Minor league baseball season started in tragedy for one South Atlantic League team last week when a teenage Hagerstown Suns worker was killed following an accident at Municipal Stadium.
Mitchel Akers, an 18-year-old high school senior who was working with the team, died Wednesday night. Sources within the league said he fell off the back of a John Deere Gator at the stadium Wednesday morning and later died from his injuries.
A police report obtained by The Herald-Mail said Aikers was in the back of the small vehicle and riding on top of garbage bags when he fell off and suffered a fractured skull after the driver turned in the parking lot.
“It’s a very sad day within the Hagerstown Suns organization,” the team said in a statement. “We are sorry to inform our fans and employees that Mitchell Akers passed away (Wednesday) evening. Mitchell was a well-respected and well-liked young man within our organization and the community.”
PARKED: Former Clemson football and baseball star Kyle Parker, whose family resides in Evans, was placed on the disabled list just two games into the season.
The Colorado Rockies 2010 first-round draft pick was hit on the hand by a pitch from former Augusta GreenJacket Taylor Rogers in Parker’s first and only at bat against the San Jose Giants on April 6. Parker was a starting outfielder for the Advanced-A Modesto Nuts.
HOMECOMING: One of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League could have a large home crowd on the road later this season. South Aiken High School’s Andrew Faulker, a 19-year-old lefty, was placed on the Hickory Crawdads roster out of spring training. He made his first start Tuesday and gave up four runs on four hits in two and two-thirds innings.
Hickory, the Single-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, is scheduled to come to Augusta on July 27 for a three-game series against the GreenJackets.
Faulkner was drafted by the Rangers last year and went 0-2 with a 2.16 ERA over 12 appearances in the Arizona Rookie League.
RELEASED: The Detroit Tigers released Greenbrier High School and Georgia Tech product Jeff Rowland just before the season began. The 24-year-old outfielder played two season in the Tigers organization after being drafted in the 19th round in 2010. He hit .243 last year for the Single-A West Michigan Whitecaps.
MR. INDEPENDENT: Former GreenJackets infielder Josh Mazzola was released by the San Francisco Giants a month ago. The power-hitting 26-year-old has signed with an independent team.
The Winnipeg Goldeyes of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball signed him.
“He falls into the category of being a multidimensional player,” Winnipeg manager Rick Forney said in a statement. “Offensively he has a knack for driving in runs. Defensively he can play both corner outfielder positions and both corner infield positions. He has the ability to run as well. We feel if we green-light him a little bit, he can steal 10 to 15 bases.”