Lion Baseball Alums Experience Championship Fever at Pro Level during 2017 Season

By Rachel Studley

HAMMOND, La. – Former Southeastern Louisiana pitcher Tate Scioneaux, now with the Double-A Altoona Curve (Pittsburgh Pirates), engineered a dominant performance during the 2017 season.

Scioneaux fanned the final three batters in the Eastern League championship game against the Trenton Thunder on September 14, securing the Curve’s first title since 2010. At the end of the regular season, the Curve also announced Scioneaux as the Fireman of the Year, an award given to the team’s top relief pitcher.

“I played with that group of guys for the past two seasons, and all they did was win,” Scioneaux said.

Selected in the 39th round of the 2015 draft, Scioneaux has quickly ascended to a top prospect for the Pirates. In 47 appearances with the Curve this season, Scioneaux compiled a 6-5 record with a 2.39 ERA and 67 strikeouts. He also picked up 14 saves on the season.

“It was probably one of my best seasons since I joined the Pirates organization, from the numbers I was putting up to the group of guys I played with,” said Scioneaux.

Scioneaux is projected to begin the 2018 season at Triple-A Indianapolis, before potentially making his debut with the Pirates.

Right-hander Kyle Keller, a member of the same draft class as Scioneaux, helped lead Greensboro of the South Atlantic League (Single-A) to a division title.

Keller went 2-0, with a team-leading eight saves, and a 2.28 ERA during the regular season for the Miami Marlins’ farm club. He fanned 86 batters in 67 innings (11.6 K/9).

In a May 26 matchup of former Southeastern stars in Greensboro, North Carolina, Jameson Fisher, then playing left field for Kannapolis, knocked a solo home run off of Keller in the sixth inning. It was the only run Keller gave up in five appearances (13 total innings) against the Intimidators this season.

At Winston-Salem of the Carolina League (Single-A Advanced), Fisher ended his 2017 season with a .221 batting average in his “High-A” stop with the Dash. Combined with the stop at Kannapolis, the Chicago White Sox prospect hit .245 with 30 doubles, six triples and 10 home runs in his first full season of pro ball. He drove in and scored 68 runs apiece.

“[This season was] humbling,” Fisher said about his time in Winston-Salem. “It’s the first time that I’ve ever struggled in my entire career.”

Fisher’s fellow draft classmate Kyle Cedotal completed his second season with Boise of the Northwest League (Single-A Short Season). The former Friday night ace appeared in 22 games this season and posted a 3.20 ERA, striking out 23 batters and collecting a pair of saves for the Colorado Rockies’ farm team.

“I’m kind of a hybrid [between a reliever and a closer],” Cedotal remarked. “The biggest difference [from starting games] is knowing how to get yourself ready. In the bullpen, you don’t get to do a throwing program because [the coaches] expect you to be good right away. There isn’t time to settle in.”

Cedotal is expected to begin his 2018 season with either the Asheville Tourists of the Carolina League (Single-A) or the Lancaster JetHawks of the California League (Single-A Advanced).

Former Lion second baseman Carson Crites had quite an unforgettable finish to his rookie season in the Minnesota Twins organization. The Elizabethton Twins took home the Appalachian League (Rookie) championship on September 8, edging Pulaski for an 8-7 win. In the final game, Crites contributed an RBI double, which raised his season average to .300.

Throughout his time with the Twins, Crites collected 11 doubles, four home runs, and 30 RBI. He is expected to advance to Cedar Rapids of the Midwest League (Single-A) next season.

Mac Sceroler, the highest drafted Southeastern pitcher since Wade Miley, encountered the usual growing pains that accompany a transition to the world of professional baseball. In his July 4 debut with the Billings Mustangs of the Pioneer League (Rookie), Sceroler struck out two Helena batters before giving up a grand slam.

“To pitch in a hitter’s league, you have to mix up your pitches so [opposing batters] can’t hit it out [of the park] as easily,” Sceroler said of the adjustment.

In 11 subsequent appearances, Sceroler posted a 3.26 ERA with 35 hits, 20 runs, and 41 strikeouts during his initial season in the Cincinnati Reds’ farm system.

Miley, produced an uncharacteristic campaign this season with the Baltimore Orioles. After generating a WHIP (walks+hits per inning pitched) in the Top-10 of his league each of the previous four seasons, he struggled with his control in 2017.

Despite some rough patches, the 2012 Sporting News National League Rookie of the Year endured some solid stretches. Miley started strong, posting 2.82 ERA through his first 11 starts, and during a seven-start stretch late in the year (July 30-Sept. 2) he compiled a 2.79 ERA while picking up four wins. For the season, Miley struck out 142 batters in 157.1 innings of work.

Former Lion outfielder Andrew Godbold led the Florence Freedom, a member of the Frontier League (Independent), to its first division title in franchise history. Godbold opened the series against Washington with a game-tying home run, which eventually resulted in a four-RBI night for him and a 5-3 victory for the Freedom.

“Anytime you get to pop bottles, it’s a good feeling,” said Godbold. “It’s baseball, and I can’t do it all. [The team] still had to pitch and play defense. The fact that we were able to pull that out was incredible. If we wouldn’t have won the game, I wouldn’t have cared about the stats.”

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