Professional Highlights: Bobby Parnell struggled at times during his career at Charleston Southern, but the hard-throwing right-hander has enjoyed the most success of any CSU alum to reach the Major Leagues. Parnell is in the midst of his best season yet, recording 22 saves in his first season as the New York Mets’ closer. The 28-year old is 5-5 with a 2.16 ERA in 50.0 innings and has struck out 44 while allowing just 38 hits and 12 walks. Parnell’s fastball is routinely in the mid-90’s, and he has been clocked at 100 miles per hour on several occasions. He has taken a step forward in his career thanks to a knuckle-curveball he learned from 2012 Mets’ teammate Jason Isringhausen, a veteran closer and two-time MLB All-Star. Parnell has more than backed up the Mets’ decision to give him a $1.7 million deal following a breakout 2012 campaign in which he recorded a career-best 2.49 ERA while logging 68.2 innings as New York’s primary setup man.
CSU Highlights: Parnell’s best season as a Buc was his first. The Salisbury, North Carolina native pitched 77.0 innings while tallying 59 strikeouts and a 5.03 ERA. In all, Parnell struck out 163 batters in 189.2 innings at CSU. He struggled to an 8.66 ERA during his senior season of 2005 but the Mets saw enough of his raw ability to select him in the ninth round of that year’s draft. It’s a decision that certainly has paid off for the Mets.
Professional Highlights: Thornburg became the highest selected CSU player to be taken in the MLB Draft when the Milwaukee Brewers pegged him in the third round of the 2010 draft. The Houston native quickly rose up the Minor Leagues as well as the Brewers’ top prospect list, posting a 21-10 record and a 2.84 ERA over his first three seasons. That success earned him a promotion to the Major Leagues, where he made his debut as the Brewers’ starting pitcher on June 19, 2012 against the Toronto Blue Jays. Thornburg pitched in nine games and did not factor into a decision Milwaukee in 2012. He has been excellent during his 2013 stint with the Brewers, rebounding from a rough season in AAA. Thornburg is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 37.1 innings, and earned his first big league win on June 8 with two innings of scoreless relief against the Phillies. He also turned in back-to-back excellent starts against the Cubs and Giants in late July and early August, penning 6.0 shutout frames in each while striking out ten.
CSU Highlights: Thornburg showcased his electric fastball and developing secondary pitches en route to striking out 178 batters in 163.1 innings at CSU. The athletic right-hander scuffled a bit in 2008, posting a 7.04 ERA despite fanning 55 in 53.2 frames. He became more polished during his junior and senior seasons, compiling a 9-8 record, a 3.92 ERA and well more than a strikeout per inning. One of the highlights of his career came during his senior season of 2010, when he led the Bucs to a 6-3 win over #6 ranked Florida by authoring a complete game, 11-strikeout performance. Thornburg also cracked an RBI double in the win over the Gators. An outstanding hitter as well, Thornburg clubbed 24 home runs and drove in 91 runs as a Buc. His best season at the plate came in 2009, when he homered 12 times and tallied 49 RBI, setting team-highs in both categories.
Professional Highlights: The crowning moment of R.J. Swindle’s career has come on the international level. The Vancouver, Canada native has suited up for the Canadian National Team in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the 2012 World Baseball Classic Qualfier in Germany, and the 2013 World Baseball Classic here in the United States. Swindle has also enjoyed two stints in the Major Leagues, a three-game run with the eventual World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies in 2008 and a six-game stretch with the Milwaukee Brewers the following year. After starting his pro career in the Boston Red Sox organization, Swindle signed with the New York Yankees and found himself 20 minutes from the CSU campus pitching for the Low-A Charleston RiverDogs. Swindle posted one of the better seasons of his career with the RiverDogs, going 4-2 with two saves and a gaudy 0.61 ERA over 44.1 innings. Swindle wrapped up a nine-year career in 2012, pitching with the Memphis Redbirds, the St. Louis Cardinals’ AAA affiliate.
CSU Highlights: Swindle etched his name in the Charleston Southern record book thanks to a brilliant 2003 season. He set the still-standing single-season records for wins (10) and strikeouts (140) en route to finishing the year 10-5 with an impeccable 2.21 ERA. His 18 starts that season are also tied for the most made by any CSU pitcher. Furthermore, he capped off his illustrious collegiate career as the Bucs’ all-time leader in wins (24), while placing second in innings pitched (349.2) and games started (51).