Published On: June 7th, 2018

With the final picks of the 2018 MLB Draft coming on Wednesday night, eight former Rockford Rivets and one current member of the 2018 roster were selected by Major League Baseball teams. The nine players taken in this year’s drafted included, Bren Spillane, Eric Cole, Kacey Murphy, Hunter Steinmetz, Hunter Feduccia, Jesse Wilkening, Michael Mateja, Zach Rheams and Zach Watson.

Below is more information on each player included when they were drafted and which team they were drafted by.

Bren Spillane

College: University of Illinois

Drafted: Cincinnati Reds (Round 3, Pick 4)

Position: 1B, 3B, OF

Spillane appeared in 45 games in his 2017 campaign for Rockford and put up a .283 batting average of .283 with 4 home runs, 24 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.

The Wheeling, Illinois native had a historic season for the Fighting Illini and he is now the highest drafted position player in program history. As a junior, he earned 2018 Collegiate Baseball Newspaper National Player of the Year, Big Ten Player of the Year and Baseball American First Team All-American. He boasted a .903 slugging percentage, .389 batting average and a .498 on-base percentage. In 2018, Spillane managed to hit 23 homeruns, with 60 RBIs and showed great athleticism by stealing 16 bases. Although he primarily played first base this season, has him listed as a first baseman, third baseman and outfielder.

Eric Cole

College: Arkansas

Drafted: Kansas City Royals (Round 4, Pick 122)

Position: OF

Cole only played in 10 games for the Rivets last summer but, in that short amount of time, he put up a .389 batting average.

The switch-hitter hit .276 in his first two years at Arkansas with five homeruns. Those numbers increased drastically this year and he improved his batting average to .328 while adding 13 homeruns and 47 RBIs. He is currently playing in the NCAA Tournament with fellow Rivets alum Kacey Murphy.

Kacey Murphy

College: Arkansas

Drafted: Detroit Tigers (Round 11, Pick 315)

Position: LHP

Murphy appeared in 18 games for the Rivets in the summer of 2016 and posted a record of 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA. In 40.2 innings pitched, he struck out 46 batters while allowing just 16 walks. He primarily came out of the bullpen for Rockford.

The Lefty had an 8-4 record in 15 games his senior season with Arkansas. In 88 innings this season he put up a 2.86 ERA with 74 strikeouts and 16 walks. He and Cole are currently in the Super Regionals in the NCAA Tournament and will take on South Carolina on Saturday, June 9.

Hunter Steinmetz

College: Missouri State

Drafted: Toronto Blue Jays (Round 11, Pick 326)

Position: OF

Steinmetz played 30 games in Rockford during the 2016 season while batting .217 and hitting one homerun with 11 RBIs.

The junior from Missouri State batted .307 this year with five homeruns and 37 RBIs. He was named second-team all conference for the Missouri Valley Conference and additionally made the all-defensive team. His season with Bears recently ended when they lost to Tennessee in the Regionals of the NCAA Tournament.

Hunter Feduccia

College: LSU

Drafted: Los Angeles Dodgers (Round 12, Pick 374)

Position: C

Feduccia put up huge numbers during his time as a Rockford Rivet in 2017. In 46 games, he had 43 runs and 64 hits. This includes 8 homeruns with 41 RBIs and a batting average of .348.

Feduccia spent his first two years in college at LSU-Eunice junior college in Louisiana where he recorded a .394 batting average. He then made the move to LSU where he started 48 games this year and had a .233 batting average with a .375 on-base percentage.

Jesse Wilkening

College: Nebraska

Drafted: Philadelphia Phillies (Round 14, Pick 407)

Position: C

Wilkening only played in seven games for Rockford in 2016 and put up a batting average of .250 with six hits in 24 at bats.

The Nebraska junior led the team this year with a .372 batting average and 56 RBIs. He was also second on the team with nine homeruns and started every game as the Cornhusker’s catcher and also had a .445 on-base percentage.

Michael Mateja

College: North Central College (Division III)

Drafted: Atlanta Braves (Round 25, Pick 742)

Position: INF

The Bourbonnais native made his first appearances in a Rivet’s uniform a couple weeks ago when he got the start at third base on opening day May 29. His batting average is currently at .231.

During his time at North Central, Mateja set the single season record for triples (8) and was also the first player in school history to have 80 hits in a season. His batting average was over .350 all four years at school and finished his junior year with a .444 batting average, .534 on-base percentage, 54 runs and four triples.

Zach Rheams

College: Texas Tech

Drafted: New York Mets (Round 27, Pick 800)

Position: INF

Rheams was apart of the 2017 Rivets team and played in 52 games. He batted .245 with 4 homeruns and 28 RBIs.

The Texas Tech product batted .347 this year for the Red Raiders with a .743 slugging percentage and a .475 on-base percentage. Rheams started 37 regular season games and appeared in 45. The slugger also hit 16 homeruns with 53 RBIs. Texas Tech recently advanced to Super Regionals in the NCAA tournament and their next game, and possibly Rheams next appearance, will be on Saturday, June 9 against Duke.

Zach Watson

College: LSU

Drafted: Boston Red Sox (Round 40, Pick 1210)

Position: OF

Watson played for the Rivets in 2017 playing only ten games for Rockford. In 38 at-bats he had a .342 average, with 14 RBIs.

Another LSU Tiger that has ties to the Rivets, Watson is coming off a successful sophomore campaign in Baton Rouge. Batting with a .312 career batting average, he also packs a pop in his bat with 16 career homeruns in college, to add to his total of 71 RBIs. Last year, he was named to the Freshman All-American team after a successful first year of work, and his talent transferred to the post-season, being named to the College World Series All-Tournament team with the Tigers as well.

The Rockford Rivets are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Now in 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 190 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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