CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 13: Gordon Beckham #15 of the Chicago White Sox celebrates an inning-ending double play against the Detroit Tigers during the opening day game at U.S. Cellular Field on April 13, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Tigers 5-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
And now we start what may well become a regular feature, updating how former Diamond Dawgs are doing in their pro careers. The list below are the names as best I can figure (thank you baseball-reference.com), so any help adding to the list or correcting my mistakes would be appreciated. So without further ado, here is how the half dozen or so Georgia baseball players are doing in MLB and the minors a week and a half in to the season.
Former owner of the Green House, Gordon Beckham has picked up where he left off last year, which isn't a good thing considering how bad last year was for him. He's got a mere 5 hits and 2 walks after 10 games, to go with 12 strikeouts, at the plate, as the primary 2B for the Chicago White Sox. But even though things are going from bad to worse, he's still working hard to regain the form he hasn't showed since that promising rookie campaign in 2009.
Joing Beckham in the bigs are St Louis Cardinals P Mitchell Boggs, and Tampa Bay Rays IF Jeff Keppinger, as well as several Dawgs working their way through the minors. Updates on them, and those in the minors, after the jump.
Boggs, a Dalton native and starting pitcher originally, has found a role in the bullpen of the World Series champion Cardinals over the last two seasons, and is back again for more this year. He's worked his way up from long relief/junk man, into a more prominent role of set up man, and through 5 games and 7 innings so far, has only allowed 2 runs (1 earned) and 4 hits, while striking out 7 and not allowing any walks.
Keppinger has bounced from bench to bench getting work as a pinch hitter, and spot starter around the infield. After spending last year with Houston and San Francisco, he signed with Tampa Bay over the winter, and is filling in as a pinch hitter and occassional starter down there. In 12 games so far, he has 39 at bats, 1 HR, and a triple slash line of .231/.250/.359 (batting average, on base, slugging). His role will vary throughout the year as injuries occur, and depending on how he hits.
In the minors, OF Zach Cone, who was a first round pick for the Texas Rangers last season is off to a strong start for their low A affiliate in Hickory NC, the Hickory Crawdads. The Stone Mountain native is hitting .304 through the first 12 games, with 4 HRs. If he can keep up his obp of .373 and great slugging of .652, he may move on up to high A ball later this summer. His fellow 2011 draft mates, 1B Chase Davidson of the Astros and P Cecil Tanner (who seems to go by Berry now) are not on either of their teams' two A Ball affiliates, and we presume are in extended spring training before joining teams in the short season New York-Penn League.
Joining Cone as successful Rangers' farmhands, righthander Justin Grimm is off to a great start for their AA club in Frisco (Tx). After spending time at both A ball levels last year, in Hickory and Myrtle Beach, the Virginia native began the year in AA, and has pitched excellent in 3 starts so far. Through 18 innings, he has allowed only 7 hits, 1 run, and 4 walks, while striking out 17. I'd expect he spends the full season in AA, but if he keeps producing like that, a move up wouldn't be a surprise during the summer.
Former Braves farmhand Clint Sammons has stuck with the Marlins (formerly Florida, now Miami) after leaving the Atlanta organization. He still hits very poorly, but is with the Marlins AAA affiliate, the New Orleans Zephyrs, ready to help as a defensive stalwart should injuries force a need.
Right hander Brooks Brown is also still toiling in the minors, hia 7th season on the farm, now with the Detroit Tigers. He has been a Tiger since 2009, when he was acquired in a trade for a little used C. He has struggled the last two years as a starter for their AA team in Erie, but still stepped up this season to join their AAA club in Toledo. So far, he has 1 start and pitched in 2 games, logging just over 5 innings. If he does well, he may get a call up later as a junk reliever, but the 26 year old still has time to keep improving.
25 yr old lefty Nathan Moreau is still a Baltimore Orioles, after they drafted him in the 11th round in 2008. He's been excluively an A ball pitcher, spending each of the last two years in their high A affiliate, the Frederick Keys. He's back for more Keys action this year, and like Brown, has pitched in 2 games, getting 1 start. He hasn't pitched well though, giving up twice as many runs as innings pitched, and at his age, at that level, it's hard to imagine a much longer career remaining for the Lilburn native.
Trevor Holder, with the Potomac Nationals, is not off to a good start. He's spent parts of each professional season, now entering his 4th, with the Washington organization's high A club. He's now working as a reliever and has pitched 6 innings in 3 games so far.
C Bryce Massanari, a big part of Georgia's last run to Omaha, is now with the Oakland A's high A affiliate in Modesto. After a strong season last year for their South Atlantic League club in Asheville, his bat has not done anywhere near as well through the first 11 games of 2012, as he already has 17 strikeouts.
1B Rich Poythress struggled last year in AA, hitting decently, but showing nowhere near the power that saw 31 HRs the season before in high A ball. He's back for round too with the Seattle Mariners AA club in Jackson (Tn), and still is struggling to get his power, having no HRs through 14 games so far.
After spending the bulk of his Diamond Dawg career in the rotation. Stephen Dodson has been almost exclusively a relief arm since joining the Colorado Rockies organization. Now in his 4th season, he's taken the ladder step by step, spending a full year in A, then A+, then AA, and now joining Colorado Springs one step away from the bigs. So far, he's seen 6 innings in 5 games, and has allowed some runs, although of the 6 only 1 run has been an earned run.
Josh Fields, the record setting, shaggy haired closer, is now with the Boston Red Sox organization after they acquired him, as well as starter Erik Bedard last summer. Now in his 4th professional season, the reliever has never been below the AA level, but has only 9 games in AAA. He's back in AA for Boston, with the Portland (Maine) Sea Dogs of the Eastern league. After a rough start in his first pro season, it's safe to say Fields has mastered the AA level. In 4 games so far for Portland, he's notched 7 strikeouts in 5 innings, allowing 1 run, 6 hits, and 3 walks. He's always done well getting Ks, but his control has held him back. As the former first round pick turns 27 in August, it's about time he gets moved up to AAA to make or break this career.
Jeff Walters, who pitched extremely well for the Mets last year, appears to be active according to his milb.com profile page, but is not listed on any Mets' minor league club rosters. So not sure what's going on there.
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