Friday, July 16, 2010

Buckeyes in the Pros

This has been well past-due.

In turning our attention from the current Buckeyes to those who help make the program the Big Ten's best, we take a look at those who donned the scarlet and gray and are currently in the professional ranks.

With Buckeyes on nearly every step of the farm system ladder, the group is highlighted by a pair of former teammates who received All-Star recognition this week in Nick Swisher and Doug Deeds, a pair of another teammates who have received promotions to AAA, as well as one last pair of former teammates from the 2009 Big Ten Champion team currently in the Northwest League.


Nick Swisher (New York Yankees) As the most recognizable face of Ohio State baseball, Swisher is having a career year. In the process of being selected to his first All-Star Game, the charismatic Swisher took part in the annual Home Run Derby. Though the ASG festivities did not shine in Swisher's favor, nearly everything else has in 2010. In helping the Yankees to a first place position in the vaunted AL East, Swisher is batting .298 with 15 home runs, while driving in 49 runs for the defending World Champions.

Matt Angle (Norfolk Tides, Baltimore Orioles) This time a year ago the fleet-footed Angle was roaming centerfield for the Frederick Keys in the Carolina League. Since then, Angle has advanced two levels leaving himself on the verge of the show, even though the start of this season was delayed a month with a broken right Hamate bone on the last day of spring training for the Orioles. When healed, Angle started the 2010 season with AA Bowie, but after 14 games in which he batted .383 with an OPS of .900 the Orioles moved Angle to Norfolk. Since the promotion, Angle has made a homecoming to Columbus, squaring off against the hometown Clippers, and currently is batting .282 with 14 stolen bases. One more promotion might come Angle's way when MLB rosters are expanded in September.

Doug Deeds (Reno Aces, Arizona Diamondbacks) Deeds becomes our third former Buckeye outfielder to be either in MLB or on the cusp. Like his early 2000s teammate Swisher, Deeds picked up All-Star honors this season, playing in the AAA ASG this past Wednesday. The honor comes as Deeds is having a fantastic year for his third organization, the Diamondbacks, after previously climbing up the ladder for the Minnesota Twins and Chicago Cubs. So far in 2010 Deeds is batting .299 with 30 doubles, three triples, and seven home runs. Like Angle, Deeds could be a candidate for a September call-up as struggling parent clubs try to evaluate their farmhands.

Cory Luebke (Portland Beavers, San Diego Padres) Luebke makes it three Buckeyes in the minors' highest level. Luebke is also the newest Buckeye to reach AAA making his debut last night for the Portland Beavers. The Padres saw reason to promote the 2007 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year after the AAA all star break after a stellar AA first half. Like his former roommate Angle, Luebke started the 2010 season on the DL with a strained oblique muscle he received in spring training during bunting practice. Like Angle, once healthy Luebke tore through his AA competition. In 10 games with eight starts, Luebke went 5-1 for San Antonio with a 2.40 ERA, striking out 44 against 12 walks in 56.1 innings.


JB Shuck (Corpus Christi, Houston Astros) Three became one as Shuck is currently the lone Buckeye in AA after the promotions of Angle and Luebke. As the lone AA Buckeye, JB is doing well to represent Ohio State baseball. Batting atop the Hooks lineup, JB has racked up 101 hits in 338 at-bats for a .299 average. A year after finishing second in all of the minor leagues in hits, the 2008 sixth-round draft pick has 13 doubles, a triple and two home runs.

Advanced A

Dan DeLucia (Dunedin Blue Jays, Toronto Blue Jays) It's been the year of the DL for our former Buckeyes and DeLucia is no exception. A trip to the DL in May due to soreness in his pitching arm halted the season temporarily for the only three-time captain in Ohio State baseball history, but it was unable to slow down the successful season DeLucia is having. In 18 games out of the bullpen with one start, DeLucia is 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA. In 28 innings the southpaw has struck out 25, and walked only 11. Over his last 10 games, DeLucia is 1-0 with a 2.81 ERA in Florida State League action.

Eric Fryer (Bradenton Marauders, Pittsburgh Pirates) I wasn't kidding when I said it has been the year of the DL. Currently Eric Fryer is on the DL after a scary incident on July 1st when he was struck in the face with a pitch. Fortunately no surgery and Fryer should be back in action in the next week or so. The wayward pitch came at the worst possible time for Fryer who had been extremely hot at the plate. Though he is hitting .274 on the year, since May 1st Fryer is batting .318 with 10 doubles, two triples, and five home runs, posting an OPS of .914 and .984 in May and June respectively. Hopefully Fryer does not miss a beat upon return and continues to turn heads in the Pirates organization.

Short-Season A

Jake Hale (Yakima Bears, Arizona Diamondbacks) Hale began the year in Advanced A, but the Diamondbacks saw it appropriate to send him to extended spring training and assign him to Yakima. The extended stay surely has worked as Hale has been lights out in the Northwest League. Just last night the 2009 All-American surrender his first earned run of the season after eight games on the mound. Now after 16 innings of work Hale has an ERA of 0.56 with 16 strikeouts and just three walks. With a save to his credit, Hale is limiting the opposition to a .200 BAA with a very nice 2.20 groundout-airout ratio.

Zach Hurley (Vancouver Canadians, Oakland A's)The newest Buckeye in the professional ranks is the 2010 29th round draft selection of Oakland, Zach Hurley. The season hasn't got off as the first-team All-Big Ten selection had hoped, but his professional career is only a baker's dozen of games old. Currently Hurley is batting .176 for his team north of the border.


While 2010 has been a success nearly up and down the ranks for our former Buckeyes, a trio of players are now longer climbing their way through the ranks after being released.

Former stand-out pitcher Mike Madsen and Scott Lewis were let go by the A's and Indians respectively. Unfortunate for both, the releases come more as a result of both having histories of injuries and the inability to stay healthy for a prolonged length of time. In 2010 for the Clippers Lewis was 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA, striking out 18 in 17.0 innings, with his last game being April 23rd. Madsen's last game came on July 8th as a member of the Stockon Ports in Advanced A ball. For 2010 Madsen was 1-4 with a 5.00 ERA, he had struck out 32 in 27 innings with just eight walks.

The last of the ex-Buckeyes to be released this season is 2006 Big Ten Player of the Year Ronnie Bourquin. Bourquin's season started on the wrong foot as the farmhand of the Detroit Tigers was suspended 50 games after violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Bourquin's last game was on June 22nd as a member of the AA Erie SeaWolves, Bourquin was batting .238 with two home runs, for Erie, and .237 in 17 games, 59 at-bats between Erie and Low A West Michigan.

I'll be doing more the rest of the summer in keeping up with our former Buckeyes.

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