Summer is in full swing, and that means for the next four weeks or so the only American pro sports you’ll be able to watch will be sponsored by the MLB. While baseball runs the American sports world, enjoy a brief recap of the last year for St. John’s baseball and allow us to reminisce on some old friends.
The Johnnies finished 19-21 and missed out on every type of postseason play offered, a first since 2003 for the program though, to be fair, the Big East Tournament has changed its format numerous times since then.
The dismal results weren’t without promise as 2B Carson Bartels, 3B Marty Higgins, and SP Nick Mondak found a place on the All Big East First-Team while RP Ethan Routzahn made his way to the Second Team. Bartels’ eligibility has expired but both Mondak and Routzahn have a year left and Higgins has three more after his redshirt freshman season.
The younger members of the baseball program faced fewer opportunities to showcase their talents last season due to injuries and COVID-19 restrictions. OF David Glancy and INF/P Vinny Bianchi, both Redshirt Freshmen, saw their service time limited to 28 games each.
Glancy was off to a scorching hot start before an injury took him out of commission for a few games and in the DH spot for most of the remainder of the season.
Bianchi made two appearances all season and ended with an ERA north of 11 in 2.1 innings pitched.
The Johnnies have taken a step back that coincided with long-time manager Ed Blankmeyer taking up an offer to manage the Single-A Brooklyn Cyclones (New York Mets affiliate)... and also a step back that coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic. Manager Mike Hampton looks to record his first winning season in his third year as the prior two were altered significantly by COVID-19 safety protocols.
As it stands now, the Johnnies will lose just three members of their 2021 squad to eligibility and another to the MLB. Ian Murphy and Ethan Routzahn are presumed to lead the starting lineup and bullpen, respectively. Murphy will be a Redshirt Junior and Routzahn along with his coworker Joe Joe Rodriguez in the ‘pen will both be Redshirt Seniors.
The Johnnies return a plethora of talent headlined by this year’s freshmen. True freshmen Nick Guzzi, Tyler Roche, and Ben Adams all saw substantial action on the mound recording 52.2 innings. The trio did concede a 9.91 ERA, but for their youth, exposure is the best thing for them. Redshirt freshmen David Glancy, Jake Lazzaro, and Marty Higgins look to lock down the infield next year with the help of Redshirt Junior Justin Folz.
If the Johnnies are able to retain their youth the team can easily compete for a conference title in the next two or three seasons.
2021 MLB Draft
After a slow start for Johnnies, the Los Angeles Angels drafted Nick Mondak with pick 531 (18th round). Of the five Johnnies to have their names in the draft pool, Mondak was the only one to be drafted.
Mondak was a member of a quite unusual draft class as the 18th of 20 pitchers drafted by the Angels with the 20 picks they possessed. Draftees face an unusually stiff competition to stay within the Angels program but for an organization with pitching woes as the Angels have had, there should be more job openings in the coming years.
Brandon Backman, Ian Murphy, Joe Joe Rodriguez, and Ethan Routzahn (all pitchers) failed to hear their names called but may still enter the major league pipeline system as undrafted free agents.
Catching Up With Old Friends
OF Mike Antico, who carried the Johnnies to Big East prominence for what was during his final full season with the Johnnies in 2019, transferred to the University of Texas for his final NCAA rendezvous. Antico hit .386 with an OPS of 1.098 and 29 RBI on 71 hits in 51 games as the leadoff man in 2019. At Texas, Antico hit .273 over 66 games to get the team to the NCAA CWS Semi-Finals where eventual champion Mississippi State walked the game off in the 9th. Antico was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals with pick 241 in the 8th round of the 2021 MLB Draft.
As for the Johnnies in pro baseball, Yonkers native 2B/3B Joe Panik has the longest tenure with 7 years under his belt. Panik started the year north of the border with the Toronto Blue Jays and was dealt to the Miami Marlins after 49 appearances. Between both teams, Panik is hitting .208 with 36 hits and 14 RBI as a reliable backup infielder.
Cincinnati Reds closer Amir Garrett (of St. John’s basketball) is the second longest tenured Johnny in the pros with 2021 being his 5th year of service. Garrett is struggling this year and currently has an ERA of 6.75, second to his rookie year for the worst of his career. Despite his ERA, Garrett has been a reliable weapon in the Reds’ bullpen, logging seven saves this season. He has also welcomed his first child, a baby girl, in recent weeks.
Frank Schwindel and Cody Stashak are the only other pro Johnnies with Schwindel being primarily in AAA ball.
Schwindel appeared in eight games for the Oakland Athletics this year as a 1B/DH hybrid and notched his first career home run on July 3rd as the A’s hosted the Red Sox; he was picked up by the Cubs organization off waivers this July.
Stashak saw more playing time than Schwindel as a relief pitcher for the Minnesota Twins. Stashak has a 6.89 ERA with the Twins in 15 relief appearances this year, but is on the 60-day disabled list, dating back to June.