Published On: March 2nd, 2016

LOVES PARK, Ill. – Two University of Illinois Chicago teammates off to hot starts will fill infield roles with the Rockford Rivets this summer.


The Stateline’s new Northwoods League team announced its first player acquisitions, UIC Flames Ricardo Ramirez and David Cronin, on Tuesday. The Horizon League named Rodriguez the conference’s Hitter of the Week on Feb. 23 after a four-home run opening weekend to the college season.


Rivets manager Brian Smith, a longtime acquaintance of members of the UIC coaching staff, said the “gameday personalities” of the players when he watched the two in a workout was as important as the stat lines.


"I looked for players with similar skill sets of those who I saw have successful careers in the NWL, not just stats from school," said Smith, who played summers in the league for the Madison Mallards while a student-athlete at Northern Illinois University.


"I spoke with all of the players and they know that starting spots won't be given out because of the school they attend,” Smith said. “I had the luxury of playing for (manager) C.J. Thieleke in Madison. “He expected every one of his players to battle every day with each other for playing time. He always wanted to put on the best show possible every night. I'm going to expect the same from our players. I am going to have the flexibility to create some exciting line ups. Ricardo and David are just two pieces to a much larger puzzle."


Ramirez, a junior from Chicago De La Salle Institute, is a finance major in his junior season. Through seven UIC games, Ramirez is hitting .333 with four home runs and 16 RBI. He went 8-for-17 in a season-opening series at Texas Southern.


"Ricardo will be primarily a first baseman with UIC in the spring but he has spent time at all four infield positions,” Smith said. “His easy power and arm strength stood out to me when I saw him work out in the fall.”


Cronin, a sophomore from Orland Park Sandburg High School, is a criminology major. Cronin is batting .286 with three homers and has driven in six runs. He’s been the Flames’ starting second baseman since last season.


“David has the ability to play all around the field,” Smith said. “He can find his way into the lineup a few different ways and make an impact immediately."


Rockford is a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League, which will play its 23rd season of summer collegiate baseball in 2016. The Northwoods League is the largest organized 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 140 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (Washington Nationals) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (Chicago White Sox), Jordan Zimmermann (Detroit Tigers), Curtis Granderson (New York Mets), Lucas Duda (Mets) and Ben Zobrist (Chicago Cubs). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League Website, 

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