By: Nick Ulfers
This year, Illinois State had a record six baseball players taken in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft. Among those is right-handed pitcher Jeremy Rhoades, a junior, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Rhoades has been amongst the best arms in the Missouri Valley Conference, finishing the year with an impressive 2.35 ERA and snagging All-MVC Honorable Mention honors. Rhoades is the highest draft pick in over a decade for ISU.
You were one of the highest draft picks Illinois State has had in years. How did the program help to elevate your draft stock so much?
The coaching staff really helped me by teaching me how to not only be a good pitcher fundamentally, but they really helped me develop my mental approach to pitching and that definitely helped me succeed at the college level and ultimately helped me raise my draft stock.
Can you describe your emotions when you were selected in the fourth round by the Los Angeles Angels? Did you expect to be drafted so high?
When I got the call for the Angels and they said they were going to draft me, I was so overwhelmed with emotion. It’s hard to describe how I felt but I was extremely excited and so honored to be drafted by the Angels. I had been told that I could have been drafted anywhere from the third round all the way up to the tenth round so when I was taken in the fourth round I was kind of surprised but also extremely happy because all the hard work and great coaching helped me get there.
What aspects of your game do you think will translate best to the next level?
I think that my mental approach to pitching will translate to the next level and that will help me succeed. I have a lot of work to do to be good at the next level but I think ISU has laid a great foundation down for me that I can build off of so that I will succeed at the next level.
Which skills do you plan to work on the most when you make the jump to the professional level?
I really need to work on repeating my mechanics over and over again on every pitch. I also need to work on making my changeup a consistent pitch that I can throw in any situation. That will allow me to throw three pitches confidently in any count and that will ultimately help me be a successful pitcher at the next level.
Which MLB player, past or present, would you compare your style of play to?
I compare myself to Greg Maddux because he was very aggressive and liked to attack the strike zone with all of his pitches.
What moment of your ISU career thus far has been the one you are most proud of?
I think the proudest moment of my ISU career was when I was on the mound when we won the MVC outright last year. That was such an exciting moment in my life and for my teammates when we got to dogpile on Southern Illinois’s field after winning the conference outright for the first time in school history.
What factors will you consider the most when deciding whether or not to stay another year at Illinois State or to sign with the LA Angels?
I actually have already signed my professional contract with the Angels and am currently playing in Orem, Utah. I decided to forgo my senior year at ISU and am really looking forward to playing for the LA Angels. I think that I am in a place where it makes sense to start my professional career and move on from ISU. It was a tough decision to make because ISU has been amazing for me. I fell in love with the school and the campus and the people there and it will be difficult to not come back for my senior year but I am excited to start my professional career and see what is to come in the future.