By David Pavlak
Last season, Rider baseball was fortunate enough to see two of its top players enter and be selected into the Major League Baseball draft.
Nate Eppley and Mike Thomas were two stars on the baseball field, who have since had their talents recognized on a national scale. The Oakland Athletics selected Eppley in the 29th round, while the Los Angeles Dodgers selected Thomas in the 35th round.
Eppley appeared in 18 games for the AZL Athletics of the Rookie Arizona League. In those games, Eppley finished with a 3.58 ERA in 27.2 innings pitched. He allowed 31 hits, 11 earned runs, nine walks and 23 strikeouts.
Thomas, on the other hand, experienced a bit of an up-and-down season with the AZL Dodgers and the Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer League. Thomas’ ERA was inflated by a few difficult starts with the Raptors. In his six appearances with the club, Thomas’ ERA reached 7.90.
Both players have continued the tradition of making Rider baseball proud by reaching their ultimate goals of being drafted. However, they aren’t the first two Broncs to have their game reach the major league level.
Jamie Hayes, ’09, Scott Knazek, ’06, and Jim Hoey, ’03, have also been selected to move on to the Major Leagues throughout the years.
They certainly will not be the last ones to have their names called either.
The Broncs currently boast two members who could potentially hear their names called for an opportunity to play baseball professionally: senior Brandon Cotten and junior Tyler Smith.
Cotten is a baseball stud who has the ability to track down any ball in the outfield as well as make solid contact every time he steps in the batters box. This season he is hitting .301 with 17 RBIs. He has also stolen 12 bases in 13 attempts. Cotten’s defensive abilities are what set him apart from the others in the draft class.
2012 has been the highlight for Tyler Smith so far. He has gone 3-1 in 17 appearances, while pitching a 1.63 ERA. Smith, who originally pitched out of the bullpen as a reliever, has since made his way to the starting rotation in order to help the struggling Broncs salvage some run support in recent games.
Both individuals possess the skills required to push them to the next level. With continued desire and perseverance, both men can make Rider baseball incredibly proud. Having such a vast amount of players drafted is not something that other sports at Rider can compare to. Baseball can.