SIOUX CITY | Damek Tomscha had to be drafted four times before he signed a professional contract, but the Philadelphia Phillies now believe the former Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year from North High was well worth the wait.
According to a post from Wednesday on the website “MiLB.com,’’ the 24-year-old Tomscha, coming off his first full season in the minor leagues, has made this year’s Phillies’ Organization All-Stars as the selection at third base.
The 6-2, 200-pounder originally spurned an offer from the Phillies when they drafted him in the 50th round in 2010, midway through his senior season at North.
He said no, as well, when the Miami Marlins made him a 35th-round pick in 2011 after his freshman year at Iowa Western in Council Bluffs. And, he declined in 2012 when he won junior college All-American laurels for the Reivers and was picked in the 19th round by the Cubs.
Transferring to Auburn, he wasn’t drafted after his junior year with the Tigers, but the Phillies got back in the picture after his senior season in 2014, using a 17th-round selection to finally get him signed.
After getting his feet wet last year in 53 Gulf Coast League games for Philadelphia’s rookie league team, Tomscha moved up this year to the South Atlantic League and the Lakewood Blue Claws in Florida. He played 120 games there, batting .282 with eight home runs and 59 runs batted in, leading the team with 32 doubles and 39 walks. The front office was pleased, too, to see him reduce his errors from 11 in 53 games last year to nine over 120 games this year.
“I feel like this year he was a stabilizer in the middle of that lineup in Lakewood,’’ said Joe Jordan, the Phillies’ director of player development. “He had a good year and he was pretty consistent all year.’’
The Siouxland area may never have had quite so many native sons making serious headway toward the major leagues at the same time. Canvassing the sports staff for as thorough a roster as possible, it soon became obvious I was going to rattle off a list of minor leaguers and Division I college players worth mentioning and would inevitably leave someone out. So, I’m not going there, sorry.
Perhaps no one from our area is closer to “The Show” right now than Sioux City native Cody Ege, the lefthanded pitcher who played his high school baseball in Cherokee and was drafted by the Texas Rangers out of the University of Louisville.
Cody, whose father, John, was once one of fast-pitch softball’s premier shortstops, has built a solid portfolio as a lefthanded reliever and seems to have become an even better fit with the Marlins since a trade in late-July.
Texas packaged Ege and minor league catcher Tomas Telis in a deal for Sam Dyson, a 27-year-old reliever who had seven big-league appearances between 2012 and ’13 before pitching in 31 games last year.
Dyson wound up pitching in 75 games this season, tied for 10th in the majors, and the change of scenery did him good as his ERA improved from 3.68 in 44 outings for Texas to 1.15 in 31 with the Marlins. St. Louis southpaw Kevin Siegrist, a 6-5, 215-pound 26-year-old who fashioned a 2.17 ERA, led baseball with 81 appearances, by the way -- which falls under the heading of “how do those (bleepity-bleep) Cardinals keep finding these guys?”
Ege also adapted well to his new organization, even though his overall numbers are strictly stellar (14-3 with a 2.11ERA in 102 appearances, striking out 201 batters in 158 innings). He had a 0.85 ERA in 26 outings for Class AA Frisco (Texas) before the trade July 28. Then, he allowed just two earned runs, fanning 24 in 20.1 innings, over five games for Class AA Jacksonville (1.08 ERA) and eight for Class AAA New Orleans (0.75).
The Iowa high school football records for total offense are still a work in progress as the hard-working Bud Legg from the Iowa High School Athletic Association continues to solicit input from coaches around the state on a category added to the archives just last year.
When Spirit Lake rolled up a remarkable 787 total yards (409 passing, 378 rushing) in winning its Class 2A state championship game last month, I referred to the IHSAA records that showed no team in Iowa had ever topped 700 yards in a game.
I’m sure it didn’t thrill East High to see the previous mark listed as Council Bluffs Lewis Central’s 695 yards against the Black Raiders in a wild 2014 match the Titans won 50-43.
Now, though, Bud has added a few more “discoveries,’’ which temporarily bumps Spirit Lake’s big title game production to No. 2. The current record, for the time being at least, is now the sensational 798 yards by North (with Dan Tillo at quarterback) in a game against Fort Dodge on Oct. 25, 2013. The Stars piled up 468 yards passing and 330 rushing.
Another 2014 performance saw Dowling Catholic, now the three-time defending Class 4A state champs, putting up 731 total yards against Des Moines Roosevelt. Bud’s data shows three other teams (Bedford, Madrid and Sigourney-Keota) with over 700 yards rushing in a game, but he’s doubtful any of them passed enough to overtake North’s total yardage of 798.
Eight years of watching the NAIA Women’s Volleyball Championships at the Tyson Events Center hasn’t cleared up my confusion over why so many colleges and universities, take your pick, have left the NAIA to affiliate themselves with one level or another in the NCAA.
I totally get the “greener pastures” thing, mindful that NCAA membership offers financial perks based on various revenue sources, mostly those mammoth TV contracts. And, I realize the larger umbrella of the NCAA has its advantages, as well.
The NAIA, however, is decidedly superior in a number of ways, some of which can’t be articulated without sparking a heated debate. The bottom line is that smaller schools, particularly church-affiliated institutions, enjoy a pretty fair niche under NAIA sanctioning.
This issue is far too complex for just a few paragraphs, but when I see things like how remote the chances are for an Iowa Conference football program to win an NCAA Division III championship, I think about what schools like Morningside and Northwestern have been able to achieve in their NAIA world.
I hope there are always enough schools that buy into the different platform the NAIA has to offer to keep this organization afloat.