Madison, WI – February 13, 2009. The Madison Mallards are excited to announce the team has signed Hawaii freshman pitcher Matt Sisto and Fort Hays State junior outfielder Greg Bieker (pictured, below) for the 2009 season. Sisto (pictured, above-left) a 2008 graduate of Cypress (CA) High School, helped lead his team to league championships from 2005-07. The Anaheim, Calif. native was named a TPX Preseason First Team All-American before his senior year. Meanwhile, Bieker was named to the All-MIAA First Team after leading the Tigers in batting average (.399), hits (79), and doubles (21), and ranking second of the team in home runs (14) and RBIs (58) last season. Greg’s brother, Jeff, was a member of the Mallards 2004 Northwoods League Championship team and played in Madison the following summer as well.
Even though an arm injury curtailed his senior season at Cypress, Sisto still received offers to play at prominent baseball programs including Stanford, UCLA, Clemson, and LSU. He ultimately chose Hawaii when thinking back to a tournament he played during high school.
“I was on a summer league team in high school that had the opportunity to play in Hawaii and we were all blown away by the support the local people showed for the sport of baseball,” said Sisto.
“Obviously, I chose Hawaii because of its great baseball program and coaching staff as well, but the fact that thousands of people came out to watch a high school tournament really swayed my vote.”
Mallards Manager C.J. Thieleke likes Sisto’s live arm and believes he has a great opportunity to make the team’s starting rotation.
“From the coaches I’ve talked to and reports that I’ve read it sounds like Matt has an arm build for professional baseball because he throws a hard sinking fastball and a lot of strikes,” said Thieleke.
“Matt was a top-50 prospect coming out of high school and with his unfortunate injury as a senior he should have a somewhat rested and fresh arm. The more I learned about
Matt’s character and ability on the baseball field, the more excited I became. It’s also nice to finally receive another kid from Hawaii (see ‘Did you know?’ below).”
Sisto played for the Oahu Paddlers in the Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League last summer and went 1-0 with a 2.52 ERA in six starts over 25 innings.
Did you know? The most recent Hawaii player to sign with the Mallards was pitcher Ricky Bauer in 2004. During that year Bauer was 7-2 with a 2.60 ERA in 65.2 innings. Opponents hit only .195 off the right-hander, who last season pitched for the Evansville Otters in the Frontier League and posted a 7-5 record in 16 starts. In 2001 he was selected in the 39th round of the amateur entry draft.
Bieker, who has signed a 10-day contract with the Mallards, knows his biggest supporter will only be a phone call away all summer long.
“The fact that my brother has already experienced multiple seasons in Madison in the Northwoods League is a huge asset for me, and I plan on tapping into his knowledge as much as I can,” said Bieker.
“He told me that there isn’t a more rewarding and fun place to play summer ball in the country so to say that I’m excited to make the trek up to Madison is the understatement of the year.”
Jeff is now a General Ledger Unit Manager at Waddell & Reed investment firm in Kansas. He cites the festive atmosphere at the “Duck Pond” as being one of his greatest memories of his time in Madison.
“The baseball is top notch, the fans are awesome, and the staff runs such an efficient and friendly atmosphere that everyone from the fans to the players leaves the park feeling that they have been a part of something special every night,” Jeff wrote in an email.
“Seeing young fans that someday could be wearing a Madison uniform was also very special.”
While it’s easy to find similarities between the two brothers, Thieleke believes Greg might have the upper-hand in at least one area.
“Not to discount Jeff at all because he was very instrumental in our 2004 championship season, but, from all indications it appears that Greg is more athletic,” said Thieleke.
“Greg has certainly put in the hard work to get here and we think he can help us win some games early in the season.”