Former Central DeWitt baseball standout TJ Sikkema was drafted by the New York Yankees organization as the 38th selection of the 2019 MLB first-year player draft Monday night.
Sikkema, the son of current Sabers' coach Shane Sikkema, earned All-American honors at Missouri this season after a head-turning junior campaign. The left-handed pitcher posted a 7-4 record with a stingy 1.32 ERA to complement 101 strikeouts in 88 2/3 innings.
Sikkema graduated from Central DeWitt High School in 2016. He was a senior member of the storied Sabers team that advanced to the Class 3A state quarterfinal matchup, posting a sizzling 1.03 ERA during that special campaign in which the team finished with a 32-12 overall record.
According to MLB.com, Sikkema’s selection at No. 38 in the competitive balance Round A of the draft carries a slot value of $1.95 million.
Sikkema made an immediate impact once he stepped on the Missouri campus in 2017, earning conference honors on the all-freshman team. In the following season, Sikkema served primarily as the team's Friday night starter, which is typically reserved for the "ace" of the pitching rotation in collegiate baseball.
Sikkema was a five-year member of the Central DeWitt varsity team, joining as an eighth-grader in 2012. A video surfaced on Twitter on Monday night of current members of the Sabers team crowding around a phone to watch the official draft announcement following their game against Center Point-Urbana.
When the younger Sikkema's name was called, team members celebrated accordingly, gleefully yelling and clapping at the achievement of a storied former teammate.
The Yankees' rookie league affiliation is stationed in Pulaski, Virginia. The organization's short-A team is in Staten Island, New York City, while the A-team is in Charleston, South Carolina – all of which are potential landing spots for Sikkema if he chooses to sign a contract.