(Tuesday, July 20; Sioux Center, Iowa) Two Dordt University baseball players earned spots on All-Star teams at the respective leagues they are playing in this summer as they look to hone their skills after all-GPAC performances this spring.
Gyeongju Kim, fresh off a 5-4 pitching campaign is with the Great Bend Bat Cats in the Sunflower College League and Logan Cline, coming off a record setting year with the Defenders, is playing for the Joplin Outlaws in the MINK League.
For Kim he had previous experience with the Bat Cats and went into the summer with specific goals in mind and the South Korean native was headed back to a familiar spot to hone specific parts of his game.
“I knew the coaching staff and they offered me a spot this summer. It’s an opportunity to improve yourself and I thought this was a good chance for me in developing my abilities and maybe get a chance to be drafted into Major League Baseball next year. That’s why I came to the Bat Cats in Great Bend, Kansas," said Kim. “My priority is my velo (velocity). My highest velo at Dordt was 91-92 and it was cold when we started the season and during the summer it’s hot here—90 to 100 and I like to play in the hot weather, so I’m concentrated on my velo and I’ve hit 93 and I’ve been selected to play in the all-star game.”
While many of the players in the league come from either the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and NCAA Division I, the hitters are forced to make an adjustment—hitting with wooden bats.
“There are a bunch of guys who are juco (Junior College) and D-1 schools. Many are similar level to the players we play against at Dordt but they are using wood bats which is more difficult for the hitters,” said Kim.
Kim is currently 2-3 on the mound in six pitching appearances and 39 innings pitched. He has a 3.46 earned run average and has 50 strikeouts.
“Through this experience I’m learning much from the hitters and other college players—we share different experiences even though we come from different colleges,” said Kim.
When he returns to Sioux Center Kim hopes to take what he has gained in the Sunflower League and put it to use in preparation for the 2022 baseball season.
“I loved my semester at Dordt and the facilities and field are great. I really want to increase my velo and location during the summer so that in the fall I can continue to work on that and then in the spring term I can pitch better,” said Kim.
And if the Major League Baseball dream doesn’t become a reality? Kim doesn’t want to stray too far from the baseball field.
"I want to be an agent—many in South Korea want to play in the United States but they don’t know the path. I’m trying to make the road for them so that they can have the opportunity to play college baseball in the United States. Many ask they can play and enroll in college and I want to help them figure that out," said Kim.
While Kim has been playing much of his baseball in Kansas, Logan Cline has been competing in the MINK league where teams from Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. A connection with the Dordt coaching staff facilitated the summer opportunity for the Cheyenne, Wyoming native.
“Coach Bacon knows the coach down here in Joplin and hooked me up that way and it’s been a blast—we play baseball pretty much every day and it’s been different and something I’ve never done before and it’s been a good learning experience and I’ve enjoyed it,” said Cline.
The schedule can be a grueling one with a schedule laid out similarly to teams in the minor leagues. Teams rely on local support to keep the eight team league going.
“The fans are great here in Joplin—we had 2,000 to 2,500 on the road. It’s almost more like a pro game—little kids come up to us and have us sign autographs cause they think we’re pretty good,” said Cline. “We are assigned host families to live with. In a way it’s like living at home—they cook us dinner and take us out to eat and on the road it’s a lot of hotels and just hanging around the hotel until we play. It’s fun and a new experience.”
Cline came to the league wanting to improve on play that earned him first-team all-GPAC honors with a school record 66 hits and a .407 batting average which ranks 12th all-time at Dordt.
“One of the things for me is just trying to get better at shortstop and infield. One of our coaches is an infield guy and he’s worked with me a lot on my fielding,” said Cline.
Many in the league are NCAA Division II athletes with some junior college players as well. Cline has been able to compete well and has a .302 batting average with 29 hits in 29 games and he leads the team in stolen bases with 16 and has knocked in 18 runs. For his efforts Cline was selected to play in the league all-star game in early July.
“They were crazy good. The pitching was really good with guys who threw in the 90s,” said Cline.
When the season concludes Cline anticipates returning home for a few weeks before making his way back to the Dordt University campus where he will continue progress towards a degree in engineering.
“I’d like to get a job where you do more custom stuff and do something different every day and week,” said Cline.