UConn in MLB: Springer, Ahmed helping teams in divisional races

Houston Astros' George Springer, right, dives past Baltimore Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph (36) to score a run on Jose Altuve's RBI double during the first inning of a baseball game, Saturday, May 27, 2017, in Houston. (Eric Christian Smith/AP)

Houston Astros' George Springer, right, dives past Baltimore Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph (36) to score a run on Jose Altuve's RBI double during the first inning of a baseball game, Saturday, May 27, 2017, in Houston. (Eric Christian Smith/AP)

With two months gone in the 2017 MLB season, some former UConn Huskies are making an impact for big league clubs, while others try to climb the ranks and reach the big show.

Star slugger George Springer has helped the Houston Astros to a 38-16 mark so far, the best record in the majors. Houston also sits 11.5 games up on their closest competitor in the AL West, the Los Angeles Angels.

Springer is hitting .265, with 13 home runs and 31 RBIs in 49 games. He is on pace for the best power-hitting season of his young career, and an impressive follow-up effort to his 29-homer, 82-RBI campaign in 2016. The Astros have leapt out ahead of the pack this season, and the UConn grad is an integral part of their offense.

Shortstop Nick Ahmed is another former Husky playing a role for a team that is outperforming its expectations. Ahmed’s Arizona Diamondbacks are tied for the NL West lead with the Colorado Rockies with a 34-22 record, including a 21-8 mark at home that matches the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best in baseball.

Ahmed is enjoying his best season at the plate, hitting .283 with a .475 slugging percentage. He has homered five times and driven in 17 runs.

On the mound, the Rockies have been getting some decent performances from a UConn grad in pitcher Scott Oberg. Oberg has already made more appearances than he did last year, holding a 5.06 ERA in 25 games. The opposition bats .292 against Oberg when he pitches at home at hitter-friendly Coors Field, and .235 on the road.

Matt Barnes, another former Huskies' pitcher. has compiled a 3.80 ERA for the Boston Red Sox in 24 appearances out of the bullpen. Barnes has earned a 3-2 record thus far for Boston, which is chasing the New York Yankees for the AL East lead. Barnes has struck out 26 batters in 23.2 innings, finishing five games as a reliever.

In the minor leagues, John Andreoli, Greg Nappo and L.J. Mazzilli lead a pack of Huskies seeking to advance to the highest level.

Andreoli plays for the Iowa Cubs, the triple-AAA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, where he is batting .220 with a .320 on-base percentage.

Nappo was promoted in early May to the New Orleans Baby Cakes, the triple-AAA affiliate of the Miami Marlins. Nappo has made five appearances for New Orleans this season, and has a 5.19 ERA.

Mazzilli was promoted earlier this season to the Las Vegas 51s, the triple-AAA affiliate of the New York Mets. He is hitting .217 with a .321 on-base percentage in 16 games.

As for more recent UConn grads, infielder Vinny Siena also finds himself in the Mets organization, playing A+ level ball in St. Lucie. 2015 American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year Carson Cross plays A- level ball for the State College Spikes, seeking to rise through the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

2016 American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year Anthony Kay, who was selected by the Mets with the 31st pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, continues to recover from Tommy John surgery, but will look to rise through the organization in the next few years.


Tyler Keating is the sports editor for The Daily Campus, covering men’s basketball. He can be reached via email at tyler.keating@uconn.edu. He tweets @tylerskeating.