BRYAN -- The weather is warming up, songbirds can be heard happily chirping away, and the sun is setting later every evening. This can mean only one thing- spring here and America’s great pastime, baseball, is right around the corner.
Last June, Mark McGonigle, Casey Whitmer, Daniel Meadows, and Keith Stein completed the quartet of Brazos Valley Bombers who were selected in the MLB Draft. A year later, they are all trying to build off the successes of their first year in the professional ranks.
After being selected in the 43rd round of the draft by the New York Mets, McGonigle quickly demonstrated his skill at the plate as he hit .297 with 15 RBI in 38 games with the Gulf Coast Mets. The 6’3” outfielder was a fan favorite as a member of the inaugural season Bombers back in 2007 and starred for the University of New Orleans Privateers in his senior season, hitting .294 with eight home runs and 46 RBI en route to an 18-11 record in conference play.
Whitmer became a household name after a fabulous season with the Bombers in 2007 that included Texas Collegiate League Freshman of the Year honors, as well as a selection by Baseball America as the TCL’s top prospect. After pitching for the Texas Longhorns in 2008, Whitmer was selected in the 30th round of the MLB Draft by the Washington Nationals and immediately proved why he was a highly touted player. In 14 games out of the bullpen, Whitmer was 1-1 with a 2.87 ERA. He struck out an incredible 24 hitters in just 15 innings of work, while walking only eight batters and also added a save. Whitmer hopes to continue his mastery of the strike zone this summer as he moves up the Minor League ranks.
Although he played at little-known Temple Junior College, Meadows quickly demonstrated why the Milwaukee Brewers selected him in the 49th round of the draft. In his two appearances with the Bombers last summer, he struck out eight hitters in just four innings while only surrendering one hit. He completely baffled opposing hitters on his way to a win and a save in the two games he pitched. At 6’6” and 235 pounds, the imposing southpaw is a difficult matchup for any hitter as he uses a devastating slider to complement his fastball.
Selected in the 29th round of the draft by the Detroit Tigers, Stein hit .253 with the Single-A Oneonta Tigers before being promoted to play for the West Michigan Whitecaps of the Midwest League. Always known for his enthusiasm and hustle, Stein was also a fan favorite on the inaugural Bombers team and a cornerstone in Sam Houston’s State run into the NCAA Tournament last spring. He hit .355 with 10 home runs and 58 RBI, while leading the team with six triples as the Bearcats went on to capture the Southland Conference title.