Michael Gunn’s strong summer performance for the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs earned him a place on the first-ever Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League Rising Stars Team.
Unique among the 20 players and three DiamondDawgs honored, Gunn has yet to formally set foot on a college baseball diamond. On a squad limited to high schoolers, college freshmen and redshirt freshmen, Gunn was the only high school player selected.
Joining Gunn on the team were Mohawk Valley pitchers Tyler Kane and Alex Lester and Amsterdam Mohawk Josh Nethaway, a former Morris J. Edwards Post 168 American Legion player.
Gunn saw action at first base, the outfield corners, designated hitter and pitcher for the DiamondDawgs and started 42 of 47 games despite a late arrival in New York following his graduation from Christian Brothers High School in Memphis, Tenn. He batted .301, second among the team’s full-season regulars, with three home runs and 24 runs batted in. A Wilson, Ark., resident, the University of Arkansas recruit’s slugging percentage (.438), on-base percentage (.394), walk total (20) and total bases (64) were among the best on the team while his 13 extra base hits tied for second on the team.
From the mound, Gunn pitched 10 innings in eight relief appearances and only one of the five runs he allowed was earned. A hard-throwing left-hander, he struck out 13 batters and walked five while allowing six hits.
The University of Washington’s Kane started the summer in the Mohawk Valley bullpen and forced his way into the starting rotation to get more innings. He split two decisions in 13 appearances, 10 in relief, and posted a 1.93 ERA. He struck out 33 batters in 28 innings while walking only one. He allowed 21 hits and held opponents to a .204 batting average.
Lester, a right-hander from the University of Kentucky, was busy in the bullpen late in the season and finished up with a 2-2 record, one save and a 1.83 ERA. He made one start among his 18 appearances and logged 34 1/3 innings with 34 strikeouts, seven walks and 30 hits allowed. With the roster thinned out late in the season, he was twice called upon to pitch four innings in relief and allowed just one run in those two appearances.
Nethaway was leading the Mohawks in RBI when an injury cut his season short. A slugging catcher and outfielder at SUNY Albany where he red-shirted once due to another injury, Nethaway batted .314 in 35 games, starting 30, with two home runs, 26 runs batted in and 10 doubles to tie for the team lead. He slugged .471 and reached base at a .368 clip. Jude Vidrine, another Rising Stars pick, passed him for the RBI lead with 29 in 56 more at-bats.
Joining Vidrine and Nethaway on the Rising Stars Team was a third Amsterdam outfielder, Josh Alexander. The Mohawks also placed pitchers Jack Fischer and Mike Dodakian on the team. Amsterdam’s five honorees were the largest contingent from one team.