Redbird Baseball Signs Three to Highlight 2008 Recruiting Class
Head coach Jim Brownlee
Head coach Jim Brownlee

Nov. 16, 2007

NORMAL, Ill. - Illinois State head baseball coach Jim Brownlee announced the newest additions to the Redbird baseball team Friday, as three talented prep stars will join the program in 2009. Jake Thornton (St. Charles, Ill.), Matt Mirabal (Chicago) and Landinn Eckhardt (St. Joseph, Mo.) have all signed National Letters of Intent (NLI) to continue their education and baseball careers at Illinois State.

ISU assistant baseball coach Tim Brownlee is excited about what the three early signees will bring to the program, feeling that the coaches addressed the areas that they will need to fill after this season.

"As with a majority of our current freshmen, we expect these three student-athletes to step in and play right away," said Brownlee. "I think that is one of the more attractive things we can offer when we are out recruiting. We are not a program that carries a lot of guys, so we expect our freshmen to come in and play. I think these three recruits will be able to do that.

"It's not a very big class for us, but we will continue to look for pitching during the recruiting period. We are going to be losing Kevin Dubler to professional baseball after this season, so finding catching was a priority. We have two catchers in this class, but both can play other positions, in addition to behind the plate."

Head coach Jim Brownlee shared the same sentiments, believing that the three signees will add to the already talented group of Redbirds that will hit the field in 2008.

"I think that with recruiting, you look to fill the needs in regard to your program," said Brownlee. "I think that by signing two catchers, we definitely filled those needs. Landinn and Matt are both very good catchers. I think that both have a chance to come in and contribute right away as freshmen. I think that it will really help with our depth at the catcher position, and they will help us at a lot of different positions. Plus, they are both really great athletes.



"I think that Jake Thornton is one of the best outfielders in the state of Illinois. He can come in and play centerfield and will help us there. I think we really met some needs at that position, as well. It's not a large recruiting class, and I think that shows what we think of our existing talent. We're a pretty young team, and we have a lot of guys returning on the mound and on the field in 2009. Jake, Landinn and Matt will all be able to add to that nucleus already in place, and will contribute right away."

2008-09 Illinois State Baseball Recruits
Landinn Eckhardt ... St. Joseph, Mo. (Central) ... 5-9 ... 175 ... R/R ... C/INF
►Batted .414 with four doubles, six home runs and 28 RBI as a junior
►Also threw out 7-of-11 would-be base stealers, to go along with his .578 on-base percentage
► An exceptional student, who carries a 4.4 GPA on a 4.0 scale
►Spent the past summer playing for the Andrew County Kings
► Second-Team All-Suburban Big Six Conference selection at catcher

Tim Brownlee on Eckhardt: "Landon's a great hitter. He can also play in the infield, which makes him a very attractive addition to our team. He's a very competitive athlete, as well as being a great student. He's achieved not only on the field, but in the classroom."

Matt Mirabal ... Chicago (Mt. Carmel) ... 5-10 ... 175 ... R/R ... C/2B
►Prep Baseball Report ranks Mirabal as the second-best defensive catcher in the state of Illinois, and the No. 38 prospect overall in Illinois.
►Led Mt. Carmel to a 31-7 record and a share of the conference title, and helped secure a regional championship in 2007
►Batted .341 with nine doubles, four home runs and 42 RBI as a junior
►Also stole 13 bases and scored 30 runs last year
►Spent the past summer playing on the Chicago-area elite travel team Top Tier with fellow Redbird recruit Jake Thornton
►Chicago Catholic League Blue Division All-Conference selection in 2007
►Helped Top Tier finish in second place at the 17-Under CABA World Series in Dublin, Ohio

Tim Brownlee on Mirabal: "He can really throw. He's got one of the better arms that I've seen. I was just at one of the biggest prep showcases in Jupiter, Fla., with some of the best kids in the country, and I would put his arm up against anybody. He's a great catch-and-throw guy."

Jake Thornton ... St. Charles, Ill. (North) ...6-1 ... 175 ... L/R ... CF
►Was one of two juniors to earn Prep Baseball Report first-team all-state honors last season.
►Batted .465 with 12 doubles, three triples, 34 runs scored, one home run and 17 RBI.
►Helped lead St. Charles North to the Upstate 8 Conference title.
►As the North Stars' leadoff hitter, Thornton had a .557 on-base percentage, with 32 stolen bases.
►As a sophomore, batted .359 to earn Upstate 8 All-Conference honors.
►Ranked as the No. 2 outfielder and the No. 12 prep player overall in the state of Illinois by Prep Baseball Report.
►Spent the past summer playing on the Chicago-area elite travel team Top Tier with fellow Redbird recruit Matt Mirabal
►Helped Top Tier finish in second place at the 17-Under CABA World Series in Dublin, Ohio

Tim Brownlee on Thornton: "Jake Thornton can really hit. He's really a good, all-around baseball player. He will be able to step right in and challenge for a spot in the outfield."