Baseball Salukis move on after draft

By Gus Bode

Although this season’s MLB’ draft wasn’t as devastating to SIU’ as its coach thought it might be, the Salukis must regroup after watching some of their own go pro.

SIU head coach Dan Callahan said he and his staff were happy to watch senior pitcher David Kington move on to the majors, but were disappointed some other players got snubbed while they lost a valuable recruit.

The St. Louis Cardinals selected Kington in the 34th round, after the Minnesota Twins snagged heralded Saluki recruit Nick Tindall.

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Tindall, an O’Fallon native who Prep Baseball Report rated as the top high school player in Illinois, decided not to attend SIU after being selected in the 17th round.

‘ Tindall said it was a tough decision.

‘I fell in love with the campus and the players and coaches were good guys. It was something I wanted to be apart of,’ he said. ‘I sat down countless nights, even before I got drafted, talking to my parents about what I wanted to do.’

The tall, lanky prospect, who helped his team to a third-place finish in the Class 4A state tournament, had an impressive .492 average with a school-record 18 home runs and 64 RBIs.

Callahan said he hoped Tindall would come to SIU, because after a few of years in the program, Callahan said he could have been a third- to fifth-round pick.

Callahan said Tindall flew under the college radar because he’s not from a big city, and the team would have been fortunate to have him.

‘He is a good player, and I think that Saluki baseball fans would have seen that,’ Callahan said.’ ‘He could catch, he could throw, he could hit. He was a very well-rounded catcher.’

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While Tindall could have improved his stock with a stay at SIU, Kington’s ceiling is sky high as he makes the leap to the majors, SIU assistant coach Tim Dixon said.

Dixon, who was Kington’s coach at Feather River College before both came to SIU, said the Saluki hurler left the team slightly underrated. Kington went 2-5 last year with a 3.65 earned run average, and still has room to improve.

‘He’s only been pitching for five years,’ Dixon said. ‘He’s still learning the process of what it takes to be a pitcher. That curveball is a plus-pitch at any level. He can get big leaguers out if he’s on.’

Kington was the 12th Saluki to be drafted since 2002, but Callahan said he thought many others easily could have been chosen.’

He said senior pitcher Andrew Dunn had a good chance, while senior pitcher Adam Curynski and senior catcher Mark Kelly also could have been taken.

But perhaps the most startling omission to Callahan was junior closer Bryant George, who will play another year as a Saluki.

‘I’m still a little mystified by why he didn’t get drafted. I thought this year he was our best pitcher,’ Callahan said.

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