Alex Klonowski of the NIU baseball team was selected by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 29th round, 869th overall, of the Major League Baseball draft on Saturday.
Klonowski is the 11th Huskie to be drafted since head coach Ed Mathey started at NIU 12 seasons ago. First baseman Jeff Zimmerman (2011-2013) was the last Huskie drafted when he was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 19th round last season.
“Alex is a good kid. He comes from a great family and I couldn’t be happier for him,” Mathey said. “He came into Northern Illinois as an undrafted kid, and through his hard work and dedication, he got himself into this position where he is going to get to play professional baseball.”
A two-time All Mid-American Conference selection, including first-team honors in 2013 at second base, Klonowski was the first NIU baseball player to be an all-conference selection as a pitcher and in the field since NIU Hall of Famer Joe Plaskas in 1960-1961.
Klonowski is the Huskies first pitcher drafted since left-hander Jake Hermsen (2009-2012) was selected in the 28th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012. Trevor Feeney was the last righty drafted out of NIU, going in the 31st round in 2008 to the Detroit Tigers, where he reached as high as Triple A Toledo in 2012.
Prior to the 2014 season, Klonowski was named to Baseball America’s Top-Draft Prospects in the Mid-American Conference. The senior had one of the most impressive seasons in NIU baseball history, tossing three complete game shutouts to lead the MAC and set the NIU single- season record for shutouts. He also tied the career record at NIU and was tied for second in the NCAA in shutouts.
In 94.2 innings of work, Klonowski carried a 2.38 earned run average with a 4-6 record. Opponents hit only .215 off of Klonowski, while he also averaged 1.10 in walks/hits per inning. Tossing four complete games, the Kearney, Mo., native fanned 64 batters this season and allowed just 16 extra base hits – none of which were home runs.
His signature performance of the season came on April 6 vs. Toledo when he tossed a one-hitter to defeat the Rockets 7-0, recording the Huskies first one-hitter since April 1, 1997. It was NIU’s first one-hitter in nine innings in program history.
In the field, primarily at first base, Klonowski started 47 games with a .247 average, six doubles, two home runs and 21 RBIs. In 354 chances in the field, he committed just four errors for a .989 fielding percentage.
In 2013, he was a first-team All-MAC selection as a second baseman, hitting .292 with a team high of 31 RBIs and five doubles. In his first season as a starting pitcher, Klonowski hurled 88.2 innings with two complete games and held a record of 4-7 with a 4.97 ERA while helping NIU win the MAC West Division.
Klonowski began his career as a utility player and relief pitcher for the Huskies, appearing in the infield 17 times with 11 combined starts at second base and shortstop with 23 appearances on the mound (6.28 ERA). After recording 14 hits and 11 RBIs in 48 at-bats in 2011, Klonowski focused on the field, where he started and played in 51 games at second base and in the outfield, carrying a .280 average with nine doubles, three home runs, a triple and 30 RBIs.
Should he sign, Klonowski would be the second active Huskie in MLB, joining Zimmerman, who is currently playing for the Clinton LumberKings in the Seattle Mariners organization.