The Gary Southshore RailCats announced the signing of right-handed pitcher Andrew Spinnenweber to his first professional baseball contract prior to Friday’s series opener against the Cleburne Railroaders. Spinnenweber will start tonight’s game against the Cleburne Railroaders and is expected to utilized in the “opener” role. In order to make room for Spinneweber on the 23-man active roster, Gary placed right-hander pitcher Chris Pennell on irrevocable waivers.
The recent United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) graduate has spent his last four years playing at the Division III level and putting up impressive numbers. He finished his college career with a 19-12 record, 2.64 ERA and struck out 259 batters in 211.2 innings compared to just 60 walks. But it’s his junior and senior seasons that stand out.
In 2019, Spinnenweber completed arguably his most dominant year at USMMA. In his senior year he was named ABCA/Rawlings First Team AllNew York Region for the second consecutive season and was named First Team All-East Coach Athletic Conference (ECAC) and Second Team D3baseball.com All-New York Region after going 6-0 with a 1.31 ERA. Combined between eight starts and one relief appearance, the Pasadena, Md., native struck out 67 (12.46 K/9) batters and walked just 11. While pitching at home, Spinnenweber was lights out, closing the year with just two earned runs allowed in 28 IP, good enough for a 0.64 ERA. And this came after a junior season that solidified him as an elite starter for the program.
In 2018, the Chesapeake High School alumnus tossed a career-high six complete games, almost half of the total 14 that he threw in college. Spinnenweber’s junior year also saw career-highs in strikeouts (99), strikeout rate (13.17 K/9), wins (7) and innings pitched (67.2). The right-hander finished up with a 7-3 record and a 1.73 ERA. Spinnenweber earned Skyline Conference Honor Roll honors in 2018.
Pennell appeared in two games with Gary and finished without a record and a 2.25 ERA. In four innings, Pennell allowed one run on four hits and three walks while striking out five. Pennell pitched a hitless bottom of the eighth on Thursday and made his American Association debut on Tuesday against Chicago. In three innings on Tuesday, Pennell allowed one run on four hits and two walks while striking out four.
Pennell played with the RailCats back in spring training but was traded to the Lake Erie Crushers of the Frontier League in exchange for a player to be named later on May 17th. After leaving Gary, Pennell finished without a record in nine relief appearances with Gary, including five straight without allowing a run from May 21 to June 8. In 14.1 innings, Pennell allowed 13 runs on 15 hits and six walks while striking out 12.
The right-hander began his professional baseball career with the Rockland Boulders of the Can-Am League in 2018 following his senior season at St. Thomas Aquinas College. He went 1-0 with a 2.55 ERA in three starts with the Boulders. In 17.2 innings pitched, Pennell yielded five earned runs on 14 hits and four walks while striking out 12 batters.
However, Pennell finished the season with the Salina Stockade, where he went 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in between three starts and three relief appearances. Pennell logged 20.2 innings, allowing six earned runs on 15 hits and seven walks while striking out 13.
On Jan. 31, 2019, the Westchester, N.Y. native was traded to the Schaumburg Boomers of the Frontier League, the sister club of the RailCats. Within the next week, Gary acquired him via trade for a player to be named later.
Friday’s game is at 7:10 p.m. and is Kevin “Bacon” Night, featuring bacon themed concession specials. The series opener is also Nurses Appreciation Night and features postgame fireworks, presented by Fifth Third Bank.
Ticket packages for the 2019 Gary SouthShore RailCats season are available online at RailCatsBaseball.com or by calling the RailCats ticket line at (219) 882-BALL. The RailCats box office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.