Five former State College Spikes are ready to head west and participate in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, with workouts in the Grand Canyon State starting this weekend. Carson Kelly, Rowan Wick, Austin Gomber and Harrison Bader will join players from the St. Louis Cardinals and four other major league organizations on the Glendale Desert Dogs, while 2012 Spike Eric Wood will play for the Surprise Saguaros.
Kelly, who this September became the 41st Spike to reach the major leagues, played third base for the Spikes in 2013 and led the team to its first of three New York-Penn League Pinckney Division titles. The Portland, OR native hit .277 with four home runs and 32 runs batted in over 70 games with State College. Kelly then switched to catcher in 2014, and began a rapid ascent up the Cardinals' organizational ladder that culminated in his MLB debut with St. Louis this Labor Day.
Wick thrilled fans in Central PA with an unparalleled power display in 2014, but is now advancing in the Cardinals organization as a dominant relief pitcher. The 2012 ninth-round draft choice hit a club record 14 home runs in 37 games in 2014, and won the NYPL slugging title despite playing just half the season. However, the North Vancouver, BC native has found success on the mound as well, posting six saves for Advanced-A Palm Beach before joining Double-A Springfield to finish the season.
Gomber helped lead the Spikes to the 2014 NYPL championship as he posted a 2-2 record with a 2.30 earned run average, which included 14 straight scoreless innings to end the regular season. The Florida Atlantic product then went 15-3 with a 2.67 ERA for Single-A Peoria in 2015 before splitting time between Palm Beach and Springfield this season.
Bader spent just a week with State College in 2015, but made his mark in that brief time. The Florida product hit two homers in his professional debut at Staten Island, then recorded a .379 batting average, four RBI's and two stolen bases over his seven games as a Spike. Bader then rocketed up the Cardinals organizational ladder in 2015 and 2016, making it all the way to Triple-A Memphis this season. His combined 19 homers in Memphis and Springfield were good for third-best among St. Louis farmhands in 2016.
Wood joined the Spikes for the final week of the 2012 season when the club was still a Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate. The Oshawa, ON native hit .200 and produced six RBI's in six games with State College after the Pirates selected him in the sixth round of the draft that season. This past season, Wood hit .249 and slugged .443 while smashing 16 homers and knocking in 50 runs.
The six-team Arizona Fall League will feature prospects from all 30 MLB organizations in a 32-game schedule. For complete details on the Arizona Fall League, including rosters, standings, and more, visit the official AFL home page on MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.