Sept. 13, 2004
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -
A number of former UC Santa Barbara baseball players enjoyed breakout seasons in the minor leagues in 2004.
Pitcher Matt Vasquez, a Gaucho from 2001-03, went 14-6 with a 3.64 earned run average this season with the West Michigan Whitecaps. The 6'3" right-hander started 27 games, struck out 120 batters and led his team in innings pitched (168.1). The Whitecaps are a single-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.
Outfielder Skip Schumaker - also a member of the 2001 UCSB squad that reached the NCAA Tournament - had a breakthrough season playing for the Tennessee Smokies, the double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Schumaker, a Southern League all-star, played in 138 games, batted .316 and led the league in hits with 163.
Left-handed pitcher Jim Bullard (1999-01) had a solid season pitching for the Birmingham Barons, the double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. Bullard went 8-4, striking out 74 with a 3.47 ERA.
Infielder Jeff Bannon (1998-01), a member of the Chattanooga Lookouts, put up some power numbers by blasting 13 home runs and knocking in 74 runs batted in. The Lookouts are a double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Pitcher James Garcia (2001-02) went 4-5 with a 3.13 ERA for the single-A San Jose Giants and was rewarded by being called up to the triple-A Fresno Grizzlies, both affiliates of the San Francisco Giants.
Another Gaucho who starred for the 2001 NCAA Tournament Team, outfielder Ryan Spilborghs, a Santa Barbara High School graduate, had a solid season at high Single-A. Spilborghs, a 2002 draft choice of the Colorado Rockies, played outfield for the Visalia Oaks of the California League. He batted .259 with eight home runs, three triples, 57 RBI, 59 runs scored and a team-leading 26 doubles.
Nate Sutton, UCSB's starting third baseman the last three years, had an outstanding first season in professional baseball. Sutton batted .328 in 54 games. He had six doubles, three triples, one home run, 34 RBI and 46 runs scored. In addition, he had seven steals and he walked 37 times.
Finally, Tyler Von Schell, who set UCSB's single-season home run rercord in 2001, battled injuries, but finished the year playing 64 games with the Norwich Navigators where he batted .263, with five home runs, 16 doubles, 39 RBI and 25 runs scored.