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Former Commodore Kevin Ziomek Retires From Baseball

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Injury ends prospect’s career early

Detroit Tigers Photo Day Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

A little over a week ago, former Commodore Pitcher Kevin Ziomek announced his retirement from professional baseball. Ziomek was named a Tigers prospect of the year in 2015 by MLB pipeline, and was invited to the MLB spring training in 2016. After a great debut in the mid-A in 2014, the Tigers had assigned Ziomek to their AA team for the start of the 2015 season. Unfortunately, Ziomek was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS); in hopes of it healing on its own, Ziomek was reassigned to their high-A club for the 2015 season. By June of 2016, it was clear that the situation was not getting better and Ziomek opted for surgery to attempt to correct the problem.

This past Spring Training, Ziomek realized that his career in baseball was coming to an end. Ziomek commented in an interview:

“I felt like I had done everything I could to put myself in position to succeed and unfortunately the arm didn’t want to cooperate,” Ziomek said in a phone interview from his Nashville, Tennessee, home on Tuesday. “My body was running out of gas and I could just tell it wasn’t there all of spring training. Just didn’t feel right. Didn’t have anything on the ball. Didn’t have that zip I used to have. I felt like I had exhausted every possibility I could, every option to improve it.”

I encourage you to read the full commentary and interview with Ziomek at the link above. It really shows the kind of character we have come to expect from our Vanderbilt family. Like many Vanderbilt pitchers, Ziomek turned down a major league contract out of high school to pursue an education. In the interview above Ziomek realized the need for a plan for life outside of baseball.

Ziomek played three seasons with us in Nashville, and in his 2013 season, notched a 2.12 ERA over 119 IP. That’s an ERA only beaten by Carson Fulmer by regular Commodores starters* over the last 10 seasons. Likewise, I calculate his WHIP for that season to be 1.000. Over the last ten years, only Vandy starters Patrick Raby (‘16, 0.928), David Price (‘07, 0.947), and John Kilichowski (‘15, 0.997) have managed lower. His strikeout numbers of that year (115) weren’t as impressive as Fulmer’s or Price’s, but Ziomek was undoubtedly one of the best pitchers to come through our program.

We wish Ziomek the best in his future endeavors. Like many former Commodores, Ziomek calls the Nashville area home and makes regular visits to campus. No matter what he chooses to do from here, we’ll always consider him a part of the Vanderbilt family.

* The top ~4 pitchers in GS for each season