Former Crowder pitcher Connor Eller had a very successful 2018 season for the Single-A Advanced Dunedin Blue Jays (Toronto).
Not only with a 7-7 record and a 4.18 ERA in 34 games and 12 starts, as well as 54 strikeouts and 29 walks over 79 2/3 innings.
Eller won this year’s Dunedin Blue Jays Community Service Award for his commitment to helping out those in need within the Dunedin community and supporting organizational community initiates.
“Connor has been a leader in the clubhouse and the community for the past two seasons,” Kathi Beckman, Blue Jays community relations manager, said in a media release. “He’s exemplified everything this award stands for through his continued dedication to our community service projects. We couldn’t be more proud to present him with the 2018 Community Service Award.”
Eller stood at the forefront of the Blue Jays’ Bookin’ It to the Ballpark Reading Program, which reached 1500 elementary students in 19 Pinellas County schools.
“My favorite event was definitely the reading visits,” Eller said. “The kids get so excited when you walk in the door. Seeing their smiles when they come up and read with you is a joy.”
Eller participated in a multitude of other community service projects, including those with teammate Riley Adams.
“It was really neat when Riley and I went to the food pantry,” Eller said. “I think we gave back to the community in a different way. It was heartwarming to put yourself in other people’s situation and be able to help them and show love to them.”
On the field in 2018, Eller reached a career-high seven wins and his ERA numbers overall (4.67) were skewered by his one performance for Triple-A Buffalo.
— It had been a bit of a rough season for former Crowder pitcher Ethan Clark.
He missed a couple months of the season with injury (disabled list from April 13 through June 10).
Then, on the field, it was not exactly all roses for the 6-foot-5, 235-pound right-hander between Single-A Advanced Jupiter and Single-A Greensboro in the Miami organization.
In Greensboro’s second-to-last game of the season, Clark earned a win, his second overall of the season and first for the Grasshoppers.
Clark surrendered a pair of earned runs on seven hits over seven innings and he struck out six and walked one.
Clark earned a 2-7 overall record this season with a 4.19 ERA and 78 strikeouts and 34 walks over 73 innings. He made 16 appearances with 12 starts.
Clark recorded seven wins in 2016 and six last season.
Overall, the 15th round pick in 2015 of Tampa Bay, Clark owns a 16-18 record and a 3.52 ERA with 253 strikeouts and 100 walks over 265 2/3 innings.
Clark and another prospect were traded from the Rays to the Marlins for MLB shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, who has since been traded to first Pittsburgh and then the New York Yankees.
— In his second pro season, Kyle Wilson put together a 4-4 overall record and a 3.86 ERA for Single-A Short Season Brooklyn (New York Mets).
Wilson’s best outings came late in the season when he racked up four straight wins in four straight decisions, highlighted by a 10-strikeout performance against the Connecticut Tigers (Detroit).
Wilson earned New York-Penn League pitcher of the week honors on August 12.
On the season, Wilson finished with 59 strikeouts and 14 walks over 53 2/3 innings.
In two seasons, Wilson accumulated a 5-5 record with a 3.27 ERA and 78 strikeouts and 21 walks over 71 2/3 innings.
The Mets drafted Wilson in the 35th round in 2017, not long after Wilson helped Crowder reach the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado.
— Former Crowder pitcher Zach Matson put together his pro season in 2018 with Single-A Short Season Aberdeen and Single-A Advanced Frederick in the Baltimore organization.
Overall, Matson finished 2-1 with a 1.78 ERA, two saves in three opportunities, and 35 strikeouts and 17 walks over 25 1/3 innings.
Matson posted a 2-1 mark with a 1.89 ERA in 16 appearances for Aberdeen, for whom he earned both saves and recorded 30 strikeouts and 12 walks in 19 innings.
Matson owns a 2-6 career record and a 2.94 ERA with two saves and 90 strikeouts and 40 walks over his first 79 2/3 innings.
The Orioles picked Matson in the 24th round of the 2016 draft straight from Crowder.
— In his first pro season, former Neosho High and Crowder standout Trey Turner finished with a 1-1 record and a 5.30 ERA and one save in his lone opportunity.
Turner put together 24 strikeouts and 22 walks over 18 2/3 innings.
Turner began the season with Single-A Short Season Auburn (Washington), but after two outings, he was sent down to rookie ball.
The Nationals made Turner a 10th round selection in the 2017 draft, after one season at Missouri State, his collegiate destination after Crowder.
— Between college and the pros, pitcher Aaron Ashby had a tremendous 2018 season for Crowder and then in the Milwaukee organization.
In his final season at Crowder, Ashby led NJCAA Division I in strikeouts.
In June, the Brewers picked Ashby with the 125th overall selection in the draft, going in the fourth round and earning him a nice little bonus.
Ashby’s pro career started out slow with rookie ball Helena, but he picked it up during the end of his time in Helena and then put together seven strong outings for Single-A Wisconsin.
In those seven outings for the Timber Rattlers, Ashby finished 1-1 with a 2.17 ERA and 47 strikeouts and nine walks over 37 1/3 innings.
Ashby posted a 2-3 mark overall with a 3.59 ERA and 66 strikeouts and 17 walks in 57 2/3 innings.
Near the end of his stay in Helena, Ashby earned Pioneer League pitcher of the week honors.
Ashby is currently listed on the roster of the Arizona League Brewers.