Illinois State’s Ryan Cermak’s MLB Draft dreams to soon come true
NORMAL (Heart of Illinois ABC) - This year’s MLB Draft is rapidly approaching and for Illinois State’s Ryan Cermak, not only could his dream big league dream be coming true, he could become the highest drafted player in program history.
“My first word was ball,” Cermak said. “I guess I was a young stud. I’ve always wanted to play professionally.”
Cermak has always dreamed of playing pro baseball and now he’s closer than ever. The Riverside, Illinois, native is coming off a season where he lead Illinois State in both home runs and RBIs, and is now considered by many to be a top-100 prospect in this year’s MLB Draft.
“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “I remember talking to my dad when I was growing up when there was 40 rounds I would say like ‘hey I want to be the 40th rounder if it meant me playing professional baseball.’”
Cermak should be drafted much earlier than the last round of the draft. Not only can Cermak hit, but he’s one of the best defenders in college baseball, winning a gold glove award in center field, a position he never imagined playing.
“I never thought that I would be playing outfield in my entire life,” said Cermak. “My entire life I grew up playing the infield and pitching and then eventually I got moved out to the outfield.”
Cermak made the move to center field during the 2021 season after coming to ISU as an infielder.
“I think it was a blessing in disguise because I could really show off my athleticism and I think it came pretty natural to me,” he said.
Cermak anticipates to be a day one draft pick, which could make him the highest drafted player out of Illinois State. Illinois State’s highest draft pick came in 1974 when Dave Bergman was drafted by the Yankees. Cermack says he wouldn’t be in a position to be drafted into the big leagues if it wasn’t for ISU.
“I think I wouldn’t have been in this spot if I was at any other school,” said Cermak. “I think the people here are awesome. They have my back, they’ve always had faith in me and they’ve always wanted me to do good and they’ve always seen a lot in me.”
“Ultimately he’s the guy when we recruit we talk about him and like hey this is the process and it does work if you come in and put your effort into it,” Steve Holm, Illinois State head baseball coach, said. “He has done a fantastic job of setting that bar high for the next years.”
Cermak has set the bar high for the future of ISU baseball but he hopes his future is as the next Redbird to make it to the big leagues.
“It’s awesome because there’s Paul DeJong in the bigs and there’s Owen Miller in the bigs and being alongside those players, as they were in college, it means a lot and it’s a lot of hope for the future,” said Cermak.
The MLB Draft is set to begin Sunday, July 17.
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