"I am ecstatic for Gabe, Cade and Joey," head coach Chris Bando said about his players being drafted. "I can remember like it was yesterday when I signed them and when I signed to start my professional career. It will be an even bigger thrill when they play their first professional game and their legs will shake.
"All three have what it takes to be solid Major League players and they all have worked extremely hard for this opportunity, and we are all excited to follow their careers. It's all about the players."
Hemmer was selected in the 24th round and 730th overall by the Detroit Tigers. Hemmer finished with a record of 13-4 in 127 innings pitched and a 3.47 ERA. He struck out a team-high 127 batters and held opponents to a .258 batting average. Hemmer ranks first in the NAIA in wins and innings pitched. He also ranks fifth in strikeouts and 16th in innings pitched per game.
Next was Gotta as he was taken in the 26th round and 787th overall by the Tampa Bay Rays. Gotta hit team-high .408 avg., and led the team in hits (91), doubles (16), home runs (11), total bases (154), slugging percentage (.691), and steals (43). Gotta ranked second in the NAIA with runs scored per game (1.23), fourth in stolen bases, fifth in runs scored, and seventh in total hits.
And Aquino rounded out the draftees as he was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 35th round and was the 1,044th overall pick. Aquino led all starting pitchers in ERA with a solid 2.94 . He also finished with a 6-3 record and three saves. In the 67 innings pitched, Aquino struck out 50 batters and held the hitters to a .246 batting avg.
"It confirms our commitment to the players and the direction of our program," Bando said. "It is very difficult to recruit at a small Christian university. My promise to every student-athlete who attends SDC, is that if you have the talent to play professionally and work hard, we commit to disciple you spiritually, encourage you academically to graduate and develop you fundamentally for professional baseball. It is very exciting to see the fruition of this. All three talented players worked extremely hard, had phenomenal years on the field and they all grew spiritually in their walk with Christ.
"My prayer is that God will use them in professional baseball for a long time to be salt and light as they excel, and they finish their degrees in the off season. All three have been consummate team players and were leaders all year. The goal of leaders is to develop future leaders."
The Hawks reached the NAIA World Series for the first time ultimately being defeated in the two games they played. SDC lost to eventual NAIA National Champions Cumberland (Tenn.) University 10-1 in the opening game and lost a 6-4 decision to Georgia Gwinnett.
SDC finished with the most wins in the schools history with a record of 42-20.
Coach Bando, who was drafted in the 1978 MLB draft by the Cleveland Indians in the second round and 36th overall, lends his words of encouragement and advice to the draftees to keep the focus on God.
"My advice to them and every player has been hammered into them from day to bring God glory wherever He sends them after college. Control what you can control daily by having your ACE in place. Your Attitude must stay humble, positive, respectful and dependent on God whether you win or lose. Your Concentration must stay focused to keep your mind in the moment and be mentally prepared for a consistent approach, and your Effort needs to be 100 percent every day on the field, so take care of your body physically off the field. Secondly, always be a PRO. Pray, Read the Scriptures and Obey. So they need to be a PRO-ACE to be God's Hall of Fame players. I am confident they all will be. I am praying for them daily. They will represent God, our school, our program and their families well. We are all proud of their accomplishments."