A Miner no more.
After three years in the Southern Illinois organization, left-hander Rick Teasley has signed with the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League for the upcoming 2017 season.
Since making his first appearance as a Miner in 2014, Teasley has acquired a 3.52 ERA over 365.1 innings.
His numbers in the Frontier League speak volumes as the Florida native led the league in wins in 2014 and boasted an impressive 2015, going 9-4 with a 2.77 ERA.
Among his many accomplishments in Southern Illinois, none quite stand as tall as throwing the first no-hitter in Miners history.
"I'd say the highlight of my career was my first no hitter. To be able to accomplish that at a professional level was a huge accomplishment. Also, as a team, we put together three 60-win seasons in a row. In 96-game seasons, that's almost unheard of. I loved my time in Southern Illinois," Teasley said.
Between seasons with the Miners, Teasley made a name for himself in the Australian Baseball League. The left-hander was 7-4 with a 3.01 ERA over 14 starts with the Bandits last season, earning himself a spot on the ABL World All-Star team and an ABL Championship ring.
While splitting time between the starting rotation and the bullpen this season, Teasley sits at 2-3. The announcement of his signing comes off of one of his most impressive outings this season. Teasley dealt nine strikeouts over 5.1 scoreless innings in Game 2 on New Years Eve against the Adelaide Bite; an outing preparing him all too well for what is to come.
The Atlantic League is regarded as the highest level of independent professional baseball. That being said, Teasley joins a league known for progressing athletes to the next level. According to the Atlantic League, over 800 players have signed contracts with big league organizations and over 100 players have been transferred to Major League Baseball.
"I was definitely hoping for an opportunity to play in the Atlantic League, just based off the amount of signings that happen and the amount of ex-big leaguers, AA and AAA experience within the league. If you can get those guys out, it shows that you can compete with the best in baseball. At this point in my career, it's something I had to take advantage of," Teasley said.
Not only is Teasley joining a successful league, the left-hander joins a Patriots team that is debatably the most successful of all eight organizations.
Somerset finished with the best regular season record in 2016 and made their fourth consecutive trip to the playoffs. With the 19th season of the league ensuing, the Patriots lead the pack with the most Atlantic League titles (6).
Those who know Teasley can attest that his competitiveness flies off the charts. So, when he became a free agent, he knew it was vital to choose a team with a reputation for winning.
"Winning is the most important thing to me. When arguably the best team in the best non-affiliated league offers you a chance to come play for them, you have to make it happen. I spoke to Jon Hutton for a few days and I knew it was the right decision for me. I couldn't have asked for a better opportunity," Teasley said.
Teasley will see a friendly face on this roster this season, sharing a clubhouse with Canberra Cavalry's Scott Kelly. The infielder has suited up for the Patriots for the last three seasons.
"The baseball world is small. So almost everywhere you go, you end up running into somebody that you've either played with or played against at some point in your career. It's definitely cool I'll be joining him over there and hopefully I'll be able to talk with him when we go to Canberra in a few weeks," Teasley said.
Teasley and the Somerset Patriots open their season Friday, the 21st of April, against the Lancaster Barnstormers. But before April rolls around, the left-hander's focus stays in Brisbane, as the pitcher looks to lead the Bandits to their second straight ABL title.