03/11/2020 12:38 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – March 11, 2020 – The Northwest Indiana Oilmen started the process of unveiling their roster for the 2020 Midwest Collegiate League season on Wednesday by announcing the return of four position players from the 2019 team.
Outfielder Clay Thompson (Kankakee CC / Schererville, Ind.), catcher Gabe Pulido (College of DuPage / Griffith, Ind.), corner infielder Joe Rycerz (St. Xavier / Schererville, Ind.) and outfielder Tommy Farrell (UIC / Chicago, Ill.) are among the position players slated to return.
Thompson ranked third on the team in batting average a season ago, hitting .336 to go along with 23 RBIs, 24 runs scored and 14 stolen bases, third on the club. He had 11 extra-base hits including a triple and a home run. The Schererville, Ind. native and Andrean High School graduate earned a place on the MCL East All-Star Team.
Thompson started his collegiate career at Oakland and made 20 appearances including 16 starts during his rookie campaign. The left-handed hitting outfielder has transferred to Kankakee Community College for his sophomore season. Oilmen fans saw him flash his leather in the Oil City Stadium outfield in 2019 and he’ll bring his strong glovework back for 2020. The sophomore is also a standout in the classroom, where he owns a 3.63 GPA.
During his prep days, Thompson was a four-year letterwinner and two-year captain for head coach Dave Pishkur at Andrean. He helped the 59ers to 2015 and 2018 state titles, notched the game-winning hit in the 2018 state championship game and was an all-state (2018), all-area (2016, 2017) and all-conference (2016, 2017, 2018) selection. He also earned a North-South All-Star Game appearance and once hit two home runs in the same inning.
Also back in the fold after a 2019 MCL All-Star appearance, Rycerz posted a .310 batting average and drove in 21 runs during his first Oilmen summer. He reached base at a .455 clip and earned an MCL All-Star Game appearance. The 2018 Andrean graduate was prep teammates with Thompson and the two will once again reunite for a summer season at Oil City Stadium. The St. Xavier sophomore played in 18 games and made nine starts during his rookie campaign and has already appeared in 11 games and made six starts while compiling a .318 average thus far as a sophomore.
Farrell will join the ranks of Oilmen players who have appeared in four different seasons, an elite club that includes only Christian Howell and Zack Jones. Farrell appeared in 10 games in 2017 and batted .375, returned for eight games in 2018 and hit .400 and finally experienced a full summer of Oilmen baseball while hitting .256 over 27 games and driving in 10 runs in 2019.
Farrell, a left-handed hitting outfielder/first baseman, is a redshirt sophomore at UIC and a 2017 graduate of St. Laurence High School, where he advanced to state as a senior, his school’s first state appearance since 1993. Farrell is majoring in rehabilitation sciences. His father Brian played collegiately at Lewis.
Pulido, a catcher who played his high school ball at Griffith, drove in seven runs and scored seven times while being hit by a pitch on seven occasions and drawing eight walks over 18 games during the 2019 MCL season, his first taste of college-level baseball. The highlight of his first season with the Oilmen came on Aug. 3, when he delivered his second walk-off RBI in a three-game span, ripping one off the scoreboard in left to help the Oilmen to a 7-6 victory over the Crestwood Panthers.
During his time at Griffith under head coach Brian Jennings, Pulido compiled a .333 batting average, .502 career on-base percentage and contributed to 75 wins and four sectional titles.
The Oilmen will open up the home portion of the schedule under first-year manager Chris Cunningham on Tuesday, June 9 at 7:10 p.m. against defending MCL champion Bloomington. Stay tuned for addition Oilmen roster and schedule information.