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Hoos in the MLB: Former Virginia Baseball players looking at the majors

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Ten former Virginia Baseball players shine in the MLB (or have the MLB within sights)

MLB: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

With a new baseball season underway, let’s take a look around the professional baseball landscape to see where all of our former Virginia Cavaliers baseball players are playing, and how they are doing thus far this year. As we’ve done in the past, we’ll start off today with the guys currently in the majors and the guys who will probably spend some time there this year. Later, we’ll take a look at the guys toiling away in the minors.

For the major leaguers, we’ll in order of seniority. Unfortunately, Javier Lopez retired, so that knocked our first guy off the list.

Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Washington Nationals – The early results for Zim are encouraging, especially if you are a Nationals fan. Through 14 games, Zim is batting .387 with a 1215 on-base plus slugging (OPS). He has 6 home runs (HRs) and 16 runs batted in (RBI) and just 16 strikeouts in 67 plate appearances. Considering his .214 batting average (BA) and 642 OPS last year, his numbers look great so far. The main question for Ryan is whether or not he can stay on the field for the Nationals. If he does, and he keeps putting up those kind of numbers, the Nationals are going to be very tough this year.

Mark Reynolds, 1B, Colorado Rockies – Whether it is the thin air of Colorado, or just the knowledge that he’s playing every day, Reynolds is enjoying a career rebirth over the past two years with the Rockies. After batting anywhere from .198 to .230 between 2010 and 2015, Mark batted .282 last year. He also had an 806 OPS to go along with 14 HRs and 53 RBI in 393 at bats (ABs). His strikeout rate also dropped to about 25% of his plate appearances (PAs), compared to well over 33% earlier in his career. Thus far this year, he’s been even better than last year. He’s currently batting .318 with a 1000 OPS, five HRs and 16 RBI in 19 games. He’s struck out just 16 times (just a 24% K-rate).

Brandon Guyer, OF, Cleveland Indians – Fresh off his strong postseason play for the Indians last year, Guyer is back with the Tribe, having signed an extension that will keep him in Cleveland until at least 2018 (the team has an option for 2019). He’s struggled so far this year, batting just .160 with a 502 OPS. He’s started seven times and come off the bench three times. He has just four hits in 25 ABs, though he did HR on Friday. He’s a good defensive OF, so he’s being used as a late innings defensive replacement at times. Hopefully, his bat comes around a bit.

Sean Doolittle, RP, Oakland Athletics – After missing most of 2015 and parts of last year with shoulder injuries, Doolittle is back at it for the A’s. In the early going, he’s thrown 6 IP over 7 games and given up 2 ER. That gives him a 3.00 earned run average (ERA), to go along with a 0.83 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched). He has struck out ten and walked one. He has one save and 4 holds. None of those numbers are very different from last year, though his strikeout rate is a through-the-roof 15 K/9 right now. That is likely to regress back towards his career 10.4, which is still outstanding. He’s basically being used as the A’s 8th inning guy right now.

Phil Gosselin, IF/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates – Gosselin was traded to the Pirates during the spring for a minor leaguer. That gives you an idea of his profile right now within baseball circles. He had a pretty good run with the Diamondbacks in 2015 following his trade from the Braves, but since then has simply not hit. So far this year, he’s batting .133 with 2 singles in 15 ABs. He hasn’t walked and he’s struck out just twice. His biggest strength right now is versatility, because he can credibly play just about every position on the field other than SS and C. (He’s played some SS in past years, but not very well.) The Pirates have a strong farm system, so if he doesn’t start hitting, he’ll find himself back in the minors.

Chris Taylor, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers – Taylor was just called up to the Dodgers on Wednesday, after Logan Forsythe was moved to the DL. Taylor was playing pretty well in AAA, batting just .233 but boasting a .327 on-base percentage (OBP) and .442 slugging percentage (SLP) along with a HR and 5 RBI. He’d also stolen a base and scored 8 runs. In his first game with the Dodgers, he started at 2B and went 2/3 with 2 doubles and a run scored. Since then, he’s come off the bench once and started one more time. Through 3 games, he’s batting .625 with a 1917 OPS, 1 HR and 2 RBI. Yeah, that’ll do.

Tyler Wilson, RP, Baltimore OriolesWilson bounced between the bullpen and the rotation last year, but he’s locked into the bullpen right now for the O’s. He could be used as a swing man if the O’s need an emergency starter, but he’s likely to remain as the long man in the pen. Through 5 appearances, Wilson has been decent. He’s thrown 5 innings, and given up 4 ER. He’s struck out 4 and walked 3. His ERA is 5.40 and his WHIP is 1.80, and those numbers aren’t great. But it’s early and one bad outing is skewing his results. He also has a win and a loss.

Jarrett Parker, OF, San Francisco Giants – Parker was basically playing every day as the starting LF for the Giants, but really wasn’t hitting. Through 9 games (8 starts), he was just 3/21 with 10 Ks. That adds up to a .143 BA and a 455 OPS. He had a triple and 2 RBI. Then he broke his collarbone making this tremendous catch in LF.

John Hicks, C, Detroit TigersHicks was just called up to the Majors on Saturday. He batted over .300 last year in AAA and has been on fire so far this year. He’s currently batting .412 through 10 games and 33 ABs. He has a 1018 OPS along with 1 HR, 12 RBI and a steal. He has struck out 7 times but has not yet drawn a walk. In 2 games since his promotion, he’s batting .500 (5/10) with a HR, a double, and 6 RBI. Interestingly, he’s started at 1B in both of his games. The Tigers regular first baseman (Miguel Cabrera) is injured.

Kyle Crockett, RP, Cleveland Indians – When Crockett first came up to the Indians in 2014, he was lights out and looked to be a fixture of the Indians pen for years to come. But he’s struggle since then, especially in the majors. He spent most of last year in AAA and put up decent, but not great, numbers. He struggled badly in 16 IP in the majors, walking 7 and giving up 9 ER (5.06 ERA and 1.44 WHIP). For now, he’s still in AAA but is looking better this year. So far, he’s thrown 9 innings, striking out 11 and walking just 3. He’s given up 3 ER, for a 3.00 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. His AAA numbers last year were 3.90 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. He’s just 25 years old and he’s still on the Indians 40-man roster, so he’ll likely get another shot in the majors depending on the health and performance of the Indians’ bullpen.

That’s 10 UVA baseball baseball currently either in the majors or very close to the majors. It’s down a bit from last year, because of Lopez’s retirement, but it’s still pretty good.