With the collegiate baseball season over and Major League Baseball entering its final stretch before the playoffs, it is time for us to check in with Oklahoma State University alumni to see how well they are doing either in the major or minor leagues.
Jordy Mercer, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates
.266 batting average/.341 on base percentage/.375 slugging percentage
After having a sub-par performance last season mostly because of injury and the arrival of Korean phenom Jung-Ho Kang, the 29-year old is having a much-needed bounce-back season with the Pirates. The Taloga native is proving himself a quality contact hitter in a deep Pirates lineup by landing near the top 5 in both batting average and on-base percentage among qualified shortstops in the National League, while leading the position in walks-per-strikeout. It’s not only Mercer’s bat that is helping the Pirates, a team that’s desperately trying to claw its way into the second wildcard spot. The sure-handed shortstop is also doing it with his glove by leading the position with an impressive 98.7 percent fielding percentage.
Tim Arakawa, 2B/SS/CF/LF/RF, Los Angeles Angels (Salt Lake Bees, AAA)
Arakawa is having himself a wild season in the minor leagues. After making the jump from the High-A Inland Empire 66ers all the way to the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees in mid-June and a month of Double-A ball with the Arkansas Travelers from July to August, this former OSU infielder has turned into a super utility player in the Los Angeles Angels farm system. Arakawa played all fielding positions this season except for first base, third base, catcher and pitcher. With super utility players being a premium in the game now; don’t be surprised to see the 24-year old Honolulu native in the majors soon once his bat starts to get hot again.
Donnie Walton, 2B/SS, Seattle Mariners (Everett AquaSox, Low-A)
Donnie Walton has had solid start to his professional career after the Seattle Mariners drafted him in the fifth round of the 2016 first-year player draft. Despite a rough August so far, (.236/.246/.273), the three-time All-Big 12 First Team recipient has transitioned smoothly from college baseball to the minor leagues. As a switch-hitter who crushes right-handed pitching (.313/.409/.434), Walton ignites the offense from the two-spot in the lineup for Low-A Everett. Once Walton comes out of his mini slump, he should have no problem climbing up in the Mariner’s farm system rather quickly.
Koda Glover, Relief Pitcher, Washington Nationals
ERA 5.78/ WHIP 1.500 (4.2IP)
Although Glover has only thrown 4.2 innings in the major leagues, the 2015 draftee has become one of the most intriguing stories on a talented Nationals team. Glover ascended through the Nationals’ farm system at an unprecedented pace, becoming just the second player league wide from the 2015 draft class to make the big leagues. The right-hander was promoted to the big leagues after dominating in the minor leagues. Glover breezed through High-A Potomac, Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse in a little over three months, posting an impressive 2.25 ERA in 56 innings while holding opponents to just a .197 batting average. The recent workload of the Nationals bullpen might cause the organization to option Glover back to Triple-A for another fresh arm, but one thing is for sure, he has definitely shown what he can do at the big league level and should be back to help the Nationals make a final playoff push.
Brendan McCurry, Relief Pitcher, Houston Astros (Fresno Grizzlies, AAA)
ERA 2.89 /WHIP 1.112/ 15 SV
Brendan McCurry’s performance in the minor leagues did not take a hit after Oakland traded him to the Houston Astros last year. The all-time OSU saves leader was promoted to Triple-A in June after dominating in Double-A with a 2.27 ERA, converting 13 of 15 save opportunities. Besides a couple of rough outings, the right-handed reliever has pitched consistently well with Triple-A Fresno. McCurry could definitely find himself in the running for a September call-up barring any major breakdowns or injuries.
Robin Ventura, Manager, Chicago White Sox
59-64, 4th in A.L. Central, 8.5 games back
The Chicago White Sox might finally be parting ways with their long-time manager. The fifth-year coach’s contract will expire at the end of this year. At 59-64, the White Sox are currently 8.5 games back behind the leading Cleveland Indians in the A.L. Central. Despite being the hottest team earlier this season, the Sox have struggled ever since and are only on pace to win 77 games this year. Although the front office has complete faith in its former player, it might be time for the team to let the former Gold Glover and All-Star go. Given all the drama that haunted this team since spring training and the season-long struggle, it’s hard to envision the front office giving Ventura an extension. It is finally time for the White Sox to blow everything up and start rebuilding, and Ventura will probably the first one to get the boot.
John Farrell, Manager, Boston Red Sox
71-54, first in A.L. East
Farrell, the manager of the more fortunate Sox team, is erasing doubts from the fan base this year by leading the charge in a tight American League East-pennant race. After coming off two straight disappointing last place finishes, the fourth-year manager is hoping to bring back some much desired playoff magic to Fenway Park. Backed up by an unstoppable firepower that ranks first in almost every single offensive category, the Red Sox are tied with the Blue Jays atop the AL East. There are still a few minor tweaks Farrell must make in order to put the team in an ideal position for the final leg of the season, but the Red Sox are in great shape for another magical October run.