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The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Multiple former Hoosiers showing promise in pro leagues


Statistics in this article are as of July 20, 2018.

With the recent rise of the IU baseball program, there has been an influx of Hoosier alumni playing professional baseball across all levels. 

From the major leagues to rookie ball, there are former Hoosiers all across the country chasing their professional dreams as the second half of the season gets underway.

The highest profile IU alumnus in Major League Baseball is Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber. One of the heroes of the 2016 World Series, Schwarber is having a bounce-back year after an up-and-down campaign last year. The former catcher is hitting nearly .250 this year with 18 home runs and 43 RBIs, putting him on pace to put up career highs in both statistics. He’s also drawn 54 walks on the season. For reference, his career high is 59 walks drawn in 2017. 

Schwarber has also improved his play in the outfield, where he was once considered a defensive liability. He’s committed just one error in 121 fielding chances this season, compared to the five errors he committed in 153 chances last season. The slugger also competed in the Home Run Derby during MLB’s All-Star festivities, finishing second behind  Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals. 

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Senior Brad Hartong walks off the field during the Hoosiers' scrimmage on Saturday at Bart Kaufman Field. Hartong will be the starting catcher this season, replacing Kyle Schwarber who was drafted fourth in the first round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft. IDS file photo

Meanwhile, Schwarber’s former IU teammate, Sam Travis, has been trying to break into the MLB this summer. The first baseman has spent most of the season with AAA Pawtucket Red Sox, where he’s hit .236 with six home runs and 22 RBIs, but he played for the Boston Red Sox on July 13, going 1-4 with a double and a walk as Boston’s designated hitter in a loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. 

It was the fifth time Travis has suited up for the Red Sox in 2018. Overall, the slugger has gone 3-16 with a double, three RBIs and two walks compared to four strikeouts for the big league club.

Then-junior Sam Travis flips the ball to first base during an IU baseball game against Ball State on April 24, 2014, at Bart Kaufman Field. Travis is currently playing professionally with the Boston Red Sox and the Pawtucket Red Sox. IDS file photo

After making his major league debut in 2017, former Hoosier pitcher Aaron Slegers has returned to the Minnesota Twins roster and reached a significant milestone. He performed well for the AAA Rochester Red Wings for much of the first half of the season, in which he pitched to a 5-6 record and a 3.55 ERA with 55 strikeouts in over 83 innings, and got the call to join the Twins on July 4. It was his second call-up on the season. 

He had previously pitched in relief for the Twins in late May before getting sent back down to Rochester. On July 5, Slegers went six innings against the Baltimore Orioles, giving up one run on three hits to earn his first MLB win. 

After making a second start for the Twins, a loss against the Kansas City Royals, Slegers was put on the 10-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation July 14. He should be activated in the coming days.

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Then-sophomore Aaron Slegers pitches against Valparaiso during a game May 31, 2013, at Bart Kaufman Field. Slegers is currently playing professionally with the Tampa Bay Rays. IDS file photo

Another Hoosier on the DL, outfielder Alex Dickerson, has missed all of 2018 with an injury and is expected to miss the rest of the season as well. After undergoing back surgery and missing the entire 2017 season, fans hoped that that Dickerson would return to the San Diego Padres this year, but he underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a sprained UCL in his left elbow in March. 

These injury issues come after Dickerson played in over half of San Diego’s games in 2016, hitting .257 with 10 home runs and 37 runs batted in. The California native should return to action in the 2019 season.

The last IU alumnus to get time in the MLB this season is Josh Phegley of the Oakland Athletics. The catcher has played in 14 games for the A’s this season, going back and forth between Oakland and AAA Sacramento River Cats. During his time in the MLB, Phegley has hit .225 with a pair of homers and three doubles. While playing for the River Cats, Phegley has fared a bit better, hitting .235 with three home runs, six doubles and a trio of triples. He’s also driven in 18 runs for Sacramento. Phegley has dealt with injuries as well, as he hit the disabled list with two broken fingers early in the season.

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Then-junior catcher Josh Phegley rounds the bases during one of his three home runs during a game against Morehead State on March 10, 2009, at Sembower FIeld. Phegley has been playing professionally with the Oakland Athletics and the Sacramento River Cats in 2018. IDS file photo

After bouncing around between a couple of teams on waivers this off-season, former Hoosier Micah Johnson found a home with the Tampa Bay Rays organization. The utilityman has spent the entire season with the AAA Durham Bulls, but hasn’t played since June 15 due to an injury. In 39 games for the Bulls this season, the Indianapolis native has hit .197 with 11 extra base hits and 13 RBI's.

Johnson should be returning to action soon for Durham, as he was activated from the disabled list Saturday.

Former Hoosier left-handed pitcher Kyle Hart has faced an up and down season for the AA Portland Sea Dogs in the Boston Red Sox organization. After dominating rookie ball, A-ball and high-A over the last two years, posting a sub-2.50 ERA at each level, he hasn’t had the same amount of success in 2018. With Portland, Hart has pitched to a 6-6 record and a 4.37 ERA in 16 starts. In over 90 innings, he’s struck out 62 batters and walked 35. 

Another former Hoosier that made the jump to AA this season is Cubs organization reliever Scott Effross. As a member of the Tennessee Smokies bullpen this season, Effross has recorded a 2-4 record with a 6.50 ERA in 31 games. In over 45 innings of work, the right-hander has struck out 43 batters, walked 15 and recorded a save.

Left-hander Caleb Baragar has bounced around the San Francisco Giants organization this season. After starting the season with the high-A San Jose Giants, Baragar was called up to AAA Sacramento and after a pair of appearances for the River Cats, he was sent back to San Jose before being sent down again, this time to the single-A Augusta Greenjackets. Overall this season, Baragar has pitched to a 1-3 record, recording a 4.87 ERA with 43 strikeouts in over 44 innings.

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Then-senior pitcher Caleb Baragar pitches on the mound April 9, 2016, against Purdue at Bart Kaufman Field. Baragar is playing professionally within the San Francisco Giants organization. IDS file photo

Baragar’s Giants organization compatriot Ryan Halstead has had a strong performance in 2018. Outside of a brief stint with AAA Sacramento, the right-hander has spent the season in AA with the Richmond Flying Squirrels. With Richmond, the California native has worked to a 3-2 record and owns a 1.76 ERA in over 30 innings. He’s struck out 26 batters and walked six. 

His results during his time in AAA were much worse. In almost four innings for the River Cats he gave up nine runs, five of those earned and struck out four.

Another former Hoosier hurler, New York Yankees organization right-hander Christian Morris, started the season with the high-A Tampa Tarpons before being sent to extended spring training on April 28. 

In June, the 24-year-old was reassigned to the Staten Island Yankees. With Staten Island, Morris has had a good season, he owns a 0-1 record in nine appearances, but has a ERA of 1.13 in 16 innings. He’s struck out 22 batters and walked just two.

Following his domination of rookie ball in Great Falls, Montana, last season, Craig Dedelow has moved up a step in the Chicago White Sox organizational ladder. The outfielder has spent the entire season in A-ball with the Kannapolis Intimidators. With Kannapolis, Dedelow is hitting .267 with seven home runs and 53 RBIs. The former ninth-round pick also has 25 doubles and six triples on the season.

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Facing an approaching storm, then-senior Craig Dedelow hits a grand slam in the rain to give IU a 6-3 lead against Maryland during the 2017 season. Dedelow has been playing in the Chicago White Sox organization with the single-A Kannapolis Intimidators. IDS file photo

Former Hoosier Logan Sowers may be joining Dedelow in Kannapolis before too long. In his first season of professional baseball, he’s putting up some impressive numbers. In 31 games since being drafted in the 28th round, the outfielder has hit .346 with four homers, seven doubles and 19 RBIs. He’s also kept his solid approach at the plate from his senior season with IU, drawing 20 walks to boost his on base percentage to .453. 

The Lafayette, Indiana, native is also perfect in the field. He’s yet to make an error through 44 fielding chances as a pro.

There’s another IU alumnus in Great Falls making a strong pro debut alongside Sowers — right-hander Jonathan Stiever. After electing to leave IU early as a fifth-round draft pick, the former Hoosier ace has continued to pitch well. 

In six starts for the Voyagers, Stiever has yet to earn his first professional win, but he’s struck out 23 batters in 15 innings and recorded an ERA of 2.40. Opponents are hitting just .102 against Stiever and he’s walked just four hitters.

Junior pitcher Jonathan Stiever pitches the ball against the Butler Bulldogs on March 30 at Bart Kaufman Field. Stiever was drafted by the Chicago White Sox on June 4. Evan De Stefano

Another early departure from IU, third baseman Luke Miller has been playing in rookie ball as well since the draft. In eight appearances for the Philadelphia Phillies' Gulf Coast League affiliate, Miller has hit .276 with a home run and four RBI's.

IU’s fourth and final draftee from 2018, Tim Herrin, has had a strong start to his pro career as a reliever. The big lefty didn’t give up a run until his fourth appearance for the Cleveland Indians' Arizona League affiliate and had only given up two earned runs until July 16. In that appearance, Herrin gave up six earned runs in just under two innings, which was enough to balloon his ERA to 6.75. In over 10 innings, Herrin has struck out 12 batters and walked four.

Former IU reliever B.J. Sabol’s pro career has started in a similar way to Herrin’s. The lefty has been solid for the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League, outside of an appearance in which he gave up five runs without recording an out. Those are the only five earned runs the sidewinder has allowed in his independent league career, as in four other appearances, he’s allowed just one unearned run. 

Overall, Sabol has a 7.10 ERA and has struck out six hitters in just over six innings without recording a decision.

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