The Kalamazoo Growlers have announced the signings of a pair of Mid-American Conference (MAC) middle infielders. Ryan Spaulding of Ball State University and John Rubino of Eastern Michigan University will be joining the team for the 2014 season.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to work with John and Ryan. Both are starting infielders from the MAC that provide us with experience in the infield,” says Growlers assistant coach Cody Piechocki, “these are the types of players who can come into the Growlers season and you naturally have high expectations for based on how well they have played in the MAC.”
Ryan Spaulding: 5’10” – 165lb, B/R-T/R, INF, Ball State (So.), Sweetser, Ind.
Spaulding made an immediate impact for the Cardinals last season as he started 46 of 52 games as a freshman. His .271 batting average was fifth highest on the team. Spaulding also displayed some power hitting two home runs and seven doubles on the season. Piechocki believes Spaulding hitting for more consistent extra base power will be an important part of his development with the Growlers this summer.
The defensive side of the ball is where Spaulding shines the brightest. His 133 assists were second highest on the team and his .970 fielding percentage was second highest amongst Cardinals infielders (232 total chances).
John Rubino: 5’8” – 172lb, B/R-T/R, INF, Eastern Michigan (Jr.), Scottsdale, Ariz.
Rubino started all 54 games for the Eagles including 51 at shortstop. He made large strides in his sophomore season, hitting .288 with one home run and 37 RBI. The Eastern Michigan offense was a potent one in 2013, averaging 6.33 runs per game. Rubino was a pivotal part of that offensive attack, displaying good power and patience at the plate all season.
The junior also possesses good speed and base running ability; his 11 stolen bases and 43 runs scored were good for second and third on the team, respectively. He was able to accomplish those impressive offensive numbers while spearheading the team’s defense from the shortstop position.
Piechocki says the Growlers signed Spaulding and Rubino because of their ability to provide the team with very strong defense up the middle of the field.
“They have limited errors and mistakes in their college careers, which for the playing time they received at an early age shows they have great defensive tools and high baseball IQs. As professional prospects they will earn that attention with their defensive abilities.”
Piechocki also acknowledged that Spaulding and Rubino offensive talents, “Not only are both sound defensive players, but they will also be able to provide our offense with consistent contact hitters capable of hitting for a high average against D-1 pitchers.”
The Growlers open their inaugural season on the road against the defending Northwoods League Champion Madison Mallards May 27. Kalamazoo will see its first home baseball game in four years on May 30 when the Growlers face the Battle Creek Bombers in the new I-94 rivalry.