The first alumni report this week features a very recognizable name from the Chinooks' inaugural season roster, Eric Aguilera. From Cary, Illinois, Aguilera attended Cary-Grove High School where he put up very impressive numbers. During his senior year, Eric hit for a .425 average, 4 HR’s, and 33 RBI’s which earned him a spot on the Fox Valley All-Conference Team. Also during his senior year, he helped lead Cary-Grove HS to a division championship.
After high school, Aguilera attended Heartland Community College where he continued to add to his impressive resumé. During his freshman year he continued to bat well over .400, ending the season with a .425 batting average, 11 HR’s, and 59 RBI’s. Heartland would finish the season with a 49-9-1 record and ranked 15th amongst NJCAA schools. His resume continued to grow during his sophomore year as he ended with a stunning .470 batting average, 20 HR’s, and 71 RBI’s. Aguilera was also named the Mid-West Athletic Conference Player of the Year and helped his school to a conference championship.
Eric then made the move to Illinois State University in 2011. He got off to a fast start after hitting a two-run homer in his first ever at bat for the Redbirds and collected four RBI’s in his first five hits. Shortly after, Aguilera was injured and was declared a medical redshirt for the rest of the season.
Before heading to Lakeshore in 2012, Aguilera had a very successful season with the Redbirds, collecting 67 hits and a .330 batting average. He was also named to the All-Missouri Valley Conference First Team.
In the summer of 2012, Eric Aguilera made the trip north to join John Vodenlich and rest of the Chinooks for their inaugural season campaign. Eric appeared in 46 games for the Chinooks, including the Chinooks first game ever. If you look at a box score from the 2012 season, it will be tough for you to find a date where Aguilera did not record a hit for Lakeshore. He would end up leaving the Chinooks in late July due to injury, but during his time with the team, he managed a .369 batting average–the highest on the team in 2012. His average was also fourth best in the league during the 2012 season. Eric recorded 69 hits, 31 runs, 4 HR’s, and 28 RBI’s. He even made an appearance on the mound, starting for the Chinooks on June 3rd against the Battle Creek Bombers. He ended up pitching three innings and giving up two runs.
Aguilera’s impressive offensive numbers helped him earn a spot on the South Division squad for the annual Northwoods League All-Star Game, which was held in Madison. Eric went 2 for 3 at the plate and started the game in right field. The All-Star Game would end up being Aguilera’s final game in the Northwoods League as he would head home shortly after due to his injury.
He returned to Illinois State University in 2013 for his senior year and picked up right where he left off in 2012. His finished his career as a Redbird with a .346 batting average, 80 hits, 7 HR’s, and 58 RBI’s. He also earned his second selection on the All-Missouri Valley Conference First Team.
On May 30th, 2013, Aguilera returned to Kapco Park for Opening Day, but not as a player. He was named the Kapco Steel Slugger of 2012 and was presented with the award during a pre-game ceremony. Eric also had the opportunity to meet MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, who was on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. An interesting side note, another Illinois State University player will be returning to Kapco Park next May, as catcher Mike Hollenbeck will receive his MVP award which he was awarded last month by the organization.
In June, Aguilera was selected in the MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Angels in the 34th round (1,027th overall). Eric would report to rookie ball with the Orem Owlz. Orem belongs to the Pioneer League. One change Aguilera had to adjust to was being moved from right field (the position he played while with the Redbirds and Chinooks) to first base. Just like in high school, college, and summer collegiate baseball, Aguilera put up quite the offensive numbers for the Owlz. He appeared in 59 games and ended with a batting average of .306–second best on the team. He also had the 13th best batting average in the Pioneer League. He finished 1st in HR’s for the Owlz with 10 and 1st in RBI’s with 53. His 10 HR’s were seventh best in the league while his 53 RBI’s were third best in the league. The Owlz would go on to finish the season 39-36, which was good for 2nd in the South Division of the Pioneer League.
Putting up good offensive numbers seems to be a trend for Eric Aguilera. He has continued to improve his skills while moving up to the next level. If his performance this past summer in rookie ball was any indication of things to come, it won’t be long until we see Aguilera make his way through the minors and ultimately joining the Angels roster.
The Lakeshore Chinooks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 21st season of summer collegiate baseball, the Northwoods League is the largest organized summer collegiate baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 115 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including MLB All-Stars Max Scherzer (DET), Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYY), Allen Craig (STL) and Ben Zobrist (TB). All league games are viewable live and free of charge via the Northwoods League YouTube channel. For more information, visit lakeshorechinooks.com.