RHP Clayton Shunick Is Excited To Be Back For 2007
Returning Cardinals Pitcher Represented Orleans In Last Year's All-Star Game
June 27, 2007
By: Brett Brecheisen - Orleans Cardinals Intern
The 2007 Orleans Cardinals have a completely new look. Each summer there are many players that come and go. It’s not very common for a player to make his way back to Orleans for more than one season. In fact, only two Cardinals from the 2006 squad have returned for this summer.
One of those returning players is pitcher Clayton Shunick. Originally a temporary player last year, Shunick made sure his presence was felt as he was one of four players who represented the Orleans Cardinals in the All-Star Game hosted by Yarmouth-Dennis.
Whereas a lot of players get recruited to play in the Cape Cod League, Shunick was quite the opposite. Playing his freshman year at Georgia State, a small Division 1 school in Atlanta that does not have a lot of baseball history, he felt like no one really knew about him.
“I went to the league tryout and Cardinals General Manager Sue Horton was generous enough to offer me a temporary contract here. I took it and did pretty good. I ended up getting a permanent contract and made the All-Star team,” Shunick said about his trip from unknown to All-Star.
The season that Clayton had last summer not only earned him a trip to the All-Star Game but it landed him with a better baseball program, as well. While he was on the Cape during the summer he was given an attractive transfer offer from North Carolina State, which plays in the highly regarded Atlantic Coast Conference.
“Georgia State had its ups and downs. After awhile I just kind of decided that I needed to move on to a better program. We were losing games and I felt like I was pitching well but didn’t have support and I just felt like I needed to go somewhere a little bit better,” he said.
At NC State, Shunick was able to compete against some of the best talent in the country in a full college season. Pitching for the Wolfpack, he was tied for the team lead in wins, was third on the team in strikeouts, and second in fewest home runs allowed. The right-handed sophomore posted a 6-3 record with a 6.15 ERA.
His 2006 success with the Cardinals, however, built Shunick’s confidence and put away any doubts about whether he was good enough to pitch at a higher level.
“I felt like I really was able to control my fastball really good and mix speeds last summer. It was kind of re-assuring that I could pitch against any kind of competition,” he said.
Clayton grew up in Alpharetta, GA, a suburb of Atlanta. Playing at Chattahoochee HS, he accomplished pretty much everything any high school baseball player would want. After sitting out his junior year because of elbow trouble, Shunick went on to win the Georgia 5A Pitcher of the Year Award while he led his school to the 5A State Baseball Championship. Shunick threw the second game of the three-game championship series and led his team to victory in what was a must-win.
In addition to being an outstanding baseball player, Clayton, has several other interests as well. Some of his favorite hobbies include going out to the lake back home, playing golf, and hanging out with his friends. He is also very close to his family, particularly his 17-year-old sister, Brittany.
“She plays volleyball so if I’m ever home I try and make it to her games because she supported me a lot all throughout my baseball career so I feel like I should go out there and support her, too,” he said.
Shunick is certainly excited to be back for his second season in a Cardinals uniform and the coaching staff is thrilled to have him back, as well.
“Clayton is a kid of good character and a hard worker and we’re going to look to him to be a leader of this staff as a returning guy,” Field Manager Kelly Nicholson said. “He is going to continue to get better when he locates his fastball, changes speed, and gets that slider going,” he added.
That fastball and slider is what is keeping hitters from figuring out Shunick. The right-hander has started two games in the early 2007 season for Orleans and has posted a remarkable 2.89 ERA. His last start came on June 25 at Wareham where he threw five innings and only allowed one unearned run. Shunick was the winning pitcher, evening his record at 1-1.
Clayton is also extremely happy with the places he has chosen to play for the remainder of his college career, Orleans and Raleigh.
“The fans are the best part of baseball in Orleans. You get some of the best crowds in the league. It’s really nice to see a lot of people out here supporting the Cardinals. The atmosphere in Raleigh is also really great. I’ve really grown to love the city,” he said.
Shunick will continue to seek his second Cape League All-Star Game appearance when he takes the hill next week. He is scheduled to make his next start on Tuesday, July 3 when the Cardinals travel again to Wareham.