On today's Opening Day, I thought I'd take a look at the current crop of UVA Baseball alumni in Pro baseball right now. Most of the guys are still in the minors, but there's a total of 8 former Hoos in the majors today. I'll start with them, and then move on to the minor league guys.
Javier Lopez, RP, San Francisco Giants - Still the old man of UVA baseball, Lopez is entering his 13th MLB season. He's almost exclusively a LOOGY (lefty one-out guy) at this point in his career. But he's very good. Pitching for the world champions last year, Lopez threw 37.2 innings, going 1-1 with a 3.11 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. He also struck out 22 and walked 19. Lefties batted just .194 against him, with 18 Ks. Righties were generally much more successful.
Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Washington Nationals - Not far behind Lopez in tenure, Zimmerman has moved full-time to 1B. The Nats hope that playing a less strenuous position will help Zimm stay healthy, after playing in just 61 games last year. He still put up a solid line during those games, with a .791 OPS and 5 HRs. The Nats are one of the World Series favorites this year, but with a few key injuries, Zimmerman may have to help carry this team early on.
Mark Reynolds, 1B, St Louis Cardinals - Playing for his 6th team in as many years, Reynolds is not likely a part-time player. He got 378 ABs last year and hit 22 HRs. He also batted just .196 and struck out 122 times. He had a .681 OPS. His power is still there, so he'll get some playing time at 1B and in LF. And he'll get a lot of PH opportunities. He got one last night, and (not surprisingly) struck out.
Brandon Guyer, OF, Tampa Bay Rays - Bouncing between the majors and minors last year, Guyer managed to rack up 259 ABs for the Rays. He put up a 701 OPS, with 3 HRs and 6 SBs. He's a good defensive OF, which helped him compile 1.7 WAR. Not bad for a part-time player. This year, he'll be a platoon OF/DH playing mostly against lefties, and David DeJesus playing against righties. The Rays don't have a ton of OF depth, so Guyer should have a job in the big leagues all season long.
Sean Doolittle, RP, Oakland Athletics - Doolittle is the A's closer right now. He won the job in the middle of last year, and had a big year. He finished with a 2.73 ERA, a 0.73 WHIP and 89 Ks in just 62.2 IP. He was 2-4 with 22 saves. He's one of the few left handed closers in baseball right now, and is probably the 2nd best of that small group (behind the Reds Aroldis Chapman).
Phil Gosselin, 2B, Atlanta Braves - Gosseline likely enters the season in a utility role for the Braves. He'll get some starts at 2B and in the OF. He'll also likely get some PH opportunities. Gosselin got a fair amount of run last year, batting .269 in 134 ABs. He hit 1 HR, had just 3 RBI and a .624 OPS. With the Braves in full re-build mode, Phil has a chance for a lot of playing time this year.
Kyle Crockett, RP, Cleveland Indians - Crockett made his debut last year in May and stayed with the big club for the rest of the season. He made 43 appearances, totaling 30 IP. He went 4-1 with a 1.80 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. He struck out 28 batters and walked just 8. Not bad for a 23 year old rookie. He was much better against lefties, who batted just .206 against him and struck out in nearly 1/3 of their plate appearances. Crockett figures to be a big part of the bullpen for an improved Indians team that has playoff aspirations.
Chris Taylor, SS, Seattle Mariners - The newest Wahoo alumnus in MLB is currently on the DL with a broken wrist. Called up in July of last year, Taylor ended up appearing in 47 games, and getting 136 ABs. He batted .287, with a 689 OPS. He did not HR, but he hit 8 doubles and stole 5 bases. He also had 9 RBI. He's due to miss 4-6 weeks, putting him back around the beginning of May. The Mariners are expected to contend this year, and have only Brad Miller at SS, so Taylor could well be starting once he returns. (Miller is a very good defensive SS, but a terrible hitter. Taylor is a much better hitter, and still a solid defender.)
Have there ever been 8 UVA alumni in the majors at one time before? No. There's a couple more guys who could get called up during the season, but a lot of the better prospects are still a few years ago. Below, I'll look at all the minor league guys, and their likely starting points. Many of these guys haven't been officially placed for the season, so I'm making some educated guesses. These players are listed in alphabetical order.
David Adams, 2B, Miami Marlins - Adams split time between AAA and AA last year in the Orioles system. The Marlins have assigned him to the Jacksonville Suns, their AA affiliate. Adams saw a cup of coffee with the Yankees in 2013, but has regressed since then, in part due to injuries. He isn't likely to get back there, unless he really turns things around. He had just a 666 OPS in AAA last year.
Branden Cogswell, SS, Oakland Athletics - After being drafted last year, Cogswell was assigned to Low-A Beloit. In 41 games there, he batted .203 with a 543 OPS. He had 12 RBI and walked 17 times (versus 24 Ks). He also stole 3 bases. He'll remain in Beloit for the beginning of this season.
Stephen Bruno, 2B, Chicago Cubs - Bruno spent last year at AA Tennessee, where he was somewhat successful, batting .276 with a 739 OPS. That's not bad, but with just 3 HRs and a 77:27 strikeout-to-walk ratio, it doesn't translate very well to the big leagues. That said, he was coming off Tommy John surgery in 2013, and had raked at two levels of the minors prior to that. He's beginning the season back in AA, but he should get called up to AAA once the Cubs graduate their top prospects to the majors in a few weeks.
Brandon Downes, OF, Kansas City Royals - Downes began his pro career in Idaho Falls, in the Rookie League. He batted .308 in 41 games, with 3 HRs and 23 RBI. He had a 843 OPS. He is apparently remaining in Idaho Falls to begin this season, but he'll likely move up to Lexington soon enough.
Jeremy Farrell, 3B, Chicago White Sox - Farrell played AA ball for the White Sox last year, and struggled. He put up a 669 OPS in 243 ABs. He batted just .247 and HR'd just twice. I can't find anything on him for this season, so I'm assuming he'll end up back in Birmingham.
Derek Fisher, OF, Houston Astros - Fisher played one game in Rookie league ball, going 2-3 with a double, a walk and a run. He was then moved up to the short season New York Penn League. In 41 games there, he batted .303 with a 786 OPS. He hit 2 HRs and stole 17 bases. He'll begin this season in Low-A with the Quad Cities River Bandits.
Reed Gragnani, 2B, Boston Red Sox - Gragnani raked in High-A ball last year for the Salem Red Sox. He batted .300 with a .409 OBP and a 815 OPS. He had 53 RBI in 360 ABs and also stole 8 bases. He's beginning the season back in Salem, but probably moves up to AA Portland sometime this year.
John Hicks, C, Seattle Mariners - Hicks was added to the Mariners 40-man roster at the conclusion of last season. He split time between AA and AAA last year, and played pretty well at both. At AAA, in 28 games and 101 ABs, he batted .277 with a 706 OPS and 2 HRs. He'll start the season back in AAA Tacoma, but could very well find himself in the majors this year.
Nick Howard, RP, Cincinnati Reds - Howard pitched in 11 games (starting 5) for the Low-A Dayton Tortugas of High-A ball after being drafted last year. He went 2-1 with a 3.74 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 33.2 IP. He struck out 23 and walked 11. It is rare for a guy to go to High-A ball the same year he is drafted, so that is high praise for him. He'll begin the season back there, but could move up quickly as a relief pitcher.
Danny Hultzen, SP, Seattle Mariners - Hicks' teammate in Tacoma didn't play at all last year, after having shoulder surgery in 2013. He pitched in spring training, and wasn't bad. He needs to build up strength in the shoulder before he can pitch at the major league level. If he performs well in AAA, he may get a shot at the bigs this year, but the Mariners plan appears to be for him to spend the season in the minors and enter the big league rotation in 2016.
Nate Irving, C, Arizona Diamondbacks - Irving debuted with the short season Hillsboro Hops and batted .190 in 8 games (21 ABs). He had just 1 RBI, but he did walk 4 times. He'll begin this season back in Hillsboro
Branden Kline, SP, Baltimore Orioles - Kline spent most of last year at High-A Frederick before a late season call up to AA. He pitched pretty well in Frederick, going 8-6 with 3.84 ERA and 1.38 WHIP and 95 Ks in 126.2 IP. In AA, he struggled to a 5.94 ERA and 1.74 WHIP, with 9 Ks in 16.2 IP. That isn't a big enough sample size to matter, though. He'll begin the season back at AA Bowie.
Artie Lewicki, SP, Detroit Tigers - After 2 games of Rookie League ball, Lewicki was moved up to Low-A ball. At West Michigan, he pitched in 10 games (with 1 start). He threw 27.2 innings and was 2-2 with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. He struck out 22. He'll return to West Michigan to begin this year.
Jeff Lorick, RP, Chicago Cubs - Lorick spent all of 2014 in AA Tennessee, and made 46 appearances totaling 63.2 IP. He had a 4.52 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP, with 58 Ks. He's a ground-ball machine, with over a 2:1 groundball-to-flyball ratio. That's valuable, so if he can keep that up, he could move up. He'll have to become more consistent before he gets a AAA call-up though. I can't find him on any roster, but I assume he'll be back in Tennessee.
Whit Mayberry, SP, Detroit Tigers - Pitching out of the bullpen, Mayberry went from 2 games of Rookie ball to High-A Lakeland, where he was lights out for 10 games. In 21.1 innings, he struck out 21, and had a 1.69 ERA along with a 0.80 WHIP. That's impressive for a guy just out of college. He's opening this season in AA with the Erie SeaWolves, which is also impressive.
Greg Miclat, SS, St Louis Cardinals - Miclat was selected by the Cardinals in the minor league portion of the Rule V draft last season. (Don't worry if you don't know what that means, nobody really does.) He spent time at High-A, AA and AAA last year. He was solid at High-A, but struggled mightily at AA and was terrible in a late season callup to AAA. In 5 games of AAA, he batted just .125 and had a 489 OPS. In total, in 77 games, he had just 1 HR and 10 extra base hits. He did have 15 stolen bases. And he's a good defensive SS. He'll probably start this season back in AA Springfield.
Robert Morey, P, Miami Marlins - Morey began last season in AA Jacksonville, pitching in relief. He was solid, except for one bad outing. Well, that outing was terrible and afterwards Morey was shut down for 2 months with an injury. He came back and was assigned to a Rookie league team, where he started 3 times and was lights out. He moved back to AA started 5 games and wasn't great, putting up a 5.60 ERA in 27.1 IP. He did win a game (with 6 shutout innings) and his stuff wasn't bad. He got called up to AAA in August and pitched in 4 games (3 starts), with a 4.96 ERA and 1.84 WHIP. He did strike out 16 in 16.1 innings, with 7 walks. He's beginning the season back in AAA New Orleans.
Mike Papi, 1B/OF, Cleveland Indians - After being drafted, Papi was assigned to the short-season New York Penn League. In 2 games, he had 2 hits and 3 RBI and was quickly moved up to Lake County in Low-A ball. He wasn't great there, batting just .178 but he did have a .305 OBP and he HR'd 3 times and stole 2 bases. He also walked 26 times versus just 32 Ks. That is solid. This year, he's beginning the season in High-A Lynchburg.
Jarrett Parker, OF, San Francisco Giants - Parker played well last year, and even got a brief call up, although he did not get into a game. In stops at both AA Richmond and AAA Fresno, he hit well. In 24 games of AAA, he hit .278 with 3 HRs. He had a .360 OBP and a .456 SLG. He's also a very good OF who can play all 3 positions. Parker is still on the Giants' 40 man roster, and with a few injuries in the OF already, there is a possibility that Parker gets called up again. The Giants' AAA team is in Sacramento now, so that's where Parker begins the season.
Will Roberts, SP, Cleveland Indians - Roberts pitched at AA Akron for the 2nd straight season, and was a bit better the second time around. In 27 starts and 161 IP, he had a 4.08 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. He was 12-12, and struck out 98 batters. That K-rate is very low and probably is what will keep him from moving up. I could see him getting a shot at AAA this year, but he's likely stuck at AA again.
Scott Silverstein, RP, Toronto Blue Jays - Silverstein has probably been injured more than he's been healthy during his baseball career. Last year, he pitched for the Blue Jays Low-A team in Lansing. Pitching out of the pen in 47 games, totaling 64 IP, he compiled an 11-4 record with a 4.08 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP. He K'd 67 and walked 27. He has good stuff, but he's still pretty far away from the majors. Staying healthy is key for him. He'll probably move up to High-A Dunedin this year.
Tyler Wilson, SP, Baltimore Orioles - The Orioles added Wilson to their 40-man roster during the offseason. This means he's close to the majors. Last year, in AAA Norfolk, he started 12 games and went 4-3 with a 3.60 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 70 IP. He'll probably get his first major league shot out of the bullpen, but he has a chance to be a starter in the bigs at some point.
Cody Winiarski, RP, Chicago White Sox - Pitching in AA Birmingham last year, Winiarski went 1-4 with an 8.34 ERA and a 1.81 WHIP in 45 IP. He also K'd nearly 11 batters per 9 innings. He's better than those numbers, and he'll have a chance to prove it this year, back in Birmingham.
Austin Young, RP, Los Angeles Angels - Pitching in Rookie league ball after the draft last year, Young threw 21 innings of solid relief pitching. He had a 2.14 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP. He was 0-2 in 12 games. He K'd 17 and walked just 1. He hasn't been assigned to a team yet, as far as I can tell.
That's all I've been able to come up with. If there's anybody I missed, please comment below and I'll add them. I'm hoping to continue to follow all of these guys throughout the season.