Ryan Birchard (top), and Brenden Morse (below) © Niagara Gazette
by Connor Donnellon
The Major League Baseball draft every year is commonly overlooked by sports fans because most of the players that are drafted, won’t see the major league for about another 4 years. But, when two players are selected from a local community college, there has to be something special happening in the organization.
This past summer, two players were selected from the Thunderwolves baseball team to join the major league farm system, a series of teams that is watched over by major league teams. The Buffalo Bisons are a farm team for the Toronto Blue Jays for an example. Ryan Birchard, who was drafted in the fifth round by the Milwaukee Brewers, and Brenden Morse, who was drafted in the 18th round by the Texas Rangers, were both pitchers in the NCCC organization.
Ryan Birchford comes from Auburn, New York, and was a sophomore when he was selected this year. He has an 8-0 record in the ten games that he pitched, and had a 1.08 earned run average, which in the stat era, is a number that is sought after for every major league starter. Brenden Morse is from Getzville, New York, and was selected as a freshman, and got some time with the Ranger’s minor league teams. When he was a Thunderwolf, he had a 6-1 record in 9 games, with 7 saved games. He was both a starter and a reliever, and had an earned run average of 3.15, which is more common in the game today.
Last spring, the Thunderwolves won the National Junior College Athletic Association, NJCAA, Region 3 championship with a 41-5 record. They also finished fourth in the NJCAA Division 3 World Series, and at the end of the tournament, two players were named to the all american team, one of which was Birchard.
Baseball has been a sport that the Thunderwolves have been hard to beat in recent years. Matt Clingersmith, the head coach, has has multiple winning seasons, as well as a handful of players selected for major league baseball opportunities. Going into the previous season, as the head coach, he held a record of 556-207-1, in his 17 years of coaching.
The team has signed 23 new recruits for the 2023-2024 season, with a lot of local talent. Some ranging from various high schools in both the section 5 and section 6. Programs such as the Niagara County Community College help players develop their skills to have more chances at bigger and better opportunities in the future when it comes to athletics. Based on what we have seen from both the talent on and off the field, this upcoming season is going to be special.