We’re a month into baseball season, and one former Virginia Tech player has established himself in a Major League rotation on the west coast. Also, several others are in the process of working their way up through the minor leagues.
Jesse Hahn, Oakland A’s: After going 7-4 with a 3.07 ERA in 14 games last season with the San Diego Padres, Hahn was traded to Oakland in the offseason. He is 1-2 with a 4.33 ERA through his first five starts. However, his WHIP stands at only 1.148 and he’s surrendered just one homer, so you can expect that ERA to drop.
Currently Hahn is Tech’s only player in the majors. Joe Saunders pitched the first part of the season with Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma. His contract stipulated that if he wasn’t promoted to the majors in the first month of the season, he was free to become a free agent. He exercised that option last week and is currently a free agent.
Austin Wates, New Orleans Zephyrs: Wates was traded from the Astros organization to the Marlins late last season. He’s hitting .269 with a .350 on base percentage. For his Triple-A career, Wates is hitting .286 with a .369 on base percentage. He’s stolen 42 bases and he’s been caught just once. However, Wates is 26 years old, which means his clock is ticking. He could potentially be an effective major league player who serves as a fifth outfielder and pinch hitter/runner, but he’s not getting the opportunity.
Tim Smalling, Albuquerque Isotopes: Smalling is a utility infielder and left fielder for the Isotopes. He was promoted to Triple-A last season. He’s hitting .256 with one homer and six RBIs so far this year. However, he is 27 years old and likely a career minor leaguer.
Joe Mantiply, Erie SeaWolves: Mantiply had a 2.70 ERA with the Detroit Tigers in Spring Training, though the southpaw reliever did not make the club. He’s gotten off to a tough start with a 5.19 ERA through seven appearances, though one individual outing (3 runs in one inning) did most of that damage to his ERA.
Justin Wright, Springfield Cardinals: Wright made it all the way to Triple-A last season, but he struggled with a 6.65 ERA in 16 appearances. He’s back in Double-A this year, where he posted a 1.50 ERA in 31 games before last year’s promotion. In 2015, he has a 3.38 ERA in 10 games. Wright has had a good career for a former 47th round pick.
Ben Rowen, Bowie Baysox: Rowen pitched in Triple-A in the Rangers organization last season, and even saw a brief stint in the majors. He had a 4.15 ERA in eight games. He was traded to Baltimore right before the season started. He currently has a 1.86 ERA in eight appearances for their Double-A affiliate in Bowie.
Ronnie Shaban, Springfield Cardinals: Shaban shares a bullpen with Justin Wright in Springfield. He has struggled this year, posting a 10.12 ERA in three games.
Chad Pinder, Midland RockHounds: Pinder plays in the Oakland organization. He’s hitting .234 with four homers and 14 RBIs so far this year. However, he’s improving his walk rate, which is a very good sign. He has 12 walks in 108 plate appearances this year, and he only had 22 walks in 436 plate appearances a year ago. Pinder is a possible future utility infielder on a Major League roster.
Devin Burke, New Britain Rock Cats: Despite not being drafted, former VT starting pitcher Devin Burke has advanced all the way to the Double-A level. He’s appeared in two games this year, and he has a 9.00 ERA in just one inning of work.
Eddie Campbell, Bakersville Blaze: Campbell is in the Seattle organization, though he hasn’t pitched this year due to an injury.
Tyler Horan, San Jose Giants: It’s surprising to see Horan back in Advanced A ball this year. Last season, he hit a combined .284 with 25 homers and 81 RBIs between Single-A and Advanced-A ball. He was even promoted to Double-A Richmond for the playoffs. The outfielder is hitting .205 with three homers and seven RBIs in 2015. However, Horan has been battling injuries, so his production will likely start going up soon, as he heals.
Mark Zagunis, Myrtle Beach Pelicans: Zagunis was a third round pick of the Cubs last June. After playing very well in Rookie Ball, Short Season A and Single-A last season, Zagunis begin this year in Advanced A at Myrtle Beach. He hasn’t disappointed, hitting .272 with a .400 on base percentage. He could potentially be in Double-A by the end of this season. Zagunis can catch or play corner outfield, though he’s spent all his time in the outfield this season. In 362 minor league plate appearances, Zagunis has more walks (60) than strikeouts (59). That’s a great sign for his future.
Short Season A
Brad Markey, Eugene Emeralds: Markey played at the Rookie and Short Season A levels last year. He had a 3.00 ERA in 13 games at the Short Season A level, so it’s a little bit surprising that he’s still at that level in 2015. His season will begin later this summer, after the MLB Draft.