A year ago, Gage Stanifer was preparing for his senior baseball season at Westfield (Ind.) High School. This week, the right-handed pitcher heads to Dunedin, Fla., for his first spring training camp. Stanifer made 10 mound appearances for Westfield (eight starts) and went 5-2 with a 0.74 earned run average, 83 strikeouts and 32 walks in 38 innings in 2022 and was selected for the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion as a North pitcher. As a junior in 2021, he hurled in 10 games (nine starts) and was 7-1 with a 0.94 ERA, 100 strikeouts and 28 walks in 52 innings. He was on the Shamrocks junior varsity as a freshman in 2019. The 2020 season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When not pitching, he started out as a third baseman and moved to the outfield. Ryan Bunnell is the longtime head coach at Westfield. Stanifer credits him for beneficial advice. “His biggest thing was teaching the players to have their own routine and stick by that,” says Stanifer, 19. “Knowing how I go about things has helped me a lot as a player.” Selected in the 19th round of the 2022 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, Stanifer signed with Midwest area scout Matt Huck rather than go to a junior college (he de-committed from the University of Cincinnati) and reported to Florida where he was in some live at-bat sessions and attending some camps. “They wanted some more one-on-one time to see how I work, just get a deeper look at me before sending me into games,” says Stanifer. “It was just getting me fine-tuned. “As long as I compete well in spring training and stay healthy I give myself a good shot of making the (Low Class-A Dunedin Blue Jays) roster.” A 6-foot-3, 202-pounder, Stanifer throws a two-seam fastball, slider and a splitter. He got the fastball up to 97 mph in 2022 and has been at 92 to 95 in recent throwing sessions. “I throw a ‘bullet’ slider,” says Stanifer. “It tunnels real well with my fastball. It drops off and disappears from a batter’s perspective a couple of feet.” The slider — his go-to off-speed pitch — is usually clocked at 83 to 86 mph. “The splitter has a lot more late depth — a little more depth than the change-up and a little harder as well (86 to 88 mph). It’s a good put-away pitch for lefties but I’m getting a lot more confident throwing it to righties as well.” What about his arm slot? “I’d say it’s pretty unique,” says Stanifer. “I kind of throw like a quarterback. I short-arm a little bit. I throw tight and compact. I hide the ball really well from the batters.” Stanifer attended quarterback camps with Ryan Pepiot and followed him in his baseball career through high school to Butler University and to the Los Angeles Dodgers. “We’ve stay in-touch,” says Stanifer, who is the fifth Westfield player drafted following Kyle Kramp (2009, San Francisco Giants), Kevin Plawecki (2012, New York Mets), Harrison Freed (2019, Giants) and Pepiot. “It’s cool to see someone you know have their hard work pay off.” Stanifer played football through eighth grade then stopped. He broke his collar bone in fifth grade and had numerous concussions. In the off-season, Stanifer went through some remote programming with North Carolina-based Tread Athletics and trainer Devin Hayes and was in-house Monday through Friday at PRP Baseball in Noblesville, Ind., since the first week of November. He has been going there since 2017, working with Greg Vogt and Anthony Gomez. Vogt is also the Rehab Pitching Coach for the Blue Jays and Gomez was recently hired as bullpen coach for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Another pitcher who has worked out at PRP — 24-year-old right-hander Michael Brewer — just signed with the Blue Jays. “I’m glad Mike finally got his opportunity,” says Stanifer of the 2018 Fort Wayne (Ind.) Snider High School graduate. “He’s a great person and a great player.” A collector of gloves (he has 14), Stanifer wore a mint green one in high school and has recently added a red, blue and baby blue to the collection.
Gage, who turns 20 in November, is the son of Butch and Melissa Stanifer. His two older sisters are former Westfield cheerleader Skyler (Class of 2017) and volleyball player Raigan (Class of 2019). Butch Stanifer played one year of football at Indiana State University then turned his attention to bodybuilding and was part owner in a gym before going into real estate. His father has taught his son about nutrition and weightlifting. “He’s given advice along the way about how to lift and eating the right food to stay healthy,” says Gage. Melissa and Skyler are also realtors. Skyler Stanifer is an Indiana University graduate. Raigan Stanifer is an IU senior speech pathology major.
Scott Rolen, who was a standout at Jasper (Ind.) High School and for 17 Major League Baseball seasons for the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Toronto Blue Jays, will be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., this summer. July 23 is the big induction day. The man who signed the future Hall of Famer who was selected in the second round of the 1993 MLB First-Year Player Draft is also a Hoosier. Hobart’s Scott Trcka was an area scout with the Phillies when he secured Rolen. “I followed him all summer,” says Trcka, who saw Rolen play multiple times and became friendly with his family. “I did all the leg work. I did all the (research on) make-up and signability.” The popular theory in the scouting world was that Rolen would pursue his hoops option instead of baseball. “Indiana’s a basketball heaven,” says Trcka. “Both of his parents (Ed and Linda) were teachers. He had a scholarship for basketball at (the University of) Georgia. “(Other scouts) didn’t think he would sign. I had a handshake. It was a tough negotiation. It was a long summer. But it got done. “He was not like a $1,000 college senior. He was a high school player and you needed to spend some time on him.” It was a different environment three decades years ago. “Today they’d walk away from a guy like that or drop a ton of money on him,” says Trcka. “Compared to the player he is, I gave him nothing. I gave him fair money for the round and the place. I didn’t over do it. “It was a trust thing.” At Jasper, Rolen was a third baseman, shortstop and pitcher. “He had a fastball he could pump up to 93 (mph),” says Trcka. “He showed his arm strength then and all it did was improve. When he got up to the big leagues he had a rocket. “With his arm and his agility he could’ve played shortstop in the big leagues.” Track notes that average major league runner gets down down the line from the plate to first base in 4.3 seconds. Rolen was clocked in 4.01. “That’s flying — especially for a big man.” says Trcka of player who was 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds in the majors. “He had pretty good instincts on the bases. He’d take that extra bag. “He was a special guy.” Rolen went into the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2019 and is now Director of Player Development at Indiana University. In a New York Times article by Tyler Kepner dated Jan. 24, 2023, Trcka is credited with Dick Lawlor and Marti Wolever as scouts that recommended Rolen to former Phillies scouting director Mike Arbuckle. Like so many relationships he made in 27-plus years as an MLB scout, Trcka enjoyed the one he made with Rolen’s parents. He still gets Christmas cards from them and still hears from players, families, coaches and other scouts. “It was a great game,” says Trcka. “I loved it. Even though the job did take me away from the family, I couldn’t ask for a job that I enjoyed more.” In various capacities Trcka scouted for the Phillies 1989-2001 and 2013-16, San Diego Padres 2002-05 and New York Mets 2006-12. He covered winter ball in the Dominican Republic from 1998-2001. In 2005, he was assigned four MLB teams in spring training along with 24 minor league teams during the season. In 2007, he spent two weeks covering pro baseball in Japan. “It was a good job,” says Trcka. “I enjoyed my time. I met a lot of great people. If you were to tell me I’d have access to go into major league clubhouses and things like that when I was a kid, I would probably lose my marbles and couldn’t wait to grow up. “I signed a lot of big leaguers. That was the biggest thrill.” Besides Rolen, Trcka also signed the following MLB players as an area supervisor: Steve Parris (1989, fifth round), Gary Bennett (1990, 11th), Mike Grace (1991, 10th), Tony Fiore (1992, 28th), David Doster (1993, 27th), Kevin Sefcik (1993, 33rd), Jason Boyd (1994, eighth) and Kevin Plawecki (2012, first, 35th overall selection). New Haven (Ind.) High School graduate Doster played mostly second base at Indiana State University and in the bigs and Japan. Westfield (Ind.) High School alum Plawecki was a catcher at Purdue University and played his eighth MLB season in 2022. As a crosschecker, Trcka recommended Pat Burrell, Jason Michaels, Jorge Padilla, Brett Myers, Marlon Byrd, Gavin Floyd, Khalil Greene, Tim Stauffer, Colt Morton, Dirk Hayhurst and Aaron Nola. The first time Trcka saw LaTroy Hawkins he was a lanky freshman at Gary (Ind.) West Side High School. “He was a good kid,” says Trcka. “I really liked him. He had a whip for an arm. You knew he was going to be pretty good. “He turned out to be a real gem.” Hawkins went on to pitch 21 seasons in the majors and went in the IHSBCA Hall of Fame in 2018. Trcka helped fellow scout Bill Bryk conduct tryout camps for the Pittsburgh Pirates in northwest Indiana. It was during the change toward more analytics and less traditional scouting that Trcka was let go by the Phillies. “Everything has changed now,” says Trcka. “Baseball people don’t run the game anymore. “It was once a great game, but it’s far from that anymore. Statistical information doesn’t tell what a real player is about inside.” Not that Trcka ignored the numbers. When scouting college players, he always sought out the press box and found the stat sheet. He wanted to know how many times a batter struck out or walked and how many stolen bases a player had. “Doubles were always big,” says Trcka. “Doubles can show what the future holds for you as far as home run power. “We looked at all that stuff. All scouts did that. Not just me.” What about WAR (Wins Above Replacement)? “I don’t know how to do it and I don’t want to know,” says Trcka. “It was a different time. I know you’ve got to move with the times, but when something’s not broke don’t fix it.” In recent years, Trcka has been focused on his family including grandchildren. When he happened to be watching a game on TV and saw a batter make the last out in one inning and start on second base in extra innings, he was introduced to what commonly is called the “ghost runner.” “What’s going on in this game?,” says Trcka. “They’re doing a fine job of trying to destroy the game. “It’s a sad commentary.” The son of Dick and Joan Trcka, Scott spent his first three years of high school at Hobart and his senior year at Calumet, graduating in 1976. As a Warrior, Trcka played for his father and against future big league slugger Ron Kittle, who was a senior at Gary Wirt High School. Dick Trcka spent 28 years in a variety of coaching roles at Calumet and won more than 200 games as head baseball coach. The field at what is now Calumet New Tech bears his name. Scott Trcka was Director of Player Personnel and Development for the summer collegiate wood bat Northwest Indiana Oilmen in 2019.
Weybright is a graduate of North White High School. Following graduation, he attended and played baseball for three years at Blackburn College before earning his bachelor degree from Indiana University. Following one season as an assistant at North White, Weybright spent six seasons as an assistant and 11 seasons as the head coach at Norwell High School where he compiled a record of 243-93 with two NHC, seven sectional, four regional and two semistate titles with an IHSAA Class 3A state runner-up finish in 2006 and 3A state championships in 2003 and 2007 before retiring in 2012 to coach his sons in travel baseball. The 2007 team went 35-0 and finished ranked 10th nationally (Collegiate Baseball/Easton Sports). The 2006 and 2007 squads went a combined 64-2. Weybright coached 22 players that played collegiately with six IHSBCA North All-Stars and four Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft selections. Two NHC Coach of the Year honors (2006 and 2007) came Weybright’s way as well as two IHSBCA Coach of the Year awards (2003 and 2007). He was recognized as a National High School Baseball Coaches Association District and National Coach of the Year in 2007. Weybright is currently athletic director at Norwell and continues to work with the baseball program during its summer development period and occasionally during the season as time permits.
Storen is a 2007 graduate of Brownsburg High School. As a freshman, he was the No. 2 pitcher (3-0, 1.17 earned run average) behind Lance Lynn on the eventual 2004 state runner-up. As a sophomore, right-hander Storen went 9-0 with 86 strikeouts in 57 innings and helped the Bulldogs to go 35-0 and win the 2005 state championship while earning a No. 2 ranking in the country from Baseball America. The Indianapolis Star called that team, “The greatest high school team in Indiana history.” For his career, Storen finished 28-2 with 270 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.61. At the plate, he hit .400 with 16 home runs. He was drafted by the New York Yankees in 2007, but attended Stanford University. In two seasons with the Cardinal, he was named to three Freshman All-American teams and was twice chosen first team All-Pac 12. He got the win in Game 1 of the 2008 College World Series. Storen led Stanford as a sophomore in saves, wins and appearances and was named team MVP for 2009. He finished his collegiate career with a 12-4 record, 26 saves, 59 appearances and a 3.84 ERA. As a draft-eligible sophomore, Storen was taken by the Washington Nationals as the 10th overall pick of the 2009 MLB Draft. In eight seasons with the Nationals, Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds, he went 29-18 with 99 saves, a 3.45 ERA and 417 strikeouts. He made six postseason appearances for Washington in 2012 and 2014 with one win and one save. Drew and his wife Brittani currently reside in Carmel and have two boys — Jace (6) and Pierce (2).
Samardzija is a 2003 Valparaiso High School graduate is considered one of the best athletes in Indiana history. By his senior year, he was recognized as one of the state’s best football players and was the runner-up for the Indiana Mr. Football award. Samardzija was a three-time all-state player and was selected to the Indiana All-Star team. In baseball, he was a runner-up for the Mr. Baseball award as a senior, a three-year varsity letterman and an All-State honoree as a center fielder. He hit .375 with five home runs and 37 runs batted in as a junior and .481 with eight homers and 50 RBIs as a senior. As one of the nation’s top football recruits, he chose Notre Dame where he was also invited to pitch for the baseball team. Samardzija was a two-time All American wide receiver, a two-time All-American pitcher and a two-time runner up for the Biletnikoff Award given to the nation’s best receiver. Despite his football skills and the likelihood of being drafted as a first-round pick in the National Football League, Samardzija opted to play professional baseball after pitching for the Irish for three seasons. The right-hander was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the fifth round of the 2006 MLB Draft. He made his MLB debut for the Cubs in July 2008 and went on to pitch 13 full seasons. In addition to the Cubs, Samardzija pitched for the Oakland Athletics (2014), Chicago White Sox (2015) and San Francisco Giants (2016-2020). He was named an All-Star in 2014. Jeff and older brother Sam represent a rare achievement in VHS history with each being selected as All-State performers in both football and baseball.
Johnston graduated from Western Michigan University and was a minor league outfielder from 1952-67. He played for the Indianapolis Indians from 1960-1966 and played in the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and Washington Senators organizations. He was a career .286 hitter and had 525 stolen bases. He led his league in stolen bases six straight years (1953-58). He paced the International League in 1956 with 182. Johnston was a minor league manager for nine years and was the with the Bluefield Orioles in the Appalachian League and the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota, Fla., in an administrative role. In 2020, he was inducted into the Appalachian League Hall of Fame. Johnston served as a scout, scouting supervisor, cross-checker and minor league coordinator roles before retiring in 2019. He currently resides in Nashville, Tenn.
Wayne Johnson spent 12 years as a varsity assistant to Greg Silver at Mooresville before spending two stints as the head coach at Brownsburg High School. At the helm of the Bulldog program, he compiled 278 wins over 15 years. During his first stint from (1987-2000), Johnson-led teams took home sectional championships in 1988, 1992, 1995 and 1996. The Bulldogs were also regional champions in 1996. Then on short notice, Johnson was asked to return to coach Brownsburg in 2011 and won another sectional title. While Johnson’s victories and championships are impressive, his contributions to Brownsburg baseball far exceed his won/loss record. The 1990 Central Suburban Athletic Conference Coach of the Year was instrumental in the construction of Brownsburg’s home baseball field — Mary Beth Rose Park. Johnson partnered with countless members of the community to design and build the stadium and it has served to host over a 1,000 games since the spring of 1988. Rose Park is still considered a premier location to play baseball in Indiana. Johnson was a big supporter of the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame and it fundraising efforts. He also owned a business, Johnson Sports Collectibles in addition to teaching for 39 years at Mooresville and Brownsburg High Schools. Johnson impacted many lives through the game of baseball and his presence is sorely missed. He is being inducted posthumously as he passed away on Dec. 19, 2018.
Inductees will be honored during the IHSBCA State Clinic. The ceremony is slated for 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, 2023 at Sheraton at Keystone Crossing. The clinic is Jan. 12-14. For questions about banquet reservations, program advertisements or events leading up to the ceremony, contact Hall of Fame chairman Jeff McKeon at 317-445-9899. Banquet tickets can be purchased at https://www.cognitoforms.com/Baseball3%20_2023IHSBCAStateClinic and can be picked up from McKeon on the night of the banquet at the registration table. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
Left-handed pitcher Zack Thompson, who was a star at Wapahani High School in Selma, Ind., and the University of Kentucky, made his Major League Baseball debut when he earned a four-inning save for the St. Louis Cardinals June 3 against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Thompson, 24, has made 10 starts for the Triple-A Memphis (Tenn.) Redbirds in 2022 and is 2-2 with a 4.67 earned run average. Zach McKinstry (Fort Wayne North Side/Central Michigan) has split his time between the minors and the big-league Los Angeles Dodgers and the lefty-swinging infielder is currently on the active roster with the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers. He made his big league debut in 2020. McKinstry, 27, is hitting .335 with three home runs and 20 runs batted in over 164 MiLB at-bats and is 1-for-5 with LA — the hit being a June 3 two-run home run off New York Mets right-hander Chris Bassitt. Right-hander Ryan Pepiot (Westfield/Butler) had made his MLB debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 11. He is back with the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers. Pepiot, 24, is 4-0 with a 1.77 ERA in nine appearances for OKC and 0-0 with a 3.18 ERA in three games (11 1/3 innings) in the big leagues. Many other players are also on active rosters in the minors. Right-hander Luke Albright (Fishers/Kent State) is with the High-A Hillsboro (Ore.) Hops (Arizona Diamondbacks). Albright, 22, is 3-2 with a 3.64 ERA in 10 starts. Third baseman Cole Barr (Yorktown/Indiana University) plays for the High-A Everett (Wash.) AquaSox (Seattle Mariners). Barr, 24, is hitting .172 with three homers and 17 RBIs. Right-hander Gabe Bierman (Jeffersonville/Indiana) toes the rubber for the Low-A Jupiter (Fla.) Hammerheads (Miami Marlins). Bierman, 22, is 2-2 with a 4.28 ERA in nine appearances (eight starts). Right-hander Garrett Burhenn (Lawrence North/Ohio State) takes the bump for the Low-A Lakeland (Fla.) Flying Tigers (Detroit Tigers). Burhenn, 22, is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in nine starts. Lefty-swinging outfielder Zach Britton (Batesville/Louisville) is with the High-A Vancouver (B.C.) Canadians (Toronto Blue Jays). Britton, 23, is hitting .206 with four homers and 11 RBIs. Right-hander Zack Brown (Seymour/Kentucky) is one step from the majors with the Triple-A Nashville (Tenn.) Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers). Brown, 27, is 1-0 with two saves and a 3.54 ERA in 17 relief appearances. Outfielder Drew Campbell (Jeffersonville/Louisville) swings from the left side for the High-A Rome Braves (Atlanta Braves). Campbell, 24, is hitting .266 with one homer and 22 RBIs. Left-hander Jacob Cantleberry (Center Grove/Missouri/San Jacinto) is with the High-A Great Lakes Loons (Los Angeles Dodgers) in Midland, Mich. Cantleberry, 24, is 2-1 with one save and a 6.10 ERA in 13 games out of the bullpen.
Right-hander Adysin Coffey (Delta/Wabash Valley) is on the Development List as a reliever with the Kannapolis (N.C.) Cannon Ballers (Chicago White Sox).
Coffey, 23, is 2-2 with two saves a 7.30 ERA in 13 games. Lefty-swinging outfielder Craig Dedelow (Munster/Indiana) takes his cuts for the Double-A Birmingham (Ala.) Barons (Chicago White Sox). Dedelow, 27, is hitting .226 with 13 homers and 35 RBIs. Lefty-swinging second baseman Clay Dungan (Yorktown/Indiana State) is with Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals). Dungan, 26, is hitting .204 with three homers and 18 RBIs. Outfielder Elijah Dunham (Evansville Reitz/Indiana) bats lefty for the Double-A Somerset Patriots (New York Yankees) in Bridgewater, N.J. Dunham, 24, is hitting .346 with seven homers and 27 RBIs. Right-hander Parker Dunshee (Zionsville/Wake Forest) is spinning pitches for the Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators (Oakland Athletics). Dunshee, 27, is 1-5 with a 7.24 ERA in 12 games (10 starts).
Righty-swinging outfielder Matt Gorski (Hamilton Southeastern/Indiana) is with Double-A Altoona (Pa.) Curve (Pittsburgh Pirates).
Gorski, 24, is hitting .290 with 19 homers and 46 RBIs. Left-hander Timmy Herrin (Terre Haute South Vigo/Indiana) takes the mound for the Triple-A Columbus (Ohio) Clippers (Cleveland Guardians). Herrin, 25, is 0-2 with one save and a 4.00 ERA in 17 relief appearances. Right-hander Bryan Hoeing (Batesville/Louisville) challenges hitters for the Triple-A Jacksonville (Fla.) Jumbo Shrimp (Miami Marlins). Hoeing, 25, is 7-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 11 starts. Lefty-swinging outfielder Jacob Hurtubise (Zionsville/Army) is with the Double-A Chattanooga (Tenn.) Lookouts (Cincinnati Reds). Hurtubise, 24, is hitting .299 with no homers and five RBIs. He has spent some time on the IL. Right-hander Drey Jameson (Greenfield-Central/Ball State) fires it for the Triple-A Reno (Nev.) Aces (Arizona Diamondbacks). Jameson, 24, is 3-5 with a 5.80 ERA in 12 games (11 starts). Catcher Hayden Jones (Carroll/Mississippi State/Illinois State) is also a lefty swinger and plays for the Low-A Daytona (Fla.) Tortugas (Cincinnati Reds). Jones, 22, is hitting .210 with one homer and eight RBIs. Righty-swinging catcher Scott Kapers (Mount Carmel, Ill./Valparaiso) is with the High-A Hickory (N.C.) Crawdads (Texas Rangers). Kapers, 25, is hitting .257 with five homers and 16 RBIs. Lefty-swinging first baseman Niko Kavadas (Penn/Notre Dame) competes for the Low-A Salem (Va.) Red Sox (Boston Red Sox). Kavadas, 23, is hitting .253 with seven homers and 31 RBIs. Right-hander Chayce McDermott (Pendleton Heights/Ball State) journeys around the circuit with the High-A Asheville (N.C.) Tourists (Houston Astros). McDermott, 23, is 5-1 with a 4.35 ERA in 12 games (six starts). First baseman Jacson McGowan (Brownsburg/Purdue) plies his trade with the Double-A Montgomery (Ala.) Biscuits (Tampa Bay Rays). McGowan, 24, is hitting .276 with one homer and two RBIs. He has been on the IL in 2022. Right-hander Zach Messinger (Castle/Virginia) hurls for the Low-A Tampa (Fla.) Tarpons (New York Yankees). Messinger, 22, is 0-4 with two saves and a 4.85 ERA in 18 games (15 in relief). Right-hander Evan Miller (LaPorte/Purdue Fort Wayne) works mostly out of the bullpen for the Triple-A El Paso (Texas) Chihuahuas (San Diego Padres). Miller, 27, is 1-2 with two saves and a 6.59 ERA in 21 games (19 in relief). Lefty-swinging shortstop Colson Montgomery (Southridge) is with the Low-A Kannapolis (N.C.) Cannon Ballers (Chicago White Sox). Montgomery, 20, is hitting .295 with four homers and 23 RBIs. Righty-swinging infielder Nick Podkul (Andrean/Notre Dame) was with the Buffalo (N.Y.) Bisons (Toronto Blue Jays). Podkul, 25, is hitting .178 with two homers and nine RBIs. Left-hander Triston Polley (Brownsburg/Indiana State) has been a reliever for the High-A Hickory (N.C.) Crawdads (Texas Rangers). Polley, 25, is 6-2 with one save and a 5.67 ERA in 16 games (all out of the bullpen). Outfielder Grant Richardson (Fishers/Indiana) bats lefty for the Low-A Tampa (Fla.) Tarpons (New York Yankees). Richardson, 22, is hitting .207 with two homers and 16 RBIs. Left-hander Andrew Saalfrank (Heritage/Indiana) is a reliever for the High-A Hillsboro (Ore.) Hops (Arizona Diamondbacks). Saalfrank, 24, is 2-0 with a 3.52 ERA in 17 bullpen games. Andy Samuelson (LaPorte/Wabash Valley) pitched for the Rookie-level Braves (Atlanta Braves) until retiring June 11. Samuelson, 23, pitched 1/3 of an inning in 2022. Right-hander Caleb Sampen (Brownsburg/Wright State) pours it in for the Double-A Montgomery (Ala.) Biscuits (Tampa Bay Rays). Sampen, 25, is 1-12 with a 5.02 ERA in nine appearances (five starts). He has been on the IL in 2022. Right-hander Reid Schaller (Lebanon/Vanderbilt) is part of the bullpen for the Double-A Harrisburg (Pa.) Senators (Washington Nationals). Schaller, 25, is 2-0 with one save and a 2.89 ERA in 14 bullpen contests. Lefty-swinging outfielder Nick Schnell (Roncalli) is back on the field after a long injury-list stint. He plays for the Low-A Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs (Tampa Bay Rays). Schnell, 22, was activated May 31 and is hitting .333 with no homers and six RBIs. The “Diamonds in the Rough” podcast features Schnell and Cole Wilcox. Left-hander Garrett Schoenle (Fort Wayne Northrop/Cincinnati) mostly comes out of the bullpen for the High-A Winston-Salem (N.C.) Dash (Chicago White Sox). Schoenle, 23, is 3-1 with one save and a 1.39 ERA in 14 games (13 in relief). Left-hander Avery Short (Southport) has been starting for the High-A Hillsboro (Ore.) Hops (Arizona Diamondbacks). Short, 21, is 0-4 with a 4.58 ERA in nine starts. Left-hander Tommy Sommer (Carmel/Indiana) is a starter for the Low-A Kannapolis (N.C.) Cannon Ballers (Chicago White Sox). Sommer, 23, is 2-4 with a 3.13 ERA in 11 starts. Right-hander Skylar Szynski (Penn) was drafted in 2016 and has missed much time because of injury. He is Low-A Stockton (Calif.) Ports (Oakland Athletics). Szynski, 24, is 1-1 with a 12.66 ERA in 15 bullpen games. Right-hander Nolan Watson (Lawrence North) is mostly a reliever for the Double-A San Antonio Missions (San Diego Padres). Watson, 25, is 1-2 with a 7.76 ERA in 14 appearances (12 in relief). Among those on the 7-day injury list are right-hander Sam Bachman (Hamilton Southeastern/Miami of Ohio) with the Double-A Rocket City Trash Pandas (Los Angeles Angels) in Madison, Ala., righty-swinging third baseman Kody Hoese (Griffith/Tulane) with the Tulsa (Okla.) Drillers (Los Angeles Dodgers), right-hander Michael McAvene (Roncalli/Louisville) with the High-A South Bend Cubs (Chicago Cubs) and righty-swinging third baseman Riley Tirotta (Mishawaka Marian/Dayton) with the High-A Vancouver (B.C.) Canadians (Toronto Blue Jays). Bachman, 22, is 0-0 with a 1.98 ERA in four starts. Hoese, 24, is hitting .284 with three homers and 21 RBIs. McAvene, 24, is 0-0 with a 40.50 ERA in one relief appearance. Tirotta, 23, is hitting .209 with three homers and 20 RBIs. Right-hander Tanner Andrews (Tippecanoe Valley/Purdue) with the Triple-A Sacramento (Calif.) River Cats (San Francisco Giants), right-hander Pauly Milto (Roncalli/Indiana) with the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Dash (Chicago White Sox) and righty-swinging third baseman Hunter Owen (Evansville Mater Dei/Indiana State) with the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians (Pittsburgh Pirates) are on the 60-day IL. Andrews, 26, is 0-0 with an 11.12 ERA in four relief games. Milto, 25, is 0-0 with a 3.07 ERA in nine games (eight in relief). Owen, 28, is hitting .256 with no homers and five RBIs. He made his MLB debut in 2021.
At 23 and in his fifth season, Eston Stull is a college baseball veteran. The right-handed pitcher finds himself surrounded by many other seasoned players as part of a Southeastern University team ranked No. 1 in NAIA. “The best part of this team is humble confidence,” says Stull of the Lakeland, Fla.-based Fire. “You look in the dugout and they’re not nervous. Even if we’re down, they have the confidence that somebody is going to pick them up. “It’s a team that almost coaches itself. Having that veteran presence has helped this team a lot.” Stull, a 2017 graduate of Pendleton (Ind.) Heights High School, played four seasons at Indiana University-Kokomo (2018-21) while earning degrees in Finance and Management. In 51 mound appearances (27 starts), Stull went 13-4 with a 4.57 earned run average. He amassed 187 strikeouts and 89 walks in 159 2/3 innings. Matt Howard left the IUK program as head coach and Stull — who was granted an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic — began exploring his options. “I reached out on Twitter,” says Stull. Those Tweets drew the attention of SEU assistant coach/recruiting director Mike Mendoza and Stull corresponded with him and head coach Adrian Dinkel while pitching in the summer of 2021 for the Northwoods League’s Kokomo Jackrabbits. Stull decided to join a program that went 51-9 and competed in the 2021 NAIA World Series. Excluding the 2020 COVID season, Southeastern has posted four straight 50-win campaigns and is closing in on a fifth in 2022. Going into The Sun Conference tournament May 5-8 in West Palm Beach, Fla., the Fire is 47-3. The NAIA Opening Round is slated for May 16-19. Taylor University in Upland, Ind., is one the 10 sites and the SEU could be assigned there which is about 40 miles northeast of Pendleton. In 14 games (13 in relief), graduate student Stull is 0-0 with 0 saves and a 2.11 ERA. The righty has 32 strikeouts and seven walks in 21 1/3 innings. Graduate assistant Connor Dailey, who was a reliever 2015-18 at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, N.C., is Southeastern’s pitching coach. “He’s somewhat our age and easy to talk to,” says Stull of Dailey. “He trusts all of us and let’s us stick to our own routine.” The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Stull has made the adjustment from starter to relief pitcher. “I think I fit better in the bullpen for this team,” says Stull, who mixes a four-seam fastball, curve, slider and change-up from a high three-quarter arm angle. His four-seamer sits 92 to 93 mph and recently reach 97. His curve has a 12-to-6 action. He throws what he calls a “gyro” slider. “It goes down like a reverse change-up,” says Stull. “I look at the Rapsodo (motion capture system) and try to keep the spin efficiency below 12 and the RPM’s up (he averages 2800 with the pitch). Stull began throwing his change-up more last summer. “I have a good shape for it,” says Stull. “It’s just finding the time to get comfortable throwing it in-game.” Away from the diamond, Stull is working toward a Master of Business Administration and expects to take summer classes and finish as soon as possible. His coaches are looking to place him with a team. “I want to see how far baseball will take me,” says Stull. “I don’t want to have any regrets.” Born in Pendelton to Todd and Misty Stull, Eston grew up around the area and played what is now known as Pendleton Junior Baseball/Softball and then in travel ball, including time with the Indiana Nitro. At Pendleton Heights, his head coach was Travis Keesling. “I struggled my junior year and did not pitch much,” says Stull. “Coach Keesling sat me down and said you need to figure it out.” Stull began training with Greg Vogt — first at VIP and then PRP Baseball (in Noblesville, Ind.). “I had a great senior year,” says Stull. He still stays in-touch with Vogt. “I’ve reached out to him a couple of times with tips,” says Stull of the former Carmel (Ind.) High School and Anderson (Ind.) University hurler who has moved his family to Florida and added rehab pitching coach for the Toronto Blue Jays system to his PRP Baseball duties. All three of Todd and Misty’s sons are in college. Eston’s younger brother Walker Stull pitches at Anderson U., and has trained with his at PRP Baseball. The youngest — Harrison Stull — is a student at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Their parents have moved to Jacksonville, Fla.
Greg Vogt spent years building a training business he calls PRP Baseball (Passion Resilence Process) and others noticed. The Toronto Blue Jays were impressed enough to offer Vogt the job of Rehab Pitching Coach. Vogt, a graduate of Carmel (Ind.) High School (2008) and Anderson (Ind.) University (2012), accepted and recently moved wife Whitney and three boys — Parker (6), Griffen (4) and Jackson (4 months) — close to the Jays complex in Dunedin, Fla. The organization has established a new 65-acre Player Development Complex for Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball players about 10 minutes from TD Ballpark where the Blue Jays play spring training games. Built during the COVID-19 lockdown, the facility has multiple tools to train and evaluate players including Trackman, Edgertronic, Rapsodo and HitTrax — all tools that Vogt and his staff use at PRP Baseball which is housed at Mojo Up Sports Complex (formerly known as Finch Creek Fieldhouse) in Noblesville, Ind. “That was a big part of making this decision, seeing their investment in player development,” says Vogt, who is in charge of players on the throwing side and is creating some bigger systems including arm care to keep athletes healthy. He regularly meets with pitching coaches and directors of player development. A biomechanical lab with six or seven Edgertronic high-speed cameras allows the tracking of movement, force and other measurable elements that can give feedback to the pitcher. “We can give them a real breakdown,” says Vogt. “(The camera) reads 1 second pitch and there’s like 30-second video. “We can make adjustments to make movement or the pitching arsenal better.” While getting to know faces of players and other Jays personnel, Vogt begins seeing pitchers in various stages of rehab early in the morning. They are split into groups. Depending on the day or their needs or programs, these hurlers may do some combination of throwing, weight lifting and medical treatment. Vogt says PRP Baseball being the “home in Indiana and beyond for all high-level baseball training is still the goal and it continues to be executed. “Our philosophy will be the exact same. We continue to have more college commitments and (MLB) draftees.” So far, 58 players from the Class of 2022 who train with PRP Baseball — in-person or remotely — have made college commitments. Vogt is still the Director of Operations for PRP Baseball and stays connected with his staff in Noblesville that includes Lead Hitting Coach Quentin Brown (who is also now a minor league hitting coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates), Director of Hitting Jake Douglass, Pitching Coach Christian Dukas, Director of Player Development for Pitching Anthony Gomez, Pitching Coach Marcus McCormick, Hitting Coach Noah Niswonger, Director of Camps and Floor Trainer Seth Story, Pitching Coach Tasker Strobel and Director of Sports Performance Bram Wood. Gomez is handling more daily operations responsibilities with Vogt currently off-site. Vogt is still Director of Operations for PRP Baseball and manages all systems and marketing. “I can still take off the work load on some of the back end stuff like making sure we have space, sign-ups, programming software and building spreadsheets,” says Vogt. “Delegating to on-site staff very important to their growth as well.”
Anthony Gomez is full of gratitude for a career in baseball. The Director of Player Development for Pitching at PRP Baseball (Passion Resilience Process) housed at Mojo Up Sports Complex (formerly known as Finch Creek Fieldhouse) in Noblesville, Ind., joined the company in August 2020. He recently gained more daily operations responsibilities with PRP Baseball Founder and Director Greg Vogt becoming the Rehab Pitching Coach for the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla. Before coming to PRP Baseball, Gomez spent four years as a coach/instructor at Morris Baseball (now 5 Star Great Lakes) in northwest Indiana, working with Bobby Morris and Dave Sutkowski. In the summers, he coached for Morris Baseball (2017-19) and Chicago-based and Al Oremus-led Prairie Gravel (2020). “I have thankfulness for Bobby Morris allowing me to work at his facility and the things that he taught me,” says Gomez. “That’s another another part that’s allowed me to be where I today.” Gomez called his training group of 150-plus players raining from middle school to collegiate to professional levels the Region Jabronis. “That was 22-year-old me being funny,” says Gomez of the satiric name. “A Jabroni is a term is to describe someone is all talk. “We don’t want to be all talk. Let’s put in the work. I don’t want to hear you talking about it. “Results always speak.” Gomez, who has various certifications including OnBaseU pitching evaluation and Driveline Baseball and studied with Randy Sullivan at Florida Baseball Armory and taken the Brian Cain mental performance class. “All coaches should be equipped to handle the psychological end,” says Gomez. “They can be mentors to them to handle stresses when they’re treading water. “Ultimately, we’re trying to help people.” Gomez, who has read “Old School vs. New School: The Application Of Data & Technology Into Baseball” by Eugene Bleecker is always growing his baseball knowledge. He shares his insight on the biomechanics of throwing, intertwining weight room work to benefit throwers and understanding human movement to help PRP Baseball athletes become more efficient movers on the field. The man who turns 28 on March 4 is all-in for baseball and the development of players, particularly pitchers. There was a time when Gomez lost his zeal for the diamond. A left-handed pitcher, Gomez was not planning to play baseball in college and was going to focus his attention on his studies. Then just as his senior year at Munster (Ind.) High School was ending in 2012, Gomez received an offer from Vincennes (Ind.) University coach Chris Barney and a scholarship to play for the junior college Trailblazers. Gomez saw a liveliness in Barney. “He was filled with fire and passion for his coaching,” says Gomez of Barney. “He’s an energetic dude. He was ready to get after it each day. He would hold you accountable. That’s what you want from a coach.” At Munster, Gomez played for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Bob Shinkan. “That guy’s got a huge heart,” says Gomez of Shinkan. “He cares about his players down deep.” After Gomez finished college, Shinkan allowed him to help coach at his alma mater. “I have a lot of gratitude for him,” says Gomez of Shinkan. “He allowed me to help on staff and run workouts. “I thought I’d be an actuary, but he helped put me on my current path.” Looking back to Vincennes, Gomez was throwing a bullpen during his freshman year when his back lock up on him. It turned out to be a bulging disk and kept him from playing. “I lost my passion for the game,” says Gomez, who decided to follow his original plan and told Barney he was transferring to Ball State University to be a student only and begin working toward an Actuarial Science degree and Computer Science minor. Then George Bizoukas — longtime Highland American Legion Post 180 manager — let Gomez know that he was still age-eligible to play for his team that summer. Gomez, who split his last two high school summers between Post 180 between the Downers Grove, Ill.-based Longshots Baseball, decided to give playing another try. “George allowed me to have fun with the game,” says Gomez. “Without him I don’t know if I’m in the position I am now. “It went phenomenal. I decided ‘I’m back.’ I’m going to work as hard as I can the rest of the summer and go to (Ball State) walk-on trials. After seeing Gomez throw about 10 pitches in the bullpen, Cardinals coach Rich Maloney called the lefty that night letting him know he had made the team. Gomez redshirted in the spring of 2014 and made one mound appearance in 2015 before being cut. “Coach Maloney is someone I really respect,” says Gomez. “He’s a straight shooter. I was not meeting the expectations. I could be considered as a waste of a roster spot. “(Maloney) is a phenomenal culture coach. We had an awesome tight-knit group (as 2014 Mid-American Conference champions). I still keep in-touch with those guys.” Gomez grew up in northwest Indiana with a talent for baseball. His 15U summer (between freshmen and sophomore year), he played with the 17U Indiana Breakers. “I made varsity the next year,” says Gomez. “I credit that to playing 17U ball as a freshman.” In the summer of 2010, Gomez was on the Ed Woolwine-coached 16U Indiana Prospects. Then came the two summers with the Rob Rooney-coached Longshots and Highland Post 180. At PRP Baseball, Gomez spends the bulk of his time on the throwing floor. He estimates that there are close to 300 athletes just in the youth and high school groups. Gomez is also in charge of running a remote service that currently has about 25 players. They send him weekly videos of them throwing, lifting etc., and they talk on Zoom and phone calls. “It’s all about communication,” says Gomez. “I can’t coach what I can’t see.” Anthony is the son of Edward Gomez and Karyn Condes and has two sisters and two brothers. His father played soccer at Indiana University. His stepfather is Michael Condes.
Indiana native Adam Lind enjoyed 14 seasons as a professional baseball player — 12 in the majors. The lefty-swinging first baseman, designated hitter and left fielder donned the jerseys of the Toronto Blue Jays (2006-14), Milwaukee Brewers (2015), Seattle Mariners (2016) and Washington Nationals (2017) and took his last pro at-bats with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the New York Yankees system and Pawtucket in the Boston Red Sox organization in 2018. His MLB managers were John Gibbons (two stints), Cito Gaston and John Farrell in Toronto, Ron Roenicke and Craig Counsell in Milwaukee, Scott Servais in Seattle and Dusty Baker in Washington. All but 391 of his 1,334 career big league games were played with Toronto. He hit .272 with 200 home runs, 259 doubles, 723 runs batted in and a .795 OPS (.330 on-base percentage plus .465 slugging average). In 2009, “Adam Bomb” won a Silver Slugger, the Edgar Martinez Award (best DH) and was an Unsung Star of the Year Award finalist after hitting .305 with 35 homers, 46 doubles, 114 RBIs and a .932 OPS (.370/.562). His last three dingers came in the same Sept. 29 game — an 8-7 Blue Jays win in Boston. Lind went deep twice off Clay Buchholz and once against Takashi Saito. While he logged 418 contests at DH and 249 in left field, Lind enjoyed it most at first base, where he fielded at a .993 clip and participated in 480 double plays. “You’re more involved and closer to the action,” says Lind. “You can affect a game at first base.” And there was April 20, 2012 when Lind started a triple play for the Blue Jays at Kansas City. Alex Gordon was on second base and Yuniesky Betancourt on first when Eric Hosner lined to Lind for the first out. “I caught the ball in self defense,” says Lind, who stepped on first to force Betancourt and fired to second where Toronto shortstop Yunel Escobar touched the bag to force Gordon. Lind describes playing all those years in the American League East as good and bad. “You see how good of a baseball player you are, playing 20 times each year against the Red Sox and Yankees,” says Lind. “You go against the best of the best — Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. “At the same time it’s why I never got into the playoffs (as a Blue Jay).” In Lind’s lone postseason appearance — the 2017 National League Division Series against the Chicago Cubs — he went 2-for-3 as a pinch-hitter. As his playing days were ending, Lind began thinking about getting back in the game — likely as a coach. Meanwhile, wife Lakeyshia received Spanish lessons as a Christmas gift. “I enjoyed that,” says Lind, who decided after retirement to enroll in the World Languages Department at the University of South Florida in Tampa and major in Spanish. The 38-year old father of three is now in his second semester of in-person classes after the COVID-19 pandemic made for a virtual experience. “I’m using school to qualify me and give me the tools to go into another career that I want to achieve. By earning a degree and being able to communicate with Latin Americans hopefully it will get my foot in the door (in baseball). “My kids are young and I don’t want to be gone yet, but I would be a commodity. It used to be that 10 years in the big leagues almost guaranteed you could latch on. In my opinion that has changed quite a bit in the last decade.” To accumulate credits in a shorter period of time and to immerse himself in the language and culture, Lind has decided to study abroad. “I don’t like the word fluent,” says Lind. “I’m nowhere near that. “I can at least communicate and get a point across.” Plans now call for him to spend May 11-June 18 in Chile, where he’ll take two classes, live with a host family and take a few excursions including to the Andes Mountains. It’s possible Lakeyshia might be able to visit. The couple met during the 2007 season and were married in Toronto in 2010. Their children are daughter Martinne (10), son Louie (8) and daughter Elodie (5). The two oldest kids are dual Canadian-American citizens. Born in Muncie, Ind., Adam Alan Lind moved to Anderson as a youngster and played his first organized baseball at Chesterfield Little League. The son of educators Al and Kathy and younger brother of sister Allison played in the Anderson Babe Ruth League and was with the John Miles-managed and Dan Ball-coached Anderson American Legion Post 127 team. “He was a great grandfather figure and he had clout,” says Lind. “It was an honor to be a freshman and asked to play for that team.” Attending a Ball State hitting camp and taking a growth spurt between his eighth and ninth grade years brought power to Lind’s game. Taking batting practice in the fall of his freshmen year, he smacked one over the fence. “It was the first homer I hit on the big field,” says Lind, who parked it an offering from Jason Stecher. It was Stecher who had been his seventh grade basketball coach as a first-year teacher and was a baseball assistant to his father through 2001 when the Anderson Highland High School diamond was named Bob Stecher Field then took over the Scots program. “(Jason) was not much older than us so he knew all our tricks when the coach isn’t looking,” says Lind. “Bob Stecher was an Anderson legend. He was a great man.” A 2002 Highland graduate, Lind hit .675 with 16 homers and was named Indiana Mr. Baseball as a senior. “It was a great honor,” says Lind of the statewide recognition. “It’s something I think about at times. “It’s a cool memory.” The lefty belted three in a game against visiting Noblesville as a sophomore. His senior homer total might’ve been larger. “There was that fair ball called foul in Martinsville,” says Lind. Heading into his senior year, Lind traveled far and wide with the Indiana Bulls. “I loved that summer,” says Lind. “It was the first time I was away from my high school friends. I was playing with established players. It was a little intimidating being around higher level of competition.” One of his highlights was a homer at the University of Tennessee against Georgia’s famed East Cobb squad. Anderson Highland consolidated with Anderson High School after the 2009-10 academic year. In 2002, Lind was selected in the eighth round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Minnesota Twins and opted instead for the University of South Alabama. Lind did not study Spanish at USA. He told people his major was business. “It was baseball,” says Lind, who played two seasons (2003 and 2004) for the Steve Kittrell-coached Jaguars and was drafted by Toronto in the third round in 2004. He made his MLB debut Sept. 2, 2006. His first of 1,247 career hits was a double off left-hander Lenny DiNardo.
When Bryan Bullington left Ball State University after his junior year as the No. 1 overall selection in the 2002 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates he had visions of anchoring a big league starting pitching rotation for a decade or more. It didn’t go quite like that, but the 6-foot-5 right-hander who had been Indiana Mr. Baseball at Madison (Ind.) Consolidated High School in 1999 did pitch as a professional until age 34 and returned to the game two years later as a scout for the Milwaukee Brewers – a position he has held for the past five years. “I’m super proud, happy and thankful that I got to play as long as a I did,” says Bullington, who made his MLB debut with Pittsburgh in 2005, pitched in 26 big league games (16 in relief) with the Pirates, Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals, made several minor league stops and hurled four full seasons and part of a fifth in Japan. Starting with an 11-0 ledger, he tossed the first four with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp (38-31 from 2011-14) and the beginning of 2015 with the Orix Buffaloes. “During my playing career I did a little bit of everything and had different experiences.” Bullington had labrum surgery in 2005 and missed the 2006 season. When did not make the big club out of Royals spring training in 2010, (Kansas City drafted him in the 37th round out of high school but he opted for college) Bullington was presented with his first invitation to play in the Far East. He chose to stay in the U.S. and went to Triple-A Omaha and got into 13 contests that season with Kansas City. “We had just had twins in the offseason (with a toddler already in the house),” says Bullington, who is married to Lauren. “It felt a little overwhelming.” Now married 17 years, Bryan and Lauren Bullington reside in the Chicago suburbs with daughter Bella (15 and a high school freshman) and sons Jack and Matthew (both 12 and sixth graders). In 2011, the interest and opportunity to go to Japan was still there. Bryan did his research then headed to the Land of the Rising Sun – where he enjoyed the baseball and was able to share cultural experiences with his family. “I loved Hiroshima,” says Bullington. “I had two great interpreters. “I spoke ‘survival Japanese.’” He could order a meal or catch a cab. Bullington was away from pro baseball in 2016 then got a chance to join the Brewers scouting staff in 2017. “It’s been very educational,” says Bullington, 41. “The game has changed a ton in five years I’ve been doing it. “(Research and development) and analytics are a big part of the game. I learn something new every year.” By examining the data, a pitcher can add a pitch to his repertoire, tweak an existing one or adjust its frequency or efficiency. “We used to be hesitant to mess or tweak with what a guy did later in their career,” says Bullington. “You can put data in front of them and they can see there might be an avenue for growth or improvement.” While he has helped out in spring training and at fall instructional camp and has helped former Ball State assistant Matt Husted at Wheaton (Ill.) College, Bullington’s role with the Brewers is not as a coach – he does that with his sons – he’s an evaluator. The past thee years scouting duties have been combined with a mix of amateur and pro assignments. “My experience in Japan lets me get some international looks as well,” says Bullington, who was traveling over there a time or two each year pre-COVID-19 pandemic. After the 2021 MLB, Minor League Baseball and amateur seasons, he did go the instructional league and the Arizona Fall League — both in the Phoenix area. Right now, Bullington is assessing minor league and MLB free agents and preparing for the Rule 5 Draft, which is slated Dec. 9 – the last day of the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla. By rule, players selected in the Rule 5 Draft must remain on their new team’s big league roster all season in 2022, otherwise they must go through waivers and be offered back to their original team. Playing for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Gary O’Neal, Bullington went 15-0 as a Madison Consolidated senior, pitching a one-hitter in the 1999 IHSAA Class 3A state championship game. In three seasons at Ball State, he earned numerous All-American honors and was Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year in 2000 and MAC Pitcher of the Year in 2001 and 2002. He set school records of career wins (29), strikeouts (357), single-season strikeouts (139 in 2002), fewest walks per nine innings (1.55 in 2002) and career hit batters (44). Bullington was with the Cardinals during Rich Maloney’s first stint as head coach. “I talk to him every couple of months,” says Bullington of Maloney. “He’s been great mentor for me and a coach.” Taking online classes in the offseason, Bullington completed his degree in Business Administration and Management in 2010. He was inducted into the Ball State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014 and MAC Hall of Fame in 2020.
As Ball State University develops baseball pitchers, one approach does not fit all. Each individual is assessed and brought along while keeping in mind what is best for them. “We’re not making a broad stroke,” says Larry Scully, the Cardinals pitching coach since August 2019. “Everyone is different in terms of their needs.” Scully, who began his coaching career in 1992 and has mentored 16 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft selections, uses the example of a freshman arriving on the Muncie, Ind., campus in the fall. That hurler is introduced to Bill Zenisek, Ball State’s baseball strength & conditioning coach. “He gets a measurement of movement for all the players,” says Scully. From this evaluation, which includes a TPI movement screening, specific exercises are prescribed that will help them become an efficient athlete. Players are introduced to proper nutrition and the weight room and learn that terminology. Rapsodo equipment is used during bullpen sessions and the motion-capture data is used for development as is Synergy slow-motion camera feedback. Then there’s the throwing program. “We get to see how the arm moves,” says Scully. As a part of that there is long toss. Some will go long and high and up to 300 feet the day after they throw and others will focus on mechanics and toss on a line for distance. Through it all, a pitcher’s delivery is checked for efficiency. How does he start? How does he drive down the mound? How does he finish? Since Scully is Driveline-certified, the Cardinals will use bands, PlyoCare Balls and mediBalls in training. Bullpen sessions may be geared toward refining a certain pitch or location. A pitcher’s workload — heavy or light in terms of innings or the number or intensity pitches — will also play into training. Fall ball began at Ball State the first week of September and just recently concluded. Pitchers worked alone the first two weeks and were then incorporated into team practices and scrimmages. Then adjustments were made during individual work. Until Dec. 3, pitchers will work eight hours a week, including strength sessions and 45 minutes a day Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays with their pitching coach. “We’ll try to maintain what they do well and get better to help us win,” says Scully. Before coming to Ball State, Scully spent five seasons at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., where he worked with Braves head coach Elvis Dominguez. “We were one of the top academic schools in the Missouri Valley Conference,” says Scully, who also served as Bradley’s recruiting coordinator. the 2019 Braves led the MVC in earned run average (3.37), fewest hits allowed per game (7.21) and WHIP (1.27). What drew Scully to the Cardinals? “Ball State has a rich tradition in winning and developing pitchers,” says Scully. At BSU, Scully joined head coach Rich Maloney, who became the 27th active NCAA Division I coach to earn his 800th career coaching win in 2019. To date, Maloney is 877-581-1 (546-337-1 in his second stint with Ball State) in 26 seasons. He has coached 65 players who were drafted 72 times. He’s coached six first-rounders with only one being drafted out of high school. The most-recent is right-hander Drey Jameson (34th overall pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2019). Maloney paid Scully a compliment during the interview process. “Everywhere you’ve been the pitching staff has gotten a bump,” says Scully of Maloney’s words. The 2021 MLB Draft was very satisfying for Scully. Three pitchers who the coach helped hone his craft were taken in the first seven rounds — Ball State’s Chayce McDermott (fourth round by the Houston Astros) and Bradley’s Brooks Gosswein (fourth round by the Chicago White Sox) and Theron Denlinger (seventh round by the White Sox). When looking at pitching potential, Ball State recruiting coordinator Blake Beemer is often drawn to athletes of a certain build. “They are long and lean with loose arm action,” says Scully. “Others might not be that, but they may be left-handed and can get left-handers out. “Blake does a good job of finding low-lying fruit. Here’s something we can probably fix (about the pitcher’s mechanics or pitch selection). “There’s a lot of moving parts. Everyone sees the final product, but there’s a lot of work that goes into it.” Prior to Bradley, Scully was pitching coach at Murray (Ky.) State University (2014), Lamar (Colo.) Community College (2010-13), assistant at Saint Louis University (2007), head coach at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo. (2000-06) and assistant at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa (1999) and Indiana Hills Community College in Centerville, Iowa (1992-96). Dan Skirka was a Murray State assistant when Scully was there and is now the Racers head coach. Scully was born in Toronto and played at York Memorial Collegiate Institute in 1986. His head coach was Jim Ridley, who was later inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The Ridley twins — Jeremy and Shayne — were teammates who wound up playing at Ball State and were both drafted in 2000 (Jeremy Ridley by the Toronto Blue Jays and Shayne Ridley by the Baltimore Orioles.). “Jim was a tremendous influence on me,” says Scully. “He was a terrific coach and a terrific person. “Some are just very lucky. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some very good baseball people.” A left-handed pitcher, Scully competed in the Junior Olympics at 18U and then played for and coached with Rick Mathews (now in the Colorado Rockies organization) at Indian Hills and played for Joel Murrie (now with the Los Angeles Angels) at Western Kentucky University. Scully earned an English Literature from WKU in 1992 and master’s degree in Sports Administration from the United State Sports Academy in 1994. “It was my intent to be an English teacher and baseball coach,” says Scully. “I learned that’s tough gig. Both require a lot of time. Now I’m helping daughter now with her grammar.” Larry and wife Shari have six children from 30 down to eighth-grader Ava. Shari Scully has taught for nearly 30 years and is employed as a sixth grade Language Arts teacher at Tremont (Ill.) Middle School.