Huskies in Baseball: Springer shines, recent draft class rakes

The Houston Astros’ Carlos Correa (1) celebrates with teammates George Springer (4), and Jake Marshnick (6) after a 7-0 win against the Oakland Athletics on July 20, 2016, at the Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. (Photo courtesy of Aric Crabb/East Bay Times, via newsexpress.com)

The MLB season is more than halfway over, but for some former Huskies, baseball is just beginning. There are currently 14 UConn baseball alumni in some sort of baseball organization, whether they're competing for a division title or just starting out in rookie ball. Here's a look as to how they have all been performing thus far this season.

Nick Ahmed, Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks’ starting shortstop has collected four hits in his last seven games. His slash line is a sorry .167/.200/.167, with only one run scored. He is batting .218 on the season. However, his team as a whole is not faring very well either. After taking 2 of 3 from the wild card-leading Dodgers, they dropped a two-game series to the Blue Jays and 2 of 3 to the Reds to bring their record to 41-57.

Matt Barnes, Boston Red Sox

Barnes has been an integral part of the Red Sox bullpen, possessing an ERA of just 2.08 over 8.2 innings in his last seven games. His most recent appearance was on Sunday against the Twins, where he did not have as much success, giving up two earned runs on two hits while recording just one out. His appearance last Wednesday against the Giants was much better, coming in relief after his four predecessors gave up seven runs on 13 hits over just five innings. Barnes pitched three innings of relief, giving up only two hits with no runs while striking out two, eventually earning the win. His season ERA stands at 3.23 with 41 hits allowed over 47.1 innings.     

George Springer, Houston Astros

Springer has flourished as of late after struggling. Over his last seven games, he’s hit at a clip of .310/.412/.517 with five walks, seven RBIs, one home run and seven runs scored.This was bolstered after the Astros completed a sweep of the Angels, where Springer had five hits and four RBIs. His season average rests at .263, but his speed has been a force for the ‘Stros, whether on the basepaths or in the outfield. With his team only 2.5 games back of first place in the AL West, Springer’s play is perhaps more important than ever for an Astros team with a vengeance.

John Andreoli, Iowa Cubs (AAA, Chicago Cubs)

Andreoli collected two hits and three RBIs on Monday, as well as one RBI in two games played on Wednesday and Thursday. Over his last 10 games, he is batting .257 with eight RBIs, five walks and two stolen bases. With the continued success of the Cubs at the major league level, Andreoli will certainly be spending much more time trying to find himself in the minors’ Pacific Coast League -- the most hitter-friendly league of any level of baseball.  

Greg Nappo, New Orleans Zephyers (AAA, Miami Marlins)

Playing in perhaps the hardest league for pitchers other than the major leagues, the Pacific Coast League, Nappo has not done too hot. He has given up at least one earned run in seven of his last ten appearances, though he had a clean inning with one strikeout in his last game on July 10. The life of a relief pitcher is unpredictable, but his season ERA stands at 5.09 with 42 hits given up over 40.2 innings.

Scott Oberg, Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA, Colorado Rockies)

Also in the PCL with Nappo, closer Oberg has done a better job than his fellow former Husky, giving up only two earned runs over his last 10.0 innings for an ERA of 1.80, including 12 strikeouts. This brings his season ERA down to 2.43. He has converted nine out of 10 save opportunities, and batters are hitting only .160 off of him this season.

LJ Mazzilli, Binghamton Mets (AA, New York Mets)

Mazzilli collected only one hit in his most recent start Thursday, bringing his season slash line to .260/.341/.387. Over his last 10 games, he is batting only .231 with an even seven walks and seven strikeouts, and only two RBIs. With second baseman Dilson Herrera expected to be the successor to current Mets 2B Neil Walker next season, Mazzilli may remain in the minors for quite some time.

Mike Olt, San Antonio Missions (AA, San Diego Padres)

Olt has been on the DL since June 15, and has not appeared in a game since June 10. On the season, he is hitting .253 with five home runs, 25 RBIs and 31 walks in only 52 games between AA and AAA.

Vinny Siena, St. Lucie Mets (A+, New York Mets)

Siena has improved greatly over his last 10 games, hitting for .325 with four RBIs, four walks, and five runs scored over 13 hits. He has recorded at least one hit in all but two of his last 10 games, including four multi-hit games. Siena has struggled overall since being promoted to advanced A (his average dropped from .291 to .241), but he will need much more playing time before he can fully acclimate.

Max McDowell, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (A, Milwaukee Brewers)

McDowell has been swinging the bat extremely well lately, batting .303 over his last 10 games, including seven RBIs on seven hits in his last three games. His season slash line stands at .292/.375/.370. While hitting for absolutely no power (he has yet to leave the ballpark this season over 243 at-bats), he has shown that he is a consistent contact hitter, collecting 53 singles, 17 doubles and one triple so far.

Carson Cross, State College Spikes (Short-A, St. Louis Cardinals)

Cross made his most recent start on Thursday, surrendering four runs on eight hits over 5.0 innings with only one strikeout. On the season, he has made only seven starts, possessing a 3.98 ERA with 21 strikeouts and 11 walks, and 47 hits over 40.2 innings.     

Jack Sundberg, Auburn Doubledays (Short-A, Washington Nationals)

Like his former teammates right out of the draft, Sundberg is enjoying early success in the Nationals organization. Since being promoted to short-A, he has hit .320 over seven games, with four walks, three runs scored and two triples. In his most recent game, he went 2-for-5 with one run scored and one RBI. True to form, Sundberg has been drawing walks, getting on base and driving in runs. His OPS stands at a very good .880.

Bobby Melley, Princeton Rays (Rookie, Tampa Bay Rays)

Fresh out of the draft, Melley has been hot in the Rookie League thus far. He has been getting on base as well as driving in runs, with 14 RBIs and nine walks in just 21 games played this season. While obviously a small sample size, he is batting at a clip of .321 with an .879 OPS.

Patrick Ruotolo, AZL Giants (Rookie, San Francisco Giants)

Ruotolo has enjoyed great success in his short season since being drafted. He has given up only six hits and one unearned run in 11.1 innings, making his ERA a perfect 0.00 through eight appearances thus far. His K/BB is an outstanding 18/4.


Stephanie Sheehan is associate managing editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at stephanie.sheehan@uconn.edu. She tweets @steph_sheehan.