Jordan Parr one of three Illini drafted Saturday
Twin brothers Justin and Jordan Parr weren’t drafted by the same major league team this weekend, but one of these pro-bound Illinois baseball players could be a teammate of another family member this summer.
Jordan was selected Saturday in the 15th round of the MLB amateur draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. That’s the same organization for which older brother Josh Parr, a third-year pro shortstop, plays.
“I was, obviously, extremely excited,” said Jordan, a redshirt junior left fielder who indicated he would sign with Arizona rather than return to the UI for his senior year. “Josh is down in Arizona now, so I’ll be seeing him (Sunday) night.”
Josh Parr currently is participating in extended spring training but is listed on the roster of the Hillsboro (Ore.) Hops, a Diamondbacks’ affiliate in the Short-Season Class A Northwest League. The Hops are scheduled to play their season opener Friday.
“We could be going to the same short-season team,” Jordan said. “It’d be cool. It wouldn’t be anything different. I’m just trying to go play and worry about myself.”
One year after being drafted in the 26th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Jordan saw his draft stock rise 11 rounds. He hit .305 with a team-high-tying nine home runs this spring and was second on the Illini in RBI with 47. He also tied for the team lead in stolen bases with 23 in 27 attempts.
And because of brother Josh, Jordan Parr is more familiar with how Arizona operates its player-development system than most draftees.
“It’s a great organization,” Jordan said, “and I think they do a good job of moving along players, and hopefully I can develop in there.”
Astros like Lindauer. Jordan Parr isn’t the only Illini starter with remaining eligibility who apparently won’t return next season.
Junior shortstop Thomas Lindauer, who was drafted Saturday in the 23rd round by the Houston Astros, said he expects to turn pro.
“I think I’m going to probably sign,” he said. “They’re bringing a contract in (today) ... so I’m probably going to be gone.”
A two-year starter at shortstop for Illinois, Lindauer earned first-team All-Big Ten honors this spring after hitting .309 with a team-high-tying nine home runs.
The Moline native impressed with his defense and arm strength, too. Lindauer took part in 45 double plays and racked up 305 fielding chances while limiting his errors to 10.
Lindauer said the Astros have indicated they don’t project him playing another infield position at the next level.
“They want me to stay at short, and that’s where they see me in the future,” he said.
That future could include playing near his hometown. The Astros have a full-season Class A affiliate — the Quad City Bandits — in Davenport, Iowa, which is located across the Mississippi River from Moline.
“I think that would probably come in the future,” Lindauer said. “I’m sure I’ll go to one of the short-season A teams in the next few days.”
Johnson, take two. Kevin Johnson returned to the UI for his senior season after being selected in the 2012 draft. A year later, the Illini right-hander again saw his name come up on the draft board.
The Oakland Athletics took Johnson in the 24th round. Last June, he was a 31st-round choice of the New York Yankees.
“Obviously I’m ecstatic ... to go a little bit higher,” Johnson said. “It just helps you out, I think, in the long run in the pro system to be drafted a little bit higher. Maybe get a little bit more opportunity.”
Johnson’s draft stock apparently wasn’t hurt by the forearm strain that cut short his final college season. A fixture in the Illini starting rotation since his freshman year, Johnson finished his UI career as the program’s all-time leader in innings pitched (334) and as a 20-game winner. However, because of the forearm injury, he was limited to one inning in the UI’s final four Big Ten series and remained sidelined for the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.
That obviously didn’t deter the A’s from picking Johnson, who was ordered by his doctor to do no throwing for six to eight weeks after the cause of the pain was determined.
“I’m at about Week 6 now, so basically this week or next week I’m going to start up a throwing program and just kind of build it back up,” he said. “So it’s going to take a little bit of time but ... I should be good to go probably in a couple weeks.”
Johnson said he has accepted the A’s offer and will leave today for the team’s training facility in Arizona.
Josh Parr update. With Illini senior center fielder Justin Parr having been drafted in the eighth round Friday by the Philadelphia Phillies, all three Parr brothers will be in pro ball this summer.
Josh Parr, a 12th-round draft pick in 2011, experienced a setback that summer when he was hit in the face by a pitch. Parr was hitting .288 at the time, but he struggled at the plate when he returned last season. This year, the Diamondbacks decided to keep him in extended spring training and delay his season debut until mid-June.
“He’s doing good,” Jordan Parr said. “He’s working with a hitting instructor right now, and they’re trying to get his swing smoothed out.
“After that face thing two years ago, he’s kind of been slow with the bat ever since then, but they think they worked it out and hopefully now he can move up the ranks.”
On the way or not? Illini recruit Alex Greer, a sophomore at Iowa Western Community College, was drafted in the 29th round by the Cincinnati Reds. Greer is considered a strong candidate to start in the UI outfield next season. With Jordan Parr leaving before his senior year, all three UI starting outfielders must be replaced in 2014.
Another potential Illini newcomer also was drafted. Outfielder Michael Hermosillo of Ottawa was taken in the 28th round by the Los Angeles Angels. Hermosillo is a UI football signee who has indicated he would like to be a two-sport athlete at the UI.
Illini connection. A University of Texas outfielder with UI ties was chosen in the 16th round. The Cleveland Indians selected Longhorns junior Mark Payton, son of former Illini infielder/outfielder Dave Payton, with the 471st overall pick.
Dave Payton was a four-year letter winner at Illinois in the mid-1980s, twice earning All-Big Ten honors. He remains the Illini career leader in RBI (210) and doubles (78).
His son was a unanimous All-Big 12 first-team choice after hitting a team-high .393. Mark Payton reached base safely in his final 39 games of the season.