduating last spring, former SIU Third Baseman Ian Walters found continued success with the Southern Illinois Miners in the Frontier League.

As of September 4, Walters has a batting average of .287 with 43 runs batted in, three home runs, and an on-base percentage of .378. Walters is a regular starter in the infield for the Miners ever since he was signed by them in early June.

Walters played for SIU for three seasons, including the 2020 season which was cut short due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In those three seasons, Walters posted a .270 batting average, 93 runs batted in and 15 home runs.


Walters said he has had success since he decided to come to the Southern Illinois area from his hometown in Paducah Kentucky. Walters got his start at Rend Lake junior college for the first two seasons of his collegiate career. Walters batted .322 and was recruited to come to SIU as a Junior and moved to the third base position.

Walters said his recruitment to the Miners was unexpected for him, with only a couple days’ notice between talking with the team and ultimately signing a contract. 

“I had no idea this was going to happen. I was just thinking I’d go into a summer league and hopefully, I would catch somebody’s eye and they would pick me up. This was definitely not in the plan and thrown on me last minute,” Walters said.

Mike Pinto, the Southern Illinois Miners’ head coach, reflected on Walter’s time as a Saluki, leading up a professional career.

“[Walters] is a guy that’s coachable,” Pinto said. “He makes adjustments that are needed, he’s learning from older players, he’s competitive, but has really solid character and is a really good teammate.” 

A call from SIU Baseball Head Coach Lance Rhodes changed Walters original plans. Walters had previously planned to move out of his apartment just after SIU’s May 29 loss to Indiana State in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

“I was out to dinner with my roommates on that Tuesday night and coach Rhodes called me. He told me to stay because the Miners want to sign me. I was like, ‘let’s get to work.’ It was awesome to be able to do that and stay in my apartment in Carbondale and continue my career with them,” Walters said.


Rhodes said the Miners wouldn’t regret signing Walters.

“I broke him down how I thought he was as a player and how he would help and I thought he deserved an opportunity with Affiliated ball,” Rhodes said.  “I told him my evaluation of him as a player and said he was a great person so there wouldn’t be any issues from a character standpoint on him.” 

Even with the quick turn-around from playing a full collegiate season to playing in a professional league in a matter of a few days, Walters said his transition went rather smooth.

“He was ready, the biggest adjustment with pro-ball is work ethic. He’s already got that instilled in his daily routine and there isn’t anybody that’ll outwork him. He was able to handle the atmosphere of professional baseball, it was just a matter of someone giving him an opportunity,” Rhodes said.

Something Walters said helped him handle this transition period was the standard of play that being at SIU entailed.

“Even at SIU, they had very high standards for us every day to be able to come in every day and work like you’re already a professional. Having that aspect with SIU helped me transition into the Miners because you need to come in every day, be a professional that’s ready to work everyday, and not take any days off,” Walters said

Being able to replace Walters on his days off has been a problem for the Miners. Considering his stats, Walters has become a key component to the Miners run at a playoff spot this season.

“It’s difficult to replace his bat in the lineup and glove on the field. That’s why he plays every day. But everyone’s had a long season and it’s good to keep them off their feet as much as they can,” Pinto said.

Rhodes said it’s been difficult trying to replace Walters in the lineup as well as in the locker room.

“You’re never going to replace guys like him because they’re so valuable in so many different ways,” Rhodes said. You just hope that there are guys that carry the culture he set on and make it the norm in the locker room and around guys.” 

Walters has his eyes set on advancing his career even further than the Miners, but he wants his play to do most of the talking for him.

“I don’t know if there is anything I can say to the scouts other than go out there and continue to stay consistent and maybe I’ll catch somebody’s eyes one of these days,” Walters said.

Coach Pinto said the best word of advice to keep Walters moving forward would be to stay in the present.

“I tell players to be where their feet are. Don’t worry about where you’re going. Worry about being as phenomenal as you can be where you are and they will find you. If you do really well at what you do, people will know you’re really good at what you do and the word will spread,” Pinto said. 

Rhodes said just one opportunity would give Walters the ability to show what he can do.

“The one thing I know is if somebody would give him the opportunity to break into an organization, I know it would make the organization extremely happy with the way that he goes about his business every day and the professionalism he carries himself with,” Rhodes said.

Walters said he has come a long way through his career and hopes to one day make the MLB.

“[SIU] prepared me to come into this situation and know what I was getting myself into. I’ve been competing the same way I did at school and I’ll continue to see better competition everyday and I’ll try to stay consistent with it.”

Sports reporter Joseph Bernard can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @Jojobernard2001.

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