UVA Baseball Alumni In The Pros

The emergence of UVA baseball as a national power has led to a huge increase in UVA alumni in the pros. - Kyle Laferriere-US PRESSWIRE

With the MLB season opening this week, it's time for our first update on the former Hoos in pro baseball. On opening day, there were 5 Hoos on major league rosters. That may change during the season as a few guys are close to being major league ready. From time to time during the season, we'll post updates to see how the guys are performing.

UVA Baseball Alumni in the Pros

When I was a student, the only UVA baseball alumnus in the pros was Seth Greisinger. However, over the past decade or so, with the emergence of the Hoos as baseball powerhouse, the number of Hoos in the pros has skyrocketed. This can make it difficult to keep track. So with the MLB season getting under way, let's take a look at all of the Hoos currently playing pro ball, and where they are.

We're going to start with the guys who are in the majors, because they are the most visible. These guys are listed in order of major league service time. (Links point to each guy's baseball-reference.com page.)

Javier Lopez, LHP, San Francisco Giants - Now in his 12th year in the majors, Lopez has been a mainstay on the Giants roster for the past 4 years. He was 4-2 with a 1.83 ERA in 39.1 innings pitched last year. In his first outing this year, he faced two batters giving up one hit and retiring one. Over the past few years, he's been used mostly as a LOOGY (lefty one-out guy, or left-handed relief specialist). Lefties pretty much do not hit him, as they collectively batted .196 against him last year with nearly 1/3 of their plate appearances ending in strikeouts.

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington Nationals - Entering his 10th year with the Nats, Zimm is still one of the top 3Bs in the majors. At least offensively. Some fans would prefer to see Zimm move to 1B, letting young prospect Anthony Rendon take over at 3B. (For now, Rendon is playing 2B.) Zimm is signed through 2020 with $74 million owed to him (2020 is a team option at $18M, with a $2M buyout). Ryan is just 29 years old, so he figures to be worth every dollar of that contract. He was roughly the 30th most valuable player in the national league last year.

Mark Reynolds, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers - Reynolds has pretty much been relegated to pinch hitting duty these days. He had a few big years from 2008-2011, hitting over 30 HRs 3 times including 44 in 2009 with the Diamondbacks. The problem is, he simply strikes out too much to keep his batting average up high enough to be useful. As a pinch hitter, he's capable of turning a game around late with one swing, so there's value there. Last year, he hit 21 HRs and batted .220 with a 699 OPS. The HRs are nice, but a sub-700 OPS is pretty bad for a first baseman. Especially one who isn't a very good fielder. Mark made $6 million last year and signed 1 year, $2 million deal for this season.

Sean Doolittle, LHP, Oakland Athletics - Doolittle has become one of the top left handed relief pitchers in all of baseball over the past two years. He has a 3.90 ERA in 116.1 innings and 120 Ks over that time span. He's one of the primary setup men for the A's and finished 9th in the majors in Holds last season. Twitter: @whatwouldDOOdo

Brandon Guyer, OF, Tampa Bay Rays - Guyer started the season with the Rays, but isn't likely to spent the entire season in the majors. In parts of 2 season, Guyer has batted .188 with a 600 OPS. He has 3 HRs and 4 RBI in 50 plate appearances. He came in as a pinch runner in the season opener after starting LF David DeJesus injured his foot and scored a run. Guyer has been a decent fielder, albeit in a small sample size.
Twitter: @BrandonGuyer

That's it for the guys currently in the majors. Now we'll take a look at the guys in the minors. Some of these guys are likely to spend some time in the majors this season, others are still working their way up. A few are just toiling in the minors with little hope of ever playing in the majors. We'll look at these guys in alphabetical order.

David Adams, 2B, Baltimore Orioles - Adams started 38 times last year for the Yankees and in 43 total games, batted .193 with a 537 OPS. He hit 2 HRs and 5 doubles, but also struck out 43 times. He spent most of spring training with the Indians, but was released and picked up on waivers by the Orioles. He's hit throughout his time in the minors, including in AAA last year (.268, 771 OPS, 5 HR in just 59 games. He's also a solid defensive 2B, and he's just 26 years old, so there is still time for him develop into a starter. He'll likely spend some time in the majors this year as a utility infielder for the Orioles. He's starting the season with the Norfolk Tides.

Stephen Bruno, 2B, Chicago Cubs - Bruno is entering his 3rd year in the pros, after tearing up High-A ball last year. He's 22, which is on the older side for the level, but he batted .362 with a 914 OPS in just 19 games before Tommy John surgery ended his season. Those are outstanding numbers, even for the notoriously hitter-friendly Florida State League. He's supposedly healthy now and is going to start the season in AA with the Tennessee Smokies.
Twitter: @UvaBruno11

Andrew Carraway, LHP, Seattle Mariners - Carraway is 27 years old and is entering his 6th year in the pros. He's spent some time in AAA in each of the past two seasons, but his numbers there aren't great. In the lower minors, he put up some solid numbers. He'll begin this season in AAA and look to improve those numbers. The Mariners aren't particularly deep in the rotation, so he could force his way up to the majors with a good start to the season. His most likely promotion will come in the bullpen as a long reliever.

Kyle Crockett, LHP, Cleveland Indians - Crockett pitched in 21 games over 3 levels (Low-A, High-A and AA) last year and compiled a 0.36 ERA in 24.2 innings with 32 Ks. In 9 games in AA, over 10.1 innings, he did not give up a run. Crockett will start the season back in AA (Akron), but a promotion to AAA may come soon. A ticket to the big leagues could come this season as well, if Crockett continues to cruise the way he has. Left-handed relief pitchers are a valuable commodity.
Twitter: @CrockPott3

Jeremy Farrell, 3B, Chicago White Sox - Farrell made it to AAA in 2012 for 8 games, but then was released by the Pirates. He was signed by the White Sox and spent last season in High-A ball. He has some pop , but hasn't hit very much above A-ball. He is a very good defensive 3B, though at 27 years old, his chances of reaching the majors are low. He's projected to start this season in AA Birmingham. 
Twitter: @Jeremy_Farrell

Phil Gosselin, 2B, Atlanta Braves - Gosselin actually saw some time in the majors last season, playing in 4 games and going 2-6 at the plate with a BB and 2 Ks. Pretty impressive considering he began the season in AA. Gosselin hasn't shown much pop, but he's a good contact hitter with patience. He's also a good fielder at 2B and can play 3B and OF as well. He was dropped from the Braves 40-man roster during the offseason, but he hit well in spring training (879 OPS in 20 games) and will likely find himself back in the big leagues at some point this season.

Reed Gragnani, 2B, Boston Red Sox - The Red Sox must really like Gragnani because they drafted him twice. Once before college in 2009 (27th round) and then last year in the 21st round. He started his career last year in the short-season New York Penn League and hit well (827 OPS). He moved up to the Sally League and did not hit very well (671 OPS). He's an outstanding fielder who could play 2B, 3B or even SS in a pinch. He's 22, and he's getting bumped up to High-A ball (Salem) to start the season.
Twitter: @ReedGrags

Dan Grovatt, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates - In 4 years of minor league ball, Grovatt has advanced only to High-A ball. He hasn't hit very much yet, although he did pop 9 HRs in 2012. The Pirates released him during the offseason and I don't know if he's been picked up by anybody else.  (Editor's note: There's a rumor that Grovatt has hung 'em up.)

John Hicks, C, Seattle Mariners - Hicks played 80 games in AA last year, and batted .236 with 4 HRs and 632 OPS. He didn't hit all that well, but he impressed with his athleticism and ability behind the plate. He stole 13 bases, a lot for a catcher. The Mariners seem happy with him, but obviously would like to see him hit a bit more. He'll start the season back in AA Jackson, but AAA this year isn't out of question.
Twitter: @JohnHicks08

Danny Hultzen, LHP, Seattle Mariners - if you're reading this, there's a decent chance you already know that Hultzen was the 2nd overall pick by the Mariners in the 2011 draft. He was being fast tracked to the majors by the Mariners, who had dreams of a dominant lefty starter to pair with Felix Hernandez. But Hultzen was first shut-down after 6 starts last year, and then after a rehab start in September, was shut down again. On October 1st, he had surgery on his elbow and will miss the entire 2014 season.

Branden Kline, RHP, Baltimore Orioles - Kline got hurt early in his first full season and missed the rest of the year. He pitched in the Arizona Fall League, although not very well. He will start this season in High-A Frederick and hope to rebuild his arm strength. The Orioles like his makeup but he'll need to get back to where he was as a power pitcher.
Twitter: @BrandenKline16

Jeff Lorick, LHP, Chicago Cubs - Entering his 6th season of pro ball, and still toiling in High-A ball, Lorick is likely nearing the end of his baseball career. There aren't too many 26 year olds in the Florida State League, and even fewer that will ever advance to the majors. He'll likely be back in Daytona.

Greg Miclat, SS, St. Louis Cardinals - The Cardinals selected Miclat in the AAA portion of the Rule V draft. If you don't know what that means, don't worry, nobody else does either. Basically, because the Texas Rangers didn't have Miclat on their AAA roster, it meant that another team could buy him for $12,000. The Cardinals did that, and they've assigned Miclat to AA Springfield to start the season. They like his tools, especially his glove and his speed. They aren't particularly deep at SS, so Miclat has a chance to reach the majors. The problem is that he doesn't really hit much. A slick fielding SS like Miclat doesn't have to hit much, but a 608 OPS at AAA last year looks pretty bad.

Robert Morey, LHP, Miami Marlins - Morey briefly reached AAA last year and won his only decision there. He was 4-8 in AA with an ERA over 5. He'd had more success in previous years. He's 25, so if he's ever going to make a push for the majors, now is the time. He's been primarily a starter in the minors, but more likely would make the majors as a left-handed reliever. He doesn't generate enough strikeouts to really work as a setup man, so he's more likely going to be a long man out of the pen. He's starting this season in AA Jacksonville. 
Twitter: @theRMorey

Matt Packer, LHP, Cleveland Indians - Going into his 6th season of professional baseball, Packer has played just 6 games of AAA ball. In 64 games (60 starts) in AA, he's had a 3.68 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. Those numbers aren't bad, but he's consistently been one of the older players in AA. He may get another shot at AAA this year, and if he's successful I could see him getting a look in the Indian pen. He's reaching the end of his rope though.

Jarrett Parker, OF, San Francisco Giants - Parker hit 18 HRs last year in AA and put up a 785 OPS. He also stole 13 bases, but was caught 11 times. His stolen base numbers in previous years were much better. He's a solid defensive CF, which makes him a real prospect. He's got tools, he can hit for power, run and field. He strikes out far too much (480 Ks in 3 minor league years). He simply must make more contact if he's going to advance. The Giants are hoping he does, because a CF with speed and power is a rare commodity in the majors these days. Parker played 8 spring training games with the big club and had 2 hits in 9 Abs including a grand slam HR. He's beginning the season in AA Richmond.

Steven Proscia, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers - Over 3 stints in High-A ball, Proscia has batted .322 with a 923 OPS. In 2 stints in AA ball, he's batted .203 with a 595 OPS. Proscia was traded to the Dodgers during the offseason, and he's been placed at High-A ball (Rancho Cucamonga) to start the season. Assuming he hits there, a quick promotion back to AA seems likely.  
Twitter: @Prosh19

Will Roberts, RHP, Cleveland Indians - In 134 innings of AA ball last year, Roberts wasn't bad. He's a ground ball pitcher, which is essential for him, because he doesn't have the stuff to strike a lot of batters out. He'll stay at AA (Akron) for now and will have to improve his peripheral numbers (Ks, BBs, HRs) before moving up. The Indians are excited about him though.
Twitter: @WRoberts25

Michael Schwimer, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays - Prior to last season, Schwimer was traded to the Blue Jays He pitched just 6 innings for the Blue Jays before being released. He's dealt with some injuries and he left the Phillies under some controversy because he complained about the way he was treated. He has a live arm, so if he's healthy, he should get picked up by somebody. As of now, to my knowledge, that has not happened.
Twitter: @mschwimer

Scott Silverstein, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays - Silverstein impressed in just 15 games over two levels last season. He struck out 31 batters in 37 innings in Low-A ball. He was a starter at Virginia and has spent time last year both as a starter and a reliever, but likely his future is as a relief pitcher. He'll start this season back at Low-A, but a promotion to High-A could come quickly. Again, he'll work both as a starter and a reliever.
Twitter: @silvertweet29

Kenny Swab, C, Kansas City Royals - Swab has spent 3 seasons in the Royals system, never reaching above High-A ball. He has a career .219 BA and 618 OPS. He's a solid backstop, but he's going to have to hit more to ever advance. Catchers don't have to hit much, but they do have to hit some. (Editor's Note: Swab is being converted to a pitcher.)
Twitter: @kennswab

Chris Taylor, SS, Seattle Mariners - Taylor has impressed the Mariners both with his glove and his bat in his 2 years in their system. He was named the team's minor league player of the year last year after batting over .300 with 8 HRs and 38 steals over High-A and AA ball. He's a slick fielder, so his ability to hit is a big bonus. The Mariners thing Taylor could possibly make the majors this year, but he's starting the season in AAA Tacoma.

Tyler Wilson, RHP, Baltimore Orioles - A 10th round pick in 2011, Wilson has advanced all the way from Rookie ball to AA in just over 2 years. He was 7-5 with a 3.83 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in AA last year over 16 starts. He struck out 70 in 89 innings, with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of over 3. Wilson has decent stuff but gets by on tremendous control and high baseball IQ. He was named the 13th best prospect in the Orioles system. He'll begin the year in AAA Norfolk. He's been a starter his entire career, but could find himself in the Orioles bullpen this year depending on how his season (and theirs) goes.

Cody Winiarski, RHP, Chicago White Sox - Over 2 different levels, Winiarski struck out 85 batters in just 66.2 innings last year. Those are outstanding numbers, especially considering he missed the entire 2012 season with a non-baseball related injury. He had 13 saves, including the final game of the Southern League Championship Series. Winiarski is back in AA to start the season, but he could easily find himself in the White Sox bullpen this year.
Twitter: @cody_winiarski

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