Posted: Jun 04, 2020
FORT MYERS, Fla.- Today, we begin the first of a four part series, looking at the Teams of the Decade for the four Florida SouthWestern State programs respawned in 2016. Our first subject, the Buccaneers Baseball team. While the decade of the 2010s only included four seasons for the FSW Baseball team, there were plenty of highlights for the Bucs, including Suncoast Conference Championship and their first trip to the FCSAA State Tournament to close it out.
There is no way that the team, voted on by staff, media, and fans, could encompass all of the great players that have gone through the program in just a short time, but this is a fun, lighthearted way to help celebrate some of the best. Enjoy!
One of the toughest questions when putting the Bucs' first All-Decade Team together was who would take the ball on the mound in a one game situation. Two names with nearly identical career numbers stood out, Vince Vannelle, and Mitch Myers, who were teammates on the 2018 FSW squad. Vannelle edged out Myers in the poll as the Bucs' all-time leader in innings pitched, logging 159 in 33 appearances. He is second all-time in all three triple crown categories with a 2.60 ERA, 135 strikeouts, and 11 wins, while also ranking second in complete games with four. He was a 2nd Team All-Conference pick as a sophomore before signing and starring at the University of Arizona the past two seasons.
Who to hand the ball off to in the bullpen was another highly debated question. Joey Mugavero took the ball 37 times for the Bucs and had the lowest career ERA for any Buc at 2.54. Marc Davis posted a ridiculous 15.16 strikeouts per nine innings rate as a freshman in 2019 before being drafted by the Chicago Cubs, but worked as a starter for the Bucs this season. Our nod ultimately went to Ryan Gusto who only spent one season with FSW in 2019, but put together eye popping numbers in route to being named the FCSAA State Pitcher of the Year and an NJCAA All-American, before being the Bucs' highest MLB Draft Pick when he went in the 11th round to the Houston Astros last June. In nine appearances out of the Bucs' bullpen, Gusto posted a 0.38 ERA, allowing just one earned run in 23 1/3 innings. He struck out 37 as a reliever and walked just five closing out games for the Bucs.
Behind the plate there were a number of solid options for the Bucs. The nod went to 2019 Suncoast Conference Defensive Player of the Year Shamir Morales who was nothing short of spectacular anchoring the Bucs' defense. Morales fielded .994 in his only season in Fort Myers, making just two errors in 363 total chances. He gunned down a school record 16 potential basestealers in 43 attempts. He was solid with the bat as well, hitting .305 with 23 RBIs, clubbing six doubles and a pair of home runs.
There were a number of candidates for the spot at first base with the spot being somewhat of a rotating carousel for the Bucs in the early stages. The group settled on Connor Bagnieski, who hit .283 with 13 doubles and 45 RBIs for the Bucs in his career. He ranks 5th in both career doubles and RBIs at FSW while his 32 stolen bases are fourth most in program history.
J.D. Dutka finds his name at the top of a number of categories in the FSW record books and was an easy choice as the second baseman on the team. Dutka, a member of the Bucs inaugural team in 2016, finished his career as FSW's all-time hits (128), runs (73), and RBI (68) leader, while also holding the highest batting average in program history at .332. He was a two time All-Suncoast Conference selection and was FSW's first All-State pick, earning a second team nod in 2017.
Dutka's double play partner up the middle on the team is Warnner Rincones. Rincones was a solid two year player for the Bucs, hitting over .300 in both of his seasons in Fort Myers. He finished his FSW career with a .313 batting average which is 6th best in program history while his 45 RBIs rank fifth and 40 stolen bases are second most. In 2019 he became the Bucs' first 1st Team All-Conference shortstop and just the second 1st Team All-Conference infielder, joining Dutka who earned the award in 2017.
A number of names were in the mix at third base, but Jett Swetland rose to the top to hold down the spot at the hot corner. Swetland had a big sophomore season for the Bucs in 2017, hitting .333 with 16 extra base hits and 31 RBIs to earn 2nd Team All-Conference honors. He wrapped up his Buccaneer career hitting .296 with 14 doubles, which ranks fourth in program history, and 53 RBIs which is second most.
Another crowded list of finalists were whittled down to three spots in the outfield. Tommy Joseph, Victor Florentino, and Sam Freitas earn their way into our All-Decade Team lineup after solid careers with the Bucs.
Joseph had a good freshman season in 2019 before exploding onto the scene this year. In the Bucs' Covid shortened season, he was hitting .385 with 25 RBIs in 25 games, wrapping up his two seasons at FSW with the highest batting average of any player at .343 while his 53 RBIs rank second.
Florentino played in 90 career games at FSW, ending his career with a .307 average, 25 extra base hits, and 52 RBIs. His 52 RBIs are third most in FSW history while his 16 doubles rank second.
Freitas played all over the diamond during his time with the Bucs, including the outfield, earning him a spot on the squad. Freitas put together a .292 career average for the Bucs, including a .318 mark as a sophomore in 2018. He clubbed 19 extra base hits as a sophomore and 25 for his career, driving in 47 runs which ranks fifth in program history. After his time at FSW, Freitas went on to win a National Championship while playing at the University of Tampa.
Stay tune to FSWBucs.com and to @FSWBucs on social media as we continue our Teams of the Decade series later this week.