Sierer turns it around, drafted by Indians

By Tim Stried, SID
June 6, 2000

What a difference a year makes.

Just ask Bluffton College senior Bob Sierer. One year ago he had just completed what had been an average-at-best third season with the BC baseball squad. Today he was drafted by the Cleveland Indians.

Improbable: yes. Impossible: not at all. With a fastball clocked in the low 90 mile per hour range, Sierer was always known as a hard thrower with impressive natural ability. What came to him during his senior season at BC, however, has landed him a professional baseball contract, and it had nothing to do with his right arm.

"It was more mental than anything," said Sierer on Tuesday evening, just hours after receiving that long-awaited phone call. "This year I was smarter and more confident in myself to go after hitters. I think I finally got used to the college game."

But the college game that Sierer is now a graduate of wasn't always friendly to the 6-1 right hander. In his first three seasons for the Beavers, Sierer put together a 5-10 record with a 7.50 ERA. Just as frequently as the strikeouts would go into the score book, so would the walks and wild pitches.

In Sierer's senior season, however, things were clearly different from the start. "I always had the physical tools, but this year I put it all together and told myself I was going to have a good senior year." And he came out with a bang as he pitched Bluffton's first ever no-hitter, that coming on March 10 over Kenyon College in Sarasota, Fla.

From there, Sierer never looked back, and although not every outing produced a win, he was a force to be reckoned with. In his first three seasons for BC, Sierer struck out 66 batters. He struck out 51 in his senior season alone. He ended the season with a 5-5 record and a 4.74 ERA and opponents hit just .247 against him.

Sierer's first contact with the Indians came on April 29 in Cincinnati as BC took on HCAC foe Mount St. Joseph. Cleveland scout Phil Gulley was there, originally planning on watching MSJ pitcher Mike McNutt. The Lions held on for a 4-3 win, but Sierer impressed Gulley, who clocked his fastball at 91 mph nearly the entire game.

Gulley scouted Sierer again at Hanover College on May 6 and then invited him to a private workout at Jacobs Field in Cleveland for other Indians scouts and General Manager John Hart. Sierer did so with 20 other prospects on June 3, and the results spoke for themselves.

"After I was done pitching, Bill told me I did a great job and that it looked pretty good for the draft and that they'd give me a call. I knew it sounded good but I didn't really know what to expect."

Day One of the 2000 MLB draft went through 20 rounds on Monday, with the final 30 rounds today. Sierer didn't have to wait long for the phone to ring, as the Indians selected him in the 38th round. "I got a phone call today at 4 p.m. from [Indians scout] Bill [Schudlich] that I had been drafted by the Indians. I just kind of sat there in silence there for a second. I was in shock. I thought I had a good chance of getting drafted, but I didn't really know how it would feel. It was awesome."

Sierer will report to the Indians spring training facility in Winterhaven, Fla., on Sunday for a seven day workout period before being designated for assignment, which could either take him to the Rookie League in Burlington, N.C., or to Single A Mahoning Valley in Niles, Ohio, near Akron.

Sierer said that Schudlich will meet with him on Thursday to sign a contract, which includes a guaranteed signing bonus.

"I've always dreamed about getting drafted, but I never dreamed it would happen," said Sierer, who is now looking ahead to getting back on the mound. "I definitely need to add some more weight to my frame," he said. "I also need to get better with my mechanics."

"This year was the first year I could ever throw a change up for a strike," said Sierer looking back over his senior season. "And by the end of the season my split finger fastball was my strike out pitch. I also got a lot better with my curve ball and I added a side-arm fastball."

And hopefully that repertoire of pitches will take Sierer up through the minors and join the Indians, who have won the last five American League Central Division championships in a row. Sierer displayed that kind of success while in high school, as he was a first team All-Northwest Conference selection as a junior and a senior as he helped lead Paulding to a share of the NWC title both years. He was also a Defiance Six-County All-Star both years and won the Paulding batting average award his senior year.

The son of Ronald and Diane Sierer of Paulding, Bob has one more semester of classes to finish up to earn a degree in sport management from Bluffton College. If he remains in Single A or the Rookie League this summer, Bob said those seasons end around Labor Day and he would plan to complete his course work in fall 2000.

And returning with him will be a few stories from the summer of 2000 that his BC teammates will undoubtedly love to hear. However, it will be hard to top the story that he's already written.