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Baseball Opening Day: Plenty of Virginia players in the MLB for you to follow!

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Our first edition of Hoos in the Pros is back!

Washington Nationals Photo Day Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Major League Baseball season is upon us and as always we’re keeping our eyes on the Virginia Baseball alumni who are playing pro baseball. Right now, there are five Hoos playing in the majors and 27 (by my count) in the minors.

Today, we check in on the big leaguers, though I’ve included a couple of guys currently in the minors, because I expect them to see the big leagues soon.

These guys are listed in order by seniority.

Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Washington Nationals - After a big year in 2017, Zim was back to his old ways of spending half the year on the DL. He played just 85 games, though he still hit when he played. He had an .824 OPS and hit 13 dingers, driving in 51 RBI. He has a team option for next season for $18M, with a $2M buyout. If he misses half the year again, expect the Nats to buy him out. He’d be just 35 and obviously can still hit. His contract includes a 5 year/$10M personal services agreement with the Nats after he retires. If the Nats buy him out, would he retire?

Mark Reynolds, 1B, Colorado Rockies - Reynolds signed a minor league deal with the Rockies, where he spent ‘16 and ‘17. He isn’t currently on their 40-man roster, meaning it would take some work to get him up to the majors. The contract he signed was for $1M, with another $1M in incentives. Reynolds was solid for the Nats last year, banging 13 HRs in just 235 plate appearances. He can still hit, and the Rockies projected starting 1B, Ryan McMahon, has 5 career HRs in 339 PAs. McMahon is also a left-handed hitter, so Reynolds, a righty, could end up in a platoon situation.

Sean Doolittle, RP, Washington Nationals - In his first full season with the Nats, Doc pitched well when he wasn’t on the DL. He had 25 saves and a 1.60 ERA over 45 IP. He was selected as an All-Star, but didn’t play in the game due to injury. He missed two full months before return in September.

Phil Gosselin, Util, Philadelphia Phillies - It might be a stretch to include him in the Major League update, since there’s no guarantee he’ll play in the big leagues this year. He signed a minor league deal with the Phillies and has spent the spring with their big league camp. He actually has a 1.186 OPS, 2 HRs and 6 RBI in 18 games (44 plate appearances). The Phillies seem to have plenty of IF depth, but if they suffer a few injuries, Gosselin would be in line for a call-up to Philadelphia.

Chris Taylor, Util, Los Angeles Dodgers - Last year, Taylor played 2B, SS, LF and CF for the Dodgers. Although he wasn’t quite as good as he was in 2017, he still hit 17 HRs and drove in 63 runs over 155 games. He also led the National League in strikeouts with 178. With Corey Seagar back from injury, Taylor is expected to be in a “super-sub” role. But that should still provide a good amount of playing time for a guy who is serviceable defensive all over the diamond.

John Hicks, C/1B, Detroit Tigers - Hicks is the primary backup at both C and 1B for the Tigers. Last year, he also played 12 games at DH. He hit 9 HRs in 81 games and drove in 32 runs. He batted .260 with a 715 OPS. The Tigers are pretty bad, so Hicks will have every opportunity to earn more playing time if he plays well.

Derek Fisher, OF, Houston Astros - Fisher spent part of the past two years with the big club, but he finds himself back in AAA to open this season. He doesn’t really have much left to prove in the minors, but he hasn’t really done much to establish himself in the majors either. His biggest problem is simply that the Astros have too much talent. He’s on the Astros 40-man roster, so he’ll definitely get some time with the big club, whether because of injury or just the need for an extra OF on the bench at some point.

That’s it for the crop of major leaguers, with two exceptions.

Brandon Guyer, OF, Free Agent - Guyer played 103 games for the Indians last year, batting .206 with 7 HRs and 27 RBI. His 671 OPS was well below average for an OF. He signed a minor league deal with the White Sox, with a chance to win a Major League job during the spring. He wasn’t impressive enough in spring training, and has since been released. If he catches on somewhere, we’ll let you know.

Tyler Wilson, P, LG Twins - When we last saw Wilson, he was pitching for the Baltimore Orioles in 2017. He went to South Korea last year on an $800,000 contract. I can’t find any statistics, but he pitched well enough to get a $1.5M contract for this year to stay in Korea.

Check back tomorrow for an update on the minor leaguers.