Sean Dwyer and his textbook swing were featured on the official baseball homepage for Florida Gulf Coast University. The Eagles have sent three players to the Willmar Stingers to play in the Northwoods League over the past two seasons. Ricky Knapp and Sean made the North Division team in last year’s Northwoods League All-Star game in Wisconsin Rapids, WI and Jacob Barnes saved eight games during the team’s inaugural season in 2010, the highest total so far in club history. In 2011, The Milwaukee Brewers drafted Jacob in the 14th round of the 2011 MLB Draft. After signing, Jacob pitched for the Helena Brewers of the Rookie Pioneer League. He went 2-1, posting a 2.12 ERA in 18 appearances. Jacob’s strength is his above-average fastball. During his summer with the Stingers, Northwoods League hitters opponents knew what was coming but still couldn’t catch up to his fastball. During his professional debut, Barnes recorded 43 strikeouts over 29.2 innings and walked only six. This year, Michael Suchy and Brady Anderson will continue the tradition of Florida Gulf Coast Eagles playing summer ball for Manager Matt Hollod when they take the diamond this summer for the Stingers.
2011 Stingers save leader Kurt Spomer (Creighton) was named to the Watch List for the 8th annual Stopper of the Year Award. Kurt led the Missouri Valley Conference in saves last year with 11. Last year, Kurt and his battery mate Anthony Bemboom were integral to the Creighton Blue Jays reaching the NCAA Regionals. Their season ended with an extra-inning loss to Georgia on June 5th. Kurt and Anthony were at Baker Field on June 9th for that evening’s game against St. Cloud, but they were not in uniform. Both are now in their final year of NCAA eligibility and will begin their senior season on February 17th against Central Arkansas. Anthony will play against Bryan Willson, his Stinger teammate in 2010. New Stinger roster addition, OF Forrestt Allday will make his Division I debut as well for Central Arkansas.
RHP Chris Gonzales was my favorite player on last year’s team, with the reason being that he’s a good guy who happened to like my brand new Nike sneakers. My lime green “kicks” slightly resemble the color scheme for his school, Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. My nickname for him that summer was “Mr. Gonzo” and I enjoyed learning that in preparing for the season, he would run three miles on the beach as part of his team’s workout program. Pretty rough, right? Chris was the winning pitching of record when his Point Loma squad defeated 11th-ranked Lewis-Clark State on Thursday. In his lone season for the Stingers, Chris made 23 appearances and posted an ERA of 3.40 and went 2-1 in 47.2 innings pitched. Primarily working out of the bullpen for the Stingers in 2011, Chris made two solid starts for the team down the stretch. That experience was vital, as “Mr. Gonzo” threw 60 pitches in 2.2 innings in his 2012 collegiate season debut, striking out three. He entered a potentially game-changing jam but he worked out of the high-pressure two out, two runners in scoring position situation with a critical strikeout. Chris’ Point Loma coach Joe Schaefer said he “hated to have to our closer for that long” but added that it was necessary during the early-season tilt against the nationally-ranked Lewis-Clark State. He aptly summarized later that Chris “was nails for us.”
Willmar native and 2010 Stinger Jordan Smith was third on the New York-Penn League leaderboard last year in on-base percentage with an impressive mark of .403. His batting average during his professional debut with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers was. 300. Prominently featured (second billing to only Brad Pitt, perhaps) in the Academy Award nominated Moneyball, on-base percentage is an offensive metric that measures a baseball players’ offensive value by taking into account hit and walk totals. Selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 2011 First-Year-Player Draft, Jordan was in Arizona a few months ago for the team‘s Fall Instructional League. One of his coaches was five-time MLB All-Star Travis Fryman. Fryman played 13 major league seasons, eight with the Detroit Tigers before playing third base for Cleveland for his final five. A Gold Glove winner at the “hot corner” in 2000, Fryman had three seasons of driving in more than 100 runs (1996, 1997, 2000) and socked a career-high 28 home runs in 1998, his first year with Cleveland.