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Tyler Jay and Unfamiliar Ground

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The Illini's star pitcher is going to be a first round pick in next week's MLB Draft. This is new and strange.

AZ Snakepit

The 2015 MLB Draft starts next Monday night. Baseball's draft tends to be the least dramatic of the Big Four's since almost all of the players taken won't play for the team selecting them for at least a year or two (or ever, if we're being honest with ourselves). You don't get to have that same Christmas morning feeling you get from the NBA or NFL drafts. Add in the fact that there are over 1,000 players selected and the fatigue sets in even more.

But this year is a little bit different. It's not weird seeing an Illini baseball player drafted. Since 2000, there have only been three MLB drafts without one of our guys getting selected. No, what's new is that for only the second time ever and the first  since the Cardinals selected John Ericks with the 22nd pick in 1988's draft there is going to be an Illini's name read off in the first round.

That is worth celebrating. Other schools' fans can play the old "act like you've been there" card and that's all well and good. But we haven't been there. I'm the only writer on this site who was alive the last time this happened and I was literally just days old. We don't know what this is like. We haven't been here before. This is good and exciting and we should act like that.

There's also the fact that he might actually make it to the majors this year. Depending on what team takes him, he could be pitching out of a bullpen come September. And since the Sox and the Cubs have top ten picks this year, it might even be a bullpen near you! Tyler Jay would be the first Illini in the majors since Chris Robinson's 12 plate appearances with San Diego back in 2013. And while there's no guarantee that he matches or surpasses Ken Holtzman's career (somehow the most successful drafted Illini alum in MLB history), it's still a nice feather in the program's cap.

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