Four Illini Selected to Top 30 Big Ten Draft Prospects

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The University of Illinois baseball team has made some noise heading into the college baseball season. Four current Illini baseball players have gained recognition in the recent D1Baseball top 30 Big Ten draft prospects for the upcoming 2022 season.  

From highest to lowest rank, these players include sophomore LHP Cole Kirschsieper, sophomore RHP Riley Gowens, junior INF Branden Comia, and sophomore INF Justin Janas.  

Tweet courtesy of @IlliniBaseball Twitter

Kirschsieper ranked highest out of the Illini (5th) in the list. Playing in 4 outings in his 2020 shortened freshman season, he tied for first in wins in the Big Ten (3), second-fewest in runs allowed (3) and fifth-best ERA (1.35) in the conference. In 2021, he appeared in 17 games with four starts, recording a 5.82 ERA, 48 strikeouts, and a team-high three saves – one of which sealed a combined no-hitter – in 38.2 IP. 

Gowens (17th) was named to the All-Big Ten freshman team in 2021 after his stellar performance, pitching 50.1 innings and recording a 6.08 ERA and 58 strikeouts. His strikeout numbers were third most on the team, behind 2021 draft selectees Andrew Hoffman and Nathan Lavender. 

Comia (20th) was selected onto the All-Big Ten Third Team as a freshman in 2021. He ranked second on the team with 50 hits, batting a superb .323/.457/.445 with 10 2B, 3 HR, 28 RBIs, 34 R and 27 BB last year. His sensational freshman year was highlighted by a 37 game on-base streak, which is third-longest by an Illini since 2004.Β 

Janas (26th) was the only Illini selected to the All-Big Ten First Team in his freshman year. Ranking first on the team in hits (51), Janas was the Big Ten regular season batting champion with an average of .391 and a conference-best OBP of .506. Along with fellow teammate Jacob Campbell, Janas was also named to the Preseason All-Big Ten team by Perfect Game.Β 

Tweet courtesy of @IlliniBaseball Twitter

The Illini look to start the 2022 season off strong with a three-game series against Kansas at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, Texas, from February 18-20. Their first home game is against Eastern Michigan on March 8. 

Cover photo courtesy of Fighting Illini Athletics