Sept. 12, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - After several players posted impressive seasons in collegiate leagues across the country this summer, the Michigan State baseball team is back together on campus as fall practice is underway for the Spartans.
Michigan State returns 22 players from last season's team that won 37 games - third most in school history - and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Four Spartans were selected in the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in June, including three juniors who left to play professional baseball (Torsten Boss, Ryan Jones and Tony Wieber), but two incoming freshmen who were drafted - Justin Alleman and Cam Gibson - elected to attend Michigan State.
Over the summer, MSU was represented on numerous all-star teams, led by junior right-handed pitcher David Garner, who was named to the West Division All-Star Team in the prestigious Cape Cod League. It marked the third straight year a Spartan has made the Cape Cod League All-Star Team (A.J. Achter in 2010; Tony Bucciferro and Ryan Jones in 2011).
Garner ranked among the CCL Top 20 in strikeouts (41) and ERA (3.12) in 43 1/3 innings while pitching for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. In the CCL All-Star Game, Garner pitched a scoreless frame with a strikeout. The Niles, Mich., native was 6-3 with a 3.28 ERA and recorded 75 strikeouts in 74 innings last season as a sophomore, and was 4-0 with a 3.22 ERA in his six Big Ten starts.
Playing for the Alexandria Beetles in the Northwoods League, sophomore outfielder Jimmy Pickens was named to the North Division All-Star Team. Pickens led the Beetles with 14 doubles and tied for the team lead with 21 stolen bases in 45 games. He also ranked fourth on the team in batting (.365), runs (37), homers (5) and RBIs (29). The West Bloomfield, Mich., native, was a 2012 All-Big Ten Freshman Team selection after leading the team with six homers and ranking third with 35 RBIs.
Junior right-handed pitcher Mike Theodore, pitching for the Anchorage Bucs, represented the Blue Team in the Alaska League All-Star Game. A second-team ABL All-League selection, Theodore ranked seventh in the league with a 2.79 ERA and compiled 30 strikeouts in 42.0 innings pitched. Theodore posted a 3-1 record with a 3.51 ERA in his first season playing for MSU in 2012.
Mick VanVossen began his summer in Hawai'i - and finished it in New England, pitching for the Falcon Commodores in the Cape Cod League. VanVossen was impressive for the Oahu Paddlers in Hawai'i, going 3-2 with 29 strikeouts and a 2.93 ERA in 30 2/3 innings. For his showing, VanVossen was named the top prospect in the Hawai'i League by Perfect Game. As a freshman in 2012, VanVossen was 4-0 with a 3.47 ERA.
Blaise Salter caught fire toward the end of the summer while playing for the Southern Ohio Copperheads and was named a Great Lakes First Team All-League selection as a catcher. Salter, a Freshman All-Big Ten honoree, hit .319 with seven home runs, 14 doubles and 26 RBIs in 37 games for the Copperheads.
In addition to individual success, Jeff Kinley and Chase Rihtarchik helped lead the Columbia Blowfish to the Coastal Plains League Petitt Cup Championship. During the regular season for the Blowfish before the playoff run, Kinley fanned 23 batters in 24 innings of work and was 2-1 with a 3.75 ERA.
The baseball program will host its annual golf outing on Friday, Sept. 28 at Forest Akers West Golf Course, and the Green-White World Series is set for Oct. 12, Oct. 14 and Oct. 15.
For a complete listing of Spartans in collegiate summer leagues, click on the links below.