Behind the soccer fields and tall trees at Sonoma State, there is a diamond in the rough. This diamond consists of four bases, a pitcher’s mound, and individuals who are constantly working to perfect the game that they love.
The sport is baseball and the matter of the fact is that Sonoma State University has one of the top programs in the nation. In the past ten years, Head Coach John Goelz has managed to have twenty pitchers drafted by major league organizations.
Just last year, Harmen Sidhu won the Tino Martinez award for the best Division II player in the country and was drafted in the 20th round by the Tampa Bay Rays soon after. Along with Sidhu, senior Scott Harkin signed a contract with the Milwaukee Brewers. Both were pitchers and contributed to the Seawolves’ impressive run leading to the regionals in Utah last spring.
“The way Coach Goelz runs the program is pretty similar to pro ball. No one is going to push me to work harder or get better. A lot of it is on me as a player,” said Sidhu.
Taking this type of approach to players displays a lot of trust and responsibility for both the student athletes and coaches. This is a vital part of why the baseball program continues to produce elite draft prospects year in and year out.
“The coaches have some scouts around the area,” Sidhu said. “For the most part though, scouts will come out if you put up some numbers.”
With these valuable resources that Coach Goelz provides for his players, this allows them the rare opportunity to display their talent. Despite Scott Harkin entering the season as an everyday shortstop, the coaching staff made a bold move by also using the right-hander to close out games.
This decision paid off big when the 22-year-old gained the interest of the Milwaukee Brewers. Now in rookie ball, Harkin is continuing his success with 13.2 innings pitched and 17 strikeouts to start his minor league career. On the topic of making the transition from shortstop to pitcher, Harkin was very appreciative of the amount of respect that the coaching staff gave him.
“They kind of let me do my own things and had the trust in me to take care of myself and prepare myself to do both positions,” Harkin said.
He went on to talk about the great environment that Sonoma State fans provide for home games and how the new facilities being built will benefit incoming players a great deal.
“It’s great to have nice facilities and it makes it easier to prepare yourself, but it’s more important to enjoy the game whether you have the best or worst facilities,” said Harkin.
Both Sidhu and Harkin were extremely excited and appreciative of the opportunity to continue their dreams of becoming pro baseball players. After the news came out that Sonoma State had two players sign with major league organizations, Head Coach John Goelz congratulated both individuals on their outstanding seasons.
“Both guys are hard workers. Both are very competitive athletes. When you add the two together it makes for an excellent player,” said Goelz.
Having this type of success in a program creates a great reputation and can affect the recruiting class in many ways.
“It just helps us. A lot of kids follow the draft online and notice the schools that players are attending,” said Goelz. “The school website is also an easy way for recruits to stay up-to-date with the latest statistics and standings.”
Despite losing half their roster for the upcoming season, the Seawolves look to continue their legacy by running away with this year’s conference title and producing some of the best players in the country.