Tim Livingston, Director of Media Relations and Broadcasting
The Sonoma Stompers Baseball Club – presented by Virginia Dare Winery – have had a dozen former players perform for higher division baseball teams in their short history, and a group of them are making major waves right now in the baseball world.
Two members of the 2014 team are performing at a very high level right now, with one at the top of the baseball world in Japan and the other quickly making his way up the ladder in the Boston Red Sox organization.
Sonoma’s own Jayce Ray, who was signed by the Red Sox on a minor league contract this past offseason, received a call-up to Double-A Portland on Sunday after a great run at Low-A Greenville.
For Greenville, Ray hit .378/.429/.467 in 12 games with eight runs scored and two stolen bases. He reached base in 21 of 49 plate appearances before getting the call to the Eastern League, where he’s played in two games for the Sea Dogs so far, going 0 for 6.
Meanwhile, across the Pacific Ocean, the legendary Tokyo (Yomiuri) Giants made a splash by signing Gabriel Garcia to a contract earlier this week, making him the first former Stomper player to get signed by a team in Nippon Professional Baseball, the Japanese equivalent to the Major Leagues.
The former Houston Astros farmhand had a 3.69 ERA in 75 2/3 IP with the Stompers in 2014, striking out 50 with a WHIP of 1.16. In 2015, Garcia played in the Mexican independent leagues while making a stop in Joplin of the Frontier League. He then pitched in his home country of Venezuela in the Venezuelan Winter League this past offseason.
A couple of members of the memorable 2015 Stompers team are making their presence known in the Frontier League right now, one on the mound and the other behind the plate.
Dylan Stoops, a left-hander that was a find of Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller last season on the now famous spreadsheet they produced to find undrafted college talent, has been absolutely sensational for the Traverse City Beach Bums in 2016.
The Richmond, VA native is 2-0 in five starts with the team, including a complete game victory. He has a 2.20 ERA and has struck out 25 batters in 28 2/3 innings. In his start Thursday against Schaumburg, he went seven innings, allowing four hits and one run while walking two and striking out a season-best nine.
Stoops was the best left-handed pitcher in the Pacific Association last year, sporting a 1.97 FIP (Fielding-Independent Pitching) in 23 innings, striking out 29 while allowing only 30 baserunners.
Meanwhile, his former catcher Isaac Wenrich has returned from an offseason scare to become one of the most productive hitters in the league.
Wenrich suffered a heart attack this past April when a blood clot traveled into his heart, causing him to collapse during a coaching session. His student, Nathan Boyer, performed CPR until paramedics arrived, saving his life.
After a week in the hospital and nearly two months of recovery, Wenrich was given a clean bill of health and permission to resume baseball activities with the Florence Freedom, which he has done with aplomb.
In the 10 games since his return, he’s been crushing the ball, hitting .387/.457/.613 with two homers, five RBIs and seven runs scored. The 26-year-old from West Lawn, Pennsylvania is having his finest season yet in his professional career.
The 6-3 Stompers are on the road this weekend, taking on the Pittsburg Diamonds for a three game series beginning tonight at 7 p.m. Saturday’s first pitch is at 6 p.m., while the Sunday finale begins at high noon.
Sonoma returns home on Tuesday, June 14 for a series with the San Rafael Pacifics. Tickets are available now on StompersBaseball.com and at the Arnold Field Box Office beginning 30 minutes before any home game. For more information, call (707) 938-7277 or email the team at info@StompersBaseball.com.