June 6, 2014
LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. - Class of 2013 Siena Baseball graduates Justin Brantley and Larry Balkwill are continuing their professional baseball careers. Brantley has signed a minor league free agent deal with the Cleveland Indians while Balkwill has caught on with the Quebec Capitales of the Can-Am League.
A native of Hudson, N.Y., Brantley was invited to spring training with the Indians and has been assigned to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the organization's Short-Season Class-A New York-Penn League Affiliate located in Niles, Ohio. The Scrappers open their season on June 13. Brantley's cousin, Michael Brantley, is a starting outfielder for the Indians.
"It's truly a dream come true," said Brantley on the opportunity. "It's been my dream and now that it's finally happening I've got to keep working hard and never stop until I get there (the major leagues)."
Brantley is the Saints' all-time leader, making 57 starts over his career from 2010-13. The Saints' 2013 co-captain ranks second in program history in innings pitched (296.2), third in strikeouts (192) and tied for third in wins (17). Brantley spent last summer pitching for the Albany Athletics of the Albany Twilight League of the American Amateur Baseball Congress, posting a 5-1 record with 50 strikeouts in leading the team to a North Atlantic Regional Championship.
Brantley becomes one of four former Saints playing in Minor League Baseball, a list that could grow in the coming days with the 2014 Major League Baseball draft underway. Mike Fish, a 32nd Round pick of Los Angeles in last year's draft, currently plays for Angels' Class-A Midwest League Affiliate the Burlington Bees. A pair of former Saints are currently at the Double-A level, Anthony Giansanti with the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs) and Dan Paolini with the Jackson Generals (Mariners). John Lannan pitched in the major leagues earlier this season with, and is a member of, the New York Mets organization.
Balkwill made his debut for the Capitales on June 5. The Chatham, Ontario native was a two-time MAAC All-Academic Team selection and 2013 MAAC All-Tournament Team honoree. He appeared in 195 games, making 190 starts for the Saints posting a .264 career average with 15 home runs and 113 RBI. Balkwill currently ranks tied for fourth in program history with 45 career doubles.
"I was ecstatic to get the call," noted Balkwill. "I was glad I got in last night's game and hope that while I'm here I can help the team out in any way I can."
Last summer Balkwill played for the London (Ontario) Majors, an independent minor league team in the semi-pro Intercounty Baseball League. Earlier this year he played in the California Winter League, a developmental instructional league based in Palm Springs, Calif.