With the 71st pick in the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft, the Tampa Bay Rays selected Illinois State outfielder Ryan Cermak.
"I am extremely thankful to be selected by the Tampa Bay Rays," Cermak said. "It's a dream come true and tremendous honor to be drafted. I am grateful for my parents, coaches, trainers and teammates who helped me get to this point."
Coming to ISU as a shortstop and pitcher originally, Cermak struggled at the plate his freshman year, starting 13 games and hitting just .208 with two home runs and seven RBIs. After transitioning to become a center-fielder his sophomore season, Cermak is now coming off a stellar season in which he hit .340 at the plate, recording 19 home runs and 43 RBIs.
"He continued to get better when he got to campus. I think he showed up as a 6.8 runner, and he has turned himself into a 6.3 runner. The arm strength got a little bit better every year," ISU head coach Steve Holm said on Cermak's growth as a player from freshman year to the draft. "Ultimately I think we saw somewhat early that he had that ability to do it, but then ultimately it comes down to the kid. There's a lot of kids with ability in college baseball, but there's not too many that actually put their nose to the grindstone and get the most out of it."
The Riverside, Illinois, native was an All-Missouri Valley Conference First Team recipient, MVC Defensive Player of the Year and an ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner in the 2022 season.
"If you were to ask me three years ago, or even two years ago in my freshman year and beginning of sophomore year, I would have never guessed that I would even be an outfielder, one, and two, getting drafted as an outfielder," Cermak said.
Cermak has agreed to terms with the Rays and plans to begin work with the organization shortly.