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2015 OSU Baseball – Former Pokes In The Pros

You know about Robin Ventura but who else is playing or coaching professionally from OSU?

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For those of you who missed it, Monday I previewed the 2015 schedule and yesterday I broke down this year’s roster.

Continuing PFB’s weeklong baseball preview, today I’m looking at which former Cowboy players are living out their dream and still playing professionally.

With spring training due to begin by the end of February, the coming MLB season seems promising for quite a few former Cowboys.

OSU is responsible for two MLB managers and as many as 10 players who are playing or will soon play at the highest level.

MLB

Robin Ventura – Manager, Chicago White Sox

Ventura enters his fourth season as manager with a combined 221-265 record. While his team improved 10 games from 2013, the White Sox still finished fourth in the AL Central with a 73-89 record.

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They were 15 games out of a playoff spot. The south side of Chicago hasn’t seen playoff baseball since 2008, and Ventura will find his seat getting hotter if that drought doesn’t end soon.

John Farrell – Manager, Boston Red Sox

If Ventura had a rough year in 2014, Farrell’s might have been worse. After going from worst to first in 2013, the defending World Champion Red Sox went from first back to worst in 2014.

They finished with a 71-91 record, only better than three other AL teams. Farrell’s four-year record is 322-326, and while a World Series win buys him a few years of safety, Bostonians won’t be happy if the team finishes 13 games behind New York again this year.

Jordy Mercer – Shortstop, Pittsburgh Pirates

Mercer played in a career-high 149 games for the Pirates, hitting .255 with 12 home runs and 55 RBIs. He also had 21 defensive runs saved, the best of any shortstop in the league.

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MLB.com just named him the sixth-best shortstop in the league right now, and he’ll need to continue playing like that if the Pirates are going to win the competitive NL Central.

Andrew Heaney – Starting Pitcher, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The Heandog got his first taste of MLB pitching in 2014, going 0-3 with a 5.83 ERA in seven games for Miami. He also had one of the better tweets of the year. After Miami traded him to the Dodgers, he was flipped across town to the Angels the same day.

He’s projected to be the fifth starter for the Angels this year, with many in the organization seeing him as a future ace of the staff. The Angels had the best record in baseball last season, and Heaney could help them reach a 100-win season in 2015.

Tyler Lyons – Starting Pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals

In 2014, Lyons was 0-4 with a 4.42 ERA in 13 games for the Cards, but was 8-2 with a 4.43 ERA for Triple A Memphis. He’ll get a chance to compete for a starting rotation spot, but he’ll likely start at Memphis again. However, expect to hear his name this season considering how fragile St. Louis pitching can be.

Andy Oliver – Relief Pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies

Oliver was picked in the Rule 5 Draft1 by the Phillies, and that’s good news. He will get a chance to prove himself and stay at the highest level. He hasn’t made an appearance for an MLB team since 2011, but he should get a shot with the Phillies.

Mike Strong – Relief Pitcher, Milwaukee Brewers

Strong has only made one appearance above the A level, but has earned an invite to spring training. The Brewers added him to the 40-man roster to protect him from being taken in the Rule 5 Draft.

He was 2-2 with a 2.50 ERA in 30 appearances at Class A Advanced Brevard County last year, and while he won’t make any MLB appearances this season, he should start at Double A and could finish the year at Triple A if he progresses well.

Scott Baker – Starting Pitcher, New York Yankees

Baker is still struggling to return to his form pre-Tommy John surgery in 2012. He was 63-48 with a 4.15 ERA in his first seven years with the Twins, but after missing the entire 2012 season, he’s just 3-4 with a 5.17 ERA in 28 games with the Cubs and the Rangers.

The Yankees are willing to give him a chance though. They’ve signed him to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. If he impresses there – like he did with Texas last spring training – he’ll play his way onto the MLB roster.

Corey Brown – Centerfielder, Tampa Bay Rays

Brown’s one-year experiment with fellow OSU alum John Farrell and the Boston Red Sox is over. He only played in three games for Boston, spending most of his time at Triple A Pawtucket.

He hit 17 home runs there, but had a .231 average with a .294 on-base percentage. Brown decided to sign a minor-league deal with the Rays, who have extended an invitation to their spring training. He’s likely to start the season at Triple A unless he impresses the major league coaches.

Jason Hursh – Starting Pitcher, Atlanta Braves

Hursh has also received a non-roster invite to spring training, and while he likely won’t start the season at the major league level, he’s one of the Braves’ most talented prospects, and should get some MLB starts under his belt by the end of 2015.

Minor Leagues

Triple A

Luis Flores – Triple A Fresno Grizzlies (Houston Astros)

Matt Hague – Triple A Indianapolis (Pittsburgh Pirates)

Double A

Tom Belza – Double A Mobile BayBears (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Single A

Brendan McCurry – Class A Advanced Stockton Ports (Oakland Athletics)

Zach Fish – Class A Advanced Winston-Salem Dash -or- Class A Kannapolis Intimidators

Tanner Krietemeier – Class A Rome Braves (Atlanta Braves)

Vince Wheeland – Class A Short Seaon Tri-City ValleyCats (Houston Astros)

Expect this to be updated throughout the next few months as guys are promoted or traded. And come back tomorrow as I see what OSU baseball records could be broken this season and who might be breaking them.


1. The rules are complicated, but here’s the important part: If a player is picked in this draft from the MLB or AAA level, he must spend the entire season active on the MLB roster. If not, he can either be cut or sent back to the original team.

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