Catching up with the 2013 Illinois baseball draft class

Justin+Parr+%2815%29+bats+during+the+game+against+Penn+State+on+May+11%2C+2013.+The+Illini+won+8-6.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Catching up with the 2013 Illinois baseball draft class

Justin Parr (15) bats during the game against Penn State on May 11, 2013. The Illini won 8-6.

Justin Parr (15) bats during the game against Penn State on May 11, 2013. The Illini won 8-6.

Justin Parr (15) bats during the game against Penn State on May 11, 2013. The Illini won 8-6.

Justin Parr (15) bats during the game against Penn State on May 11, 2013. The Illini won 8-6.

By Alex Roux

Turn on ESPN these days, and you’ll be bombarded with hours and hours of coverage of the upcoming NFL Draft.

With seven rounds and 32 teams picking players, the NFL Draft can seem complicated. But it’s nothing compared to the circus that is Major League Baseball’s draft.

Last year’s MLB Draft saw 1,216 players drafted over 40 rounds. Four of those players — Justin Parr, Jordan Parr, Thomas Lindauer and Kevin Johnson — were on the Illinois baseball team in 2013.

Being drafted by an MLB franchise is a dream come true for any baseball player, but it is far from a guaranteed trip to the big leagues. Drafted players have a long road to “The Show.” Many toil and struggle for years in the minor leagues, sometimes never making it to the majors. Here’s a crazy stat to illustrate the plight of some major league prospects: Since the first MLB Draft in 1965, three No. 1 overall picks went their entire careers without ever playing a single major league game.

Out of the four Illini who were drafted in 2013, Justin Parr was drafted highest, going in the eighth round to the Philadelphia Phillies. Jordan Parr, Lindauer and Johnson went in the 15th, 23rd and 24th rounds, respectively.

Each one of them is a long shot to make a major league roster. To do so, they’ll have to navigate through a maze of minor league affiliates and leagues. These include off-season and rookie leagues, Single-A, Double-A and finally Triple-A affiliates. And players only move up if they perform extremely well at each level, or show some sort of major league potential. So let’s see how our four Illini prospects have fared, nearly one year removed from draft day.

Justin Parr has made it the furthest up the minor league ladder, as he’s currently on the Clearwater Threshers of the Class A-Advanced League. However, he’s struggled in his professional career so far, batting .247 last season in Class A-Short Season ball and posting a meager .125 average for Clearwater this year. In order to keep moving up the ranks, Parr needs to find the swing that propelled him to a .398 average and a 33-game hitting streak his senior year at Illinois.

Justin’s twin brother Jordan played last season in the Diamondbacks organization for the Class A-Short Season affiliate Hillsboro Hops, batting .226. He also hit the first home run in the Hops’ new ballpark’s history.

Lindauer is off to a strong start in the Class-A Midwest League for the Quad Cities River Bandits in 2014, batting .346 through six games with two home runs. The former Illini shortstop is in the Houston Astros’ organization.

Johnson, the only pitcher in the Illini draft class, was selected by the Oakland A’s. The former Illini ace underwent Tommy John surgery, which calls for a 12-18 month rehabilitation period. He is currently rehabbing the injury.

These former Illini still have a long way to go but will continue to grind it out in hopes of one day making the majors. They’ll bounce from town to town and diamond to diamond, enduring cheesy minor league promotions and long bus rides. Teammates will come and go on rosters that are constantly in flux. Such is the life of a ballplayer chasing the dream.

Alex is a sophomore in AHS. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @aroux94.