With the MLB season now underway, we're looking at all the former Wahoo baseball players currently playing pro ball. We started yesterday, with the big leaguers. Today, we're looking at the minors. This includes a couple of guys on the down sides of their careers (David Adams, for example) and a lot of guys who are still working their way up towards the Majors (Mike Papi, for example).
For these guys, we'll go in alphabetical order.
David Adams, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays - Adams spent part of 2013 in the big leagues with the Yankees, but did not perform well. Since then he's spent time at both AA and AAA, and hasn't really hit very well at either level. The Blue Jays signed him after last season and invited him to big league spring training. For now, he's still hanging on in AAA Buffalo. It's not impossible that he'll get back to the majors at some point, but it seems like a long shot for a Blue Jays team that has plenty of middle infielders.
Stephen Bruno, 2B, Chicago Cubs - Bruno is entering his 3rd consecutive season for the Tennessee Smokies in the AA Southern League. Three years in AA is a bad sign for Bruno. He's on the DL to open the season this year, but a 707 OPS in AA doesn't bode well for his future.
Brandon Cogswell, SS, Oakland Athletics - Here's another guy who's hurt to open the season. Cogswell is repeating High-A ball in Stockton, California. He had a 628 OPS last year, so an advancement seems unlikely at this point.
Brandon Downes, OF, Kansas City Royals - After playing a single game last season in High-A ball, that's where Downes is beginning this season. So far this year, he has a .250 BA and a 563 OPS through 4 games. He's struck out 7 times in 16 ABs.
Derek Fisher, OF, Houston Astros - Just 22 years old, Fisher is already in AA ball after just 2 minor league seasons. He raked last year, to the tune on 22 HRs and 86 RBI across two levels (Low-A and High-A). He also had an 847 OPS and stole 31 bases. He's also a pretty good defensive OF. Through 5 games, Fisher has already HR'd, though he's batting just .167 and has a 619 OPS. Give him some time to adjust to the higher level of pitching and I suspect Fisher will do very well. He could see AAA this year and potentially join the big league club in 2017.
Reed Gragnani, 2B, Boston Red Sox - Yet another guy who is injured to start the season. Gragnani played 2 games last year in AAA, but spent most of the season with AA Portland. That's where he is again this year, though he's currently on the DL. He had a 601 OPS last year, though his 346 OBP isn't bad. He could get a shot at AAA again, depending on organizational needs.
Nick Howard, RP, Cincinnati Reds - Moving between the rotation and the bullpen last year, Howard struggled at High-A Daytona. He struck out 31 batters in 38 IP, but walked 50. His ERA was 6.63 and his WHIP was 2.21, and those are both terrible numbers. So far this year, back in Daytona, he's pitched twice and walked 5 batters in just 1 inning, with a single strikeout. His ERA is 45. Something is clearly wrong with Howard.
Danny Hultzen, SP, Seattle Mariners - Hultzen has basically missed 3 full seasons now with various injuries. He tried to pitch during spring training, but then complained of soreness. It could be that his arm is just weak and he needs to strengthen it. Or, it could be that he's still injured. Nobody really knows. For now, he seems to be remaining in spring training until they get a better feel for his arm. If he does pitch this year, he'll likely start in the lower minors in order to build up his arm strength. If he does OK there, he could be back in AAA. If he can't get back on the mound this year, chances are his career is over.
Nate Irving, C, Pittsburgh Pirates - Following two seasons in the Northwest League, Irving has moved to the New York-Penn League. This isn't a promotion, but rather the Pirates changed their short-season affiliate. Irving played just 24 games last year, and put up a .276 BA. He hasn't shown any power, but he has more walks than strikeouts. If he performs well, he could see a promotion to full season A-ball at some point this year.
Nate Kirby, SP, Milwaukee Brewers - Following the draft, Kirby was assigned to Wisconsin in the Midwest league. He pitched 5 times, starting twice, and had a 5.68 ERA in 12.2 IP. He struck out 7 and walked 7. Then he was shut down, and he had Tommy John surgery in late August. He is expected to miss the entire 2016 season.
Branden Kline, RP, Baltimore Orioles - Over 8 games at AA Bowie, Kline put up a 3.66 ERA and 1.37 WHIP over 39.1 innings. He struck out 27 and walked 19. Then he was shut down with an arm injury. He had Tommy John surgery in September and is also expected to miss the entire 2016 season.
Artie Lewicki, SP, Detroit Tigers - In 15 starts last year at Low-A West Michigan, Lewicki had a 3-4 record with a 3.52 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. He had 77 Ks in 79 IP. This year, he's gotten promoted to High-A Lakeland in the Florida State League. He's pitched once, out of the pen, and gave up 2 ER in 4 innings. He did strike out 3, though he also walked 3. He'll likely spend the entire season in Lakeland.
Whit Mayberry, RP, Detroit Tigers - Finishing the season in AA Erie likely meant Mayberry would begin there again. But he isn't on their roster, nor on any other roster in the Tiger's organization. No reports on where he is. Perhaps he's in extended spring training with the Tigers. He pitched well in AA, throwing 36.1 innings with a 2.97 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP. He struck out 31 and walked 7.
Joe McCarthy, OF, Tampa Bay Rays - McCarthy struggled a bit in his pro debut, finishing with a .277 BA and a 699 OPS in 49 games of short season A-ball. He did steal 18 bases and had a 362 OBP. This year, he's in Low-A Bowling Green of the Midwest League. He's batting .308 in 4 games with a 906 OPS and 2 steals.
Mike Papi, OF, Cleveland Indians - Getting a full season of High-A ball wasn't bad for Papi, as he put up a 718 OPS with 4 HRs and 45 RBI. He's back there this year, and so far has a 858 OPS. Perhaps more importantly, Papi has struck out just twice after 118 Ks last year.
Josh Sborz, RP, Los Angeles Dodgers - Across 3 leagues, Sborz was very solid in the pros last year after being so dominant for the Hoos last year. He threw 22.1 IP and had a 2.42 ERA and a 25/9 K/BB ratio. So far this year, at High-A Rancho Cucamonga, he has pitched 5.2 innings and given up no runs. He has a 0.71 WHIP and 3 Ks.
Kenny Towns, 3B, Los Angeles Angels - Towns hasn't yet been assigned to a team, but he played Rookie ball last year for the Orem Owls. He'll probably spend another year in a short-season league and is probably at extended minor league spring training right now.
Brandon Waddell, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates - While he didn't pitch well last year in short season A-ball, Waddell still began this season at High-A Bradenton. He's started once and threw 5 shutout innings, giving up just 2 hits with 4 Ks. He did not figure in the decision. He could possibly see AA this year if he continues to pitch like that.
Cody Winiarski, SP, Chicago White Sox - Shut down in June with an injury, Winiarski hasn't pitched since. He's on the DL once again, though I can't really find any information about his injury. Prior to the injury, Winiarski was acting as the Birmingham Baron's closer and performing very well there.
So that's all I could find of former Hoos currently playing pro ball. Jeremy Farrell retired. Shane Halley, Jeff Lorick, Robert Morey, Scott Silverstein, and Austin Young were all released and have not signed with anybody else yet. If you can think of anybody I'm missing, let me know in the comments and I'll be sure to include them on future updates.
If I missed anybody, please let me know if the comments. Otherwise, we'll check back in May to see how the guys are doing.