Congratulations to Shannon Wilkerson on his promotion to Greenville! Wilkerson will be joining the Drive after hitting .264 in 31 games. Wilkerson led the Spinners with five triples at the time of his promotion. Wilkerson recently sat down with the Spinners Blog and participated in our Road to the Show series. His interview can be found here. Wilkerson was drafted by the Red Sox in the 8th round of the 2009 MLB draft. Shannon was named the Division II player of the year after hitting .441 with 24 homers for Augusta State this season. Best of Luck in Greenville Shannon!
The Spinners swept away the Lake Monsters in a quick two game series by having an offensive clinic Sunday, putting up 16 runs on 15 hits. Every Spinners starter reached base at least once, as the top three hitters in the Spinners line-up combined to go 8-for-16 with two walks, driving in seven runs and scoring eight. Derrik Gibson and Shannon Wilkerson recorded three-hit games, while Ronald Bermudez, Ryan Westmoreland and Michael Almanzar added two hit games. Bermudez led the Spinners with four RBI while Wilkerson added three RBI. Gibson, Westmoreland, Willie Holmes and Almanzar also each recorded two RBI games. For Westmoreland, he hit his team leading sixth home run, and his fourth home run in his last seven games.
The Spinners are now tied with Vermont in second place at 19-17, just two games back of 1st place Oneonta and a half game back in the Wild Card race behind Hudson Valley and Williamsport.
The Spinners look to continue their winning ways when they start the first part of a home and home series vs. Tri City. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 with Kason Gabbard getting his third rehab start, he will be followed by Jose Alvarez.
A day after getting nipped by State College 1-0, The Spinners managed to win 5-1 Wednesday afternoon to take two out of three from the Spikes. Rehabbing Kason Gabbard, pitched the first three innings allowing one run on five hits. Jose Alvarez followed Gabbard and picked up his fourth win, going six shutout innings to lower his ERA to 1.35, good for 6th in the NY Penn League. The Spinners took an early 2-0 advantage in the top of the second inning when Chris McGuiness lead off with his 9th double of the season. McGuiness, with his double, set a Spinners club record for most consecutive games with an extra base hit, six. Ronald Bermudez knocked in McGuiness with a two out single, and would eventually come into score on an error by Spikes shortstop Andy Vazquez.
State College responded quickly in the bottom of the second with a leadoff double by Butch Biela, part of three consecutive Spike hits. The rally was short lived, however, due to Shannon Wilkerson gunning out Miguel Mendez at second, trying to advance on Andy Vazquez’s RBI single. The Spikes were done in by their inability to capitalize with runners on base, hitting into four double plays.
In the 6th, the Spinners widened their lead 4-1 on four consecutive hits by Michael Almanzar, Wilkerson, Bermudez and Sean Killeen. The scoring was capped off by Ryan Westmoreland, who hit his fourth homerun of the season, his second of the series, in the top of the 7th. The Spinners return home for a brief two-game series against the Vermont Lake Monsters beginning Thursday Night at LeLacheur Park. It is Justin Masterson Bobble Head Night, sponsored by Collins Dentistry for Children, and Masterson will be in attendance. LHP Cesar Cabral (0-4, 3.99) gets the start for a 7:05 first pitch.
Welcome to our second installment of “Road to the Show” with Spinners OF Shannon Wilkerson.
Wilkerson was the Red Sox eighth round pick in June’s amateur player draft, and made his professional debut with the Spinners on June 27th, starting the season late due to contract negotiations. Wilkerson has taken little time to adjust to playing as a professional as his numbers are amongst the team lead in numerous categories (.287 BA, 25 H, 8 2B, 2 3B, .751 OPS).
Over a recent five game stretch, Wilkerson dominated New York Penn League pitching, hitting .471 including three multi-hit games. A premier athlete in the field, Wilkerson turned down a Division I football scholarship to stick with the sport that he truly loves. Shannon recently sat down with the Spinners blog to answer a few questions.
When making my college decision, I had to decide between football and baseball. I had some serious offers for football including Troy State (AL). I was always known as more of a football player, and I think that’s why I received fewer offers to play baseball in college. When I was trying to make a choice on what sport to stick with I just knew I wasn’t going to get much bigger physically and that baseball was what I wanted to play. I went with Augusta State due to the great scholarship package they gave me. I guess it was just a coincidence that Augusta was my best option and it happened to be right in my backyard.
At the end of your junior season at Augusta State, you were named Division II National Player of the Year. You also have the honor of being Augusta State’s highest draft pick ever. Do these honors give you a motivation to succeed even more and prove that you were overlooked in high school?
To be honest, they really don’t. As far as the NPOY award goes, I never got a chance to really have that soak in. I received that award in the first week of June, and by that time the draft was my main priority. I’ve never really dwelled on awards or accolades, I feel like when you do that you get complacent, and that’s not an option in this business. I know to be successful as a professional you always need to be looking to improve your game and not focus on the past.
You decided to forego your senior year at ASU to sign with the Red Sox, leaving Georgia for the first time as a ballplayer. Was that a difficult decision, do you have any regrets?
I have zero regrets, this is a dream to be playing here with such a great organization. I never really thought about what decision I would make in terms of signing or continuing school until my sophomore year, when I started talking to my college coach and he told me I had a shot to play at the next level. I’m happy to be here, not just because its always been my dream to play professionally, but because my family has also shared the same dream. I’m sure it’s an incredible feeling for them watching me play here in Lowell.
I’ve always felt that I was a dominant athlete so when I knew that I was going to get drafted, I was excited to get playing no matter where it was. The fact that the Red Sox selected me definitely makes things sweeter. The minute that I was drafted, I wanted to start playing, I knew I was going to sign, I didn’t want to risk that chance of getting hurt my senior year. I knew this was my shot and I had to take it.
You improved your numbers every year at Augusta State, including going from hitting just two home runs your first year to hitting twenty four this past season. Now that you’re here in Lowell, what skill are you hoping to refine most?
Right now, I’m mainly working on adjustments at the plate and really just putting the ball in play. I don’t have a whole lot of experience in wooden bat leagues, so really just getting comfortable playing at this level is my biggest challenge thus far. I know that people are going to be looking for me to hit for power, but I know that will come later on, probably the last thing that comes together. I’m not going to get stressed out about it. One part of my game that people have seen is my speed, i’ve had a few triples and stolen a few bases, speed is definitely a big part of my game. If anything, I’m just trying to be more disciplined at the plate, especially being able to hit from behind in the count. Hitting with two strikes is huge, if you can hit with two strikes, you can really do some damage.
You began the season hitting in the six hole, recently, you have been moved up to leadoff spot and enjoyed some success in that role. Given a choice, do you prefer hitting at the top of the lineup or the heart of the order?
I’ve always preferred the middle of the lineup, I’m a really aggressive hitter and I like to swing early in the count, attacking those first three pitches. The leadoff guy is supposed to take a few, and let the rest of the team see some pitches. Basically, it’s an entirely different mindset. That’s not really something I’ve bought into yet, but I’ll get better at it, since I’m going to have that opportunity.
Once the Spinners season ends, do you have any special plans for this offseason? Are you planning on playing in a Winter League for further instruction?
As of this moment, I’m planning to hit the gym hard and work with a few trainers. I know that there’s someone that will help me with my swing and another guy is going to get me on a lifting program. I’m looking forward to working with the trainers and coaches so I can get some one on one instruction. I really think that all that hard work will keep me grounded and help me stay focused no matter what happens.
One thing that people don’t really know about me is that I love to hunt and fish. I don’t really have the chance to do a lot of that right now, but its definitely my biggest hobby. I’m really into being outdoors, especially with my Dad. I’m looking forward to taking some time this offseason to just being able to get outside and do some of the other things I love.
The Red Sox gave you a $100,000 signing bonus. What was your first purchase?
That’s funny you ask about that, I actually just had papers come in the mail for me here about my first purchase a few days ago. Three days before I flew up, I went to Nash Chevrolet and purchased a 2009 4-door Chevrolet Crew Cab. They sent all the paperwork to Lowell for me to sign, because I had to wait for my contract to become official. Everything is straightened out now and it’s waiting for me in my parent’s driveway.
Wilkerson looks forward to working hard this season and making improvements to his game. He believes in his talent and thus far has been an offensive force for the Spinners. When asked what his main goal this season was, Wilkerson told us he wants to help the Spinners win. Check back later this week for our next “Road to the Show” interview with pitcher Kyle Rutter.
The Spinners dropped their 4th straight game as they lost last night to Tri-City 2-1. The Spinners had scoring chances throughout the game but hit into three double plays, were picked off first twice and caught stealing twice. In addition the team left 10 men on base and only went 4 for 16 with with runners on base. Shannon Wilkerson was the offensive star last night as he went 3/4 with a double and the Spinners lone run batted in. Ryan Westmoreland was 1/4 and kept his streak of reaching base in every game he’s played in this season alive. Cesar Cabral pitched good enough to win going 6 innings, allowing only 1 earned run and striking out 6. Richie Lentz began a rehab assignment by pitching 2 dominant innings, striking out 4.
The Spinners look to snap their current skid tonight as Ryan Pressly takes the mound. Pressly has been dominant as he has posted a 1.20 ERA in his 3 starts, winning 2 of them.