Frisella drafted by hometown Cardinals, Barnett signed by Phillies

By Gus Bode

Jake Alley still unsigned Spt_draft_ee_6/11

Sal Frisella could soon be living every Little Leaguer’s dream.

The St. Louis native, who recently completed his senior campaign with the SIU baseball team, was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 37th round of the Major League Baseball draft last Wednesday.


Starting as a toddler, Frisella has attended numerous Cardinal games with his father, a season ticket holder for the past 25 years and, as could be expected, is ecstatic about the selection.

“I don’t have to change my colors, so I can still be a Cardinals fan and I think that’s every kid’s dream,” Frisella said. “When you’re a little kid and you’re playing, you go down to Busch Stadium for the first time, you smell the stadium and you see guys on the field. You know you want to be a Cardinal.”

But while Frisella was elated, teammate Toby Barnett was suffering through the opposite end of the emotional spectrum. Barnett, a first-team all-conference pick each of his two years at SIU, expected to be drafted but wasn’t.

“Sal got picked up, and it was awesome,” Barnett said. “I didn’t get picked up and I was pretty demoralized. I took it pretty personally.”

But the Australian wasn’t dejected for long. He received a call from a Philadelphia Phillies scout soon after the draft ended Wednesday. The scout drove from Chicago to Carbondale immediately, and Barnett signed a contract at about midnight.

“It was awesome,” Barnett said. “I felt like a little 5-year-old at Christmas again. It was amazing, actually. It was a great feeling.”

The two were elated that all of their weeks of concern were for naught.


“It was a rough couple days,” Barnett said. “I was in St. Louis with Sal for four or five days. We were waiting for the draft. I’d always had it in the back of my mind that I might not get picked up, but I thought if I don’t get picked up, there’d be something seriously wrong. It kind of was working out that way.”

Frisella and Barnett felt physically ill while waiting and pondering the worst that could happen, but now that those emotions have passed, they can try to suppress their nerves while showing their skills to professional coaches.

Both are currently in Florida where they’ll spend a few days working out with their respective teams before being assigned to an affiliate. Frisella expects to be playing for the New Jersey Cardinals, a short-season Class A squad.

One player Saluki head coach Dan Callahan expected to be drafted was senior pitcher Jake Alley, an Anna native who went 7-4 with a 3.22 ERA and was named first team all-conference this spring. Callahan cited Alley’s 5-foot-11 frame, a bit undersized for a major league pitcher, as a reason he was left out.

“I still think Jake can compete in pro ball,” Callahan said. “His demeanor on the mound is very, very good. He’ll pitch inside. He knows how to pitch. He fields his position well, and I’m still confident Jake might get a chance.”

Reporter Ethan Erickson can be reached at [email protected]