A select few former Wolverine baseball players are still playing the game known as America’s pastime in the minor and major leagues. Right-handed pitcher Jack Flaherty ’14 was drafted in the first round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals in June, making him one of seven former Wolverines currently playing baseball at the professional level.
Flaherty was the last pick of the first round of the draft, 34th overall. The pitcher had already committed to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill but opted to forgo college after the Cardinals offered him a $2 million signing bonus. Flaherty has started six games for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals, St. Louis’ lowest tiered minor league affiliate.
Flaherty has gone 1-1 with an ERA of 1.59 and 28 strikeouts in the minor leagues.
Austin Wilson ’10 was also drafted by St. Louis in 2010, but the Redbirds failed to lure the Stanford commit away from Palo Alto. The outfielder did not sign, and was drafted in the second round by the Seattle Mariners in 2013.
He still managed to earn his degree in four years despite playing in the minor leagues, graduating from Stanford last June. In his first game back from graduation, Wilson hit a home run for the Mariners’ class-A affiliate Clinton Lumber Kings. He is hitting .301 with 13 home runs and 55 RBIs over 75 games this season.
First round picks Max Fried ’12 and Lucas Giolito ’12 were injured early in their professional careers.
Shortly after being drafted by the Washington Nationals 16th overall in the 2012 draft, Giolito underwent Tommy John surgery. Giolito fully recovered in less than 11 months. After throwing 98 innings over 20 starts for the Nationals’ Class A affiliate Hagerstown Suns, his season was cut short in August in accordance with the organization’s protocol for young pitchers in the final stages of rehab, according to the Washington Post.
Baseball America says that Giolito is the 11th ranked baseball prospect in the league, third ranked pitching prospect, and the top prospect in the Nationals organization. In Hagerstown, he went 10-2 with a 2.20 ERA, throwing 110 strikeouts and allowing only seven home runs.
Nationals Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Player Development Doug Harris discussed Giolito’s performance at an appearance on the MLB Network Radio show “Minors and Majors” in August.
“[I am] really pleased with what [Giolito]’s been able to accomplish,” Harris said. “He’s really done a nice job for us.”
“Probably the most striking thing with him is the maturity, but he’s got great humility that goes with it,” Harris said.
Fried was drafted seventh overall in 2012 by the San Diego Padres but has made only 37 appearances over nearly three seasons in the minors. After recording nearly 120 innings pitched with the class A affiliate Fort Wayne Tin Caps in 2013, Fried won’t even get 11 innings of pitching under his belt in 2014. He sat out the first half of the season with a sore forearm. After returning, he reported a sore elbow. Doctors determined that Fried had to undergo Tommy John surgery. He is slated to return in 2016.
Pitcher Nik Turley ’08 is now in his seventh season. Drafted by the New York Yankees in the 50th round of the 2008 draft, he is climbing up the ranks of their farm system.
After his promotion to triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in late June, he struggled for the Rail Riders, going 1-2 with an ERA of 6.43 in his first nine games. He is turning things around as of late; since Aug. 10, he is 3-1 with an ERA of 2.21 over four starts.
Infielder Josh Satin ’03 wasn’t drafted out of high school but after a winning baseball career at UC Berkeley, he was drafted in the sixth round of the 2008 draft by the New York Mets. Satin has made 106 appearences in the MLB since his debut in 2011 but has fluctuated between the pros and triple-A over the past three seasons.
Now he is with the triple-A Las Vegas 51s, hitting .293 with nine home runs and 48 RBIs in Sin City this season.
Right fielder Brennan Boesch ’03 also played baseball at UC Berkeley, but left after three years and was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the third round of the 2006 draft. Since 2010, Boesch has played over 400 games in over five seasons. When he was traded to the Yankees in 2013, his major league appearances decreased dramatically, and he was demoted to the minors.
In late 2013 Boesch was traded to the Los Angeles Angels. Like Satin, he has teetered between the majors and triple A. Now he’s in No Man’s Land, hitting just .129 in 13 MLB games this season but hitting .333 in 90 AAA games this year. Boesch is averaging about one home run every four games in Salt Lake, but he’s barely averaging a hit every four games in Anaheim.