NEWBERRY — Pitcher Zack Kelly and catcher Jeff Sneed have signed professional contracts to further their baseball careers.
Kelly was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Oakland Athletics and assigned to the club’s rookie affiliate in the Arizona League. Kelly has already pitched in a game for the AZL Athletics, pitching two hitless innings of an 8-5 come-from-behind victory.
Two fifth-inning errors and a wild pitch put runners on the corners with nobody out, but Kelly got a double play and a flyout to limit the damage to a single run. He walked the leadoff man in the sixth but retired the next three in order, including a called third strike, to end the frame. Former Clemson pitcher Pat Krall earned the win on the mound in the contest.
Kelly was named to the all-South Atlantic Conference first team by going 7-3 with a save in 13 appearances this season, 12 of them starts. He racked up 94 strikeouts, good for third in the league, against just 29 walks. Newberry’s Friday night starter, Kelly recorded nine or more strikeouts on six occasions, worked a team-high 82.1 innings, and had an opponents’ batting average of .259.
His best start came in his final appearance at the Smith Road Complex, a dominant complete-game, six-hit shutout win over Lenoir-Rhyne that saw him throw 124 pitches and outduel SAC Pitcher of the Year Thomas St. Clair. He struck out 13 batters in just six innings at Mars Hill on March 24.
Sneed was signed by the Gary SouthShore RailCats of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. The RailCats are located in Gary, Indiana and are one of 12 teams playing in three divisions across nine states and a Canadian province.
Sneed has yet to appear in a game for the RailCats, who are embarking on a six-game road trip before returning to Gary on July 3.
The two-time Academic All-American started 48 games at catcher for the Wolves, recording a .331 batting average and collecting 37 RBIs. He recorded 13 multi-hit games and caught 14 runners stealing for a .517 stolen base percentage against him. He caught 45 runners stealing in three years with Newberry, tops in program history since the turn of the century.
Sneed was named the South Atlantic Conference’s Gold Glove recipient at catcher, an honor bestowed to the top defensive player at each position by the league’s head coaches. He was also named to the all-tournament team from the 2017 Pilot/Flying J SAC Baseball Championship. He was the SAC Scholar-Athlete for baseball last season.