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Hayden Simpson joins Cannon Lester on Southern Illinois Miners - Magnolia Reporter - Magnolia, Arkansas News: Sports

Hayden Simpson joins Cannon Lester on Southern Illinois Miners

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Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013 11:27 am | Updated: 3:51 pm, Thu Apr 18, 2013.

The Southern Illinois Miners and manager Mike Pinto have announced the signing of pitcher Hayden Simpson, the former Chicago Cubs 2010 First Round Draft pick.

Simpson joins the Miners after spending two seasons in the Chicago Cubs minor league system.

“First round major league picks with his upside do not come around very often,” said Pinto. “Hayden comes to the Miners with a great arm and solid secondary stuff to go with it. He threw very well this spring and we are looking forward to having him with us in May and helping him get on his road to the major leagues.”

Simpson, was the 16th overall pick in the 2010 draft. Simpson went 35-2 at Southern Arkansas University (13-1 in his junior season) which ultimately led him to being drafted by the Cubs with their first pick. Simpson was also drafted in the same draft as outfielder Bryce Harper (number one pick by the Washington Nationals), shortstop Manny Machado (number three pick by the Baltimore Orioles) and pitcher Chris Sale (number twelve pick by the Chicago White Sox). He is one of two players in the history of Southern Arkansas to be drafted in the first round (pitcher Gary Wilson was selected by the Houston Astros with the second overall pick in the 1976 draft).

While at Southern Arkansas University, Simpson played with current Miners infielder and 2012 Frontier League Championship Series MVP Cannon Lester. Miners pitching coach Brad Hall is also a graduate of Southern Arkansas.

After being drafted by the Cubs, Simpson fell ill with mononucleosis, which sidelined him for seven months and forced him to miss the entire 2010 season. In 2011, Simpson played for the Arizona League Cubs and Peoria Chiefs (A) of the Midwest League. Last season, Simpson split time between the Boise Hawks (A-) of the Northwest League and the Daytona Cubs (A+) of the Florida State League but had challenges regaining strength following his illness.

Simpson made it to spring training with the Cubs finally feeling healthy for the first time since being signed. He was released at the conclusion of spring training with the organization under a new regime, despite his velocity being 92-94 mph.

The Southern Illinois Miners are the 2012 Frontier League Champions and have been awarded the Frontier League Organization of the Year three times since its inception.

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