BRYAN -- The Brazos Valley Bombers announced today that the team has signed a relief pitcher for the coming season and also executed the first trade in franchise history. Reliever Scooter Hicks out of the University of Missouri will join the Bombers bullpen for the inaugural season. He’ll be joined by Florida State’s Casey Whitmer, who was acquired from the Duncanville Deputies in exchange for pitcher Tyson Fugett.
Whitmer has shown tremendous promise as a freshman with the Seminoles, who are currently ranked number two in the country by Baseball America. Sporting a fastball in the low 90’s and an excellent curve, Whitmer has appeared in 10 games out of the Florida State bullpen, more than any other freshman on the staff. His 4.50 ERA is a little deceiving, since he entered the game last night with a 3.27 ERA before allowing a pair of runs to the Florida Gators. In 12 innings pitched, Whitmer has allowed 10 hits and 9 walks while striking out an impressive 16 batters. His average of 12 strikeouts per nine innings is the best mark on the Seminoles staff.
Whitmer’s summer in the Brazos Valley will not be his first. The righthander began his prep career with two seasons at Texas A&M Consolidated High School, earning an all-district honorable mention as a sophomore outfielder. Whitmer blossomed after moving to Kilgore, Texas, twice earning all-state recognition. As a senior, he went 10-2 with a 1.38 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 78 innings, adding a .419 average, five homers, and a .750 slugging percentage at the plate. Whitmer’s talents helped lead Kilgore High School to back-to-back district titles and garnered him district MVP honors as a senior. With scouts in attendance at every start, it came as no surprise that the Arizona Diamondbacks selected Whitmer in the 35th round of the 2006 Major League Baseball draft.
Like Whitmer, Hicks has also acclimated quite nicely to his new surroundings this spring. A sophomore transfer to Mizzou, Hicks has appeared in 6 games out of the bullpen, throwing only 7.2 innings. But his effectiveness is exemplary; he has yet to allow a run, surrendering just 6 hits and no walks while striking out 6. Hicks also has a 2-0 record and on Saturday notched his first career save against Big 12 conference foe Kansas. His performance is all the more impressive because Hicks tore his ACL last year, wiping out any chance at playing in the fall and slowing early-season workouts with his new school.
Hicks boasts a very impressive resume that, like Whitmer, has brought him to Bryan-College Station before. Following a standout career at Houston Christian High School, Hicks committed to play for Tulane University, only to see that campus destroyed when Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans shortly after his arrival in August 2005. Granted a release from his scholarship, he quickly found a new home at Texas A&M. The lefty was rarely used as a freshman though, picking up just 2.2 innings of work, and at the season’s end sought greener pastures with the Tigers.
If Hicks can bring any of his high school success to the Bombers, Brazos Valley fans are in for something special. Despite his smallish stature (5’9”, 171 lbs.), Hicks has the potential to be a behemoth on the mound. A three-time first-team all-state pitcher and first baseman, Hicks was named a Louisville Slugger All-American as a senior. His numbers were scintillating: over the final two years of his prep career, Hicks went 18-0 and struck out 201 batters in 131.2 innings pitched. He complimented his 0.57 ERA in his senior season with a .370 batting average, helping Houston Christian win the state championship. In fact, Hicks and the Mustangs finished that senior campaign ranked number three in the country by USA Today.
The Bombers are members of the nine-team Texas Collegiate League, one of the nation’s premier summer collegiate circuits. Teams like the Bombers bring minor league baseball-style entertainment to communities throughout the country, giving some of the best college players a chance to further their careers in wood bat leagues in front of Major League scouts. The Bombers begin their 48-game inaugural season on June 5 against the Coppell Copperheads. The team’s historic home opener will take place on June 8 when the Bombers welcome the Duncanville Deputies to Brazos Valley Bank Ballpark. For more information and to purchase ticket packages, visit the Bombers’ official web site at www.bvbombers.com.