Illini shortstop Brandon Wikoff (bottom) was selected in the fifth round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday, and third baseman Dominic Altobelli was taken in the 16th round.
June 10, 2009
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois junior shortstop Brandon Wikoff (Peoria, Ill.) and signee Seth Schwindenhammer (Bartonville, Ill.) both were selected in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft Wednesday, with Wikoff being taken by the Houston Astros with the 161st overall pick and Schwindenhammer going to the Boston Red Sox with the 168th overall pick. Later in the afternoon, senior third baseman Dominic Altobelli (Oak Forest, Ill.) was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 16th round with the 481st overall pick.
"It's pretty exciting," Wikoff said. "I didn't really know coming into the day what was going to happen. My dad had the computer and he kind of jumped in the air, and I was like `No way!' it was kind of surreal, then my heart got going. Then I got the call and I really knew it had happened."
Wikoff is the third Illinois player in the last three years to be drafted in the first five rounds. Catcher Lars Davis was taken in the third round of the 2007 draft, while center fielder Kyle Hudson was selected in the fourth round of last year's draft. He is the eighth Illinois player to be drafted in the first five rounds since 1981 and is the fifth-highest Illini position player drafted since 1981.
"I'm very excited, my family's very excited," Altobelli said. "Being a senior, I was a little unsure of where I was going to go. The scouts I talked to said to start looking around the mid-teens or the 20s. So when I saw it come up, I was pretty excited."
Wikoff is a .343 career hitter at Illinois after posting a career-best .373 average in 2009. He has driven in 127 runs and scored 146 over his three seasons, with 31 doubles, eight triples and six home runs. He's stolen 25-of-30 bases, reached base at a .400 clip and posted a .442 slugging percentage. He has started all but four of the Illini's games during his three years, starting 164 contests.
Schwindenhammer, an outfielder/right-handed pitcher, has gained great attention in the past two seasons after hitting .427 with 13 home runs and 42 RBIs as a junior and .434 with 15 homers and 54 RBIs in 2009. In addition to their connection to the Fighting Illini, both Wikoff and Schwindenhammer are alumni of Limestone High School.
Altobelli was selected by the Rockies after an incredible senior season in which he hit .361 with 53 RBIs, 54 runs, 15 doubles, three triples and eight home runs. He posted a .431 on-base percentage and a .566 slugging percentage as well. Altobelli had an impressive 16-game hitting streak from April 25-May 8, including a 13-game string from April 18-May 8 in which he posted at least two hits in each game. He started all 54 games in 2009 and ended his Illinois career a .320 hitter.