By STEVE KRAH
Sam Troyer has changed his swing to add more power and he’s taking it into pro baseball.
A graduate of Northridge High School in Middlebury, Ind. (2015), and the University of Evansville (2019), Troyer has been added to the roster of the independent United Shore Professional Baseball League’s Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers. The USPBL plays all its games at Jimmy John’s Field in Utica, Mich., a northern suburb of Detroit.
“I’m super-excited about going there,” says Troyer, a righty-swinging third baseman/shortstop. “I know I can get signed to an affiliated club.”
Since getting his business management degree in May 2019, Troyer has been splitting his time between work and honing his game. Joined by former Jimtown High School and Ball State University pitcher Nick Floyd, training is done in a friend’s barn. Troyer also works out with the Northridge team.
Troyer has been traveling regularly to the St. Louis suburb of O’Fallon, Mo., to work with hitting coach Kevin Graham, whose son, Kevin, was the 2018 Gatorade Missouri Player of the Year and now plays at the University of Mississippi.
“He’s the best hitting coach I’ve ever had,” says Troyer of the elder Graham.
Troyer met Graham through Ben Bailey, Troyer’s former Indiana Chargers travel baseball coach who now lives in Missouri.
Bailey, Joel Mishler and George Hofsommer founded the Chargers. Troyer played for the organization from 13 to 18, missing his 17U summer for Tommy John surgery.
“I considered (Bailey and Mishler) both my mentors,” says Troyer. “They’ve been there, done that
they have their connections.
“They know what they’re talking about.”
Troyer attended various tryout camps that went nowhere then in January and February, he went to Palm Springs to play in the California Winter League, a showcase for unsigned players. He impressed former big leaguer Von Joshua and the Birmingham Bloomfield manager invited him to join his club. Joshua was a coach for the 1993 South Bend (Ind.) White Sox.
USPBL spring training is scheduled for April 25-May 7 in Utica. The Beavers’ first game is slated for May 9.
Troyer appeared and started in all 53 games for Evansville as a senior in 2019, batting .249 with two home runs, 11 doubles, 25 runs batted in and 27 runs scored. He also stole 21 bases in 25 attempts. He usually hit first or second in the order to take advantage of his speed.
“I was getting on base and creating opportunities for everybody else to drive in runs,” says Troyer.
As a junior in 2018, Troyer played in 42 games (40 as a starter) and hit .220 with two homers, four doubles, 16 walks and 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts.
Wes Carroll is head coach for the Purple Aces.
“He’s very knowledgeable with an extensive background,” says Troyer of Carroll. “He made it to Triple-A.
“He brought a lot of energy, which I like.”
To get Evansville ready for the Missouri Valley Conference, Evansville played teams like Vanderbilt, Indiana, Boston College, Creighton, Florida Gulf Coast and Iowa.
Troyer chose Evansville after two years at Rend Lake College in Ina, Ill.
“It was my best scholarship,” says Troyer, who had a friend sell him on the academics at UE. “I enjoyed my two years (at Rend Lake).”
Troyer played for the Warriors in 2016 and 2017. Tony Etnier was his head coach his freshmen year and Rend Lake player and strength coach Tyler O’Daniel took over the program his sophomore season.
Etnier offered Troyer a full ride on his first day and O’Daniel was high energy.
“The thing I loved about going to Rend Lake, the competition out of high school was no joke,” says Troyer. “I immediately got better. It turns you from a boy into a man real quick.
“(The Great Rivers Athletic Conference with John A. Logan, Kaskaskia, Lake Land, Lincoln Trail, Olney Central, Rend Lake, Shawnee, Southeastern Illinois, Southwestern Illinois, Wabash Valley) is one of the better junior college conferences in the country.”
As a sophomore at Rend Lake, Troyer was hit by a pitch 22 times and ranked second among National Junior College Athletic Association Division I players in that category.
In two seasons at Rend Lake, he hit .285 with two homers, 59 stolen bases and was hit by 41 pitches.
Summers during Troyer’s college career were spent with the Great Lakes League’s Richmond (Ind.) Jazz in 2016, briefly with the Norhwoods League’s Mankato (Minn.) Moondogs and then-Prospect League’s Kokomo (Ind.) Jackrabbits in 2017 and South Florida Collegiate League’s Pompano Beach Clippers in 2018.
At 15 and 16, Troyer trained with former Notre Dame baseball and football player Evan Sharpley.
Troyer helped Northridge to the 2015 IHSAA Class 4A Elkhart Sectional title while playing for head coach Andrew Brabender.
“He’s intense, but in a good way,” says Troyer of Brabender. “He brought out the best in me.
“He was able to mold me to be ready for college.”
Troyer earned four letters for the Raiders and hit .429 with seven homers and 35 stolen bases as a senior while earning team MVP and best bat awards. He was a two-time all-Northern Lakes Conference honoree and was named all-state and to the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series (The North swept the three-game series in Terre Haute in 2015).
As an NHS sophomore, Troyer played alongside two future NCAA Division I players in Shannon Baker and Brock Logan.
Sam is the third of Steve and Shanna Troyer’s four children. Sean Troyer was not an athlete. Scot Troyer played baseball and football in high school. Sara Troyer is currently a diver at the University of Nebraska. In the recent Big Ten meet, she placed fifth in the 3-meter and 10th in the 1-meter.
Sam Troyer, a graduate of Northridge High School in Middlebury, Ind. (2015) and the University of Evansville (2019), is to play in the independent United Shore Professional Baseball League. He is a righty-swinging third baseman and shortstop. (University of Evansville Photo)