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Hoos in the Minor Leagues: Checking in on former Virginia Baseball players

Injuries aplenty among the minor league Hoos.

MLB: Fall Star Game Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With another baseball season wrapping up, we're looking around the baseball universe at all of our former Hoos and how they performed. Earlier, we looked at the major leaguers. Today, we’ll tour the minor leagues.

David Adams, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays – Spending the season with AAA Buffalo, Adams batted just .243 with 2 HRs and 2 RBI over 68 games (he basically missed the month of August with an injury, but he wasn’t playing everyday anyway). He did have a .339 OBP, which isn’t too bad. Adams is 29, and is 3 years removed from reaching the majors. He’s probably free to continue his career, but his chances of getting back to the bigs are low.

Stephen Bruno, 2B, Chicago Cubs – Across 3 leagues, Bruno played just 35 games this year. All told, he batted .272 with a .702 OPS. He had 1 HR and 11 RBI. Bruno is just 25, but he’s a career .188 hitter at AAA (only 16 ABs) and doesn’t have much pop or speed. Not that the Cubs are in need of an infielder, but Bruno is still pretty far away from the majors.

Brandon Cogswell, SS, Oakland Athletics – Cogswell did not play this year due to injury.

Brandon Downes, OF, Kansas City Royals – Though Downes batted just .230 in High-A ball, he provided decent peripherals with 12 HRs and 19 stolen bases and played a solid CF. He had a 691 OPS. After the Wilmington season ended, Downes was promoted to AAA for a while, and he batted .308 with an 819 OPS over 13 ABs. He will likely start next season in AA.

Derek Fisher, OF, Houston Astros – Like Downes, Fisher was promoted to AAA for the end of the season. Fisher, though, had spent the season in AA, and had played very well all season. In AA, he batted just .245 but had an 804 OPS with 16 HRs and 23 stolen bases. In 27 games at AAA, across 107 ABs, he batted .290 with an 852 OPS. He had 5 HRs and 17 RBI in AAA along with 5 stolen bases. The Astros have a lot of young talent, and Fisher is part of that. He’ll begin next season in AAA and could possibly see the majors in 2017.

Reed Gragnani, 2B, Boston Red Sox – A demotion to High-A ball didn’t help Gragnani, as he batted just .244 with 1 HR over 22 games at Salem. Not playing every day in A-ball doesn’t generally translate to a continuing career in professional baseball.

Nick Howard, RP, Cincinnati Reds – Nick spent the first half of the season repeating High-A Daytona. He was shut down in June with shoulder inflammation. Nick has really struggled over the past two seasons, walking well over a batter an inning. Assuming this was related to the injury, hopefully he can get healthy and get his career back on track.

Danny Hultzen, SP, Seattle Mariners – Hultzen saw action in two games in June, throwing a single inning of relief each time. This was in the Rookie level Arizona league. He did not look particularly sharp, and was shut down immediately after the 2nd outing. Hultzen hasn’t thrown a competitive pitch since 2013, and he’s getting farther and farther away ever reaching his goal.

Nate Irving, C, Pittsburgh Pirates – Irving did not play this year, though he was assigned to the West Virginia Black Bears at the beginning of the year. He was released in June.

Nate Kirby, SP, Milwaukee Brewers – Kirby underwent Tommy John surgery back in 2015 and is still rehabbing at the Brewers minor league complex. He did not pitch this season.

Branden Kline, RP, Baltimore Orioles – Kline is in the same situation as Kirby, although he’s older than Kirby. Tommy John surgery in 2015 and rehab this season.

Artie Lewicki, SP, Detroit Tigers – After beginning the season in High-A Lakeland and performing reasonably well there, Lewicki was promoted to AA Erie in July. All told, he was 3-8 with a 3.44 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. He struck out 77 batters in 89 innings, and walked just 19. That W-L record is ugly, but he pitched well. Just 24 years old, Lewicki will probably be back in AA to open next year.

Whit Mayberry, RP, Detroit Tigers – At High-A Potomac, Mayberry was 4-4 with a 3.14 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. He struck out 56 and walked 12 over 65 IP. He also had one start in AA Harrisburg in August, which did not go well. In 4 innings, he gave up 5 ER with 2 BB and 1 K. It seems he was called up just for that start and then sent back down. Mayberry pitched well enough in A-ball to earn a promotion to AA for next year.

Joe McCarthy, OF, Tampa Bay Rays – Joe played 43 games at Low-A before being promoted to High-A in June. Over the two levels, he batted .285 with a 828 OPS. He only hit 8 HRs, but he had 21 doubles and 3 triples. He also stole 19 bases. Joe is only 22 years old, so more power should come as he grows into his body. He’ll probably start next season back at High-A Charlotte.

Mike Papi, OF, Cleveland Indians – Like McCarthy, Papi was promoted in June. He went from High-A to AA. In High-A, Papi batted just .236 but had 7 HRs and 30 walks, leading to a 820 OPS. After his promotion, he batted just .228, but had 8 HRs and 41 walks, leading to a 738 OPS. Papi is just 23 years old and will likely begin next year back at AA.

Will Roberts, SP, Cleveland Indians – Roberts began the season in AAA and struggled. He went 6-6 with a 4.70 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP. He struck out 42 and walked 38 in 88 IP. That is not a good ratio. He went on the DL with a blister, then was sent down to AA threw 0.2 IP, giving up 4 hits and 2 runs. He immediately went back on the DL with a shoulder strain and did not pitch again.

Josh Sborz, RP, Los Angeles Dodgers – Sborz was on the same path as Mike Papi, starting the season in High-A and moving up to AA during the year. And like Papi, he excelled at both stops. At High-A Rancho Cucamonga, he was 8-4 with a 2.66 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. He started 19 times (and had one relief appearance) and totaled 108.1 IP. He struck out 108 and walked 30. After his promotion, he was 0-1 in 10 relief appearances. He had a 3.78 ERA and 1.38 WHIP over 16.2 IP. He struck out 17 and walked 6. The walks are a bit high, but the K-rate stayed up. He’ll start next year back at AA Tulsa.

Kenny Towns, 3B, Los Angeles Angels – Towns played just 10 games at High-A Inland Empire and batted .269 with a 577 OPS. He struck out 6 times in 26 ABs and did not walk. He was released on June 11th. He’s only 23, but his baseball career is probably over.

Brandon Waddell, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates – Beginning the season at High-A Bradenton, Waddell toyed with the competition for a month to the tune of a 4-0 record with a 0.93 ERA and a 0.52 WHIP. He struck out 26 and walked just 2 in 29 IP. He moved up to AA Altoona after April and posted a 7-9 record with a 4.12 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. He struck out 94 and walked 61 in 118 IP. He’s only 22, so struggling at AA isn’t a surprise. His K-rate was still decent, but he needs to keep the walks down. He’ll return to Altoona next year.

Cody Winiarski, SP, Chicago White Sox – Winiarski had Tommy John surgery last July, and returned to pitch once in rookie ball this year. He faced 4 batters, recorded 1 out and gave up 3 hits and 2 runs. He was pitching well in AA ball last year prior to the injury, so he probably just wasn’t ready to pitch yet. He should be ready for spring training.