SAUGET, Ill. — The Gateway Grizzlies selected three players — right-handed pitcher Ryan McSweeney, infielder Jeff Cardenas and infielder Tommy Ziegen — Tuesday evening at the Frontier League Draft in Florence, Kentucky.
After trading the No. 1 overall pick to the Traverse City Beach Bums, the Grizzlies chose McSweeney with the No. 3 selection in the first round. McSweeney pitched at Welsh University, where he was named a 2017 NCAA Division II All-American after finishing the season 4-1 with a 0.91 ERA. McSweeney struck out 31 batters, and walked only six, in 29 2/3 innings pitched. He also notched nine saves. McSweeney is from Seven Hills, Ohio, where he was a three-sport athlete in high school.
“Obviously he has great collegiate numbers,” Grizzlies pitching coach Barrett said. “His fastball has good run and he showed a plus slider. We’ll explore the possibility of using him in long relief as he competes for a spot in the bullpen.”
Later in the first round, Gateway snagged Cardenas with the No. 7 overall selection. Cardenas is a former All-American in his own right: an NAIA All-America honoree in 2017 for his work at shortstop with the University of Northwestern Ohio. Cardenas tore up his competition as a senior, posting a .410 batting average with 10 home runs and 70 RBIs in 56 games. He added 15 stolen bases while accumulating more walks (29) than strikeouts (28) for a season OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of 1.043.
“Impressive collegiate numbers,” Grizzlies manager Phil Warren said. “We saw a good deal of him this off-season when he came to our open tryout. He has a nice swing and gets the barrel to the ball quickly, which allows him to turn around fastballs. He’s also versatile defensively — can play third, short, and second. He’ll compete for a spot in the infield.”
With the No. 25 overall selection, the Grizzlies rounded out their draft class by choosing Ziegen, a 2017 D3baseball.com All-New York Region honoree from SUNY Old Westbury. Ziegen batted .408 with six home runs and 40 RBIs in 35 games as a senior. He also swiped 19 bases.
In exchange for the No. 1 overall pick, the Grizzlies received Traverse City’s first-round pick in next year’s Frontier League Draft.