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Mallards sign pair of Louisville Cardinals in Self & Zych

Madison, WI – February 20, 2009. A pair of Louisville Cardinal freshman right-handed pitchers in Derek Self and Tony Zych (pronounced ‘Zick’) have signed with the Mallards for the 2009 season, bringing the team’s roster to 23 heading into next week’s final player announcements. Self earned four letters in both baseball and basketball while playing at Cavera High School (Cave City, KY). As a senior he was named to the 2008 Pro-Day All-American Team, a camp featuring the nation’s best young baseball prospects played in Orange Beach, Al.

Meanwhile, Zych comes to Madison after earning four letters in baseball at St. Rita High School (Chicago, Ill.) where he received numerous awards including being named to the Rawlings Preseason All-American Team and National Baseball Coaches Association All-District Team. As a senior he hit .426 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs while also posting a 7-2 record and 2.63 ERA on the mound. Zych was selected in the 46th round of the 2008 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs.

Recruiting in the Northwoods League is all about building solid relationships with coaching staffs at various college baseball programs, and Mallards Manager C.J. Thieleke believes he has found a good one at Louisville.

“Pitching coach Roger Williams is one of the best in the country in being able to take a young pitcher out of high school and make him into a viable draft prospect,” said Thieleke.

“And if the kid isn’t good enough for the draft, Roger will still instill the proper mechanics and mental toughness needed to win ballgames at any level. He seems to have that magic tough so we’re very excited to receive two kids from his program this summer.”

In Zych, the Mallards receive a right-hander capable of throwing in the mid-90’s who can also use the bat well.

“We like Tony because he gives us a lot of flexibility in being able to use his arm in the bullpen and his bat in the right situations,” added Thieleke.

“Coming out of Chicago he was one of that area’s top-5 power arms so we’re very excited to be a part of his development into becoming a dominant college pitcher.”

Meanwhile, Thieleke figures Self will have a chance to crack the Mallards starting rotation given that his spring season matches what he was able to accomplish in the fall.

“Derek was thrown right into the mix in the fall and certainly didn’t let anybody down,” said Thieleke.

“He possesses a very clean delivery that should keep his arm fresh and healthy by the time he’s called upon to pitch in Madison. Right now Derek is being molded into a long reliever, much like Gabriel Shaw (who pitched in Madison last summer) was a year ago. Shaw was a Mid-Season All-Star for us so we’re very excited about the potential both of these youngsters have.”