05/05/2021 11:26 AM -
Whiting, Ind. – May 5, 2021 – The Northwest Indiana Oilmen began revealing their 2021 roster on Wednesday by announcing the first eight members of the pitching staff, all familiar faces to fans of the Midwest Collegiate League.
Jack Guzek (Iowa / Manhattan, Ill.), Terry Busse (South Suburban / Valparaiso, Ind.), Brandon Laux (Kirkwood CC / Chicago, Ill.), Brandon Tyler (Grambling State / Calumet City, Ill.), Chris Torres (UIC / Chesterton, Ind.), Matt Lelito (Kankakee CC / Merrillville, Ind.), Max Engstrom (Indiana Wesleyan / Hickory Hills, Ind.) and Jordan Smevoll (Webster University / Dyer, Ind.) will pitch for the Oilmen this summer. All eight have pitched in the league previously and five of them have prior experience with Northwest Indiana.
Guzek is back for a third season on the Oilmen pitching staff. He logged 17 innings over three starts and posted a 2-1 record to go along with a 3.18 ERA, six walks and 26 strikeouts in 2019. The right-hander followed that up with a 3.99 ERA and 3-1 mark while striking out 54 and walking seven in 38 1/3 innings during the 2020 campaign. Guzek finished second on the Oilmen single-season strikeout list in 2020, one behind Enrique Zamora’s franchise record of 55 established in 2015.
A three-time MCL Pitcher of the Week, Guzek started his collegiate career at Indiana State in 2018 and redshirted due to Tommy John surgery. After spending the 2019 season at Gulf Coast College, he did not allow a run in three appearances in 2020 at Iowa and was ranked the 30th-best Major League Baseball prospect in the Big Ten by D1Baseball.com. He has made four appearances for the Hawkeyes so far during the 2021 slate. A 2017 Perfect Game All-American Honorable Mention at Brother Rice, Guzek was ranked a top-500 recruit nationally by Perfect Game out of high school.
Smevoll is the reigning MCL Pitcher of the Year after leading the pitching staff for the league-champion DuPage County Hounds in 2020. He paced the squad with a microscopic earned run average of 1.79 while striking out 29 and permitting nine walks in 25 1/3 innings. The left-handed hurler went 2-0 and nailed down three saves over eight outings including two starts with DuPage County. The 2019 Marian Catholic High School product made four appearances out of the Webster bullpen during the COVID-shortened 2020 season. During the 2021 campaign, he owns a 1.62 ERA and flawless 6-0 record over eight outings, all starts. He has registered 41 strikeouts against 14 walks for Webster this spring.
Busse logged 14 innings over 12 relief appearances with the 2020 Oilmen while using the summer to convert to a pitcher after previously serving as primarily a catcher in high school. He struck out 15 and finished with a 5.14 ERA. The 2020 Valparaiso High School product is a freshman at South Suburban College.
Laux appeared in two games with the MCL Minutemen in 2020 after hurling 18 1/3 innings over five games (two starts) with the 2019 Oilmen. He is the younger brother of former Oilmen pitcher Tyler Laux. Brandon has pitched 22 innings over eight appearances (six starts) at Kirkwood CC this spring. The Brother Rice High School graduate participated in the Chicago White Sox ACE program.
Brandon Tyler saw action in five games and recorded nine strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings with NWI in 2020. The Thornwood High School product is a redshirt freshman at Grambling State University, where he has logged 7 2/3 innings in four appearances this season.
Torres returns to the Oilmen after pitching for the squad in 2019, when he earned an MCL All-Star Game selection and finished the season with a 2-2 mark and two saves over 12 appearances (one start) spanning 20 2/3 innings. He struck out 17 and walked 14. Torres arrived at UIC after two seasons at Wabash Valley College. He is having a strong year for the Flames, who own a 21-16 record and 20-11 Horizon League mark. Torres is 5-1 with a 2.86 ERA while holding opponents to a .203 batting average. He has struck out 12 and walked 13 over 11 appearances (three starts) spanning 34 2/3 innings.
Lelito pitched 30 1/3 innings with the MCL Minutemen in 2020, receiving six appearances and five starts while racking up 24 strikeouts. The Andrean High School product attends Kankakee Community College.
Engstrom spent the 2020 summer with the Crestwood Panthers and posted a 4.26 ERA and 2-1 record over seven games, five starts. He struck out 23 and walked 12 in 31 2/3 innings. The St. Laurence High School alum has a 3.92 ERA and 1-0 mark in 20 2/3 innings of action for Indiana Wesleyan this spring.
The Oilmen will continue to announce the roster in the coming days.