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Where Have You Gone, Jarrett Sues?11/15/2008 10:51 PM ET
When you think about the art of pitching and the 2004 Princeton Rays, thoughts immediately turn to what proved to be the starting point in the still blossoming careers of Wade Davis and Jacob McGee. Or, maybe the thoughts regarding 2004 turn to the initial mound appearances of former 1999 P-Rays' third baseman Juan Salas as he began the transition that has already seen him take the hill as a major leaguer for Tampa Bay.
However, the man who appeared in the boxscores the most as a pitcher in 2004 for the P-Rays was an undrafted free agent out of college by the name of Jarrett Sues. His professional career was short, two years, but with the maturity and wisdom of a man working in big business today, he speaks realistically of the gift that was put before him.
"Playing in the Appalachian League was a lot of fun and I got to fulfill my dream of playing professional baseball. It's an accomplishment to get as far as the minors because even then pretty much only about five percent of the guys get a sniff at the big leagues," commented Sues in a November 15 telephone interview.
It's that type of realism and the compilation of his life experiences as a baseball player that now has Sues traveling in the big leagues of the business world as an employee of the S.M.G. Advisory Group, a subsidiary of FTI Consulting. He is daily putting to good use the Business Management degree he received from Xavier University in his job that involves working with real estate investment trusts. S.M.G. advises on such things concerning executives as salaries, bonuses, and stock plans. To those not familiar with this type of business, Sues can return to his baseball roots to better explain his current profession.
"What our company does in determining what an executive's compensation level should be can be like determining baseball salary levels based on performance. This would be like if someone is statistically determined to be the fifth best right fielder in baseball, is he indeed receiving the fifth best salary among those at that position in the majors as he deserves," explained Sues.
Sues' road to professional baseball started right where he is back at today: on the New Jersey shores. He was as good at the bat as he was on the mound in high school at Middletown (NJ) High School South, where his senior year in 1999 saw him belt 21 homers at the plate in addition to his ten wins on the mound. He was named by the Asbury Park Press newspaper as its "1999 High School Baseball Player of the Year."
The colleges then came calling and Sues was pursued by many schools in his region including Dartmouth, Princeton (NJ), Rutgers, and St. John's among others. However, his decision was to head to the midwest and play his collegiate ball at Xavier University in Cincinnati. Despite a very creditable college career, Sues was not drafted but instead forged ahead with his baseball dream and managed to secure a 2004 free-agent contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. The next stop for the right-hander with his signature big looping breaking pitch would be Princeton, WV.
Sues found Princeton to be a great place to get his feet on the ground professionally, commenting that "the people in Princeton were extremely nice and it was refreshing to feel so welcomed. Being that I had always lived in big cities, it was different and I can say that people cannot get any nicer or more down to earth than those living in Princeton."
His pitching coach at Princeton in 2004 was Nardi Contreras, who was teaching again at the grass roots level after already having a tour of duty as the major league pitching coach for the New York Yankees. Once again, Sues soaked in the experience and saw all the positives in being around such a man.
"He was a guy with major league coaching experience and that's more than you could ever expect to ask for as a minor league rookie. He is by far the most knowledgeable guy about pitching that I have ever been around," said Sues of Contreras.
Speaking of being around talent, Sues was also party to seeing three great baseball careers launched that year in Princeton: pitchers Wade Davis and Jacob McGee along with shortstop Reid Brignac, who made his major league debut in 2008. Davis and McGee both have continued to pile up lofty pitching stats in the minors as both are getting very close to knocking on the door that will land them inside Tropicana Field. Sues remembers the trio very well.
"I could tell right out of the gate that Wade and Jake were really special. I remember when Reid joined us near the end of the season and the kind of talent he walked in with. He hit .361 over those last 25 games," remembered Sues, who added he was thrilled to see Brignac on the bench for Tampa Bay during the recent 2008 World Series.
Sues appeared in 23 games (all in a relief role) for the 2004 P-Rays, logging a 1-2 record with two saves while striking out 31 hitters in 33.1 innings of work. However, a return the next year to the Tampa Bay farm system was not in the cards for Sues, who then took to the roads of the independent professional leagues looking for employment.
That baseball road map in 2005 for Sues included three stops: in March as a member of the Bangor (ME) Lumberjacks of the Can-Am League before taking his talents in May to the Gateway Grizzlies (located in a suburb of St. Louis) of the Frontier League, and then returning in July to the Can-Am League to wear the colors of the North Shore Spirit (Lynn, MA). It was at that point that Sues plotted his next career move.
That move entailed the decision to move away from baseball and start taking advantage of his college degree and his business knowledge. Back home in Weehawken, NJ and now a successful businessman, he still takes the time to give back to the game of baseball by giving lessons to kids. He still prefers to get his exercise by playing in the recreational softball leagues around his home. This adds up to a past of great baseball memories and a present of having a great job which is balanced off by a healthy lifestyle along with the need to help the next batch of future ballplayers get their start.
It's only fitting that Jarrett Sues received his degree in Business Management as he has organized his life with everything falling into place with a bright future ahead.
WEBSITE REMINDER: As of October 15, 2008 the new website address for Princeton Rays professional baseball is www.princetonrays.net and is available for your usage effective immediately.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.