The Rockford Rivets typically have a few players with local roots on their roster. This year one of those players is Stillman Valley graduate Andrew Wilhite.
At Stillman Valley Wilhite starred on the mound and at the plate. His senior year he was 9-1 as a pitcher and he batted .443 with 12 homeruns. He was named second team All-State by the USA Today and he was named the Class 3A player of the year by the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association.
This spring before joining the Rivets he completed his freshman season at the University of Minnesota. He was part of a Gophers team that reached the semfinals of the Big Ten Tournament before bowing out. Next season could be even better.
“We should be really good,” said Wilhite. “We’ve got our whole pitching staff essentially coming back and our hitters are just going to get better.”
Wilhite included. As a true freshman he started 16 games and he played in 33 games total. He had a .229 batting average while hitting three homeruns and driving in 14 runs.
“I’d say it was pretty much what I expected,” said Wilhite of playing in the Big Ten. “I had some issues later in the year, but I battled through it, and I sort of figured out my swing. It’s a process but it was awesome!”
The process has continued with the Rivets. As of Tueday afternoon Wilhite had a .208 batting average. In the field the Rivets have him playing all over …third base, first base, and throughout the outfield.
“It’s just good experience (playing) at multiple positions just because that’s what I’m going to need to do (at Minnesota),” said Wilhite. “I might be a utility guy. I might be more outfield. I’m not sure yet.”
Minnesota’s coaches are high on Wilhite’s future. They didn’t have any one thing in particular that they wanted Wilhite to focus on while with the Rivets. They just want him on the field and growing as a player.
“Just a lot of repetition. That’s most important,” said Wilhite. “Defensive repetition, getting better on defense and then offensively just getting at bats and making sure I’m getting more comfortable.”
Getting some home cooking when the Rivets are in town and playing in front of family are bonuses for Wilhite.
“It was nice to be able to come home and see my family and see my friends and still be able to play baseball,” said Wilhite.