Growlers Add Local Products to 2016 Roster


The Kalamazoo Growlers are pleased to announce the signing of two players for the 2016 season. Sophomore pitcher Jacob Piechota and freshman infielder Connor Smith, both from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, will play for the Growlers in 2016.

Jacob Piechota: 6’3” – 205lb, LHP, Bats/L. Throws/L, Western Michigan (So.), Batavia, Ill.

The six-foot-three left-hander pitched out of the bullpen for the Broncos in 2015 as a freshman, but Piechota is expected to compete for a starting job as a sophomore. In 2015, Piechota and former Battle Creek Bomber Gabe Berman anchored the bullpen for Western Michigan. Piechota had a 2-2 record with a 2.82 ERA and one save. The Batavia, Ill. Native totaled 23 strikeouts and walked nine batters over 38 1/3 innings.

The sophomore pitched in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League in 2015 for the Lake Erie Monarchs. Piechota started eight games, posting a record of 3-3 with a 4.11 ERA. He struck out 25 batters in 46 innings during his first summer collegiate baseball season.

Piechota was a two-year letter winner at Batavia High School and as a senior, the lefty went 7-1 with a 0.91 ERA and struck out 71 batters in 61 innings pitched. He earned all-conference honors in both baseball and golf. His father, Joe, played in the Montreal Expos organization.

Connor Smith: 5’10” – 175lb, 2B/SS, Bats/R, Throws/R, Western Michigan (Fr.), Midland, Mich.

While he hasn’t suited up for the Broncos just yet, Smith comes to Kalamazoo with tons of accolades. The five-foot-ten middle infielder was a four-time letter winner at Midland Dow High School as well as being named first team All-District three times. Smith was named the Saginaw News Baseball Player of the Year in 2015, batting .463 as a senior.

After winning a national championship with his travel team, Midwest Elite, Smith was chosen to play for the Cincinnati Reds scout team, a team of top high school prospects that competes in weekend tournaments against other Major League Baseball scout teams.

Smith also comes from a baseball family; his great-grandfather, Cecil Stine played in the Toronto Blue Jays organization for five years and his grandfather, Richard Johnson, played baseball at Central Michigan.

Known for being a hard worker and an excellent teammate, Smith looks to bring that fire to his first season in summer collegiate baseball with the Growlers.

The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The 22-year old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 140 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (CHC). All league games are viewable via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit