Miners Ink Young Talent for 2018

Southern Illinois continues to build roster with signing of eight rookies

Marion, IL (March 12, 2018) – The Southern Illinois Miners announce that they have continued to add to their roster for the 2018 campaign, signing outfielders Bryson Bowman, Chris Scura, Erik Williams and Corey Dempster, infielders Trevor Rucker, Austin Call and Julian Russell, and left-handed pitcher Billy Griffin.

Bryson Bowman comes to the Miners after a tremendous two-year career at Western Carolina University. As a senior in 2017, he was the Southern Conference Player of the Year and Third Team NCBWA All-American, batting .381 with 15 doubles, 11 home runs and 59 RBIs. The Baton, North Carolina native smacked 86 hits on the season and reached base safely in the team’s first 42 games en route to doing so in 55 of 56 contests. He also was a Second Team All-SoCon selection as a junior, hitting .326 with 19 homers and 60 RBIs in 61 games for the Catamounts after playing his first two collegiate seasons at Catawba Valley Community College. He is serving as a volunteer assistant coach with WCU this season.

Chris Scura hails from Selden, New York on Long Island, and comes to Marion with professional experience in the Pecos and Atlantic Leagues. He batted .415 with 17 doubles, 35 RBIs, 19 stolen bases, 64 runs scored and 95 hits in 57 games last year in the Pecos League with the Alpine Cowboys, ranking in the league’s top-10 in all the aforementioned statistical categories including tying for third in the circuit in hits. He also split 2016 with Topeka in the same league, batting .323 with 10 doubles and 28 stolen bases in 58 games, and also the Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic League, playing in 18 contests.

Erik Williams finished his collegiate career with a bang in 2017 as a senior at Bluefield College in Virginia, batting .396 with 21 home runs, 66 RBIs, 19 doubles and 86 hits in 63 games for the Rams while also posting a .484 on-base percentage and .783 slugging percentage. The Bakersfield, California native earned Honorable Mention NAIA All-American honors as well as First Team All-Appalachian Athletic Conference accolades for his efforts, coming one season after he hit .328 with 14 homers, 46 RBIs and a .639 slugging percentage as a junior at Bluefield. He also spent two years at Bakersfield Community College in his hometown.

Corey Dempster joins Southern Illinois’ roster after a four-year college career at the University of Southern California. A starter for the last two years at USC, he batted .273 as a senior with 15 doubles, four homers and 27 RBIs in 49 games. As a junior, he was named All-Pac 12 Honorable Mention, batting .290 with 11 doubles, six home runs, 24 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 12 attempts in 49 contests. He was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 37th round of the MLB Draft following that season, but chose to return to the Trojans.

Trevor Rucker also comes to the Miners off of a stellar senior season and career at Southern Arkansas University. The infielder batted .393 with 20 doubles, 20 homers, 49 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 25 attempts over 53 games with the Muleriders in 2017, making him the only player in all of NCAA baseball to record 20 or more doubles, homers, and stolen bases. He was the unanimous Great American Conference Player of the Year, a First Team NCBWA and ABCA All-American, a Rawlings Second Team All-American, and one of 12 finalists for the Tino Martinez Division-II Player of the Year award. Originally from Prescott, Arkansas, Rucker, who was teammates with former Miner Billy Germaine as a sophomore and junior, earned all-conference honors each of his four years at SAU, becoming the first player in conference history to achieve the feat.

Austin Call joins the black and gold from Tarleton State University in Texas, a program that has also produced former Miners Pete Perez, Miguel Ramirez and Britt Robertshaw. He batted .342 with seven homers and 40 RBIs in 45 games as a senior to take home Second Team All-Lone Star Conference honors as a senior in 2017. The infielder from Roseville, California also played one season at Abilene Christian University, where he was teammates with current Miners pitcher Nick Palacios, and two seasons at American River College in California, where former Miners pitcher and coach Preston Vancil works as the pitching coach.

Julian Russell comes to Southern Illinois after five seasons at Chicago State University, where he was teammates with recent Miners signee Noe Arteaga. A shortstop from Chicago, Russell batted .258 with six homers and 20 RBIs while putting up a .951 fielding percentage in 268 chances on defense in 2017 as a redshirt senior.

Adding to their pitching staff, Billy Griffin comes to the Miners after playing four years at Washington College in Maryland. The southpaw went 4-3 with a 3.73 ERA over 10 starts for the Shoremen, striking out 81 while walking just 10 batters and permitting 56 hits in 60 1/3 innings as a senior, leading the Centennial Conference with 12.08 strikeouts per nine innings. The lefty, who hails from Middletown, Maryland, also posted a 2.52 ERA in seven games, striking out 30 and walking 11 in 39 1/3 innings as a junior to take home all-conference honorable mention honors.

“I am very excited about the crop of new rookies coming in this spring training,” Miners manager Mike Pinto said. “It will certainly be a spirited atmosphere in spring training as all these very talented players compete for spots on our roster, and for important roles with our team this season.”