by Jim Holland
Hard hitting third baseman Dan Ward, whose hitting prowess has destroyed Prospect League pitching over the past two summers as a member of the West Virginia Miners, has signed a contract to return in 2017 for a third straight season with the team. His signing was announced by the team on January 24 in the third of many individual contract signings expected to be periodically unveiled by the Beckley, WV based team over the next several months.
Ward, a native of the Cleveland, OH area, has finished among the Prospect League’s top four hitters in each of the past two seasons, notching batting averages of .374 in 2015 and .343 in 2016. To date, he has appeared in 82 regular season Prospect League games with a career batting average of .358 (113-for-316) to go along with 60 runs scored and 29 extra base hits. Despite carrying a large 6-4, 225 lb frame, Ward has shown success on the basepaths by swiping 22 bases over the last two years for a successful stolen base percentage of .880.
The 2016 season was especially memorable for Ward as he finished second in the Prospect League’s home run derby at the league’s mid-season All-Star Game in Kokomo, IN. He then really turned it up a notch with the commencement of the 2016 postseason playoffs by leading all league postseason players in batting average with a .529 mark while also topping the league postseason offensive categories of hits, doubles, RBI, and stolen bases. These numbers posted by Ward played an integral part in the 2016 Prospect League Championship being captured by the West Virginia Miners.
Ward this spring will be playing his final year of collegiate baseball as a senior at Tennessee Wesleyan University. He also played college baseball previously at Ohio University and Eastern New Mexico University. He was drafted in the 47th round of the 2010 Major League Baseball amateur draft by the Texas Rangers organization but did not sign.
The Prospect League is the premier collegiate wood bat summer baseball league in the Midwest. It has been operating in its current form since 2009 while serving the summer baseball needs of top collegiate players. The 2016 Prospect League title won by the Miners was the team’s third league championship in the last five seasons. Season-long box seats and other ticket packages for the West Virginia Miners are already on sale for the 2017 Prospect League season, which begins on May 30 while the Miners home opener will be on June 1 versus the Butler (PA) Blue Sox. Persons needing more information on the Miners can contact the team either by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 304-252-7233.