UIC pitchers selected in MLB draft

Senior Ryan Campbell (left) was chosen by the Cincinnati Reds, and junior Charlie Cerny was selected in round seven by the Oakland Athletics.

For the second time in as many seasons, a pair of UIC Flames were selected in the top 10 rounds of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft June 5. Senior Ryan Campbell was chosen by the Cincinnati Reds in the fifth round and junior Charlie Cerny was selected in round seven by the Oakland Athletics.

It is the first time in program history that two UIC players have been selected in the first seven rounds. Campbell is the highest draft pick (5-139) from the Flames since Curtis Granderson was taken by the Detroit Tigers in the third round (3-80) in 2002. Cerny is the fourth-highest selection (7-203) among all draftees in program history. Tom Szymborski, who pitched at UIC from 1994-96, was picked in the sixth round, 170th overall, by the San Diego Padres in 1996.

Campbell made a team-high 13 starts in 2018 after making 14 of his 16 appearances out of the bullpen as a junior in 2017. He led the squad with a 1.53 ERA, which ranks fourth in the NCAA through the regional round of the NCAA Tournament. It is also the seventh-best single-season mark in program history. The right-hander threw five complete games this year. Three of Campbell’s five complete games were shutouts, including two against Milwaukee.

The reigning Horizon League Pitcher of the Year led the Flames with seven wins in 2018, while striking out 68 with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.6. Campbell leads UIC and ranks 87th nationally with 1.82 walks allowed per nine innings as he threw a team-high 94 innings during the spring.

Campbell, an All-Horizon League First Team honoree, saved his best performance for his last. In the first game of the Horizon League Championship last month, Campbell carried the Flames and allowed just two hits in a 6-0 victory against Milwaukee May 24. He fanned five, did not walk a Panther and retired 23 consecutive hitters from the second inning on to conclude the victory. He was named to the Horizon League Championship All-Tournament Team.

For his two-year career at UIC, Campbell turned in a 1.83 ERA in 118 innings, which is the best overall average in program history (minimum 100 innings).

The Cincinnati Reds have chosen a pitcher from the Flames in back-to-back drafts. Connor Ryan was selected in the eighth round (pick 227) during the 2017 First-Year Draft. He is currently with the organization’s Class A affiliate, the Dayton Dragons.

Cerny recently concluded a sensational season on the mound for UIC. The right-hander spent time as both a reliever and starter before claiming Horizon League Relief Pitcher of the Year honors in May. He made 21 appearances with five starts while posting a 1.63 earned-run average, a mark that ranks seventh in the NCAA as of Draft Day. Cerny also ranks in the top five nationally in both walks plus hits per inning pitched and hits allowed per nine innings.

Opponents batted only .166 with four extra-base hits against Cerny, an All-Horizon League First Team member. He did not allow a home run and struck out 64 with only 12 walks in 55.1 innings pitched. He was the only player in the conference to win a weekly award three times in 2018.

As a team, UIC recorded eight shutouts in 2018, which ranks third in the NCAA behind Stetson and UCF (9). Cerny was on the bump during three of those efforts, which tied for the team lead. Perhaps the most memorable outing of his junior season came April 28 against Milwaukee. That afternoon Cerny fired his first career complete game in a shutout against Milwaukee. He struck out eight, a career-high at the time, did not issue a base on balls and scattered three hits. In his final start of the regular season May 18, Cerny set a new high mark with nine punch-outs and no walks in six scoreless innings against Youngstown State.

Cerny joins former Flame Mickey McDonald in the Athletics organization. The former third baseman and outfielder was selected in the 18th round (pick 531) in 2017. McDonald is currently playing with the Beloit Snappers, the team’s Class A affiliate. He’s batting .278 with 10 extra-base hits and 11 stolen bases in 45 games this spring.

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