Baseball season is in full swing. Let’s take a look at former Hokie players in the Minor Leagues. It’s possible that a couple of them could be considered for a Major League roster spot by the end of this season.
OF Austin Wates, Oklahoma City Redhawks: Wates was a third round pick of the Astros back in 2010, and he’s steadily climbed the minor league ladder. He hit the ball very well in Double-A last season, and then was promoted to Triple-A where he hit .306 before going down with an injury. This year, Wates is hitting .349 with a .446 OBP. He has more walks than strikeouts, and he’s stolen eight bases without being caught.
Right now, Wates is on the 7-day DL, but his minor league career suggests that he is a Major League caliber player. At the age of 25, he probably won’t improve much more in the minors. Wates is eligible for the Rule 5 draft at the end of the season, so if the Astros don’t place him on their 40-man roster by then, they risk losing him to another team.
Keep your eye on Wates. He could be the first Hokie to make his debut in the majors since Wyatt Toregas for the Indians back in 2009.
RP Ben Rowen, Round Rock Express: Rowen was a 22nd round pick of the Rangers in the 2010 MLB Draft. He steadily climbed the minor league ranks while putting up impressive numbers.
2010: 1.09 ERA in 21 appearances in Low A ball
2011: 1.98 ERA in 33 appearances in A ball
2012: 1.57 ERA in 38 appearances in Advanced A ball
2013: 0.69 ERA in 51 appearances in combined Double-A and Triple-A
Rowen is on the Rangers’ 40-man roster, though he ran into a snag in the offseason. He suffered through some bicep tendinitis and got off to a tough start in Triple-A this season. However, the submarine ball pitcher appears to be on his way back, as he’s allowed just one earned run in his last five appearances. His ERA currently sits at 4.76, but it’s steadily dropping.
Assuming Rowen remains on the 40-man roster and isn’t injured, he could be called up to the majors when rosters expand in September.
SP Jesse Hahn, San Antonio Missions: Hahn was traded by the Rays to the Padres in the offseason. He breezed through the lower levels of the minors before being traded. Here are his numbers:
2012: 2-2, 2.77 ERA in 14 starts in Low A ball
2013: 2-1, 2.15 ERA in 19 starts in High A ball
This year, Hahn is 1.1 with a 3.20 ERA. He has made seven appearances, with four starts. He is the #13 prospect in the Padres’ farm system. However, he is currently on the 7-day DL, and he must prove that he is durable enough to become a future starter in the majors.
RP Justin Wright, Springfield Cardinals: Wright was a 47th round pick of the Cardinals back in 2010 after serving as the ace of Virginia Tech’s pitching rotation. He breezed through the lower levels of the minors before being promoted to Double-A Springfield back in 2012.
However, he hit a wall in Springfield, posting a 4.45 ERA as a reliever in 2012. He followed that up with a 5.34 ERA in 2013. Thus far in 2014 he has been much better, posting an excellent ERA of 0.53 in 13 appearances, with a 0.706 Whip. Wright is still only 24, though his career appears to have stalled at the Double-A level for now.
3B Tim Smalling, Tulsa Drillers. Smalling was a 15th round selection by the Colorado Rockies in the 2011 MLB Draft. He advanced through the lower minors at the typical pace before moving up to Double-A Tulsa late last season.
In 16 games in 2014, Smalling is hitting .260 with a .345 OBP. Smalling is 26 years old, so at this point he will have to progress quickly if he hopes to ever make the majors.
RP Ronnie Shaban, Springfield Cardinals. Shaban shares the bullpen with former Tech teammate Justin Wright. He was a 33rd round pick of the Cardinals back in 2012, and he quickly progressed to Double-A after dominating the Advanced-A Florida State League last season.
However, Shaban has run into difficulty at a more advanced level of baseball. In 12 appearances this year, his ERA is a monstrous 11.12.
RP Matthew Price, Salem Red Sox: Price pitched well for Salem in 2013, posting a 6-0 record with a 2.41 ERA in 35 appearances. His minor league career was stalled in 2012 due to a suspension for substance abuse, as well as Tommy John surgery. He is injured yet again this season, and has yet to pitch in 2014. He was an 8th round pick of the Red Sox back in 2010.
Price was expected to begin the year with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs. However, he is still listed on the Salem Red Sox roster. His injury is undisclosed.
RP Patrick Scoggin, Lynchburg Hillcats: Scoggin was undrafted, but he left school early to take a free agent contract from the Braves. He pitched well in 2012 in the lower minors, and in 29 appearances (15 starts) for Single-A Rome last year he had a 3.34 ERA and a 7-4 record.
However, he has been roughed up in Advanced-A ball this year, posting an 8.74 ERA in seven games. He has not pitched since April 25, though he is not listed on the disabled list. He is currently listed on the roster for the Rookie level Danville Braves. Danville does not begin play until June, so it appears the Braves are contemplating Scoggin’s future.
SP Devin Burke, Modesto Nuts: Burke was undrafted last year, but he was picked up by the Colorado Rockies as a free agent. He pitched well in Rookie ball, and he began this season pitching in Single-A for the Asheville Tourists in the South Atlantic League. He pitched well there, and he has since been promoted to Advanced-A Modesto.
Through four games with Modesto, Burke has a 1-1 record with a 5.09 ERA.
SS Chad Pinder, Stockton Ports: Pinder was the 71st overall selection in the draft by the Oakland A’s last season. He is the #18 prospect in the A’s system, according to MLB.com. Pinder didn’t hit well in Low-A ball last summer, but he has come out scalding hot in Advanced-A ball this season:
He has put up big numbers in just 27 games. He will have to work on his walk/strikeout ratio (1 to 5 so far this year), which was also an issue for him at Virginia Tech.
Pinder has versatility as an infielder, which is very attractive to Major League teams. He can play shortstop, third base and second base, though if he ever wants to be a full-time starter in the majors it will probably have to come at second base. Pinder just turned 22 in late March, and if he continues to hit well throughout the season, the A’s could potentially give him a shot in Double-A late in the summer.
RP Joe Mantiply, West Michigan Whitecaps: Mantiply was a 27th round pick of the Detroit Tigers in 2013. He did well in Low-A ball last summer, posing a 2.04 ERA in 13 appearances. This year he is playing Single-A ball in the Midwest League, and he has posted a 0.68 ERA in 13 appearances. His Whip stands at 0.675.
If Mantiply continues to pitch at this level, he could find himself in Advanced-A ball before the season is over.
SP Eddie Campbell, Clinton LumberKings: Campbell was a 19th round pick of the Mariners in 2013, and pitched well for Pulaski in the Appalachian League last summer. He was promoted to Single-A ball this year. Through seven starts for Clinton, he is 2-1 with a 4.22 ERA. Campbell is struggling with walks, issuing 25 free passes in 32 innings pitched. Control is his major issue at this stage of his career.
OF Tyler Horan, Augusta Greenjackets: An 8th round pick of the Giants last June, Horan played Rookie ball and Low-A ball last summer, hitting .284 with 4 homers and 30 RBIs between both levels. This year, Horan is playing Single-A ball in the South Atlantic League.
In 35 games, Horan is hitting .320 with a .379 OBP. He has three homers and 18 RBIs.
RP Jake Joyce, Auburn Doubledays: Joyce was a 9th round pick of the Washington Nationals last June, and he spent the year in the New York-Penn League where he posted 5.04 ERA in 20 games. Right now he is slated to play in the New York-Penn League again this year. Play will begin in late June.
RP Colin O’Keefe, AZL Angels: O’Keefe was a 33rd round pick of the Angels last June. However, he was rocked in just seven appearances for the Arizona League Angles, and had an ERA of 18.56. He is currently slated to play for the AZL Angles again this season.