East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, Mississippi just made the assistant coach hire of the year, coaxing former National Coach Of The Year and three time College World Series participating coach Jim Wells out of retirement. The long time Alabama Crimson Tide skipper will the EMCC staff this spring. In the press release below, Wells talks about his return to coaching and EMCC head coach Chris Rose talks about how happy he is to have Wells on his staff.
Baseball has been very good to Jordan Swagerty. Among the highlights of the 22 year old righthander’s baseball career to this point is a stint with the US Junior National Team, two trips to the College World Series with Arizona State, a second round pick in the 2010 draft, and now Swagerty has developed into one of the St Louis Cardinals top pitching prospects. In his first season as a pro Swagerty went a combined 5-3 with 8 saves and a 1.83ERA between the Low-A Quad Cities River Bandits, the High-A Palm Beach Cardinals, and the Double-A Springfield Cardinals. On the path that he is going, it is likely that you could see Swagerty in Busch Stadium at some point in 2012. We hope you enjoy our Q&A with Jordan Swagerty.
TPA: What was it like playing on a pair of loaded teams at Arizona State? Do you still keep in touch with your teammates as you all progress through the professional ranks?
Jordan Swagerty It was a great experience to play with those guys at ASU. You could trust any player in any situation which led to us winning a lot of games. Many good friendships were formed and I still keep in touch with many of them, like Jason Kipnis and Mike Leake.
TPA: What lessons from your two trips to the College World Series have you taken with you as a pro? What was the overall experience in Omaha like for you?
Jordan Swagerty I learned many different lessons in the CWS. It helps you learn to perform with everyone watching since it is on TV. It was great competition. My freshman year we played well and ended up in third place. Next time we were two and done unfortunately. Also it’s fun to play in a packed stadium like you get in professional baseball. Omaha is a great town! The people of Omaha are so supportive of the World Series which makes it a lot of fun.
TPA: Tell us about your experience playing for Team USA. What was it like playing at the International Level? What are some of your best memories of the experience.
Jordan Swagerty Team USA was fun getting to play against teams from all over the world. I played on the USA Baseball Junior National team and we won a bronze medal in the 2007 Pan American Junior Championships in Mexico. Getting to play in another country is something I will never forget. The fields are different, the fans don’t speak English and there is another country on the field against you. We played against Canada, Chinese Taipei, Aruba, and Cuba. A great memory for me was getting to catch most of the games even though I am a pitcher now. I actually went as a 2-way guy and ended up catching all but one of the games, even though they had Kyle Skipworth who was a first round draft pick the next year.
TPA: You began your pro career as a starter at Quad Cities and had a great deal of success, got a few more successful starts in Palm Beach before having transitioned to the bullpen before getting promoted to the Springfield bullpen. Which role do you enjoy most and what are the key differences in approach you take with each role, and how tough was it to make the transition from college closer to pro starter and then back to reliever again.
Jordan Swagerty It has been a fun ride so far getting to play in three different leagues and many different ballparks. Starting was a good experience for the fact that I got to work on all my pitches but getting back to the pen is nice. I feel very comfortable in that role. It wasn’t a big surprise and I knew it was coming because of the number of innings I was pitching as a starter. I think as a starter you have to be prepared for a full day of work and as a reliever you have to be ready everyday and pay attention to the game for when you get out there.
TPA: What has been the biggest differences you’ve noticed between Low-A, High-A and now Double-A as you’ve moved up the ladder this year and what adjustments have you had to make.
Jordan Swagerty The major adjustments that have to be made as you move up is controlling pitches in and out of the zone and knowing different situations to throw pitches in. The differences I have seen are how good the hitters are. They really take advantages of bad pitches. I’m still looking to improve. For instance, I tend to pitch around the zone, but when I get a 0-2, 1-2 count, pitchers’ count, I need to miss off the plate more, get the hitters leaning.
TPA: Who has been the most influential person to you thus far in the Cardinals organization? What’s been the best guidance or advice they have given you?
Jordan Swagerty Dennis Martinez my pitching coach in Palm Beach really helped me through the experiences he had in the big leagues. His main thing he preached to me is going right after hitters, get ahead and never give in.
TPA: What’s been your best memory so far as a pro, both from something on the field, as well as something crazy you have had happen while in the minor leagues.
Jordan Swagerty Best memory for me has been getting the call-up to AA in my first year. It really wasn’t expected. Something crazy has been the 15 hour bus ride through the night to get back to Springfield. We had a night game in Corpus Cristi and left at 11pm and got in 3 hours before game time the next day.
TPA: Last year when you were drafted the Panini Company put out a baseball card of you with Magic Johnson’s autograph on your card instead of yours. What did you think of that whole deal, and what has it been like signing hundreds of stickers and baseball cards since you’ve turned pro?
Jordan Swagerty That was definitely unexpected but there could be worse guys to be mixed up with, let alone a NBA Hall of Famer. I have a couple of those cards at home that my parents saved for me. Signing has been fun. It takes a while to sign and is a little bit hard on the wrist but over all a great experience and something that I don’t think I will ever get used to.
TPA: What led you to join the world of Twitter? What’s the experience been like so far? You can follow Jordan on twitter @JordanSwagerty
Jordan Swagerty Many of my friends had joined Twitter so I saw them tweeting all the time and didn’t want to be left out. I think it is a great way for fans to keep up and know what we are up to at the field and with the team. It has been nice to get tweets from fans and hear their voice as well.
One of the many 2011 draft signing deadline deals that came down to the wire on Monday night was that of Jackie Bradley Jr. The centerfielder was the 40th overall pick of the Red Sox out of the University of South Carolina. Bradley had to chose between the $1.1 Million signing bonus the Red Sox had on the table or a return to the Gamecocks where he and his teammates would be chasing their third consecutive College World Series championship in 2012. In the end Bradley chose baseball and signed within the final 15 minutes before the deadline. In the story Bradley talks about his decision making prospect, tipping the scale with a visit to Boston, winning a second consecutive national championship, missing college life, and looking forward to what the future holds.