Western baseball fans got a special treat when former third baseman Wade Gaynor returned to Bowling Green this week for a series against the Hot Rods as a member of the White Michigan Whitecaps .
The Herald had the chance to talk to Gaynor before the first game of the series. For the story, click here.
But Gaynor isn’t the only former Topper cutting his teeth in Class A ball.
In total, seven players from the 2009 squad had the opportunity to play professional baseball. Senior pitcher Matt Ridings chose to return to school after being drafted in the 25th round, and pitchers Ben Paxton and Evan Teague were cut this spring by the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays, respectively.
That leaves Gaynor, first baseman Chad Cregar, infielder Terrence Dayleg and pitcher J.B. Paxson currently playing in Class A from Western’s squad last season.
Oddly enough, Cregar and Dayleg have both ended up on the same team — the Greensboro Grasshoppers, the Class A affiliate of the Florida Marlins.
Both have started seven of the Grasshoppers’ (2-6) first eight games, although they have each had their struggles at the plate. Cregar is batting .222, while Dayleg has made the switch from shortstop to third base and is batting .227.
Despite the adversity they’ve faced, Western Head Coach Chris Finwood said both players will benefit from having an old friend close by.
“That’s really neat, because that doesn’t happen often where you’re college teammates and get to be professional teammates on the same team,” he said. “I’m sure they’re really enjoying being able to spend time together.”
And now on to J.B. Paxson — err, I mean Joseph Paxson, as he was referred to on his new team’s Web site for the first two weeks of the season. I was prepared to ask Paxson why he’d dropped the initials when I got the chance to speak with him, but apparently media relations has gotten to know the reliever a little better and changed his name to J.B.
As they should, because Paxson is flawless in his first 2.1 innings of work in two games for the Great Lake Loons, the Class A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Paxson has struck out two without surrendering a hit or a walk for the Loons (5-3).
Ridings said he tries to keep in touch with all of his former teammates via Facebook as often as he can.
“They’re off on the road on their own, and I know they like when old teammates keep in touch with them, so I’m going to try to do that,” he said. “That’s kind of what everybody’s goal is when we’re little kids — to play professional ball. They’re lucky enough to be there right now, and I’m sure they’re having a blast.
“It’s kind of cool to say we played with those guys.”
Bowling Green fans will get two more chances to see Gaynor play here when the Whitecaps return for series in June and August. Cregar and Dayleg play in a different league than the Hot Rods, but Paxson’s Loons will be in town to play Bowling Green from April 27-29.