What’s that you say? Sports?
Major League Baseball is on track to be the first professional league in the US to resume play this summer, and several former Hoosiers should be a part of the action.
The league finalized a 60-game schedule for the 2020 season last week. Players are expected to report to their camps by July 1, and the league says it will start the season on July 23 or 24.
With organizations announcing their 60-man player pools on Sunday and 30-man rosters to be determined ahead of Opening Day, there are more opportunities than usual for former IU players to secure roster spots.
As it stands, five former Hoosiers are on the current 60-man rosters, with more additions possible.
THE FIVE THAT MADE IT
Alex Dickerson (Giants) is back with the Giants after a feel-good 2019 season. The former IU slugger had a breakout summer in San Francisco after missing the entire 2017 and 2018 seasons with injuries. In 176 at bats Dickerson hit .276 with 6 home runs and 28 runs batted in. He is a likely starter in the outfield if he can stay healthy.
Kyle Schwarber (Cubs) is of course on the list, and he is coming off a 2019 season that saw him hit .250 while clubbing 38 home runs and driving in 92. All of those numbers were career bests for the 27 year old. Schwarber should be able to focus almost exclusively on hitting for the Cubs after the league modified the rules to allow for a designated hitter in all games.
Josh Phegley (Cubs) is joining Schwarber in Chicago. The Terre Haute native put up career bests in several categories in 2019 for Oakland, including at bats, hits, runs, home runs and runs batted in. Phegley’s batting average was also higher than his career average. He should be in a strong spot to make the final roster.
Kyle Hart (Red Sox) has never played at the MLB level but the pitcher has steadily worked his way up the ladder since his IU career ended in 2016. Hart earned 15 starts for Red Sox AAA affiliate Pawtucket in 2019, and he’ll get his chance to make the roster in Boston in 2020.
Aaron Slegers (Rays) has been right on the the fringe of the MLB for several seasons with multiple call-ups. He saw one appearance in 2019 with Tampa Bay and earned his first career save. He spent most of the season with AAA affiliate Durham where he was 6-7 with a 5.05 earned run average in 15 starts and 26 appearances. He averaged 6.4 strikeouts per nine innings pitched with Durham.
KEEP AN EYE ON…
Caleb Baragar has reached the Giants AAA affiliate on multiple occasions. As it stands, San Francisco has only named 51 players to their 60-player pool, meaning the lefty pitcher can still earn a spot.
(UPDATE: The Giants added Baragar to their sixty-man roster on July 8)
Ryan Halstead might be competing with Baragar for one of those final spots with the Giants. Like his former IU teammate Baragar, Halstead, a right-handed relief pitcher, has reached the Giants’ AAA affiliate each of the last two years.
A SURPRISING EXCLUSION
Sam Travis was dealt from Boston to Texas during the offseason. Six of Travis’ seven career home runs and 16 of his career 24 runs batted in came during a productive 2019 campaign that saw him with the Red Sox for the second half of the season. With the 2020 minor league season canceled, Travis will get back to work in 2021 unless something materializes later.
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