Published On: May 21st, 2018

The Rockford Rivets are getting an infusion of talent that have proven themselves to handle strong competition. The Rivets will welcome six players from the power five conferences including two players from the Big Ten, one from the ACC, two from the Big 12, and one from the SEC. Manager Brian Smith is excited to welcome players who have competed at the highest level of NCAA Baseball.

The seven players are listed below:

Jimmy Burnette, LHP/OF, University of Illinois

Justin Walker, INF, Indiana Hoosiers

Ryan Cole, OF, Notre Dame

Hal Hughes, INF, LSU

Parker Kelly, UTL, Texas Tech

Brock Martin, OF, Texas Tech

Jimmy Burnette

 Burnette is a left-handed pitcher and outfielder in his freshman year at the University of Illinois (31-18, 15-9 BIG 10 Conference.) He’s from Chicago, Ill. He’s appeared in eight games for the Illini with six strikeouts on the year. As a senior in high school, Burnette went 7-1 helping St. Laurence finish third in the state.

Smith on Burnette- “We are excited to have another Illini ball player in 2018. We have had a great relationship with the coaching staff and they believe Jimmy has some major upside.”

Justin Walker

 From Lafayette, Ind. infielder Justin Walker will join Rockford in the 2018 season. Walker plays for the Indiana Hoosiers (37-15, 14-9 BIG 10 Conference) batting .239 with 21 RBI’s and two home runs on the year. He’s teammates with fellow Rivet Pat Loeffler. Walker is a four-year letter winner at Lafayette Jefferson High School in Indiana.

Smith on Walker- “Justin is a switch-hitting middle infielder from Indiana. He has seen a lot of time at 2B, SS, and 3B this spring. We are expecting Justin to come in and get a lot of action all over the infield.”

Ryan Cole

 Outfielder Ryan Cole joins the Rockford Rivets for the 2018 season. From San Ramon, Calif., Cole attends Notre Dame and has appeared in 27 games, starting seven. He hasn’t made an error on the season in 19 chances. He’s teammates with fellow Rivet Anthony Holubecki.

Smith on Cole- “The coaching staff at Notre Dame believes that Ryan has a very high ceiling. His speed should add another element to our lineup that should help draw some attention from opposing pitchers and defenses.”

Hal Hughes

Hal Hughes is an infielder who plays at LSU (33-23). He’s from Norman, Okla. and will be playing for the Rivets in the 2018 season. He’s started 53-55 games he’s appeared in. He has 17 RBI’s on the season while hitting .226. He’s sixth on the team with six doubles on the season. Hughes has been solid on the defensive side playing all over the infield registering a fielding percentage of .958 including 23 double plays.

Smith on Hughes- “Hal has been the everyday starting shortstop at LSU since the third week of the season. The coaching staff at LSU calls him a “gym rat”. Hal is considered to be one of the finest defensive shortstops in college baseball. His experience in the SEC will help his progression as an offensive player and we are hoping Hal comes in and contributes right away.”

Parker Kelly

 Parker Kelly is a utility player joining the Rivets for the 2018 season. He’s been playing college ball at No. 15 Texas Tech (38-15, 15-9 Big 12 Conference) from Wichita Falls, Texas. He’s played in 10 games with one start.

Smith on Kelly- “We have had a lot of success with Texas Tech players the past two years and this year should not be any different.  Parker Kelly hasn’t seen much playing time this spring, but he has some tools that should help him contribute immediately.”

Brock Martin

 Brock is an outfielder coming straight from Central High School in San Angelo, Texas to join the Rivets in 2018. Brock signed to play alongside his brother Davis at Texas Tech. Brock hit .491 with 7 home runs and 40 RBI’s.

Smith on Martin- “We are excited to see Brock in action this summer. I can’t say enough about the players Texas Tech has sent to us in the past. The bar is set high for the Tech boys and I fully expect them to live up to the Red Raiders hype.”

Tickets for the Rockford Rivets are available for purchase, including our 5-Game Pack which now costs only $60. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Rivets’ Ticket Office at (815) 240-4159.

The Rockford Rivets are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Entering its 25th anniversary season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 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 185 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (TOR).  All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Rivets as your favorite team.

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