Yacinich, Kuebel take different paths to get to same result

BY DANNY PAYNE | JUNE 17, 2014 5:00 AM

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The logic is simple, really. More wins means better players, which means some of those players are going to advance, sometimes earlier than originally expected. This is obviously a plus for the draftee, but can also have some negative consequences on his former team.

This was the case when now-former Iowa baseball players Jake Yacinich and Sasha Kuebel — who finished their junior seasons with Iowa in May — were taken in the MLB draft, and they signed professional contracts.

The Los Angeles Angels took Yacinich, a shortstop from Des Moines, in the eighth round. The St. Louis Cardinals, Kuebel’s hometown team, selected the left-handed pitcher in the 38th round.

Yacinich said his decision to sign or not sign with whatever club drafted him was carefuly thought out. Before the draft, he had a conversation with his family and head coach Rick Heller to decide what the amount of money the team that drafted him would offer for him to sign. If the team met that figure, he would sign; if not, he would finish his final year in Iowa City.

When the Angels called with an offer that met the said figure, which Yacinich chose not to share, it was too hard to turn down and time to leave college.

“I knew all the great things we had coming back to Iowa with Coach Heller and everybody else coming back,” Yacinich said. “It’s a really tough thing to leave, plus I was three years into my degree. That means a lot, too, to finish that up.”

Kuebel, on the other hand, made his decision based on the team that picked him and because of his age. He will turn 22 in July and said he didn’t want to delay his professional career any longer.

“The first thing is that it’s obviously the hometown team, and in my mind, there’s no better organization than the St. Louis Cardinals,” he said. “I’ve gotten a lot of support from some various individuals who motivated me toward the decision and who have helped me out.”

While the two former Hawkeyes had different factors going into their decisions, a common theme was how hard it was to leave Iowa after a 30-win season and the Hawkeyes’ first postseason appearance since 2010.

Either way, with Yacinich’s bat and glove gone — he hit .365 and knocked in 32 runs while playing sound defensively in the field — in addition to losing a weekend starter in Kuebel, Heller and his staff find themselves needing to fill some holes. There isn’t much time to do so with only the summer to find recruits.

“Would we love to have them back? Yeah. It’s going to be tough to fill both of those guys’ shoes,” Heller said. “It puts us in a bit of a pinch and a bit of a scramble this summer as we’re now out trying to find a couple guys to replace those two. The odds of that are not great this late in the game; that’s the bad thing about the draft.”

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