GARY, IND. — Former Adrian College All-American Dugan Darnell has signed a professional baseball contract by inking with the Gary SouthShore RailCats of the American Association, the RailCats announced on Wednesday. A two-way player at relief pitcher and third baseman for Adrian, the Gary team plans to use Darnell out of the bullpen.
"Being a pro baseball player is every kid's dream," Darnell said. "Although my path to getting here wasn't very common, I am thrilled and humbled to be able to compete, prove myself and live out this dream. All being said, this is just the beginning and there is a lot more work to be done. I'm blessed to be coached and pushed by such great people, and it would never be an option (to play professionally) if it weren't for the coaching staff at AC. Adrian College, the coaches, and my teammates will always hold a place in my heart. They were there at ground zero, encouraging me every day."
After making his professional debut last night against the Sioux City Explorers, Darnell is the third Bulldog to currently play in the professional ranks by joining Double-A Springfield (Texas League) right-handed pitcher Tommy Parsons '18 (St. Louis Cardinals) and Double-A Frisco RoughRiders (Texas League) third baseman Ryan Dorow '17.
"We are extremely proud of Dugan who has worked hard to earn this opportunity," said Adrian head coach Craig Rainey '89. "He especially had a huge final season and greatly contributed to our success during his career, serving as a springboard to sign his first pro contract.
"As a coaching staff, we are proud to lead a nationally-known program that strives to provide tools that will help our student-athletes prepare for a path in professional baseball or success in the business world after their collegiate career."
Darnell displayed his versatility this spring in a career year that also earned him D3baseball.com Fourth Team All-American honors as well as first-team All-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association and D3baseball All-Mideast Region accolades after the season. He notched career bests of 41 runs scored, 48 hits, 12 doubles, two triples, four home runs, 43 runs batted in, 26 walks and .497 slugging while batting .314 and getting on base 46.0 percent of the time. The May 7 D3baseball Team of the Week member was hit by a pitch 18 times--one shy of a school record to top the MIAA and ranking eighth in the nation. He also made his mark on the mound for the first time in his collegiate career, posting a league-best and school-record eight saves for 14th in NCAA Division III. He held opponents to a .081 batting average while recording a 0.39 earned-run average and whopping 37 strikeouts in 23.0 innings.
A native of Northville, Mich., Darnell was a three-year starter and four-year letter winner at Adrian from 2016-19. The marketing graduate compiled a .317/.447./.433 slashline during his 132-game, 404 at-bat career that also included 101 runs scored, 128 hits, 21 doubles, four triples, six home runs, 94 RBI and 58 walks. Darnell was hit by a pitch 40 times, which lists fourth in school history. He became the 39th player in program history to reach the 100-hit club after connecting on a two-run single in the first inning of the second game in a twinbill against Calvin on April 12.
Following the 2019 college season, Darnell played for the Rockford Rivets of the Northwoods Summer Collegiate Baseball League. In seven games (one start), Darnell went 0-1 with two saves and a 2.64 ERA. In 17 innings, Darnell allowed five runs on 13 hits and nine walks while striking out 19 batters.
Darnell didn't expect to be playing pro baseball this summer, but this surprise opportunity with the RailCats made it an easy decision for him to suspend his "9 to 5" job in the business sector.
"I finished up my time pitching in Rockford in mid-July, content with my performance and development. The only problem was that I didn't hear anything from any teams, and I started working full-time on July 22 in Chicago where I committed to my employer back in February," he explains. "So I was pretty emotional, thinking that I was hanging up my cleats. I actually moved into Chicago and started work, it was my second day in the office when I got the call from the RailCats. I immediately went to have a conversation with my boss and resigned my position. I packed my stuff up and got on a train and two bus rides later to make it to Gary in time for their first road trip after the league all-star game.
"Words can't describe how motivated and excited I am to be here, and needless to say I will be leaving everything I have on the mound each and every time I step out there."
AdrianBulldogs #GoDawgs #GDTBAB #BulldogProud
(Editor's note: Jared Shlensky of railcatsbaseball.com contributed to this news release.)