Three Panthers are headed to professional baseball after the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft established a string of impressive results for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team.
The Philadelphia Phillies selected UWM senior Jordan Guth in the ninth round on June 4, making him the highest-drafted player in Panther history. Eric Semmelhack, a junior, tied a long-standing team record when the Milwaukee Brewers drafted him in round 12. The only other player to be drafted that high, Craig Scheffler (’94 BS Engineering), went on to spend five seasons in the majors. Senior Paul Hoenecke completed the run of Panthers in the draft, being selected in the 24th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Together the three set a record for the most Panther players ever drafted in one year.
‘If you’ve ever put a glove on…’
“We knew there was a good chance that this would happen, but once it finally did, I was really happy for them and their families,” Milwaukee head coach Scott Doffek says. “I know how hard they work and it’s every baseball player’s dream.
“If you’ve ever put a glove on, you’ve thought about it and they have been able to fulfill that dream and now get to go play professionally. It is really an honor and we could not be more excited for them.”
Guth and Semmelhack were both juniors this past season, earning a spot in the MLB draft after not being drafted out of high school.
“It’s a shot in the arm for both of those guys,” Doffek said. “They are both quality student-athletes that deserve it. Both came into the program and worked hard and did a great job to get to this point.
“A lot of the credit needs to go to (UWM pitching coach) Cory Bigler and the job he has done of developing those guys.”
Guth, an engineering student and pick no. 308 on day two of the First-Year Players Draft, moved to the bullpen this past season after being in the starting rotation the majority of his first two campaigns. He posted a 3.27 earned run average and finished fourth in the league with six saves and seventh with 28 appearances. In his three seasons at UWM, Guth appeared in 54 games, striking out 87 batters in 118.2 innings of work.
Semmelhack, draft no. 395, has been a weekend starter for the Panthers each of the past two seasons, posting a 3.77 ERA and five victories in 2012. He led the Horizon League in strikeouts as a junior and also finished in the top 10 in ERA (sixth), opponent batting average (fifth), innings (seventh), victories (eighth) and games started (fourth) in addition to earning league pitcher of the week honors in May. In his three complete seasons, Semmelhack recorded eight victories, a 3.94 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 194.0 innings of work.
The pair of hurlers are the 17th and 18th players to be drafted in Panther history. This also marks the first time since 2001-02 that the Panthers have had players drafted in back-to-back years (Chad Pierce, 2011 by the Brewers).
“Their performances are a great indication of the direction the program is heading,” Doffek said. “Everyone associated with the program is proud of them. Cory has done a great job working with them and helping them grow and reach their potential. And they are not done – they have another step to take and I am confident that they are going to do it. It’s an honor for our program and the Horizon League.”
Standouts on the mound, in the classroom
For Hoenecke, a First-Team All-Horizon League performer this past season, a spot in the draft is the capper for a long road of hard work.
“Paul has been through a lot in his career here,” Doffek said. “He got drafted by the Tigers out of high school and he believed in UWM and decided to come here. He spent four years here and worked really hard. It wasn’t always easy for him, but he was a great teammate and an excellent student and now he is going to get that opportunity he’s worked so hard for. I couldn’t be happier for anyone.”
On the field, Hoenecke became just the eighth player to record over 200 hits in a UWM career and finished fifth all-time with 242. In addition to that mark, he set the program record with 803 career at bats and ended up second in games played with 211, second in doubles with 63, sixth in runs with 135, sixth in RBI with 133 and fifth in total bases with 349.
Hoenecke was a student-athlete who excelled both on the field and in the Lubar School of Business. For his work in the classroom, he earned a pair of Horizon Academic All-League honors and was selected as a member of the Capital One Academic All-District Baseball Team as a junior.
In 211 career games, he recorded a .301 average and was named First-Team All-Horizon League as a sophomore and to the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team as a freshman. He has also been named league player of the week on three occasions over his career, showing off his versatility by appearing in games at first base, second base, third base, designated hitter and catcher.
“Having three of our players get drafted is exciting and a great shot for our program and the league,” Doffek said. “But, we’re just really happy for those guys individually. Now we have to get out on the recruiting trail and find some more players that will have to fill some big shoes.”