(Pictured: Nick Blackburn. Photo courtesy University of Illinois Athletics.)
Trio of Right-Handed Pitchers Round Out the Rafters Staff
Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.- The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters are pleased to announce the signing of three right-handed pitchers. Nick Blackburn (Illinois), Connor McClain (Central Arkansas), and Brandon Mahovlich (Bellevue College) have signed contracts to join the Rafters for the 2014 season. With the signings the Rafters have released their entire 30-man roster for the 2014 season.
RHP- Nick Blackburn, 6’2”, 205 lbs (R/R) Sophomore
Blackburn has been a valuable asset out of the bullpen for the Illini so far this season. Through 12.2 innings of relief work he carries an ERA of 3.55, however Blackburn has been excellent as of late giving up only one earned run in his last eight appearances while striking out six. This will be Nick’s second season in summer collegiate baseball as he spent last year with the Fayetteville Swampdogs of the Coastal Plain League. In his freshman campaign at Illinois he made 10 appearances including six starts finishing with a record of 2-1. Blackburn joins fellow Illinois players Michael Hurwitz and John Kravetz on the Rafters for the 2014 season. The Nequa Valley, IL native is majoring in Business.
RHP- Connor McClain, 6’1”, 205 lbs (R/R) Junior
Early in his junior season McClain has been an integral part of the Bears pitching staff, starting five games while coming out of the bullpen in four others. Compiling a 4-2 record so far this season, McClain has tallied 29 strikeouts in 38 innings pitched. In his sophomore season at Central Arkansas he made eleven appearances finishing with a 1-0 record and minuscule 1.54 ERA. He struck out eleven while walking only three and kept opposing hitters to just a .125 batting average against him. McClain is a native of Conway, AR.
RHP- Brandon Mahovlich, 6’1”, 210 lbs (R/R) Sophomore
Even in limited work this season, Mahovlich has been excellent not allowing a single run in seven innings, while striking out six on his way to a 1-0 record. The early season success comes on the heels of a very strong season on the mound in 2013. In his first season at Bellevue, Mahovlich struck out 38 batters in 30.2 innings. He compiled a 2-1 record and also notched a save on his way to finishing the season with a 1.46 ERA. Mahovlich ended his prep career with a stellar senior season finishing with 76 strikeouts in 58 innings and a dazzling 1.08 ERA. He is a native of Issaquah, WA.
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters 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 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 Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (DET) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), 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 www.raftersbaseball.com.