PaddleHeads all-around pitcher Matt Mogollon signs with Seattle Mariners organization | Legion Baseball

MISSOULA — Matt Mogollon, who helped introduce the Missoula PaddleHeads to a Pioneer League championship last summer and was set to return for the 2022 season later this month, made a welcome change of plans.

The 26-year-old Californian, who spent much of his time this offseason in Missoula, signed a contract with the Seattle Mariners organization. This is his second stint in affiliate baseball after making a few appearances in the Arizona Fall League in 2019.

Replacing a player like Mogollon will not be easy for PaddleHeads manager Michael Schlact. On the other hand, seeing players rise through the ranks validates everything Schlact does as an independent league skipper.

“It helps from a player (recruiting) perspective because when I call a player, that’s a big reason they want to come here,” Schlact told Missoulian and 406mtsports.com.

“For me, it also helps broaden the range of people I know in baseball. For the Mariners, it makes sense to look at how we’re doing. Some fans in their market have gotten to know these players and that could help grow their fan base.”

Leaving Missoula will be bittersweet for Mogollon, who played his college ball at Chapman University and California Baptist.

“I like it here,” he said. “I didn’t expect to come and play here, but 2021 has been my favorite season of my baseball career. I’ve been able to find the love I have for this game again.”

Mogollon was Mr. Versatility for the PaddleHeads last summer, working as a relief pitcher and starter. He appeared in more than a third of their matches (33).

Mogollon finished with 81 strikeouts in 75 ⅔ innings pitched, using his breaking ball to unbalance the batters. He was called up to appear as a starting pitcher midway through the 2021 season when Missoula’s pitching staff was shorthanded due to injury. He has made eight starts.

One of Mogollon’s most memorable performances came in the match that launched his team into the Pioneer League Championship Series. Starter Chris Burica and Matt Mogollon combined to hold the Idaho Falls Chukars scoreless for seven innings, setting the stage for the decisive playoff win.

Mogollon then pitched two shutout innings in Game 1 of the Pioneer League Championship Series, helping Missoula win against the Boise Hawks.

Mogollon joins a growing list of former PaddleHeads pitchers who signed contracts with Major League organizations during the offseason. Others include 2021 Pioneer League pitcher of the year Mark Simon (Vancouver Canadiens) and Palmer Wenzel (Ashville Tourists).

Bill Speltz is Missoulian’s sports editor and has been a Sunday columnist for the past 15 years. Do you have a story idea? Email Bill at [email protected]

Aubrey L. Morgan