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Baseball Bolsters Pitching

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June 8, 2011
Joe Reinsch

AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific baseball head coach Paul Svagdis has announced two more commitments to the 2011-12 recruiting class, adding two pitchers from the junior college ranks who both have two seasons of collegiate eligibility remaining. Righthander Nico Calderaro joins the Cougars from Mt. San Antonio College, while lefthander Michael Finnigan pitched in 2011 for San Bernardino Valley College.

“We are very excited that both Nico and Michael have chosen to finish their collegiate baseball careers at Azusa Pacific,” Svagdis said. “Both were competitive players at the junior college level who will have a profound impact on our program.”

Calderaro went 7-5 in 16 starts over two seasons at Mt. San Antonio, registering a 3.41 ERA with 81 strikeouts in 92.1 innings the past two years. In six 2011 appearances, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound righthander posted 35 strikeouts while walking only eight in 33.1 innings for the Mounties. Calderaro prepped at Bonita High in La Verne, Calif., where he was 18-6 with a 2.06 ERA over three seasons and named the 2009 Miramonte League MVP as a high school teammate of current Cougars Ryan Henley and Jason Plowman.

"We have a familiarity with Nico that we don’t often get with recruits, since he played with a couple of our current players back in high school,” Svagdis said. “Nico has a fiery competitiveness that we’re excited to see him bring to the hill next year.”

Finnigan, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound southpaw, was 2-1 with one save in 2011 for San Bernardino Valley College, earning All-Foothill Conference second team honors after posting 48 strikeouts and 16 walks with a 4.50 ERA in 40.0 innings of work for the Wolverines. He also pitched in six games as a 2009 freshman at Chaffey College after his outstanding senior campaign at Cajon High in San Bernardino, Calif. He posted a 3-0 record with a 1.77 ERA in 2008, striking out 34 in 27.2 innings his senior year of high school.

“Michael is a good, physical lefty, and we love how his arm works,” Svagdis said. “He is another competitor on the hill with experience starting and in relief, and we see great things ahead for him as a hard-throwing lefty. We expect him to really make a difference on our pitching staff next year.”

Finnigan was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 25th round (No. 755 overall) in the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, the first of two players from the 2011-12 recruiting class picked in this year’s MLB Draft. Alan Garcia, a junior righthander from Eastern Arizona College who committed to Azusa Pacific prior to his 2011 sophomore campaign, was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 40th round (No. 1227 overall).

Entering the 2011 draft, Azusa Pacific was 1 of just 3 NAIA baseball programs with multiple selections in three of the previous four MLB Drafts. Azusa Pacific has produced 33 MLB draft selections all-time, the second-highest total of any NAIA program, and six former Cougars have played for MLB minor-league affiliates in 2011 including three at the Double-A or Triple-A levels.