FORMER CATCHER JOINS THE MIDWEST SLIDERS

Former Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islander catcher Stephen Flora has signed professionally with the Midwest Sliders ( Ypsilanti, Mich.) of the independent Frontier League.

"One of the big reasons guys like to play at the Division I level is open the doors for themselves as professionals," said Islander head coach Scott Malone. "We had kept our fingers crossed that a major league team would come calling after the draft, but that didn't happen. We were able to use our connections to help him catch on with an established league."

Flora was a two-year starter for the Islanders behind the plate. He hit .380 in his first season in the Coastal Bend earning Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year honors. As a senior, the right-handed backstop led the team with 41 runs scored and tied for the lead with 43 runs batted in. Flora was second on the team with a career-best nine home runs and third with a .309 batting average earning honorable mention All-Southland Conference honors. He entered the season on the Johnny Bench Award Watch list for the nation's top catchers.

A solid summer could help Flora take the next step.

"If he plays well in a respected league for the Sliders he may turn change some minds of the scouts," said Malone. "I think he will swing the wood bat well and play solid defense. If it doesn't work, he is on pace to graduate next year and has done a good job of covering all his bases. He is a mature young who is a great ambassador for our program. I am very excited he is getting this chance."