St. Louis, Mo. - Fontbonne University pitcher Vinny Santarsiero will forgo his final season of eligibility after signing a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers Sunday evening. He will fly to Arizona later this week for training camp and be placed with one of the Dodgers' minor league affiliates. He is only the second Griffin to make it to the professional level with baseball, the first being Ryan Bauer who was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 1998.
Santarsiero received a call on Friday for a Sunday bullpen workout in St. Louis with a scout. He knew an immediate decision would have to be made if there was an offer as Fontbonne fall classes started the following day. Santarsiero, who was told he'd never throw a baseball again after a high school motorcycle accident, is elated. "This is a dream come true. I thank God for all he's blessed me with."
Most recently Santarsiero played summer ball for the Thunder Bay Border Cats out of Ontario, Canada. Thunder Bay is a summer collegiate baseball team in the Northwoods League. He achieved a 1.66 ERA in 21.2 innings of work, appearing in 16 games. He allowed only nine runs while striking out 23 with two wins, one loss and a team-leading four saves.
The six-foot-eight right-handed native from Gainesville, Fla. made a fantastic comeback from the hospital bed after fracturing his humerus in high school. Santarsiero claims collegiate looks were slim so the opportunity to play in college was the best thing to happen to him at the time. He came to St. Louis throwing 81-82 miles per hour and leaves throwing 92-93. At Fontbonne, he was a starter, whereas this past summer Santarsiero spent time on the mound for the Border Cats as a closer.
Fontbonne baseball's coaching staff can't say enough about Santarsiero. "Vinny has come a long way since the first time he stepped onto Fontbonne's campus," commented head coach Ryan Good. "Over the past four years I have seen Vinny not only mature on the baseball field but off of it as well. It has been a pleasure to have him in the program and I am excited about where this next endeavor will take him." Assistant coach John Siener made the first contact in the recruiting process from Fontbonne's end saying, "We knew we had something special in Vinny very early on. He came in with a lot of natural ability and a huge desire to keep getting better."
Santarsiero threw a no-hitter last season for the Griffins which included seven of his 66 strikeouts on the season. His ninth strikeout at home against Iowa Wesleyan University last season broke the Griffins' single-season team strikeout record. Fontbonnne's 2016 pitching squad threw 309 strikeouts on the season, breaking the 1998 record of 289. In three years at Fontbonne, Santarsiero threw 135 strikeouts over 130.1 innings with a 3.94 ERA. He threw a career-high 11 strikeouts his freshman year and four 10-strikeout games over his three-year career as a Griffin. He has been named to the 2016 d3Baseball.com Team of the Week, SLIAC Pitcher of the Week and was named to the 2015 All-SLIAC Second Team.
UPDATE: Vinny has been placed with the Dodgers' single A affiliate team, the Ogden Raptors in Utah.
Below is Santarsiero's interview which includes finding faith after his accident and getting to play at the college level before receiving the ultimate phone call.
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