In the summer of 2017 Michael Elwood was in Kansas enjoying a Country Stampede concert. No longer thinking about continuing his baseball career after Gateway Grizzlies Manager Phil Warren said that there was no room on the roster for him. “I figured that was the end,” said Elwood. He had accepted that maybe his time as a baseball player was over. Then right as Chase Rice took the stage Elwood received a phone call from Normal Cornbelters Manager Brooks Carey. Carey was calling Elwood to offer him a spot on the Cornbelters roster based on his tryout with Gateway. His time as a baseball player was not over yet.
Michael Elwood, 25, spent his college career pitching for Canisius College located in Buffalo, New York. Originally a shortstop/first baseman Elwood made the transition to full time pitcher his sophomore year. “I was pitching in a summer game in Buffalo and after the game a few scouts came up to me and said every pitch I threw was over 90 MPH. I was shocked.” The transformation into full time pitcher had become official. He began to focus on pitching, having his most successful season during his senior campaign finishing with 5-4 record, and a 4.26 ERA having thrown in 57 innings throughout the year.
Elwood struggled through is first Frontier League season finishing with a 7.12 ERA while appearing in 13 games for the Cornbelters. Despite the rough start Elwood received an invite back to spring training for the 2017 season. Making the 13-hour trip from his home in Texas to Bloomington, Il ready to make his mark in the Frontier league, another call came from Brooks Carey. Carey informed Elwood that he had been traded to the Gateway Grizzlies the original team that he had tried out for. Elwood turned his car around and began to head to Sauget, Illinois.
Elwood made an immediate impact with the Gateway Grizzlies becoming a force out of the bullpen. Working 32 innings across 21 appearances with a team-leading three wins against zero loses holding a 3.09 ERA in the first half of the season earning him a spot in the Frontier League All- Star game as one of three Gateway Grizzlies representatives. Elwood continued to impress finishing the season with a 3.05 ERA over 42 appearances.
Entering the 2018 season the Gateway Grizzlies had to fill the void left by departing veteran pitchers, JaVuan West, Will Landsheft, and Vince Molesky. Starting pitching became a need. Elwood was given the chance to fill one of the holes in the rotation. “I realized that I can be most helpful to the organization as a starter. I have a knuckleball that I can use more as a starter.” said Elwood when asked about his new role. “We have so many strong arms at the end of the bullpen and the front of the rotation hopefully I can give us six or seven strong every night.”
Elwood will be entering his third season in the Frontier League, for the first time going into the season with a defined role and high expectations. “We have five guys in the rotation that have been in pro ball for a long time. I learn from them every day. I think we have all of the pieces to have a championship team.”
Elwood’s new role has will be tested for the first time Wed. May 16th at the Washington Wild Things. If all goes to plan he will be making his first home start for Gateway will be their next home stand May 22-24 against the Lake Erie Crushers.