Kent pitchers move on to the big leagues

Hannah Potes

Hannah Potes

Anthony White

The dream of making it to the big leagues is one that many young boys dream about growing up on a baseball diamond.

For three Kent State pitchers, this dream has recently become a reality. Left-handed starting pitcher Andrew Chafin, left-handed starting pitcher Kyle Hallock and right-handed closer Kyle McMillen were all selected to MLB’s First-Year Player Draft.

“It’s a tribute to how hard these three guys worked during their careers here at Kent State,” said head coach Scott Stricklin. “All three were team leaders with what they did on and off the field.”

Stricklin said the three were dominant on the mound. He said Chafin and Hallock were Kent State’s top two starters on the weekends, and they were vital to the team’s success.

Stricklin added he believes Hallock is off to a great start and all three have a chance to be successful in the professional leagues because they’re talented and competitive.

Chafin was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the 43rd pick in the first round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft. He finished this season with an 8-1 record, with 105 strikeouts over 89.0 innings. His efforts earned him First Team All-MAC and All-MAC Tournament honors. His strikeout numbers are the third-most in a single season in the Kent State records, and he was tied for the number three in the nation.

Hallock was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 10th round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft with the 310th pick. He finished his career with the second-most career strikeouts in school history with 237. He was named the 2011 MAC Pitcher of the Year, only the ninth Kent State pitcher to earn the honor. He finished his senior season with a 10-4 record, tying for the second-most wins in a single season in Kent State history.

“My experience in the bigs has been good so far,” said Hallock. “The draft process worked out well for me, and I was fortunate to be drafted to such a great organization. The days at the park are long but I don’t mind them because I’m competing against the best players in the world.”

The Chicago White Sox selected McMillen in the fourth round, 141st overall of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft. McMillen led the Flashes this year with a 1.80 ERA, which was the eighth lowest in team history.

“It’s disbelief for me still,” McMillen said. “It’s an honor.”

All three earned NCAA Mideast Region First Team honors after the unit ranked sixth in the nation in team ERA with a 2.66 this season. Much of this success is owed to associate head and pitching coach Mike Birkbeck. Birkbeck is a former MLB player and is originally from Orville. He coached current MLB players including Andy Sonnanstine and Matt Guerrier. He’s seen 14 Kent State players go to the pros during his time at Kent.

“I attribute it to getting the right kids in our program and then watching them grow,” Birkbeck said. “We spend a lot of time with those guys. The key is getting the right personnel. We don’t necessarily want the guys who are the best at 16, 17 years old, but the ones that have that burning desire to be great.”

The three pitchers lead Kent State to a record of 45-17, and they finished the season ranked No. 26 in the nation according to the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. This season the Flashes tied with a 1992 record for the most wins in the program’s history.

Contact Summer Kent Stater reporter Anthony White at [email protected].