First-round pick: Cliff Pennington
With the 21st overall pick in the 2005 draft the Oakland Athletics select Cliff Pennington from Texas A&M University in College Station. After three successful seasons with the Aggies, Penning decided to forego his senior year and enter the MLB draft. He concluded his career at Texas A&M batting .345 with 115 RBIs and an OBP of .416. Defensively, Pennington added 223 putouts and an astonishing fielding percentage of .921.
Following his freshman year with the Aggies, Pennington traveled to Harrisonburg to play for the Turks in the Valley Baseball League. When asked about his experience in Harrisonburg, Pennington stated, “I had a lot of fun and I enjoyed playing baseball in the Valley League because the quality of play was really competitive. It was great getting to meet new guys and play ball in front of such good size crowds.” Pennington also said that Coach Wease and the rest of the Turks organization helped him feel right mentioned that Coach Wease and the rest of the Turks organization helped him feel right at home. He still keeps in contact with some of his teammates from that summer.
While playing for the Turks, Penning batted .255 with 9 RBI’s and 13 stolen bases in only 37 games he started. Although he was plagued by injury for part of the season Pennington was still selected to play in the 2003 VBL All-Star Game in which he recalled, “that was my fondest memory while playing for the Turks.”
The summer after his sophomore year Cliff headed to Mashpee, MA to play for the Falmouth Commodores in the celebrated Cape Cod League. The Commodores went winless the first 5 games of the season and oddly enough Pennington was not yet in Mashpee since he was still participating in the NCAA Tournament with Texas A&M. With Pennington in their arsenal the Commodores turned their act around and went on a 5 game winning streak. Eventually Cliff led the Commodores to their first playoff appearance in 7 years.
Pennington batted .277 for the Commodores with 20 RBI’s and led the league with 21 stolen bases in 39 games. Because of his excellent play on the offensive and defensive sides of he ball Pennington was awarded the Manny Robello 10th Player Award. This award goes to the player who is most often thought of as a “five tool player” meaning they excel in hitting for average, hitting for power, they have great speed, good defense and a strong throwing arm. Cliff was only the 2nd Commodore to win the coveted award.
Immediately after being drafted Pennington was sent to the Class A Kane County Cougars in Geneva, Illinois where he batted .276 with 29 RBI’s 25 stolen bases and even notched 3 home runs. Before the season ended Cliff was moved to Advanced A-Ball where he finished out the remainder of the season in Stockton, California playing for the Stockton Ports.
Cliff expects to start out the 2006 season with the Ports in Stockton again, but hopes to quickly move up to the Double A affiliate Midland Rockhounds in Midland, TX.
The Harrisonburg Turks would like to wish Cliff the best of luck with his professional baseball endeavors. All of his fans in Harrisonburg will certainly be waiting and watching!