Arizona is a state known for its collection of cacti throughout miles upon miles of desert, scorching temperatures and being an alternative base for many Major League Baseball teams during spring training. But starting next school year, three Los Medanos College baseball players will call this place home.
Austin Cannedy, Ryan Cook and Jonathan Little all committed to Benedictine college located in Mesa, Ariz. Benedictine is a small Christian school with about 3,500 students. It is also very new, as the inaugural set of classes first convened in 2013.
In its first season, the Benedictine baseball program went 36-17, ending with an eight-game winning streak.
The new campus seems to be one of the major attractions for these players. In addition to that, being able to go from playing at LMC to pitching in the desert as teammates and friends makes the transition a lot smoother.
Besides attending the same school, all three of these athletes have another thing in common: they’re all pitchers.
Cannedy is third in the Bay Valley Conference in strikeouts with 69 and has a 2.34 earned run average, the second lowest in the Bay Valley Conference.
Though Little has spent a majority of the season on the disabled list, he has been a key member of the bullpen according to his teammates. Little has a sidearm approach, similar to that of Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Pat Neshek. Transitioning from traditional to the side arm motion has helped him improve his performance.
Another player that has dealt injuries is Cook. His struggle with injuries has been so difficult he hasn’t been able to play at all this season.
“At his best he’s a guy with good command of his stuff and a guy who really competes between the lines when the lights turn on,” LMC head coach Anthony D’Albora said. “He’s found a way to get through it and turn it in to a positive, which says a lot about his toughness.”
And something all these pitchers will have is a strong defense, as six of Benedictine’s players won gold glove awards in the team’s division.
“As a pitcher, having a solid defense to lock it down for you is really something to love.” Cook said.
Another Mustang player on the Benedictine radar is David Quintero. He has an offer from the school, but is still debating on making a final decision. He said his fellow pitchers attending Benedictine is one of the reasons why he may end up in Mesa.
“Heading there with three teammates is what makes it one of my top choices,” said Quintero. “The opportunity to continue to grow with people that I’ve come to see as family is definitely once in a lifetime.”