10/26/2015 7:22 AM -
Whiting, Ind. – October 26, 2015 – When right-hander Keith Mahler exited his opening day start after three innings with an injury on June 1 in Joliet, Oilmen manager Adam Enright had an answer.
Enright inserted Parkland left-hander Richard Yelnick, who sent down all six men he faced and earned the win in his Oilmen debut.
It was a sign of things to come from the New Lenox, Illinois native. Yelnick didn’t allow a run until June 18, starting the season with 8 2/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen in a league where quality relief pitching is hard to come by. He finished an All-Star season with a 1.72 ERA in 20 1/3 innings.
“He has a little funkiness and a little velocity,” Enright said in June. “He commands two pitches. He’s tough from the left side after you have a righty who throws a little harder. I think he’ll be a guy who will bridge the gap to the closer for us.”
Yelnick hopes to sustain his level of Midwest Collegiate League success as he returns for a second summer with the Northwest Indiana Oilmen.
“Last season was a lot of fun; I liked playing with everyone,” Yelnick said. “The guys were awesome. I’m still in contact with all of them. We Snapchat all the time. The field was awesome and the league is a fun league to play in. I started off hot and kept it going all the way through the summer.”
Yelnick is entering his second and final season at Parkland, a junior college in Champaign, Illinois. Then, the southpaw will look to extend his career at a four-year school following his season summer of MCL baseball. He is seeking a school with a strong criminal justice program.
Yelnick’s favorite memories from his first summer of baseball in Whiting include watching Tyler Sroczynski’s “monster home run” on July 25 against Southland and looking on as Billy DuBois kicked dirt toward the umpire, erased the foul lines and threw a bucket of baseballs on the field after being ejected for arguing a balk call on Aug. 1.
Since returning for fall ball, Yelnick has impressed coaches and teammates with an increased velocity that he built up during his summer season. His fastball currently sits in the low-80s, and he hopes to boost it to mid-80s by the time the 2016 Oilmen season rolls around.
However, the most noticeable change in Richard Yelnick is not the pop on his fastball. Instead, it’s an alteration aesthetic in nature.
“I got a haircut,” he said. “When I cut it, I liked it better short. It’s short and I don’t have to worry about it. No more messing around with combing it all the time.”