Marion, IL – The Southern Illinois Miners announced yesterday that they have signed four players from the California Winter League to their 2018 roster, welcoming infielders Jake Willsey and Cletis Avery along with pitchers Kyle Brown and Noe Arteaga to the club.
Willsey is coming off a four-year collegiate career at Tulane University in New Orleans, where he was an outstanding defender and reliable hitter at second base. He clubbed nine homers as a senior in 2017 and put up a .983 fielding percentage, making just five errors in over 300 chances in the field while also turning 53 double plays in just 58 games. As a junior, he made Second Team All-American Athletic Conference for the Green Wave, batting .265 with 10 homers and 31 RBIs in 2016 while committing just six errors in over 250 chances defensively. For his career, the Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts native batted .256 with 19 homers and 70 RBIs in 204 games, and turned 139 double plays to rank second in program history.
While playing for the Palm Springs Power in the CWL, Willsey batted .375 in 40 at-bats while leading the team with 15 runs scored and tying for the team-best with 11 RBIs in only 15 games.
Avery is coming off an outstanding senior year at Presbyterian College in NCAA Division-I, batting .265 with four homers, 34 RBIs, 19 doubles and 19 stolen bases in 26 attempts while starting all 61 games for the Blue Hose in 2017 along with a .942 fielding percentage in over 250 chances in the field. A middle infielder who played shortstop and second base at Presbyterian, Avery batted .269 with five home runs, 30 RBIs, 14 doubles and 15 stolen bases in 57 contests as a junior in 2016 after helping lead St. John’s River State College in Florida to back-to-back conference titles in 2014 and 2015.
Also playing for the Power this winter, Avery batted .341 with 10 runs scored (ranking second only to fellow Miners signee Jake Willsey), 11 RBIs (tying with Willsey for the team lead), three doubles and a pair of triples in 15 contests.
A tall left-handed pitcher from Arroyo Grande, California, Kyle Brown comes to the Miners after finishing his college career at Cal State – Monterey Bay, where over 17 appearances he struck out 25 while walking only nine in 25 1/3 innings. The 6’6” southpaw was outstanding at Long Beach State as a junior as well, posting a 1.50 ERA as a reliever over 17 appearances with 11 strikeouts and only four walks in 2016. He also played two seasons at the College of Southern Nevada.
With the Power in the CWL, Brown was outstanding on the hill, going 3-0 with a 0.70 ERA in seven games, six of which were starts. In 20 innings, he allowed just 14 hits and six walks with 22 strikeouts.
Arteaga, a Chicago native, comes downstate to start his pro career with the Miners after pitching two years at Chicago State University. In 20 games as a senior, Arteaga struck out 34 batters in 43 2/3 innings. The 6’2” right-hander also played two seasons at Danville Area Community College in Virginia after a high school career at Gordon Tech in his hometown.
Arteaga was a strikeout artist while pitching for Palm Springs this winter, fanning 20 batters in only 13 innings on the mound over seven games while also making four starts. He finished the CWL season with a record of 2-1.
“It was a pleasure managing and evaluating Noe Artega, Cletis Avery, Kyle Brown and Jake Willsey,” said Miners Scouting and Player Acquisition Coordinator Casey Dill, who managed all four with the Palm Springs Power in the CWL. “Mike (Pinto) and I began the scouting process on these players once the Frontier League season ended. They are all players that attended our tryout in Southern Illinois- they all stood out and showed very well, and we wanted to see them play more before making any decisions. The CWL provided a platform to see how these players compete on a daily basis, get to know them as men, and compare their ability with other players in the league.”
“I was able to provide Mike and the rest of the Miners’ coaching staff with in-depth scouting reports and even video to better help us make our decision as a group,” Dill added. “What we concluded was that these four players could all potentially have roles that would help the team win baseball games, as well as represent the organization to the standard that is required by all Miners players.”