By SEAN TENAGLIA (Gatemen Beat Writer)
WAREHAM, MA: While the 2014 Wareham Gatemen prepare for their season opener Wednesday night at Bourne, many former members of the ball club look forward to a new chapter in their lives. Twenty Gatemen alums were selected by 14 different teams in the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, which ties the team-high for draftees in a single draft in the past five years.
Indiana catcher and 2012 CCBL Playoff MVP Kyle Schwarber (2012, 2013) was drafted at No. 4 overall by the Chicago Cubs, the highest Gatemen selection in at least the last 15 years. While Schwarber’s draft position came earlier than some projections, his selection comes as no surprise to Wareham fans who watched him tally 8 home runs and 38 RBIs, along with a team-leading .343 batting average, during the 2012 campaign. In 180 career games at Indiana, Schwarber hit .341 with 40 homers and 149 RBIs.
Hartford starting pitcher Sean Newcomb (2012, 2013) joined his former teammate in the first round as the No. 15 overall pick by the Los Angeles Angels. The hard-throwing southpaw’s career in Wareham was limited by injury and illness, but he jumped up draft boards following a dominant junior season at Hartford. He was named the America East Pitcher of the Year and posted a miniscule 1.25 ERA, good for eighth-best in the nation.
Alabama pitcher Spencer Turnbull (2013) was taken in the second round by the Detroit Tigers at No. 63 overall. Turnbull had a 3.85 ERA in six appearances for the Gatemen last summer, and paced the Crimson Tide rotation this season with a 2.22 ERA in 93.1 innings pitched. Turnbull is the highest Crimson Tide player drafted since 2006, when Gatemen alum Wade LeBlanc was selected 61st overall by the San Diego Padres.
Indiana senior third baseman Dustin DeMuth (2012) was the first of seven Gatemen selected on Day 2 of the Draft, taken in the fifth round (No. 146 overall) by the Milwaukee Brewers. The two-time All-American had a storied career at Indiana, finishing with the second most hits in school history. DeMuth teamed up with Schwarber in the Hoosier lineup this season and hit .374 to go along with five home runs and 40 RBIs.
The New York Yankees selected Mississippi State All-American closer Jonathan Holder (2012, 2013) in the sixth round (No. 182 overall). Holder had two saves and a 1.98 ERA in 14 appearances for the Gatemen in 2012 and notched another save in seven appearances last summer. The right-hander has been dominant in his career at Mississippi State with a school record, and NCAA-leading, 37 saves.
Illinois State pitcher Brock Stewart (2013) was picked up by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the No. 189 pick of the sixth round. Stewart did a little of everything for the Redbirds, making 11 pitching appearances on the mound late in the season after hitting four homers and driving in 29 runs as a third baseman. Stewart played at third in 14 games for the Gatemen last summer.
Andro Cutura (2013), a junior Southeastern Louisiana starting pitcher, was drafted in the seventh round (No. 200 overall) by the Minnesota Twins. Cutura was named the Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year after posting a 10-2 record with a 1.95 ERA and 99 strikeouts. He made seven starts for the Gatemen last summer, finishing with two wins and a 3.91 ERA. The junior starter was slated to join the Gatemen for a second summer before receiving the big call from the Twins.
The Atlanta Braves drafted junior Southern Mississippi pitcher Bradley Roney (2013) in the eighth round (No. 253 overall). Roney was 2-0 with 12 saves and a 1.24 ERA for the Golden Eagles this season. He appeared in 13 games for the Gatemen last summer, striking out 21 opposing batters and earning a 1.58 ERA en route to a spot on the All-Star team.
Senior James Madison infielder Ty McFarland (2012) will be joining his former Wareham teammate Jonathan Holder in the Yankees organization. McFarland, who batted .309 for the Gatemen during their 2012 championship season, was drafted in the 10th round (No. 302 overall) by New York. He paced the James Madison offense this season, hitting .317 with nine home runs, and was named to the All-CAA First Team.
McFarland’s former teammate, Louisville senior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (2012, 2013), will be suiting up for the Yankees’ hated rival organization. The Boston Red Sox selected Sturgeon No. 314 overall in the 10th round. The Louisville slugger was praised for his tireless effort on and off the field for the Gatemen. In 2012, he hit .297 with five homers and also made seven appearances on the mound, winning two games. Last summer as a league All-Star, he appeared in 32 games as a position player, while also allowing zero runs in six mound appearances. Sturgeon is hitting .331 with 34 RBIs and 19 stolen bases and is also 3-0 with a 1.98 ERA for the Cardinals, who have advanced to the College World Series.
Junior right-hander Jared Ruxer (2012, 2013), a teammate with Sturgeon both at Louisville and in Wareham, was the first of 10 Gatemen selected on the third and final day of the Draft. Ruxer will join Newcomb in Los Angeles, as the Angels made him the No. 359 pick in the 12th round. He is 7-1 with 68 strikeouts and a 2.27 ERA for the Cardinals this season. Ruxer made eight starts for the Gatemen in 2012, finishing with a 2.94 ERA and 34 strikeouts. Last summer, he had a 3.17 ERA in nine appearances for Wareham.
The San Diego Padres selected junior James Madison pitcher Chris Huffman (2012, 2013) with the No. 417 pick of the 14th round. Huffman pitched 6.0 scoreless innings for the Gatemen in 2012 and made six appearances during the 2013 campaign. This season, he made the transition from closer to James Madison’s No. 1 starter and led the team with five wins and 69 strikeouts in 15 starts.
Junior left-handed pitcher Joe Filomeno (2012) was the third Gatemen player from Louisville drafted when the Texas Rangers selected him in the 15th round (No. 456 overall). Filomeno has appeared in 11 games for the Cardinals this season, including four starts. He made 15 relief appearances for the Gatemen in 2012, racking up 24 strikeouts and two wins.
The Baltimore Orioles made Georgia Tech redshirt junior pitcher Matthew Grimes (2011) their 18th-round selection (No. 541 overall). Grimes made seven starts for the Gatemen in 2011, striking out 20 batters in 32.0 innings. He was 5-3 in 12 starts for the Yellow Jackets this year after losing a season to Tommy John surgery.
Junior UT-San Antonio catcher John Bormann (2014) shared a special moment with his Gatemen teammates Saturday when he received word from the Los Angeles Angels informing him that he was the club’s 19th-round selection (No. 569 overall). Bormann hit .288 with four homers and 24 RBIs this season and also led the C-USA with 13 pickoffs. He is expected to stay on in Wareham this summer and play a big role behind the plate for the Gatemen.
Brett Pirtle (2013), a senior infielder at Mississippi State, joined former teammate Turnbull as a selection of the Detroit Tigers (23rd round, No. 700 overall). Pirtle hit .242 and had five stolen bases for the Gatemen last summer. He led the Bulldogs to the NCAA Regionals after hitting a scorching .357 with 30 RBIs this season.
The Houston Astros grabbed Georgia Tech infielder Mott Hyde (2011, 2012) with their 26th-round pick (No. 766 overall). Hyde, who was named a captain by his teammates for the 2014 season, hit .282 with four homers and 35 RBIs for the Yellow Jackets. He appeared in 31 games for the Gatemen in 2011 and had seven stolen bases. During the 2012 championship campaign, he hit .281 in 44 games with six home runs and 26 RBIs.
Two picks later, the Chicago White Sox used their 26th-round selection on Hyde’s former teammate, senior Memphis shortstop Ethan Gross (2012, 2013). Gross hit .267 with 21 RBIs and 12 stolen bases for the Tigers this season. He was a key member of the 2012 Wareham team, playing in 43 games. Last summer, he led the Gatemen with 40 base hits and 15 RBIs and earned a spot on the All-Star team.
Senior LSU outfielder Sean McMullen (2013) joined Hyde as a 30th round selection of the Houston Astros (No. 886 overall). McMullen hit .250 in 28 games with the Gatemen last summer. He was a power hitter in the LSU lineup this spring, knocking out seven homers with 40 RBIs, and helped lead the Tigers to the NCAA Regionals.
Sophomore Chipola College pitcher Tucker Simpson (2013) was the final Wareham player selected in this year’s draft, a 39th-round selection of the Baltimore Orioles (No. 1171 overall). Simpson made three starts at Chipola this spring after transferring from Florida. Last summer, he was a key member of the Gatemen’s rotation, tossing a 2.75 ERA in six starts.
While some may advance more quickly up the ranks than others, for these 20 former Gatemen, a lifelong dream has been realized. As history has shown us, it is simply a matter of time until we see many of these players break through into the big leagues.