THE COACH SMITH ERA, BY THE NUMBERS (PART ONE OF THREE)
This is the first installment of a three-part series highlighting the career of 32-year head coach John Smith. Leading up to his final home series, May 14-16 against Nevada, interesting facts from coach Smith's tenure will be presented in a by-the-numbers format.
The Athletic Department is extending an invitation to all baseball alumni to attend the May 16th 1 p.m. game against Nevada and take part in an on-field recognition ceremony for coach Smith's final home game. There will also be a pre-game BBQ for baseball alumni starting at 11:30 a.m. Please contact Tina Westerhold at email@example.com or 916-278-4263 for tickets to the game on May 16th, as well as to RSVP for the pre-game BBQ.
83: The number of Hornet players under coach Smith to sign a professional contract.
If one further breaks the numbers down, they'll find that 48 of the 83 were selected in the Major League Baseball Draft. Of those 48, 18 were selected in the first 20 rounds of the draft, and seven were picked in the top 10 rounds.
Five Hornets during coach Smith's career have reached the major leagues. The first to make the Majors was LaSchelle Tarver, who competed for the Hornets in 1980, Smith's second season at the helm. Tarver hit .430 in his lone season at Sacramento State, and went on to appear in 13 games, making six starts with the Boston Red Sox in 1986.
The remaining four players to reach the Majors all did so from the pitching mound, starting with Keith Brown, who played for the Hornets from 1985-86. Brown posted a 16-7 record during his two year career, collecting a 3.39 ERA in the Green and Gold before spending four years with the Cincinnati Reds beginning in 1988, and continuing from 1990-92. Brown posted a 5-5 record with the Reds, appearing in 25 games while making five starts. He collected a 3.40 ERA over 47.2 career innings of work.
Erik Bennett was the next Hornet hurler to make the big leagues, following a three-year Sacramento State career that saw him post a school record 23 wins from 1987-89. Bennett made his Major League debut in 1995, pitching in one game for the California Angels. He came back the following year to appear in 24 games out of the Minnesota Twins bullpen, collecting a 2-0 record with one save on the season.
Teammates Gary Wilson (1990-92) and Roland DeLaMaza (1992-93) were the final two Hornets to make the majors, with Wilson making his Major League debut in 1995, and DeLaMaza getting a call-up in 1997. Wilson, who collected 21 career wins at Sacramento State, appeared in 10 games with the Pirates in 1995, striking out eight batters in 14.1 innings of work. DeLaMaza, who posted back-to-back 11 win seasons for the Hornets in his two years, appeared in one game with the Kansas City Royals in 1997, allowing one run in two innings of work.
The future for Hornets to make the Majors looks bright, as there are currently four Hornets competing in Minor League Baseball. Mitch Lively (2004-07) started the season at the highest stop of any Hornet, playing for the Richmond Flying Squirrels of the AA Eastern League. Lively, who was a 16th round pick of the Rockies in 2007, is in his third season in the San Francisco Giants organization. The other three Hornets in the minors currently are all competing in the High-A California League.
Tim Wheeler (2007-09), a first round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies in the 2009 draft, plays for the Modesto Nuts (Colorado Rockies), and also played in one spring training game for the parent club. Wheeler was the highest draft pick in Sacramento State school history. David Flores (2005-08) is in his second season with the Lancaster Jethawks (Houston Astros), and started a spring training game in 2009 for the Astros against the Atlanta Braves. He was a 16th round pick in the 2008 draft. Gabe Jacobo (2006-08) is the final Hornet in the minors, as the former 10th round pick is playing for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim).