2016 Canadian draft list
Letters of Intent
Roster bolstered by Wright State pair
By Jonathan Hodgson
Canadian Baseball Network
The Okotoks Dawgs signed two players from NCAA Div. 1 Wright State University.
Right-handed pitcher Trevor Swaney and infielder Matt Morrow have signed, and figure to be difference makers for the Dawgs in 2015.
Swaney is a 5-foot-8, 190-pounder from Wheaton, Ill. Swaney is beginning his sophomore year, having redshirted in 2014 after making 27 appearances out of the bullpen for the Raiders in 2013. He was second on the team in appearances that season as a freshman, posting a 4-0 record with a 4.75 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 47 innings.
Swaney is off to a tremendous start this spring, allowing just two runs on four hits with three strikeouts over seven innings in his first start of the season, a win over the University of Toledo which capped a 3-0 opening weekend for Wright State.
“Trevor is the exact type of player that every coach wants to have,” said Wright State assistant coach Jordan Chiero. “He is one of our hardest working players and brings leadership to our team through his actions. On the mound Trevor has an upper 80’s fastball with sharp late sink, which is complimented by a good slider and change up, making him very tough on opposing hitters. I fully expect his talent and intangibles to fully translate into him being an elite arm in the WMBL.”
Joining Swaney in Okotoks will be freshman Morrow.
Morrow is a 5-foot-9, 160 pounder from Richmond, Ind,, where he was a two-sport star in baseball and in football at Richmond High School. On the diamond, Morrow was named team MVP as a junior and again as a senior and was named team captain in his senior year. He took all-league honours twice, was named rookie of the year in 2011, was awarded a gold glove in 2012, and was a two time offensive player of the year at Richmond.
Morrow is highly regarded, and Chiero says that the Dawgs are receiving a very versatile and talented young player,
“Matt is a very talented infielder that has the ability to play third base, shortstop, and second at a high level,” Chiero said. “He is a top of the lineup bat from the left side of the plate and brings a level of competitiveness and fearlessness that I expect to really help both our team here at Wright State this spring, and the Dawgs this summer. With his plus hitting tools and defensive flexibility, he should make a huge impact for the Dawgs.”
The Raiders are projected as repeat winners of the Horizon League in pre-season polls, after a 35-win season in 2014, which saw the team win the league’s regular season title with a 25-4 conference record.
* * *
The name Jordan Chiero should sound familiar to fans of the Dawgs. Wright State’s first year assistant coach played his summer collegiate ball in the WMBL with the Edmonton Prospects in 2011 and the Saskatoon Yellow Jackets in 2012, leading both teams in most run-production categories including home runs and RBIs.
After playing pro for a year, Chiero began his coaching career with two years at Ottterbein University (NCAA Div. 3) from whom he sent several impact players to Okotoks including 2013 WMBL all-stars Sean Kettering and Dominic Porretta, and 2014 standout Jake Simmerman, the WMBL leader in home runs and RBI’s prior to a mid-season injury.
Chiero says that it is easy to send players to Okotoks as a coach, after having experienced Seaman Stadium as an opposition player,
“There aren’t many places like Okotoks in the baseball world. It is like a mini-baseball heaven,” said the Columbus, Ohio native. “The fans are amazing, which creates one of the best environments in all of college summer baseball.”
But as he explains, there is more to the decision for a college coach, and Okotoks checks out in every area,
“The facilities in Okotoks give my guys all the materials they need to come back to us a better player. Also, the strong competition the WMBL offers will force our guys to play at a high level all summer,” Chiero said. “Our players get a once in a lifetime experience to play in a different country in front of thousands of people every night for a top-notch organization.”
The last element is perhaps the most important,
“It starts with the people,” Chiero said. “From top to bottom, the Dawgs organization is filled with phenomenal people. I have been lucky enough to spend time with Dawgs coaches like Allen Cox, Frank Ingram, AJ Fystro,Jeff Duda, Brett Thomas, and I mean the list goes on and on.”
Chiero and Dawgs Academy coach Val Helldobler were teammates during their entire four-year college playing career at Tiffin University.
“He hit second and I hit third,” Chiero remembers. “Val is one of my closest friends on the planet and is like a brother to me.”
He also recalls a unique relationship formed on the field with former Dawg, and current San Francisco Giants prospect, Tyler Hollick. The Dawgs Academy graduate hit .407 for the Dawgs in 2011, which created plenty of opportunity for the two to acquaint themselves.
“I got really close with Hollick because I played first base against him, and I don’t think we ever got him out, so we got pretty close through all those conversations at first base.”
At the end of the day, the first-hand experiences gained as a player, combined with the recent successes of players sent to Okotoks takes the difficulty out of the decision for Chiero.
“It’s a no brainer for me,” he says. “As long as I am coaching, I will send as many guys as I can to Okotoks to be a Dawg.”
The players that Chiero has sent to Okotoks in the past have all been terrific talents and outstanding representatives of the Dawgs organization.