Four Boilermakers Named to Big Ten All-Freshman Team

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM Kyle Johnson hit safely in 24 of the final 29 games in which he played, seeing his batting average rise .165 points during that stretch.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
Kyle Johnson hit safely in 24 of the final 29 games in which he played, seeing his batting average rise .165 points during that stretch.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

May 21, 2013


Complete All-Big Ten Postseason Awards

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Following a season in which freshmen and newcomers played a significant role for the program, Purdue baseball's four selections to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team were the most in the conference.

Josh Estill, Kyle Johnson, Jordan Minch and Kyle Wood were among the top first-year players recognized around the league by the Big Ten coaches in conjunction with the unveiling of the all-conference teams and individual award winners Tuesday.

Like the all-conference teams, first-year players are selected to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team by position. Estill was selected as a first baseman, Johnson an outfielder, Minch as a starting pitcher and Wood as the designated hitter. The quartet joins Eric Charles (2009), Tyler Spillner (2009), Kevin Plawecki (2010) and Brad Schreiber (2010) as Boilers selected to the All-Freshman Team since it was added to the Big Ten's postseason awards in 2009.

Around the conference this year, Michigan and Indiana had three players selected to the All-Freshman Team. Illinois had two to be the only other school with multiple honorees. The Fighting Illini's Kevin Duchene was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year after finishing the season as his team's No. 1 starter.

Senior Robert Ramer was recognized as Purdue's Big Ten Sportsmanship Award recipient.

During the season, Minch was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice. Johnson was the Big Ten Player and Freshman of the Week after a big weekend in the series sweep at Penn State. Estill was the Freshman of the Week after the season-opening weekend at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge.

Estill made 11 of his 34 starts this season at first base but his 12 starts in Big Ten play were split evenly between first base and catcher. He batted cleanup in the order a team-high 22 times over the course of the year. The Carlsbad, Calif., recorded all 10 of his extra-base hits over the second half of the season, finishing as one of the team's co-leaders with nine doubles. He enjoyed the biggest game of the year for any Purdue player, finishing the April 24 win against Illinois-Chicago 3-for-4 with three extra base hits and seven RBI. Estill connected for the first home run to left field in the history of Alexander Field that night and produced the team's best single-game RBI output since 2006. It was the highlight of an eight-game stretch in which he batted .452 with 17 RBI, recording three-, four- and seven-RBI games during the hot streak.

Johnson was arguably Purdue's most consistent performer the second half of the season. He ended up making 41 starts in center field, matching the most by any Boiler at one position. After enduring an extended season-opening slump, he carried a .119 batting average into the Penn State series (March 29-31). But a 6-for-11 weekend helped propel the San Diego native in the opposite direction. He would go on to raise his average as much as .165 points thanks in part to another big weekend (5-for-9, 5 walks, 7 runs) in the series at Michigan. Johnson hit safely in 24 of the final 29 games in which he played, highlighted by a 10-game hitting streak in April. Defensively, he impressed with his range and made a number of highlight-reel caliber diving catches.

Minch was a constant in the weekend rotation all year, making three series-opening starts in the middle of the season. Purdue was 6-8 when he started, 11-26 when any other pitcher did. The lefty won Big Ten Freshman of the Week after working six innings of two-hit ball with seven strikeouts in a win at Evansville and striking out a season-high eight over seven innings of one-run ball in a no decision against Nebraska. He also won Big Ten road starts at Penn State (8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 5 K) and Michigan State (7 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 3 K) and bounced back from a rough season-opening start by working six innings of one-run ball at No. 5 Mississippi State in Starkville. Remove the two weekends in which he didn't make it out of the first inning as the starter, appearing in relief later that weekend, and Minch's season numbers were 5-3 with a 3.74 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 77 innings pitched.

Wood started the season as a first baseman, outfielder and pitcher but ended up making 38 starts as the true designated hitter after a forearm injury in late February limited him to only batting for a while. He led the team with five home runs, hitting four over the last 19 games of the season. He batted in the lineup in all seven games in which he was the starting pitcher, becoming the first Boiler to do so since 2003. The Chicagoland area native had two hits and drove in a run in all three games of the Illinois series. His five consecutive games with an RBI matched the longest streak on the team this year and he finished the season having reached base safely in the final 10 Big Ten games. After returning to the mound in April, he was Purdue's Sunday starter in each of the last five weekends.

Estill, Johnson, Minch and Wood are among the nine Boilers that were regular starters in 2013 who are expected to return for next season.

ALL-BIG TEN FRESHMAN TEAM
C - Jason Goldstein, ILL
1B - Josh Estill, PUR
2B - Nick Ramos, IND
SS - Travis Maezes, MICH
3B - Jacob Cronenworth, MICH
OF - Cam Gibson, MSU
OF - James Coates, PSU
OF - Kyle Johnson, PUR
DH - Kyle Wood, PUR
SP - Kevin Duchene, ILL
SP - Will Coursen-Carr, IND
SP - Evan Hill, MICH
SP - Jordan Minch, PUR
RP - Scott Effross, IND