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Pack in the Pros - Late August Baseball Edition

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NC State has 3 alums at the MLB level and 26 in the Minor Leagues

Los Angeles Dodgers v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

2010 Draft

Jake Buchanan - RHP - AAA (Angels)

Currently on the injured list. Buchanan last appeared at the MLB level in 2017 with the Cincinnati Reds, but has since bounced around the minors at the AAA level with the Diamondbacks, A’s, Nationals, and now the Angels. It’s been a rough year for Jake, though, pitching to a 10.01 ERA over 9 appearances (6 starts) and 29.2 IP, allowing 51 hits and 10 walks while striking out 26 batters.

2014 Draft

Trea Turner - 2B/SS - MLB (Dodgers)

As you may have heard, Turner was involved in a blockbuster deal at the trade deadline that sent him to the Dodgers along with Max Scherzer. Since joining the Dodgers, Turner is slashing .323/.358/.484 in 67 PA. Prior to that, Turner slashed .322/.369/.521 in 420 PA with the Nationals. With his next home run, Turner will set a new single-season career high with 20. Simply put, Turner is one of the best players in all of baseball. Despite playing second base since the trade, Turner is the shortstop of the future for the Dodgers organization. Expect a long-term extension soon.

Carlos Rodon - LHP - MLB (White Sox)

If you haven’t noticed, Rodon is in the midst of a truly special season. He’s currently 9-5 with a 2.38 ERA over 19 starts and 109.2 IP, allowing 75 hits and 30 walks while striking out 160. Unfortunately, Rodon hit the injured list after his August 7th start with a sore arm. He looks primed to return from the IL as soon as tomorrow, and is still a player in the AL Cy Young Award race. Rodon took a one-year, $3M deal to return to the White Sox this year. His next contract will dwarf that one.

2015 Draft

Jon Olczak - RHP - AA (Astros)

Olczak was on the cusp of breaking through to the MLB level with the Brewers in 2019. Has allowed a run in just four of this 24 AA appearances this year, while pitching to a 2.05 ERA over 26.1 IP, allowing 15 hits and 5 walks while striking out 29. Had a brief three-game run in AAA in June, but the last two of those outings went very poorly for him and he was sent back down. Given his recent success, he should get another shot at the AAA level and will hopefully get a shot at the big leagues before long.

2016 Draft

Andrew Knizner - C - MLB (Cardinals)

Knizer just can’t catch a break because the immortal Yadier Molina just won’t freaking retire. Molina, the 38-year-old ironman catcher who has spent his entire 18-year MLB career with the Cards, came back for 2021 on a one-year contract, and has just agreed to another extension to come back in 2022. Let’s hope Knizner gets a trade to another team where he can finally get some playing time and show off his abilities rather than wasting away as a backup. On the year, Knizner is slashing .179/.294/.256 over 136 PA. A very unlucky .225 BABIP has suppressed those numbers, so don’t be fooled; Knizner can still hit with the best of them.

Ryan Williamson - LHP - A+ (White Sox)

Everyone knows Williamson’s story. He was in the midst of an incredible 2016 season when he hurt his arm. Even then, he toughed out three more appearances before finally shutting down to have Tommy John Surgery. The Nationals drafted him in the 15th round despite the injury and he attempted to come back from TJS in the pro ranks. He made it up to A ball with the Nationals in 2019, pitching to a 3.84 ERA over 61.0 IP, but the Nats cut him during 2020 anyways. The White Sox signed him this spring and he’s pitching as a reliever in A+ ball, currently with a 1-3 record and 6.68 ERA over 21 appearances and 31.0 IP, allowing 38 hits and 24 walks with 40 strikeouts.

Preston Palmeiro - UTIL - AAA (Angels)

Palmeiro’s career appeared to be over in 2019 after a rough season in AA with the Orioles that was followed up with his release. He played in Independent League ball in 2020 and then resurfaced in the Angels minor league system this year, spending all but one game at the AAA level and playing a multitude of positions (1B, 2B, 3B, LF, RF). Palmeiro was especially hot in June, slashing .343/.405/.507 over 74 PA in the month, but has since cooled off. On the year at the AAA level, he’s slashing .239/.310/.405 with 11 2B and 10 HR over 287 PA.

2017 Draft

Tim Naughton - RHP - AA (Orioles)

After playing across three levels in 2019, Naughton returned to the Orioles organization in 2021 and has spent the entire season to date at the AA level. He has a 2-2 record and 3 saves with a 5.77 ERA over 29 appearances and 34.1 IP, allowing 33 hits and 34 walks with 43 strikeouts. Those numbers are very underwhelming, but over July and August he’s pitched to a 2.16 ERA over 15 appearances and 16.2 IP. Walks are still an issue, though.

Cody Beckman - LHP - AA (Brewers)

Beckman has spent the entirety of this season at the AA level, pitching to an 0-3 record and 6.69 ERA over 24 appearances (including two starts) and 40.1 IP, allowing 44 hits and 30 walks with 44 strikeouts. He had an incredibly rough first two months of the season, but has a 2.89 ERA with 7 walks and 24 strikeouts over 18.2 IP across July and August. He’ll be due a bump up in competition level if that trend continues.

Tommy DeJuneas - RHP - A+ (Astros)

DeJuneas somewhat surprisingly popped up as a prospect in the Cleveland organization after a fantastic first year and a half in the minor leagues, pitching to a 2.93 ERA over 55.1 IP across Rookie and A ball. He was then traded midseason 2018 in a one-for-one transaction with MLB pitcher James Hoyt as Cleveland made a push for the postseason. Since the trade, DeJuneas has come back down to earth, with a 5.81 ERA over 113.0 IP in the Houston org. This year, DeJuneas started in AA but was moved down to A+ after a rough start. At the A+ level this year, DeJuneas is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA and 1 save over 9 appearances and 13.1 IP, allowing 11 hits and 8 walks while striking out 14.

Evan Mendoza - UTIL - AAA (Cardinals)

Mendoza has been primarily a third baseman in his career, both in college and in the minor leagues, but has moved to being the starting shortstop for the Cardinals’ AAA club in 2021, while also seeing time at several other positions (1B, 2B, 3B, CF). The move is probably for the best for Mendoza given that the Cards traded for 3B Nolan Arenado and that SS Paul DeJong has underwhelmed with the big league club this year. On the season, Mendoza is slashing .255/.318/.298 with 11 2B over 339 PA and is sporting a .976 fielding percentage at the SS position.

Joe Dunand - 3B - AAA (Marlins)

Dunand started out the year in AAA, looking very impressive over his first two games. Then he got hurt and missed two months of the season. After a brief five-game rehab stint in A ball, Dunand rejoined the AAA Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, but things have not gone well, especially in August where he’s slashing just .038/091/.096 in 56 PA. For the season at the AAA level, Dunand is slashing .162/.252/.333 in 132 PA while primarily playing 3B, but also getting some run at SS and 1B.

2018 Draft

Jack Conley - C - AA (Phillies)

Conley started out the year in AAA for the Phillies, but was moved down to AA after just seven games. He started out hot during his stay in AA, slashing .233/.361/.467 in the month of June, but has since cooled off considerably. For the year at the AA level, Conley is hitting .143/.233/.294 with 4 2B and 4 HR. He’s been getting more consistent playing time recently, though, which is the one thing he hasn’t received at all since his high school days. He’s also been incredibly unlucky this year with a BABIP of just .171 in AA. The combination of consistent playing time and a regression to the mean of BABIP should have him rapidly improving.

2019 Draft

Michael Bienlien - RHP - A+ (Tigers)

Bienlien was a quick riser in the Tigers system, shooting up across four levels in 2019 after being drafted, going from Rookie ball up to A+. He started off this year in A ball, pitching to a 1-1 record with 1 save and a 2.19 ERA across 13 appearances and 24.2 IP, allowing 16 hits and 13 walks with 33 strikeouts. He was subsequently moved up to A+, where he has a 2-0 record with 1 save and a 4.63 ERA across 14 appearances and 23.1 IP, allowing 29 hits and 10 walks with 25 strikeouts.

Andrew Blake - RHP - A (Angels)

Blake made just one appearance this year, producing a beautiful effort (5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K) before hitting the injured list back in May. Here’s to hoping a full recovery from his injury and more results like his outing earlier this year.

Alec Barger - RHP - A (Braves)

Barger has had an interesting season for the Augusta GreenJackets (punny!). He began the year in the rotation for the squad, but after six starts was moved to the bullpen. His surface numbers (ERA, WHIP, K/9) say it was a good move, but based on opponent OPS and K% he looks to be performing at the same level. The biggest change has been an improvement in his BB% as a reliever than as a starter, but that could also be due to simply having better control as the season progressed. Overall, he’s 2-4 with 1 save over 24 games (6 starts) and 48.1 IP, allowing 42 hits and 29 walks with 63 strikeouts.

Jason Parker - RHP - A (Reds)

Parker has had himself a pretty good year in A ball for the Reds, and simply needs to be promoted. On the year, he’s 4-2 with a 4.03 ERA across 18 games (17 starts) and 76.0 IP, allowing 59 hits and 32 walks with 88 strikeouts. For comparison, in his lone year at State, he also had 76.0 IP, allowing 78 hits and 30 walks with 70 strikeouts. Move this man up your org, Cincy!

Evan Edwards - 1B - A+ (Marlins)

It’s been an up-and-down year for Edwards in A+ ball, starting slow in May, then having a much better June, only to slump a bit in July (although still better than May). But, man, is this dude crushing it right now. He’s slashing .262/.400/.656 in the month of August with 4 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, and a 13:23 BB:K ratio. On the year, he’s slashing .225/.349/.491 with 20 HR. He’s in line for a promotion.

Will Wilson - SS - AA (Giants)

Wilson has split his time this season between A+ and AA, starting the year in A+ slashing .251/.339/.497 with 14 2B and 10 HR over 224 PA. He then moved up to AA where things haven’t gone quite as well, slashing just .180/283/.302 with 5 2B and 4 HR across 159 PA. August has not been a good month, but over his last five games Wilson is hitting .333/.455/.556 with a 2B, HR, 4 R, 5 RBI, and 4 BB. Hopefully this is the start of a strong finishing kick to the year for the highly touted prospect and can propel him back into the Giants’ Top 10 list.

2020 Draft

Nick Swiney - LHP - A (Giants)

Swiney has made just seven appearances this year, with five of those coming during a rehab stint in Rookie ball following an early season injury. Sandwiching that rehab time was a pair of A ball starts that saw Swiney go a combined 6.1 IP, allowing 1 run (unearned) on 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 11. In his five appearances in Rookie ball, Swiney went 8.0 IP, allowing 1 run (earned) on 7 hits and 6 walks with 16 strikeouts. It’s obvious that the Giants are being very cautious with Swiney this year.

Patrick Bailey - C - A (Giants)

Bailey started off the year as teammates with Wilson in A+ for the Giants, but while Wilson went up to AA, Bailey went down to A ball after a brief two-game stay at the Rookie level. At the A level, Bailey is slashing .253/.368/.421 with 7 2B and 3 HR over 114 PA. He has also thrown out 46% of attempted base stealers. Sadly, Bailey was not behind the plate for Swiney’s return start to the San Jose Giants, but hopefully the former college battery will be back together for the next one - which is tonight (start time: 9:35pm ET, on MiLB.tv).

2021 Draft

Reid Johnston - RHP - Rookie (Cleveland)

Johnston has yet to make his professional debut. Given that he tossed 96.2 IP this year for NC State after having thrown only 12.2 IP in 2020, it’s not surprising that the higher ups in Cleveland are holding their 19th round pick out until 2022.

Luca Tresh - C - Rookie (Royals)

Tresh slid hard in the draft, falling to the 17th round, but the Royals threw significant money at him to get him to finally sign a contract. So far, he’s played in four games, slashing .455/.500/.636 with a pair of doubles in Rookie ball.

Terrell Tatum - OF - Rookie (White Sox)

Tatum is off to a hot start in his professional career, slashing .367/.500/.600 with 4 2B and a HR in 38 PA. While he has struck out 11 times, he’s also walked 8 times. If the 16th round pick keeps up this pace, he’ll move up quickly.

Jonny Butler - OF - A+ (A’s)

After a quick start in Rookie ball (.300/.417/.600 in 12 PA), Butler was moved up to A+ for the A’s. So far in 21 PA, he’s slashing just .105/.190/.105. Skipping A ball is obviously a tough adjustment, especially for a 14th round pick, so it’ll be interesting to see how Butler adapts.

Austin Murr - OF - A+ (Tigers)

Murr hasn’t really had a chance to get comfortable anywhere yet. Just 20 games into his professional career, he’s already been at three different levels. The 6th round pick played just a single game of Rookie ball (went 1-for-3 with an RBI), then was promoted to A ball where he hit .262/.492/.333 in 61 PA with an insane 17 BB, and has since been moved up to A+ ball where he’s hitting .261/.308/.261 in 26 PA.

Evan Justice - LHP - Rookie (Rockies)

Similar to Johnston, Justice has yet to make his professional debut, and likely for similar reasons. Justice threw 59.2 IP this year for NC State after just 9.2 IP in 2020. That’s going to call for a slower approach for the 5th round pick.

Jose Torres - SS - A (Reds)

The question around Torres was never whether the glove would translate to the professional ranks, but whether he could hold his own at the plate. He’s only played seven total games to this point, but so far so good. After three games in Rookie ball where he hit .300/.417/.800 with a 3B and HR in 12 PA, Torres moved up to A ball where the 3rd round pick is hitting .294/.333/471 with a HR in 18 PA. Not to jinx him, but Jose has a hit in every game he’s played as a pro.

Tyler McDonough - 2B/OF - A (Red Sox)

The 3rd round pick of the Red Sox had a short stay in Rookie ball, hitting .308/.308/.538 with 3 2B in 13 PA, prompting a quick promotion to A ball. At his current level, McDonough is hitting just .182/.250/.273 in 24 PA, but has a pair of multi-hit efforts in his last four games. Defensively, he’s alternated between 2B and CF at both levels.