Friday, April 22, 2011

College Baseball in the Majors

One of the many great reasons to watch College Baseball is the opportunity to see the future MLB stars play. According to a recent detailed list at, more than 325 former D-1 players are now playing in the Major Leagues. Without doing detailed research, I count at least 3 dozen of those 325 that I saw play.

In the very first game I ever saw at Simmons Field, back in the 80's, I watched Oklahoma State third baseman Robin Ventura pound out the hits. He went on to a pretty decent career in the major leagues.

A few examples from this past week of players in the big leagues that Tiger fans once saw at Simmons Field:

Pepperdine came to Simmons Field on a cold, blustery weekend a few years back, and the Tigers managed to beat their ace pitcher, Dan Haren, but then Haren turned around and beat Mizzou with his bat on Sunday. A decade later, Angels' Dan Haren named AL co-player of the week (LA Times)
On Monday, Haren was named the American League's co-player of the week, sharing the honor with Tampa Bay's Johnny Damon. Haren was 2-0 last week with 14 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings, holding opponents to a .148 batting average. Including in that was his third career shutout, a one-hitter against the Cleveland Indians. It was the first time Haren has won or shared the player of the week honor. (Damon batted .375 in 24 at-bats with two homers, four runs and 11 runs batted in.)

■ He was once an annoying and surly Cornhusker, but Hard work finally pays off for Alex Gordon (USA Today)
Also unknown is exactly what the lean, laconic Nebraskan did to cure his ailing swing during long and intense sessions last winter with batting coach Kevin Seitzer.

What is plain for everybody to see about Alex Gordon is the .354 batting average and 15-game hitting streak he'll take into Friday night's game at Texas.

Finally, after enough problems and frustrations to last an entire career, Gordon may be starting to fulfill the vast promise everyone saw in the overall No. 2 selection from the famous draft of 2005.
■ And here's a 2-for, Ryan Howard (Southwest Missouri State) facing Shaun Marcum (SMS/MU: Ryan Howard, Phillies, look to feast on Marcum (Philly Sports Daily).
Milwaukee sends righty Shaun Marcum to the mound. Marcum was acquired from Toronto in the offseason and enjoyed a strong 2010 campaign spent in the perilous AL East. He has faced the Phillies three times, going 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA and a clean 1.08 WHIP. In a recent article about effective pitchers who don’t boast great velocity, Marcum vetted out well due to substantial movement on his fastball.

Raúl Ibañez has seen the most of Marcum of the current Phillies and in 18 career plate appearances he’s been held to a .235 average but did take Marcum yard once. Ryan Howard has two hits in four plate appearances against Marcum and they both were home runs, something a power-hungry Charlie Manuel has to be excited about. But much like with Blanton versus the Brew-crew, there’s not much history here between Marcum and the Phillies.

■ And let's not foget Mizzou alums Ian Kinsler, Max Scherzer and Aaron Crow: Crow's role with Royals is far from settled (
“The more I pitch, the more video there will be of me and the more hitters are gonna get a better idea of what pitches I throw in different situations,” Crow said. “I’ll keep doing the same thing, but if guys start to pick up on tendencies, then I’ll adjust.”

To that end, Crow — who has primarily been using a devastating fastball/slider combination to retire hitters — said he’s been working on his change-up and curveball, though he rarely uses them in games.

“I feel a lot more comfortable with my fastball and slider, so I prefer those pitches,” Crow said. “But if I need to throw a third one, I’d throw a curve. I just started throwing it last year, but I consider it my third-best pitch now.”

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