2021 #ProNiners Wrap-Up

After having the entire 2020 MiLB season cancelled due to Covid it was refreshing to have MiLB baseball back in 2021, even if it was delayed and came with some uncertainty. We were personally excited to get out to the minor league parks once again and happy to have some #ProNiners to cover for the first time since the 2019 Arizona Fall League.

2021 provided many highlights from a 49ers perspective and was an exciting season to cover. Things were certainly different as Covid caused minor league teams to go with 6 game weekly series’ throughout the season and many teams only played half of the opponents in their league due to travel limitations. One of the most exciting points this season was when the 49ers had two guys up at the Triple-A level at the same time. We also added two more #ProNiners to the mix from the 2021 Charlotte squad.

Norfolk Tides

Zach Jarrett continued his upward progress through the Orioles organization in 2021. After being drafted in the 28th Round out of Charlotte in 2017, Zach has steadily climbed the ladder towards Baltimore one step at a time. In 2019, Jarrett was up and down between High- A Frederick and Double-A Bowie. He earned spots on both the mid and post season Carolina League All Star teams in 2019 and was primed for a good season at Double-A Bowie in 2020 before the season was cancelled.

After Spring Training this season, Jarrett was assigned to Double-A Bowie where he batted .302 over 11 games before getting called up to Triple-A Norfolk. Zach was called up on May 19 and made his Triple-A debut on May 21 by going 2 for 3 with a Double. He remained in Norfolk for the remainder of the 2021 season where he ended up batting .231 for the season with 10 HR, 40 RBI, 46 Runs, and 12 SBs in 102 Games. Despite fewer games on the schedule this season, Zach had career highs in stolen bases (12) and Walks (44) while playing mostly CF for Norfolk. Zach did not commit an error and had five Outfield Assists in 2021. He was frequently shown making highlight catches like this one during the season. Jarrett’s 10 home runs were 1 off his total from the 2019 season and 4 off his career high in 2018. We were fortunate enough to see one of the ten in person here in Charlotte.

All things considered, Zach had a pretty good year in 2021 and he’s just one step on the ladder away from playing in the big leagues. We are looking forward to seeing what happens in 2022.

Hudson Valley Renegades

Josh Maciejewski has worn many different hats in his pro career since being drafted by the Yankees in the 10th Round of the 2018 Draft. After being drafted from Charlotte, Josh eased in to his pro career, starting out in the Gulf Coast League and eventually finishing the 2018 season with the Staten Island Yankees. 2019 was a whirlwind season for Josh as he pitched for four different Yankees affiliates during the season. He pitched for Staten Island, Tampa, Charleston, and Scranton-Wilkes-Barre. Maciejewski pitched well in Charleston, earning Sally League Pitcher of the Week honors . He was called up to Triple-A twice during the season and ended up in High-A Tampa to finish the year. With all his travels, and his performance on the mound, Maciejewski was named an Organizational All-Star with the Yankees following the 2019 season.

In 2021, the Yankees moved their High-A affiliate from Tampa to Hudson Valley, and that is where Josh started the season. Maciejewski pitched well in Hudson Valley and was called up to Triple-A Scranton for 3 weeks starting at the end of July. He made four Triple-A starts for SWB with his best coming on August 17 vs Worchester where he allowed only 2 Hits and 0 Runs in 5 IP.

Overall, Josh topped his career highs for Games (22), Starts (17), IP (101.1), and Ks (105) in 2021. He had a 9-4 record and a 4.10 ERA at the High-A level and earned High-A East Pitcher of the Week awards in July and September. It was a good season on the mound for Maciejewski including a good showing at the Triple-A level when given the opportunity. He has now pitched at every level in the Yankees organization except for Double-A and the Major Leagues. Let’s hope we can check some more boxes off in 2022.

Photo: @TiffW96

Reece Hampton was working his way up the Tigers organization after being drafted in the 12th Round in 2018 and was playing in High-A Lakeland at the end of the 2019 season. He hit .270 with 12 SBs in his first full professional season.

Hampton started off the 2021 season in Spring Training camp with the Detroit Tigers organization but was released in late April. He quickly signed a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks in early May and was assigned to their High-A affiliate, the Hillsboro Hops. Over 44 Games with the Hops, Reece set career highs in SBs (16) & HR (4) before being released in August. Shortly after that, Hampton signed a free agent deal with the Gastonia Honey Hunters of the Atlantic League.

Reece took the Atlantic League by storm, putting up video game numbers in his first two weeks with Gastonia. Over 46 games with Gastonia, Hampton hit .350 with 10 HR, scored 39 Runs, and drove in 27. He also stole 10 bases for the Honey Hunters in their final stretch of games. It was an up and down 2021 season for Reece, but he finished it very strong and we look forward to see what is ahead in 2022.

Toronto Blue Jays

Colton Laws has been battling through shoulder issues for much of his professional career. Laws was drafted in the 7th Round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays and went on to pitch sparingly for the Bluefield Blue Jays and the Vancouver Canadians to close out the summer of 2017. He started the 2018 season with the Lansing Lugnuts in the Low-A Midwest League. He made 10 starts in Lansing before he started to have shoulder problems. He ultimately needed to have offseason surgery. Laws missed the 2019 season recovering from surgery and was ready to go to start the 2020 season. Unfortunately there was no 2020 season, and Laws was forced to wait another year to get back on the mound.

After another setback, Laws started the 2021 season working down in the Blue Jays Spring Training Complex in Dunedin. He was officially assigned to the Vancouver Canadians and on the injured list for most of the season. Eventually he took the mound in a rehab assignment for the Florida Complex League Blue Jays in July, where he pitched 1 scoreless inning. He would pitch in a total of 6 rehab assignments between the Complex League and the Dunedin Blue Jays, pitching 6 innings, striking out 5 and allowing only 1 Run.

Colton has worked hard to get back to this point and we hope his injuries are behind him. We are looking forward to seeing a healthy and successful 2022 season from Colton Laws.

The 49ers program added two more #ProNiners to the ranks during this summer’s MLB Draft. Bryce McGowan and Aaron McKeithan both heard their name called this summer and decided to sign and begin their professional careers.

Palm Beach Cardinals

Aaron McKeithan was drafted by the St Louis Cardinals in the 16th Round of the 2021 MLB Draft. After signing, he worked out in the Cardinals’ Florida Complex and then was assigned to the Palm Beach Cardinals roster in Low-A. McKeithan got a little taste of pro ball, playing in 22 games in the final months of the season, batting .154. He also threw out 4 runners attempting to steal and only allowed 1 passed ball from behind the plate. We are looking forward to following Aaron as he starts his climb through the Cardinals organization.

Photo: Phrake Photography

Bryce McGowan was drafted in the 18th Round of the MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies. McGowan signed and was eventually assigned to the Arizona Complex League Rockies. He made 4 appearances and pitched 1 inning in each allowing only 1 hit and striking out 4. After the season ended, the Rockies invited McGowan to participate in the Fall Instructional team in Arizona where made a few more 1 inning stints. Pitchers and catchers will be reporting before you know it and we are looking forward to seeing where Bryce will be playing in 2022.

TJ Nichting started off the 2021 season in Spring Training with the Orioles. Unfortunately he was released by the Orioles after the spring and did not come north with the organization. TJ was drafted by the Orioles in the 9th Round in 2017, and had advanced up to AA Bowie where he spent the entire 2019 season. He also was selected to play in the prestigious Arizona Fall League following the 2019 season. Over three seasons in the Orioles organization, Nichting batted .267 with 66 Doubles, 14 HR, 121 RBI and 25 SB.

49er Brett Netzer also was in Florida this spring for Spring Training with the Red Sox. He did not play in 2021 and is listed on the Restricted List by the Red Sox organization. In three minor league seasons Netzer has played up to Double A Portland and batted .263 with 10 HR and 127 over his career.

Harris Yett retired from baseball prior to the 2021 season. Yett was drafted by the Orioles in 2019. He spent most of the 2019 season in the Gulf Coast League, and went up to Aberdeen and Delmarva late in the season. After the 2020 season was canceled, Yett retired from baseball.

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