The 2014 baseball season is in full swing, and a number of former UGA baseball players continue to impress under the sizzling summer sun. I continue my series on former Georgia baseball players and how they've been performing at different levels of professional baseball. Here is a breakdown of how these DGDs have been representing UGA at the next level through June.
Dawgs in the bigs:
Alex Wood's return to the Atlanta Braves' starting rotation this past month was accelerated by the unfortunate season-ending injury to Gavin Floyd. However, the former UGA fireballer wasted no time in proving that he belongs in the mix of Braves starters, posting a praise-worthy return to the rotation after spending the past month in the Atlanta bullpen and stretching out as a starter at AAA Gwinnett. Wood closed out the month of June having pitched 73.1 innings with a 3.19 ERA, 17 walks and 74 strikeouts. Keep a close eye on Wood, who will almost certainly be a key piece of the Braves' puzzle as we enter the midway point of the season.
Chicago White Sox 2B Gordon Beckham continued to build upon a rebound season this past month on the South Side. Beckham's rise, though largely unnoticed in baseball circles, has been both encouraging and impressive for a team of which little was expected heading into the season. I think I speak for all of us when I say that I am thrilled to see Beckham putting up such incredible numbers after a disappointing and injury-plagued 2013. He closes the month of June hitting .261 with 23 RBIs and seven home runs over 63 games. Yours truly had the pleasure of seeing Beckham in action on a recent trip to Camden Yards in Baltimore. I hope you enjoy the shots I was able to take of one of my personal favorite former Diamond Dawgs.
With a little bit of zoom, of course via i.imgur.com
The Cubs' Justin Grimm did not enjoy the best of months in June, but is still putting up some decent numbers in the North Side bullpen. The Bristol, Tennessee, native currently owns an ERA of 4.14 with 36 strikeouts and 19 walks on the season.
June was both kind and cruel to Houston Astros reliever Josh Fields. The former Diamond Dawg hurler got his ERA down to 5.93 (from 7.20 at the end of May) and now has 18 walks and 40 strikeouts over 38 innings pitched on the season. While Fields enjoyed a good month on the mound, he unfortunately closes out June on the 15-day DL with a forearm injury. The good news? The Astros expect him to rejoin the team on their current road trip.
Dawgs on the way up:
Brooks Brown, still pitching in relief for AAA Colorado Springs in the Colorado Rockies organization, closes the month of June with a 4.35 ERA, 35 strikeouts and 16 walks over 39.1 innings on the season.
After being roughed up a bit in May, Jeff Walters pitched a better June for AAA Las Vegas in the New York Mets organization. The Orlando, Florida, native wraps up the month with an ERA of 8.86, 14 strikeouts and eight walks over 21.1 innings pitched.
Rich Poythress is still with the Miami Marlins organization, manning first base at AA Jacksonville. Through the end of June, the former Diamond Dawgs slugger is hitting .244 with 17 RBIs and four home runs.
Nashville, Tennessee, native Will Startup spent June pitching for AA Erie in the Detroit Tigers organization. Over 31 innings pitched, Startup closes the month with an ERA of 4.06 with 21 strikeouts and 11 walks.
Native Athenian Levi Hyams continues to perform well in the infield for the Lynchburg Hillcats, the A+ affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. Hyams closes out June hitting .239 with 30 RBIs and two home runs.
Catcher/DH Kyle Famer continued his rise through the ranks of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, landing at A+ Rancho Cucamonga in June. In nine games with the Quakes, Farmer is hitting .250 with four RBIs. Before being called up to A+, he was hitting .310 with 35 RBIs and two home runs for A Great Lakes.
Detroit Tigers farmhand Curt Powell continues to play at A+ Lakeland this summer. Through the end of June, Powell is hitting .292 with 27 RBIs and two home runs for the Flying Tigers.
June saw the demotion of Texas Rangers outfielder/DH Zach Cone from A+ Myrtle Beach to A- Spokane, where he spent the 2011 season as a total fan favorite. Through 18 games in Spokane, Cone is hitting .183 with eight RBIs and two home runs.
Infielder/DH Nelson Ward made the jump from the rookie leagues to A- Everett in the Seattle Mariners organization this past month. In 11 games with rookie-league Pulaski, Ward hit .350 with eight RBIs and one home run; he is now hitting .143 with four RBIs at A- for Everett.
Conyers native Jarrett Brown is now pitching for Pulaski in the Seattle Mariners organization. Over only four innings pitched in professional baseball, Brown boasts an ERA of 2.25 with three strikeouts and three walks.
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Joey Side remains in the independent leagues, where he mans the outfield for Trois-Rivieres in Quebec. Through 19 games, Side is hitting .353 with 13 RBIs and three home runs.
Free agents, etc.
Mitchell Boggs was officially released by the Chicago White Sox organization in late June. Upon being released by the club after spring training, Boggs accepted an assignment to AAA Charlotte on April 1. Things in Charlotte did not go as planned with the former Diamond Dawg posting an ERA of 12.79 over only seven games. Boggs showed us what he can do as a setup man from 2010-12 for the St. Louis Cardinals, so we know he is capable of catching on with another club and performing well at the highest level.
Jeff Keppinger, another former South Sider, remains a free agent looking for a big-league team. I find this odd considering that Kepp is a solid contact hitter with one of the lowest strikeout rates in the majors. A team gearing up for a stretch run would be crazy not to sign him. After all, Kepp has a record of stepping up his game in the second half of the season.