JOLIET – The Joliet Slammers announced Thursday they’d traded RHP Rey Cotilla, future considerations and the Slammers' first round pick in the 2013 Frontier League draft to the Gateway Grizzlies in exchange for INF Jerod Yakubik, RHP Brett Zawacki and INF Nate Wilder.
“This was a very good trade for both teams,” Slammers manager Mike Breyman said. “Rey was a guy that I was very excited about being a part of the Slammers and hate to see him go but that’s part of it. You have to give to get sometimes.”
In return, the Slammers are receiving a nice package of players led by 2012 Frontier League All-Star Jerod Yakubik. Yakubik attended Ohio University and was a 34th round selection of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 2010 MLB draft. He spent two years in the Angels’ system and advanced as far as high single-A. Notably, Yakubik won the Pioneer League Batting Title in 2011 with a .372 average at the plate. Last year, he performed very well for the Grizzlies, hitting .269 with 4 HR and 56 RBI.
“Yakubik can flat out barrel baseballs when he rolls out of bed and his swing is easily repeated day in and day out,” Breyman said. “That's what makes him a good hitter. Although not finishing as hot as he wanted to last year, I have no doubt that he will return to that early season form and be a big contributor to the Slammers’ success."
Experienced pitcher and Illinois native Brett Zawacki brings a history of success in affiliated baseball to the Slammers. The right-hander advanced as high as Double-A in the Cardinals organization. St. Louis made Zawacki their 12th round selection out of LaSalle-Peru Township High School in 2007. Last season was Zawacki’s first year in the Frontier League.
“Brett is an explosion waiting to happen,” Breyman said. “His stuff is not usually seen in this league and I am excited for him to be a part of our rotation. He showed his dominance early on last season. He should be a major force to be reckoned with in this league.”
Nate Wilder enters his second season of professional baseball after spending his rookie year with the Lincoln Saltdogs of the American Association. The Arkansas Tech University product brings a lot to the table for Joliet.
“We looked at Nate last year during the middle of the season and we liked everything we saw,” Breyman said. “He can play 3rd, 2nd, 1st, and even catch, but the best thing about him is how much natural power he has from the left side of the plate. It’s power you don't see from guys as young as he is most of the time. I look for Nate to push for one of the infield spots during spring training and become a dependable infielder for us.”
A couple of other roster moves were announced Thursday as well. The Slammers signed college teammates RHP Shawn Kale and utility man Anthony Boza. Meanwhile, RHP Brian Smith announced his retirement. Look for a story about Smith, one of the original Slammers, soon.