By Daniel Whitehead
BUENA VISTA, Va.—Former Southern Virginia University baseball scholar-athlete Tyler Cox became the first graduate of the program to sign a professional baseball contract as he was invited to spring camp for the Santa Fe Fuego based in Santa Fe, N.M.
The Fuego compete in the Pecos League, an independent professional baseball league formed in 2010 which operates in desert mountain regions throughout New Mexico, Arizona, west Texas and southern Colorado. The league has promoted 147 players to higher independent and affiliated teams since the 2010 season. Member teams play a schedule that ranges from mid-May to late July.
Cox, a Forest, Miss., native, received a personal invitation to the team's spring camp and will go through the May 5-12 training to secure a spot on the roster. Two other Pecos League teams will be present to evaluate prospects. In March, Cox participated in a two-week evaluation camp in Florida to increase his opportunities of getting picked up by a professional organization.
"Tyler's been one of our best players the last four years," said Southern Virginia head baseball coach Logan Mann. "He's as good of a character kid as they come. He's worked hard to stay focused and dedicated to earn this opportunity. It's great to see someone with his character and work ethic to get an opportunity to play beyond college."
Two current players of the Southern Virginia baseball program, pitchers Colin Bigelow and Chris Madison, have signed to play with the Petersburg Generals (Petersburg, Va.) of the Coastal Plains Summer League, widely regarded as one of the top summer collegiate wooden bat leagues in the country.
"I'm excited to have the opportunity to be playing baseball every day this summer with NCAA Division I to III players from all over the country," Bigelow said. "I hope to gain more control of my fastball, and to develop my off-speed pitches for strikes. I hope to be able to give the team a good chance to win games and get to know new players and coaches. I'm also excited to get the chance to play with my current teammate, Chris Madison, and to travel up and down the coast."
Madison is also excited for the opportunity.
"I'll be throwing against very tough competition, but it will be a great opportunity to grow as a baseball player and as a person while representing my university," Madison said. "I hope to further develop my pitching ability and learn more about the game so that I can bring it back to Southern Virginia with me for my last year."
Bigelow and Madison joining a summer league marks the second consecutive season in which a Knight has joined such a program. Last summer, Tyler King pitched for the local Rockbridge Rapids of the Valley League.
"Two years in a row we've placed guys in summer collegiate wooden bat leagues," Mann said. "It shows that we're bringing in kids who will help us compete at a higher level. This is a great chance for them to grow and develop and gain more experience once our season is over."